Stop the arrest and detention of activists in India! Free all political prisoners!

The Commission 3 of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) decries the spate of simultaneous illegal arrests and raids by the authorities in Mumbai, Thane, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Delhi and Faridabad in India on the early morning of August 28, 2018. 

Among those whom the Indian police illegally arrested were writer and poet Varavara Rao, writer-activists and former political prisoners Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, public interest lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj and activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha.

The five were arrested for alleged violations of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of India for their participation in the Elfaar Parishaad, an event at Bhima Koregaon that observes the bicentennial of the victory of the Dalit group in the Battle of Keregaon against the upper caste Peshwas, on December 31, 2017. Authorities allege that the five are “Maoists or Maoist sympathizers.” As of this writing, the High Court ruled for the five’s house arrest while the charges are being heard. 

Their arrest is among the latest spate of attacks by the government Prime Minister Narendra Modi against political activists using the UAPA, the draconian anti-terror law in India. In June this year, the following activists were also arrested based on false accusations using the said law: Adv Surendra Gadling, General Secretary of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers; Prof. Shoma Sen, Head of the Department of English at Nagpur University; Sudhir Dhawale, Editor of Vidrohi Magazine; Rona Wilson, Public Relations Secretary Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners; and Mahesh Raut, an anti-displacement activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and former Fellow at the Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD). Last year, Professor GN Saibaba was also arrested and has since been detained through the UAPA. 

The police also raided the homes of the following: Catholic priest and activist Stan Swamy, Prof. Anand Teltumbde, Pavana (daughter of Vara Vara Rao) and Prof. K. Satyanarayana, Anala Rao (daughter of Vara Vara Rao) and journalist KV Kurmanath, journalist Kranti Tekula and journalist and rights advicate Jiten Yumnam. 

The ILPS Commission 3 condemns these forms of attacks against activists and political dissenters in India as clear signs of a crackdown and repression by the government of India on individuals and movements opposing its anti-people policies. 

We are one with the social movements in India in calling for immediate release of activists imprisoned by the Modi regime. We are one with the people of India in their quest for justice, genuine democracy and freedom from oppression.

ILPS Commission 3 is the League’s study commission on Human rights in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural fields against state violence, national oppression, class exploitation and oppression, gender oppression, fascism, casteism, racism and religious bigotry;  and justice and indemnification for the victims of illegal arrest and detention (especially political prisoners), violations of due process, torture, extra-judicial executions, disappearances, mass displacement, and other blatant forms of human rights violations.

ILPS Commission 3 members: Fundacion Amancio Villatoro – Guatemala, Frente Popular Revolucionario – Mexico, Samidoun Palestinian Political Prisoners Network, Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines, Hustisya Philippines, Society of Ex-Detainees against Detention and Arrest (SELDA), Desaparecidos, Bayan Southern Tagalog (Philippines), Pamalakaya, Amihan Northern Mindanao, Health Alliance for Human Rights Philippines, Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili – Hongkong, Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Promotion for Church People’s Response – Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – US, Defend Job Philippines, SoCSKSarGenDS Agenda, Cordillera People’s Alliance – Philippines, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Gabriela New York, Kalumbay Northern Mindanao, Filipino Women Migrant Workers Association – Hongkong, Pasaka-Southern Mindanao, Public Interest Law Center, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Northern Mindanao, Kasimbayan, MOVADEF-Peru, CRA Manipur, Kasama-Timog Katagalugan, New York Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada