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
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