Statement Against the Unjust Arrest, Detention, and Enforced Disappearance of Anti-displacement Activists in Orissa, India


BY THE KILUSANG MAYO UNO (KMU or May First Movement Labor Centre)
DEMOCRATIC SPACE
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 31, September 7-13, 2008

As freedom and justice-seeking workers and trade unionists in the Philippines, we declare our complete opposition to the unjust arrest and enforced disappearances of anti displacement activists in Orissa, India. We demand for the immediate withdrawal of the trumped up cases and demand for the instant and unconditional release of Davendar Das, Protima Das, Amin Maharana and Pradeep or the “Orissa 4″ who in their quest to support indigenous peoples and farmers in their fight against displacement, were arrested along with David Pugh, a social scientist and teacher from the U.S. on 12 August 2008.

KMU asserts that their hard work in fighting against the displacement of adivasis, dalits, and poor farmers’ communities to give way to mining and other industrial operations does not merit such brutal harassment and repressive measures in an attempt to dampen their struggle for deprived communities in India.

Unfortunately, the unfair treatment suffered by the Orissa 4 under the anti-people and fascist Orissa government is the same underhanded formula used against human rights defenders and liberation fighters all over the world, especially in underdeveloped countries like India and the Philippines.

After being held illegally by government security forces for 28 grueling months on a non bailable charge of rebellion, the Tagaytay 5 political prisoners were finally released last week on August 28 largely due to the non-stop support and strength from progressive human rights advocacy, the militant mass movement in the Philippines, with help from international solidarity networks. There still remains to be more than 200 political prisoners all over the country however, and nearly 900 victims of extra-judicial killings for whom justice remains elusive.

For workers in the Philippines, there have been five documented violent assaults on labor actions victimizing 1,025 individuals. These assaults resulted in the subsequent death of a worker, arrest and detention of ten others, including a woman, and fatal injuries of more than 58 people from January 1 to July 15, 2008 alone. At the start of this year, Melvin Yares, chairperson of KAKABAS (a union of semi-workers and urban poor in Lapu-Lapu City) was abducted on January 4 by seven suspected agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

As we marked the August 30 International Day of the Disappeared last week, there are still a total of 193 desaparecidos since Gloria Macapagal-Arryoyo assumed the presidency in 2001, while there has been 2,000 desaparecidos since the 1972 to 1986 Marcos dictatorship. It is unacceptable that these families remain in the dark where their loved ones are, without certainty or closure, without genuine recourse for justice.

KMU therefore joins all progressive and peace-loving people of the world in demanding that the trumped up cases against Protima, Devendar Das, Amin Maharana and Pradeep be immediately withdrawn and they be released unconditionally. We also call for a public apology from Orissa authorities for unjustified harassment of anti-displacement activists.

Free all political prisoners!
Justice for victims of unjust arrests and enforced disappearances!
Free Indian anti-displacement activists!  Free the Orissa 4!

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