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India: Civil society groups assert freedom of expression, assembly and association. Demand that government respond to the malicious IB report

4 July 2014

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Public Statement

Released July 3, 2014

“Civil society groups assert freedom of expression, assembly and association.
Demand that government respond to the malicious IB report ’’

We, as individuals, people’s organisations, citizens groups, trade unions and mass movements came together on June 26, 2014 at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi to reiterate our deep conviction about the importance of preserving and nurturing spaces for social dissent and the freedoms of association, assembly and expression as the essential hallmarks of a democratic society.

Indian social life has been enriched greatly by the wide and rich variety of engagements of people’s organisations, committed to just, equitable and sustainable development, peace, social justice and gender, class, caste and communal equality; and issues ranging from the rights of marginalised communities, dalits and tribal rights, gender rights, religious minorities, sexual minorities, disability, displacement, homelessness, forest rights, right to food and health, environment and ecosystem and human rights, secularism, welfare and rights, and transnational corporations and their impact, and increasing poverty in the country.

In this context, the gathering expressed its disquiet and concern over the report of Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) on the role of development organisations, people’s movements, human rights organisations, and peace and justice activists. This report which made shrill and unsubstantiated claims was deliberately leaked to spur a medial trial, and is therefore a barely disguised official attempt to discourage and intimidate the democratic rights of citizens to express dissent with dominant state policies and to protest.The report particularly targets organisations which question the corporate-led development model and the nuclear policy, and champion environmental and labour rights. We are dismayed by the dubious manner with which the Indian Intelligence Bureau has maligned, demonised and criminalised many greatly respected social activists and groups in this country who have committed their lives for a social cause.

We see this move as an attempt to restrict democratic space for civil society action and silence dissenting voices of individuals, organisations, social movements and trade unions. It is also an attempt to stifle the voices of the defenders of human rights who represent the voiceless, marginalised sections of the society. We strongly feel that it is our right and moral duty to collectively raise and represent the voice of invisible majority of this country. We endorse the statements of Greenpeace, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Navdanya, Concerned Citizens and others and express our complete solidarity with them and the fears and apprehensions they have raised to be faced by the civil society groups in future.

The Supreme Court of India’s judgments have also upheld from time to time the constitutionality of the rights of dissent and free expression. These also find affirmation in many recent international frameworks of the United Nations and its Special Rapporteurs. In the last couple of years engagement of mainstream media and social media with the pressing social and economic issues has taken place on enormous scale despite the increasing control of corporate houses on media. Therefore we believe that the attacks of this nature especially the IB’s current report is essentially a handiwork of both transnationals and big Indian business interests driven by profit motive.

We are also concerned with the accountability of institutions like the Intelligence Bureau which till today functions within an indeterminate legal framework. This assumes all the more importance in the prevailing national scenario where the national security management policy has been purposefully left ambiguous and therefore remains undefined. We also demand that report of the L.P. Singh Committee instituted after the emergency in 1977 on the misuse of intelligence agencies should be made public.

We, as part of civil society groups simultaneously uphold the value of transparency within this sector whether we are locally funded or foreign funded organisations.

We demand that the present government should either own or at least respond to the parentage of this IB Report which to our knowledge was initiated by the past UPA government.

We are also striving for an open-ended platform, broad alliance and solidarity across all sections of the society and especially those engaged in the fight for equality, equity, secularism, pluralism, right to association, right to assembly and freedom of expression. Therefore, we now stand united at this critical stage in all solidarity at the local and national levels with all those organisations mentioned in the IB Report with a sense of hope and not despair.

We have decided to initiate a Secretariat to be based temporarily in Indian Social Institute (ISI), New Delhi to assist Human Rights Defenders with about 20 advisors representing various thematic engagements. Any individual or organisation in any part of the country who feel aggrieved by any action which infringes their right to assembly and association, freedom of expression are invited to approach the Secretariat for further course of action, including legal action for which we shall also form a legal defence fund.

We are giving a collective nationwide call for diverse course of action at the district and state levels on August 9, 2014 to mark the celebration of our assertion and celebration of public action reclaiming the republic with its core ideas of freedom, pluralism, just, sustainable and equitable development, and peace, across the country.

Endorsed by:

1 Aanita Soni Individual
2 Aayomi Sharma ANHAD
3 Abha Bhaiya Jagori Rural Charitable Trust
4 Achin Vanaik CNDP
5 Ajaya Kumar Singh Odisha Forum for Social Action
6 Ajaykumar VB RIGHTS
7 Ajita Hoshi N. Indian Social Institute
8 Aloka Kujur Social Awareness for democratic art and research (S.A.F.D.A.R)
9 Amitabh Behar NFI
10 Anand Kumar PHA Foundation/ Christian Aid
11 Anastasia Sneha Gill National Council Dalit Christian (NCDC)
12 Anil Chaudhary Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
13 Anil Kumar National Forum for Housing Rights
14 Anil Kumar Indian Social Institute
15 Annie Raja National Federation of Indian Women
16 Anuja Naik International Justice Mission
17 Anuvinda Varkey Christian Coalition for Health
18 Anton Gomes National Union of Fisherman Tamilnadu
19 Archana Dwivedi NIRANTAR
20 Aruna Roy MPKO
21 Ashish Gupta OFAI/PGSOC/IFOAM Asia
22 Ashok Choudhary AIUFWP
23 Ashraf CYC
24 Aubrey Corda Self Employed Indian Citizen
25 Ayantika Das Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
26 B. Roy CWDS
27 Battini Rao People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S)
28 Beenu Rawat Sama Resource Group for Women & Health
29 Benny M.V. IGSSS
30 Bhanskar Prabhu Mahiti Adhikar Munch, Mumbai
31 Bhanwar Singh Chadana Astha Sansthan
32 Bhavar Meghvanshi MKSS
33 Bhavna Sharma ANHAD
34 Bipin bihari barik Individual, Freelancing Social Worker
35 Bipin Rai Action India
36 Bombay Catholic Sabha Bombay Catholic Sabha
37 Britto. M.A. Vaan Muhil
38 Buta Singh Bairagi Rehnuma Centre - Punjab (A Facilitation and Entitlement Centre for Vulnerable Groups)
39 Carol Geeta SASVIKA
40 Cedric Prakash PRASHANT (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
41 Chandni Tandon Population Foundation of India
42 Chandranath Dani Human Rights Defenders Alert India (HRDA)
43 Charles Irudayam JPD Office, CBCI
44 Christo Mathews Individual
45 Colin Gonsalves Human Rights Law Network
46 D K Manavalan AFPRO
47 D.K. Giri Individual
48 David Amalanadane Individual
49 David D’Souza PUCL, Karnataka
50 Deepak Xavier OXFAM, India
51 Dhirendra Panda Civil Society Forum on Human on Human Rights (CSFHR)
52 Dhiviya Sangat
53 Divya Raghunandan Greenpeace, India
54 Dr. K.S. Subramanian Individual
55 Dr. Mira Shiva INES/Diverse Women for Diversity
56 Dr. Vandana Shiva Navdanya
57 Durga Nandini Amnesty International India
58 Enakshi Ganguli HAQ: Centre for Child Rights
59 Erwin Lazrado Premal Jyoti
60 Gnana Robinson PEACE Trust
61 Gautam Mody NTVI
62 Gautam Thaker PUCL (Guj)
63 Gilbert Rodrigo Tamilnadu Pondy Fisher People Federation
64 Geetha JAGORI
65 Gopal Individual
66 Gopi Krishnan Greenpeace- Bangalore
67 Harsh Mander Aman Biradari
68 Helen Saldanha Individual
69 Henri Tiphagne Human Rights Defenders Alert-India
70 Hiren Gandhi DARSHAN
71 Indu Prakash Singh NFHR / SAM:BKS
72 Imran Khan ANHAD
73 Jai Sen CACIM - India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
74 John Dayal AICC-AICU
75 John Tharakan Oota-Wellsprings
76 Joseph Valiaparambil SWAD
77 Joseph Xavier Indian Social Institute
78 Joshy Jose Break Through
79 Joy Karayampuram Indian Social Institute
80 Julia George Streevani
81 K P John National Council of YMCA OF India
82 Kalpana David YWCA
83 Kamal RTI Manch
84 Kamalkant Indian Social Institute
85 Kathir EVIDENCE
86 Kiriti Roy MASUM
87 Neeta Pandya JAAG/AZAD
88 Lenin Raghuvanshi PVCHR
89 Liris Thomas Alliance Defending Freedom
90 M.S. Sanparsi Individual
91 Madhuresh NAPM
92 Mahesh Pandya Paryavaran Mitra
93 Malika Virdi MAATI, Munsiari, Uttarakhand
94 Mallika Sinha AHNAD
95 Madhu JAGORI
96 Manan ANHAD
97 Manas Jena Development Initiative
98 Maneesh individual
99 Manisha Sethi Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
100 Mansi Sharma Individual
101 Manu Alphonse Social Watch-TN
