Announcement from Lokayat about two important programs on Human Rights

PROGRAM ONE

Public Lecture:

What will happen because of government’s Operation Greenhunt?

Speakers: Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj,    Himanshu Kumar

Date: Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time: 5.30 – 8 pm

Venue: Rajwade Sabhagruh (Hall), Bharat Itihas Sanshodhan Mandal,

Next to Bharat  Natya Mandir, Sadashiv Peth, Pune – 30

Even though human rights groups all over the country after a 2 year long campaihgn succeeded in winning the release of Dr. Binayak Sen from prison, the human rights issues in Chattisgarh which he was highlighting because of which the Chattisgarh government incarcerated him in an attempt to silence him are still very much alive, and in fact getting worse. In another event of police goondaism, the police bulldozed the Ashram of the renowned Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar some months ago. The ashram was located in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh and was renowed its educational and health work among the adivasis of the region. Himanshu was also instrumental in helping the over 3 lakh adivasis return to their homes after they were brutally uprooted from their villages by the police in the name of fighting terrorism in an operation infamously known as Salwa Judum, which even the Supreme Court has held to be blatantly violative of the constitution. For this ‘crime’, the police bulldozed the ashram just a few months ago!

And now the government is planning to launch Operation Greenhunt, an armed operation which it claims is being launched to curb the growing Naxal menace. In actuality, it will only be an excuse to further advance the offensive launched by the government to uproot the tribals of Chattisgarh and seize their mineral rich lands for handing them over to giant foreign and Indian corporations. This was also the real motive of Salwa Judum, and now in the next phase it is planning to launch an even more brutal crackdown on the tribals who are not willing to vacate their lands and see their way of life destroyed for ever, and so are heroically fighting back.

All this is not to say that there is no violence being done by the Naxalites in the region. There is, and we obviously do not support it. But the point is that what is providing a fertile ground for the spread of Naxalism is the brutal offensive of the state on the adivasis of the area. When the adivasis do not get justice, when they find that the police-courts-political parties-bureaucracy are all in collusion and seeking to uproot them from their ancestral lands for the profits of a few giant corporations, they are going to fight back. The militant and bold adivasis are not the docile people of the plains who take injustice lying down, so fierce were their struggles against the British that even they had to back off. And so some of the adivasis are joining the Naxalites.

To further discuss the human rights issues in Chattisgarh and evolve a plan of action to advance the struggle for human rights in Pune, Lokayat along with some other progressive organizations of Pune is organizing a talk by two well-known activists from Chattisgarh who are visiting Pune on November 1 and 2, 2009. Sudha Bhardwaj is a renowned trade union leader from Chattisgarh and is the leader of Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha, the famous movement begun by the iconic trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi. She also happens to be the daughter of the well known economist Krishna Bhardwaj, and has been fighting for the rights of peasants and workers of Chattisgarh for the last 22 years. Himanshu Kumar is the well known Gandhian activist about whom we have described above.

PROGRAM TWO
ONE DAY TOKEN HUNGER STRIKE IN SUPPORT OF THE EPIC HUNGER STRIKE OF SHARMILA IROM

Date: Saturday, November 7, 2009
Time: 8 am to 8 pm
Venue: Mahatma Phule Putla, Mandai

Around one hundred and forty organisations have given a call to initiate solidarity actions on the eve of the tenth year of the hunger fast by Sharmila Irom against the rule of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur state. Protests, one-day symbolic fasts, film festivals, posters, letters to the Chief Minister of Manipur and Prime Minister as well as solidarity poems by students in different parts are being planned in many places. The central idea behind the campaign is to support not just Sharmila Irom’s demand to repeal AFSPA in Manipur. Ultimately, there is a need to remove such repressive laws wherever they are in place, in the entire north east, Jammu and Kashmir, Chattisgarh, etc. But for that, it is important that people all over the country rise up in protest and come out to voice their protests against the increasing authoritarian nature of the Indian state. The fact that so many different organizations all over the country are organizing solidarity actions between Nov 2 and 7 in support of Sharmila Irom is an indication that people of the country are beginning to stir.

Lokayat is organizing a token one day hunger strike on November 7 in solidarity with this all India effort.


Lokayat calls upon all of you to join us if not for the whole day then for a few hours in support of Sharmila Irom’s epic hunger strike, which is now going to enter its tenth year!

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