Protest against discriminatory decision of the office of UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
Mr. Ban Ki- Moon
PVCHR welcomes the visit of Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders in India. We wish her a purposeful mission. However, our organization People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) protests against the decision of her office to discriminate against the human rights groups of the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and request your immediate intervention.
We are yet to understand why her office has kept us out of the meeting when Mrs. Sekaggya met civil society representatives from across the country. What were the selection criteria for attending this meeting where no one from Uttar Pradesh qualify?
We in Uttar Pradesh think that officials in charge of the programme planning along with their local contacts have decided before hand to keep us out. The biggest state of the nation with largest population also carries the distinction of maximum number of cases of torture by the state. The plights of Human Rights Defenders are no less pathetic than other states. Everyday newspaper carries the stories of the struggle faced by the human rights defenders in the remotest part of the state.
Our organization like several others has been facing threat from the state. No human rights leaders showed solidarity with Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi, Executive Director of the organisation when the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh threatened him in a live press conference. We are giving example to highlight the complex nature of dynamics that plays within a vast country like India. Many human rights organizations/defenders from UP are not willing to work with big NGOs as they do not compromise on the issue of dignity for getting fund. Omission of Uttar Pradesh is part of feudal strategy. We demand that the people within the office must explain why and who advised them for such calculated omission.
The National Human Rights Commission, India, 2010 has listed 25 cases related to Human Rights Defenders, out of which 12 cases are from Uttar Pradesh. The national and regional political parties have been expressing their concerns on growing number of attacks on the human rights defenders in the state. Mr. Ajit, Ms Manju and Mr. Atul Sharma face extreme threat for their work against child trafficking. Both Sanjay and Anil Singh from Bundelkhand known for their work on water rights and empowerment of women lost their activist father last year. The accused, a sympathizer of ruling party absconded from the court premises and now threat to kill both brothers. Dalit activist, Mr. Harilal was killed by the mafias controlling employment generation programme for poor like MGNEREGA. Mr. Mangla who works on dalit rights was denied bail by the court on a bailable offence. The state of Uttar Pradesh throws an interesting example of nexus among judiciary, police, political parties and non state actors against the human rights defenders.
PVCHR has prior communication with the office of the Special Rapporteur on the need to reach out to the most vulnerable human rights defenders living in the rural parts of India. These defenders operate within defined socio-cultural settings who perhaps do not speak English. It is not that their life would have changed had the Special Rapporteur come down to listen them. These defenders shall continue to fight against the system and demand more responsiveness from the state after all they have a stake in their country. But the magnanimity of the SR would have made them more determined. Delhi is not India and power brokers in the UN corridor are not the well wishers of the human rights defenders. We, the civil society groups in Uttar Pradesh consider the marginalization and discrimination against the state as a deliberate humiliation of the thousands of survivors of torture and the barefoot human rights defenders who live by day to uphold the spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
PVCHR will continue to protest against the decision of Special Rapporteur in all possible forums both inside and outside the country. We have the right to do so. We would do it democratically, peacefully and in Gandhian way. After all UN System is expected to be non discriminatory.
Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
Executive Director, PVCHR
Gwanju Human Right Awardee, 2007
Recipient of Weimer City Council Award on Human Rights, 2010