102 Mehul Dabhi NCDHR
103 Mimroth P.L. Centre for Dalit Rights
104 Mona Das VasantKunj, New Delhi
105 Nalini Abraham Individual, Medical Doctor
106 Nandini Rao No More/WSS
107 Narayanan CHANGE India
108 Narendra Mohanty Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC)
109 Naveen Fernandes Fund Manager - PMS
110 Navin Individual
111 Nayantara Sheoran Individual
112 Neelam Singh Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development (FORRAD)
113 Neha Saigal Greenpeace
114 Nikhil Dey MKSS
115 Nirmala Karunan Greenpeace- Bangalore
116 Ovais Sultak Khan PADS
117 P K M Swamy CEO/EMF India
118 P.B.D’Sa PUCL, Karnataka
119 Padmini Kumar Joint Women’s Programme
120 Parul Mahilayen Pragati ki Ore
121 Parvinder Singh Oxfam India
122 Pascal Tirkey Indian Social Institute
123 Paul D’souza Indian Social Institute
124 Paunta S. Kapur ASWS
125 Peter Celestine Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar
126 Poonam Muthaiya Individual
127 Praavita MKSS
128 Pradipta Nayak Odisha Human Rights Protection Foundation (OHRPF)
129 Praful Bidwai CNDP
130 Prafulla Samantara Lok Shakti Abhiyan
131 Pramod Singh Christian Legal Association
132 Pranab Indigenous Peoples Forum
133 Prasad Chacko Human Development and Research Centre
134 Prasanna Mansingh CSFHR
135 Prashant Bhushan Lawyer
136 Praveen Jose Agency for Integrated Development Initiative
137 Preeti Majumdar IGSSS
138 Princy Joseph Bandhna Campaign
138 Rachna Atri Individual
140 Radhika Ganesh School for Democracy/MKSS
141 Rafi Malek Individual
142 Rafiul Rahman Individual
143 Raghav Menon Amnesty International
144 Raghuvir Pradhan Ekta Parishad
145 Ramesh Nathan V.A. National Dalit Movement For Justice (NDMJ)-NCDHR
146 Ramesh Sharma INSAF
147 Rameshwar Palweel Indian Social Institute
148 Ran Autar Singh Individual
149 Ratna VANI
150 Ratnesh Indian Social Institute
151 Renuka Indian Social Institute
152 Rita Manchanda SAFHR
153 Ruben Minj Indian Social Institute
154 Rukmini Sekhar Solidarity Campaigner
155 S.K. Dutta NIT – Arunachal Pradesh Registrar & Prof.
156 Sandeep HRLN
157 Sandeep Prakash Jedhe UTTHAN TRUST
158 Sanjai Sharma HRLN
159 Sanjeev Delhi Forum
160 Sannybhai JESA
161 Santosh Sharma Naxi Uthan Samiti
162 Saroop Dhruv DARSHAN
163 Satyababu P M C
164 Saurabh Sharma Josh
165 Sebastian Kunnath CHAI
166 Shabnam Hashmi ANHAD
167 Shanti Ranjan Behera Martin Luther King Centre for Democracy & Human Rights
168 Sheba Tejani CSDS
169 Shib Cheruvelil AIDI-India
170 Shipra Nigam No More Campaign
171 Shivshankar Ray ANHAD
172 Siprian Kiro Indian Social Institute
173 Smarika Sigh Schumacher’s
174 Sonali Khan Break Through
175 Sr. Tresa Paul Indian Social Institute
176 Stan Swamy Jharkhand Bachao Andolan
177 Subrat Das CBGA
178 Suchi Pande MKSS
179 Suneeta Dhar Jagori
180 Susan Abraham Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development (FORRAD)
181 Sudha Varghese Nari Gunjan
182 Syed Mahar Ul Hasan United Reformers Organization Bhopal.(URO)
183 Tanushree Gangopadhyay Individual, Media Person
184 Tehmina Arora ADF, India
185 Thomas Job JRS
186 Thomas Pallithanam People’s Action For Rural Awakening
187 Trideep Pais Lawyer
188 Tushar Chakraborty, Forum Against Monopolistic Aggression (FAMA)
189 Upneet Kaur Mangat Centre for Human Rights & Duties, Panjab University, Chandigarh
190 Urmimala Dutta Civil Engineer
191 Usha Nischal Mahilayen Pragati ki Ore
192 Vanita Mukherjee Pusmal
193 Varghese Theckanath Montfort Social Institute
194 Vasantha Tamil Nadu Women’s Movement
195 Vasanthi Devi Association for India’s Development (AID-India)
196 Victor Joseph Raj HOPE
197 Vijayesh Lal Evangelical Fellowship of India
198 Vina Lobo SPWD
199 Vincent Manoharan Chairperson – NFDLRM
200 Virginia Saldanha Indian Christian Women’s Movement
201 Zulaikha jabin ANHAD