Close Down the illegal Detention Camp at Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu

June 30, 2012

Press Statement

For many of us the war in Sri Lanka was over in the month of May 2009, when the armed rebellion was defeated by the combined might of many super powers including that of India. But for the Tamils of Sri Lanka’s origin, a war of other form and means is still rages both within their cherished land and in the lands where they have sought “political” asylum.

The  parties of the political establishment in Tamil Nadu; the DMK and the AIADMK who claim to profess the concern for  the Sri Lankan Tamils Refugees in the state., but have not bothered to look at the inhuman conditions in the so-called “friendly” refugee camps which has been historically giving “shelter” to the asylum seekers or refugees from the North and East of Sri Lanka. The utter apathy of the successive governments led by both DMK and AIDMK is nothing short of political hypocrisy.

Tamil refugee camps of one form or the other, in pathetic conditions have existed in Rameshwaram and Mandapam for almost three decades now.  What is more scandalous is the way  the Indian ‘state’ treats these asylum seekers who fled from the twin violence of the Sri Lankan state and the armed rebels. Without any exaggeration, each one of the  Sri Lankan refugee has been Suspected and targeted  as a terrorist or an accomplice of terror.

The Tamil Nadu Q branch police are running an illegal detention camp in Chengalapattu. Currently 28 refugees ‘imprisoned’ in the camp and invariably all  of them face the common charge of entering  India without a passport.   From the very inception when mass exodus of refugees/asylum seekers started from Sri Lanka, they were usually sent to the open refugee camps in Rameshwaram and Mandapam after their details were duly registered.

The refugees who are currently detained in Chengalpatu were also similarly registered when they came to India seeking asylum. But strangely they have been charged with cases of entering the nation without passport. Currently 13 out of the 28 refugees are on hunger strike from 15th of June, demanding their immediate transfer to the open camps. 4 of the protesters are in a very critical condition.  One of the protesters Jagan has a low pulse rate.  Narmadhan, Satheesh kumar and Sendhooran are suffering from  hematuria as a result of the long hunger protest.

Some of these refugees in the Chengalpattu camp came to India seeking asylum 20 years ago. Cases have been registered against them also for the same reason after May,2009. The high court of Tamil Nadu  has dismissed the charges against 7 of these refugees and has ordered their immediate release. But  these refugees re being illegally detained in these prisons. Apart from this, fabricated cases of thieving, smuggling of weapons and drugs have also been registered against some of the refugees. Even though the police have no evidence against thee refugees the case has been adjourned whenever it comes for the hearing.

The refugees are not allowed to leave the camp. They are given 70 rupees per day for food and upkeep, with which they are expected to buy the necessities to cook their daily food by themselves. In case of any medical emergency, they are taken to the hospitals escorted by 4 police men.

Only their blood relatives are allowed to meet them in this prison. These relatives  travel for a about 15 hours from their camps in Rameshwaram or Mandapam to visit them. After coming to Chengalpattu they have to get permission from the Thasildar and then from the Police department. Only then the Q branch police will allow them to see their relatives. After all the procedures are completed they get barely an hour to meet their relatives in the camp. Further the visitors have to get permission from their camp supervisors to travel this far to meet their relatives. After a hunger strike  agitation last month by  a few changes in the procedures were implemented.

Overall, the Chengalpattu refugee camp is neither functioning as a prison run in accordance with human rights laws nor as a refugee camp where rights are guaranteed. Rather it’s clear that it is functioning as a illegal detention camp.  These refugees are neither treated by the international Refugee law (UNHCR) nor by the Indian Penal Code.

The sole intention of this seems to be paint a picture that these men who fled their land in fear for their lives, as members of the LTTE, and thereby claim that  the organization is still operating even as the Sri Lankan government has formally announced that the LTTE has been totally wiped out.  These detainees are tortured both physically and mentally in these camp-prisons. They can neither avail required medical facilities in Chengalpattu nor can they get the necessary help from their relatives.

We the following concerned organisations; Tamil Solidarity Campaign, May 17th Movement, PUCL -Karnataka, SICHREM, Visual Search, Pedestrian Pictures, LESBiT, New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) and the progressive  sections of Karnataka condemn the treatment meted out to these refugees and asylum seekers.

We demand that this illegal detention camp at Chengalpattu be closed down and demand the release of all these 28 refugees to the open refugee camps at Rameshwaram and Mandapam where they can jon there relatives and friends. It is also our concern that the conditions in the Refugee Camps be improved, and these war victims be treated more humanely with compassion and concern. 

Following the clippings of the articles in DNA and in Indian Express following the Press release.

Advertisements

44 KVs in Karnataka proved implementing RTE

June 29, 2012


Set up a special court in Karnataka to try children’s cases

June 29, 2012


26th JUNE UN INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

June 29, 2012

SICHREM calls upon the Government of India to immediately ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) and to pass a domestic legislation categorically prohibiting torture immediately.

26th June marks the UN International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. It provides us with an opportunity to honour the victims and survivors of torture, and for us all, survivors of torture and their allies, to stand in solidarity. The Convention against Torture (CAT) adopted in 1984, came into effect on June 26th,1987,

Despite its prohibition, torture continues: both physical and psychological and is prevalent in over half the world’s countries. Instances of torture are not confined to police custody and interrogation situations. In a variety of other settings, particularly in the private sphere, the emotional and physical ordeal endured by women, harassed for dowry, subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination; young children forced into labor, subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse; the suffering of marginalized groups, the severe inhumane forms of atrocities on Dalits are some instances. This is a disgrace in the twenty-first century.

The aim of torture is to exert power, to punish, create fear, to destroy trust, to break down the victim’s personality and resilience. It is first and foremost a means of instilling fear in society at large. Torture is not only destructive at the individual and family level, but also a crucial obstacle to economic and social development.

The effects of torture continue long after the actual act. And rehabilitation is crucial – for the individual, their family and society. The purpose of rehabilitation is to empower the survivor to resume as full a life as possible. Rebuilding the life of someone whose dignity has been destroyed takes time and as a result long-term material, medical, psychological and social support is needed. It is important to stress that rehabilitation is possible. And it works. Rehabilitation is also a right.

As of 22nd June 2012, there are 150 State Parties, who have ratified CAT and 74 states are yet to ratify CAT – the Government of India has still not ratified (signed in October 1997).

The Government of India introduced the Torture Bill in the Lok Sabha on 26th April, 2010 and passed it on May 6, 2010. The Rajya Sabha then referred it to a Select Committee which submitted its report in December 2010 with some recommendations. The Government needs to amend and expand its current definition of torture to conform to its obligations of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

SICHREM in Karnataka has documented more than 50 cases of illegal detention, torture, encounters(extra judicial killings), deaths in police & judicial custody from January 2012 to June 2012(6months), and has filed complaints with the Human Rights Commission, courts of law and other human rights institutions.

Therefore SICHREM demands the following from the Government of India:

1) To ensure that an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as justification for committing torture;

2) To provide an effective mechanism to promptly investigate any allegation of torture;

3) To make compensation an enforceable right, including the means for full rehabilitation.

 AND

1. The immediate ratification of the Convention against Torture without any reservations and the signing and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention;

2. The passing of legislation which brings domestic violence within the definition of torture;

3. Specific safeguards protecting women, children, dalits and minorities, set out in legislation and strictly enforced through human rights institutions and court directions;

The day was observed with a ‘Walk against Torture’  from St. Joseph’s College to Town Hall Road followed by a ‘Candle Light Vigil’ at Town Hall Road at Bangalore on 26th June 2012 


Observance of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

June 23, 2012

 

Programs for the observation 26 June

The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

By SICHREM, St Josephs College and NATT

Date

Event

22nd June 2012
  • Awareness Walk by students inside the college campus to create awareness on torture through songs and display of posters.
  • Initiating a signature campaign demanding ratification of CAT, enactment of a domestic legislation and a rehabilitation policy for victims and survivors of torture.
23rd June 2012
  • Signature campaign continues in Arts and PG Block of the college and with friends outside.
25th June 2012
  • Flash Mobs are to be conducted in the college, documentary screening, collage making, poster making.
  • Painting of long banner to say “Stamp out Torture’
  • Hall Meeting addressed by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM and Fr. Daniel Fernandez, Principal of St Joseph’s College and facilitated by R.Manohar Head of the Programs, SICHREM.
26th June 2012
  • ‘A Walk Against Torture’ through the main thoroughfares of the city to end at the Town Hall.
  • Candle light vigil in solidarity with all victims and survivors.
  • Oath Taking



Arrest of Human Rights Defenders in Bangalore

June 22, 2012

Dear friends, well wishers, colleagues and fellow travellers,

We thank you for the solidarity actions and concerns expressed on the arrest of Mr. Mathews Philip and fellow Human Rights and Child Rights Defenders on 18th June 2012. I think that I should inform you the details of the incident.

SICHREM’s involvement in this case began with a telephone call recieved on the evening of 15th June by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director of SICHREM, from Ms. Emily from San Francisco, the sister of Ms. Suja Jones Mazurier, informing that her sister’s husband had raped his own daughter. She also informed that the police were refusing to take the complaint and not willing to register a case, and sought SICHREM’s help and support. Unfortunately Emily could not give us any more details and told us that she will ask Suja to contact us.

As we waited for the call, the next day’s newspapers reported the case. We hoped that Mr. Pascal Mazurier would be arrested immediately, but  the arrest had not happened even until Sunday. Meanwhile we had authentic information that the delay in the arrest was not just an innocent delay on the part of the police based on the technical matters to do with diplomatic immunity. There were serious efforts going on to whisk him away to France. There were also  efforts going on to claim his children also back to France as they happen to be French citizens. Though the punishment for the same crime in France happens to be harsher, the accused and his friends were confident of organizing a mistrial in France as all the evidences and witnesses are left back in Bangalore.

Therefore, the protest was organised by ‘Campaign Against Child Labour-Karnataka‘ seeking the arrest of Mr. Pascal Mazurier.

On 18th June 2012 at 11.30 am  the protestors comprising activists from human rights and child rights organisations such as of SICHREM,BOSCO,CRT,INSA, APSA, Mobility India, Sparsha and Action Aid assembled in front of the French Consulate General Office, in a very peaceful manner standing on the footpath on the opposite Sidé of the Consulate with no blocking of traffic or creating any hinderance to the public.

There was a letter taken to the High Grounds police station to inform them of the protest. The police refused permission and also refused to accept the letter and just informed Mr.Nagasimha of CRT that they cannot protest.

A large posse of police personell arrived  and around 11.45 AM, the Assistant Commissionner of Police of Sheshadripuram Mr.Soola Bireswara Swamy called on the phone and spoke to Mr. Nagasimha Rao and Mr. Mathews Philip asking the protestors to call off the protest and disperse, Mr. Mathews reasoned it with the ACP that the protest is a peaceful one and would be done only till 1pm and then they would disperse. But the ACP was adamant and would not listen but used abusive language seeking to call off the protest. At this point Mr. Mathews discontinued the conversation.

By 12 noon the police vans were brought and the protesting activists were arrested. They arrested 26 activists including Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director of SICHREM, Mr. Lakshapathi, Executive Director of APSA, Ms Sheela Devaraj, Director of APSA and Mr. Nagasimha Rao, Dy Director of CRT. There were seven women among the arrested, one among them was visually challenged, and there were two other phsically challenged activists too.

The police took the arrested activists to the Audugodi Police Training School and were lodged there. They obtained signatures of all the 26 activists on the Police Search Report(PSR) and Personal Bail Bond, but were never informed of the sections under which they were doing so and the sections under which they were being arrested and for what offence .

At 6pm a video grapher was brought and the activists were forced to pronounce their name, father’s name and the age individually before the camera.

The arrested activists were released at 6.30pm.

Now we understand that there is a case registered on the activists in Crime No : 157/2012 under sections 341(Punishment for wrongful restraint),143 (unlawful assembly punishment upto 6months in prison),145 (Joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse),188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), r/w section 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code,1860.

This is what happened on the 18th June 2012.

We are also happy to inform you that Pascal Mazurier has been arrested on 20th Morning by 6.30AM and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.

Please find the news in different news channels in the links provided below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7mnP_IT6eE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQUz5a7mmGc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KosElhGrEY

http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/french-consulate-worker-to-be-arrested-soon-for-allegedly-raping-daughter/236437?v_also_see

In solidarity,

R.Manohar
Head of Programs,
SICHREM

Complaint to SHRC on a case of Custodial Death

June 20, 2012
 
Honourable Justice S.R. Nayak
Chairperson
Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, 
5th Floor, 5th Phase,Multi-Storied Building,
Dr.Ambedkar Vidhana Veedhi, Bangalore – 560 001.
 
Dear Sir,
 
Sub: Complaint on death of Ashok while in custody of Kerala police in Yelahanka BSF camp.

The contents for this complaint is drawn from the English newspaper, The Hindu dated May 28, 2012 and is place before your good offices for action and justice. The paper reports that, A 30-year-old man identified as Ashok, who was brought to the city was in the custody of a police team from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and he was found dead under mysterious circumstances at the Border Security Force’s training facility at Yelahanka here on Sunday morning.

According to city police sources, it is stated that he was found hanging from a piece of his own clothing inside a toilet at the BSF Guest House where he had been lodged by his Kerala police escorts.

Joint Commissioner of Police B. Dayanand said that Ashok was in the custody of a team from Thiruvananthapuram’s anti-piracy squad, which was led by an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The detainee, a resident of Banashankari III Stage here, had surrendered before a Magistrate on May 22 along with his father Sudhakar (58) at Thiruvananthapuram in a case involving the production and sale of pirated CDs and DVDs.

It is stated, that, a case of custodial death has been registered at the Yelahanka (Old Town) Police Station and a Judicial Magistrate is conducting an inquest and the post-mortem reports are awaited. The paper reports the statement of Mr.Dayanand  “As per law, when a suspect is in police custody, nothing prevents the police from lodging the detainee at a place of their choice — it can be a hotel, lodge or in this case the BSF Guest House,” and added that the Kerala police team had also followed due procedure. Ashok’s lawyer here said that his client’s relatives have sought a judicial inquiry into the custodial death.

We file this complaint since there needs to be an investigation,

  1. To look into the exact cause of the death,
  2. Why was he lodged at the BSF training facility and whether that is allowed to be done?
  3. Whether he was referred to the government hospital in time?
  4. To also inquire further if the procedures and guidelines laid down by the NHRC in its letter No.66/SG/NHRC/93 dated 14 December 1993 on reporting custodial deaths and also with reference to the letter vide No 40/3/95/LD dated 21 June 1995 has been adhered & followed ?
  5. To also inquire, if the guidelines laid by the NHRC, as per the letter addressed by the Chairperson to the Chief ministers vide letter dated 10th August, 1995 on the video filming of post-mortem examinations in cases of custodial deaths has been followed?
  6. To inquire, if the guidelines laid down by the NHRC, as per the letter addressed by the Chairperson to the Chief Ministers vide letter No.NHRC/ID/PM/96/57 dated 27th March 1997.

Thanking you,

Yours Truly,

Manohar.R                                                                                                                                                                 
Head – Programs