30 nov 2011
Call for withdrawal of all false charges against human rights activists and the villagers who are opposed to the POSCO project
We unequivocally condemn the arrest of Abhay Sahu, the leading figure of the struggle against forcible land acquisition by the Korean company POSCO in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.In our recent visit to the area on November 7 and 8 2011, we were fully convinced that more repression and arrests were to follow against those who are resolute in continuing to resist against the plans of POSCO and the Odisha government. All moves to connect with friends and supporters or even meet lawyers is being done at the risk of an imminent arrest just as Mr. Abhay Sahu was arrested at 7.45 pm, November 25 on his way from a meeting. He was arrested most undemocratically without even a warrant, Sir. This is downright condemnable in a democracy where people of this area have appealed to all sections of the government – district, state and national – and each level of judiciary. There are 184 criminal cases on the villagers of three panchayats by the company and the administration. On Abhay Sahu alone, there are 52 cases. We humbly ask you Sir, and your government, as to “Who are the real criminals?” since almost every person in the struggle has been pinned down by police cases.
As per the report of one of our three teams that had been to Odisha, almost all villagers opposing the POSCO plant in the villages of Dhinkia and Govindpur are under virtual arrest as their mobility is severely restricted by the imposition of false cases to create sheer intimidation. Any move to secure daily necessities, medicine or even travel up to the Kujang block is impossible. A sixty-year-old woman, Bachani Biswal, who had stepped out for treatment and purchase of medicines for her asthma was beaten up badly, arrested, and confined for a week in October.
People are deprived of the most ordinary medicines and the accumulation of untreated illnesses is on a high. Worse still is the plight of those grievously injured when their protest was overtaken by hired goons on September 26 with the sole aim of physically crushing the protest and inflicting injuries.
We met a countless number of people with injuries and severe pain without any recourse to the most basic orthopaedic treatment. Women’s need of medical attention for pregnancies and gynecological ailments receives is on an all time high too. People have put everything at stake, including their lives, with a continuous vigil to prevent the entry of POSCO officials with police assistance to begin the taking over of the land.
The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) has been repeatedly drawing attention to the need of support and active co-operation from all progressive and democratic forces committed to creating a just and humane society. Such repression will only intensify people’s resistance to this corporate plunder.
We, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS),
- Strongly demands withdrawal of all police cases against the people of these villagers that will hopefully ensure the restoration of normalcy,
- Also demands the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Abhay Sahu
Indira Chakravarty, and
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non-funded effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women by any perpetrator (s).
November 29, 2011