Participants at the Third International Marxist Feminist Conference, held in Lund University, Sweden express deep concern at the manner in which writers, professors, democratic and civil rights activists, anti displacement activists and activists working for the rights of political prisoners are being increasingly targeted by the Indian state. The Right to Free Speech and Expression along with the more fundamental Right to Dissent for a just and democratic society has in recent times come under severe threat in India, a country that has been known as the world’s largest democracy. The country is facing one of the most repressive times since Independence.
Activists opposing repressive draconian laws are being arrested under the same, those fighting for rights of political prisoners are being made into political prisoners and worse, lawyers and advocates who support those implicated for being involved in mass movements against displacement are themselves being hurtled into the prison system. The fear and panic of capitalism and state is evident to all showing on the other hand the laudable spirit of the growing resistance of people’s struggles in India!
Capital in its single minded pursuit of mining of mineral resources, deforestation, big dams, steel plants and mega projects has sounded the death knell of a vast majority in India who live on subsistence still and had been neglected by the state since decades. By doing so, capital is threatening the constitutional rights of dalits and adivasis, forest dwellers and fisher folk, workers and women, and subsistence producers and small peasantry as citizens. These people are fighting a decisive battle and thus inspiring many people across the country to stand up for their collective rights that is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
The government, armed with acts like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), is curbing the freedom of expression of all those standing up for the rights of economically and socially marginalized sections of people. In the wake of the neo-liberal economic reforms, the UAPA was amended several times to curb dissent against the policies and projects rolled out by the economic reforms in order to facilitate global capital. We fear that the Indian state by criminalizing such work and such interventions by people of conscience who are heralding a vision for a more humane and civilized society is taking the work of all such democratic and progressive forces back by many years. We therefore join the voices in India demanding an immediate repeal of the UAPA.
The government has put under home arrest since August 28 people’s advocate Sudha Bhradwaj, revolutionary poet Varvara Rao, human rights activists Vernon Gonsalvez and Arun Ferreira. Democratic rights activist and writer Gautam Navlakha was also under home arrest for a month. As they stand accused, they also challenge the provisions of the UAPA that they have been questioning on behalf of struggling people.
Those incarcerated since June 6 include Professor Shoma Sen, people’s advocate Surendra Gadling, political prisoners’ rights activist Rona Wilson, dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale and anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut.
Languishing in jail since March 2017 are Professor G N Saibaba who is being denied bail despite being over 90% disabled; political prisoners’ rights activist Prashant Rahi; student activist Hem Mishra; and three adivasi activists Vijay Tirki, Pandu Narote and Mahesh Tirki. Vijay Tirki as been given 10 years of rigorous imprisonment too. They have been alleged to be associated with the CPI ML (Maoist) party that was banned by the Indian government in 2009.
As Marxist Feminist participants at the Third International Marxist Feminist Conference, we stand in solidarity with the demands being made by our comrades and friends in India:
- Repeal the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)!
- Unconditionally release those arrested under the UAPA!
- Adrija Dey, British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, SOAS University, London
- Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, SOAS, London
- Alessandra Mecozzi, Italy
- Andrea Tock, MA Student, Lund University, Sweden
- Antonova Pankina Natalya, PhD Student, Central European University
- Barbara Steiner, transform! europe (transform-network.net)
- Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Senior Lecturer in Business Strategy, Coventry Business School, Coventry University, UK
- Birge Krondorfer – Feminist educational Center Frauenhetz, Vienna-Austria
- Carmen Glink Buján, Freie Universität, Berlin
- Chelsea Szendi Schieder, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, Aoyama Gakuin University
- Daniela Jauk, PhD, web- danielajauk.com
- Donatella Alessandrini, Kent Law School, University of Kent, UK
- Dr Mia Liinason, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
14. Dr Nancy Holmstrom, Prof Emerita of Philosphy, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA
- Marina Grzinic ,Academy Of Fine Arts, Vienna
- Eduardo Erazo A, University of Nariño, Colombia
- Frieda Afary, Producer of Iranian Progressives in Translation, and member of Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists
- Hansalbin Sältenberg, Department of Gender Studies, Lund University, Sweden
- Heidemarie Ambrosch, Chairwoman, Communist Party Austria
- Gabriele Dietrich, Feminist Activist and Writer, Madurai, India (Vienna Conference, 2016)
- Jelena Lalatović, Researcher, Institute for Literature and Arts, Belgrade
22. Khayaat Fakier, Senior Lecturer, Stellenbosch University.
- Magda Garlińska, Europa Universität Viadrina
- Nora Rathzel, Professor, UMEA University, Sweden
- Paulina de los Reyes, Professor of Economic History, Stockholm University
26. Philipp Sperner, LMU Munich (Germany)
27. Ranjana Padhi, Activist Writer, Odisha, India
- Rebecca Selberg, PhD, Department of Gender Studies , Lund University, Sweden
- Sara Goodman, Gender Studies (Retired), Lund University, Sweden
- Selin Çağatay, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
- Stefania Barca, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra (PT)
- Teresa Larruzea, MA student, Sorbonne University
33. Tucker Pamella Farley, Professor Emerita, City University of New York
- Vera Sánchez Ramos, Fundació l’Alternativa