The following declaration is the result of the World Social Forum Extractives Assembly. Some EJOLT collaborators joined the discussions and EJOLT supports this declaration:
We, organisations assembled here, bear witness to a global extractivist boom that is leading to great misery for many hundreds of millions of the Earth’s people and destroying the very basis for life and its reproduction in significant parts of the Global South, and also the Global North. It is corporations, financiers and the rich that benefit, and not the majority of peasant and working class peoples. This extractivist, growth fixated and profit oriented maldevelopment model is expanding capital’s reach and destroying our common goods of water, land, air, forests and oceans. In this phase of global capitalism, power relations are shifting, with emerging economies and corporations of the Global South joining the traditional actors of the Global North in plundering and colonising the natural resources of South and North. Extractivism is not just the activity of resource extraction but a development model, which organises the political, socio-economic, gender and cultural dynamics within society and the state and its institutions.
We specifically note that:
1. International financial institutions are encouraging extractivism as the major engine to fuel economic growth. On the back of the financial crisis, financiers and investment bodies are looking for new areas for profitable investment, mainly financialised forms of profit making, with natural resource extraction representing a site for rapid and substantial accumulation.
2. While MNCs, TNCs and their financial backers promise jobs and development on the back of new growth, we instead witness rising poverty and inequality in communities and nations significantly impacted by extractivism.
3. Extractivism is characterised by intertwined collusion between state and corporations, with major public finance investments, poor transparency in deals, and corruption. This collusion, linked to state intervention and poor regulatory frameworks, results in major tax losses and capital flight in countries affected by extractivism.
4. Extractivism encompasses sites of extraction, processing activities, the transportation of raw goods, and the nodes of exportation. We, thus, see extensive impacts beyond local areas.
5. Extractivism is resulting in the displacement of peasant, indigenous people and rural populations, as land is grabbed for mining, oil extraction, plantations and dams. The rights of indigenous populations to make decisions about their land and to veto developments they reject is consistently violated.
6. Water theft accompanies and is often a motivation for land grabs as agricultural corporations, investment companies and wealthy individuals search out new sources of fresh water, one of the scarcest natural resources and already subject to open financialisation, which trend will greatly escalate in the future. Extractivist activities consume enormous quantities of water, resulting in water shortage and water pollution.
7. Extractivism destroys natural resources and whole eco-systems upon which the livelihoods and reproduction of peasant and indigenous populations depend. Because women are the majority of the world’s producers (70-80% of domestic food production in SSA, for example), and are primarily responsible for caretaking natural resources held in common, this trend is particularly harmful to them.
8. Many forms of extractivism emit greenhouse gases which significantly contribute to climate change, the effects of which (floods, droughts, and irregular rainfall patterns)negatively impact upon poor peasant and working class urban populations.
9. Workers in extractivist and linked industries, many of whom are migrants, earn low wages, are subject to dangerous work, exposed to toxic chemicals, and increasingly subject to contract and informal conditions of work. Women workers experience particular oppression: sex for work at the point of recruitment, sexual harassment, rape and inappropriate facilities.
10. Women’s unpaid labour has been central to the accumulation strategy of mining and other extractives corporations for centuries. The migrant labour system maximises profits for mining capital by inhibiting family migration and locating responsibility for the social reproduction of the work force and the next generation of workers in the rural areas.
11. Extractivism leads to rising militarisation in and repression of communities resisting extractivism, including extra-judicial killings, torture, persecution and harassment of activists. Women experience gender specific violence, including rape and sexual harassment by private security and state police/military.
We recognise and celebrate the struggles of communities and movements around the world fighting extractivism, and struggling for their land, livelihoods and their very lives. In acknowledging the might of the MNCs and TNCs, their financial backers, and our very governments, we commit to building the power of communities and movements by further linking and unifying our struggles against different forms of extractivism.
We have agreed the following concrete actions for the year ahead:
Today, a global coalition of economists and activists release a 200p report on a variety of initiatives to leave “unburnable” fuels in the soil. The EU funded EJOLT network studied a range of campaigns and innovative proposals that aim to stem the flow of crude at the source.
On May 9, for the first time in human history, global concentration of Carbon Dioxide crossed 400 ppm. “Unburnable fuel” is now a buzz phrase referring to the calculation that if more than 20% of the world’s reserves of coal, oil and natural gas were combusted, run-away climate change is all but certain. The report shows how and where the process of leaving fossil fuels in the ground should start, beginning in some of the most pristine places on the planet.
Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math Movie” and the 350.org fossil fuel disinvestment campaign have recently gone viral. They highlight how markets are overvaluing oil companies, whose share price is based on reserves that can never be burned. But creative resistance to the fossil-fuel economy goes way back. “It is time to listen to constructive initiatives coming from the peoples who have suffered most from oil extraction. They have great ideas on how to leave oil in the soil, coal in the hole and gas under the grass.” says Joan Martinez Alier, a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).
This report is made up of contributions from activists and academics who have either spent years documenting the struggles or are members of Environmental Justice Organisations fighting for environmental justice. In 1995, the Ogoni from the Niger Delta managed to expel Shell. Their proposal to “leave oil in the soil” was picked up by the Nigerian based Environmental Rights Action. Then in 2006, the Ecuadorian organisation Acción Ecológica proposed to leave in the ground 850 million barrels of oil from the ITT wells, located in the Yasuní National Park, home to the world’s richest biodiversity, and indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. This proposal was supported by the Ecuadorean government. Ecuador would make a financial sacrifice for its own good and that of humanity. The country requested foreign contributions equivalent to half the money that would have been earned, some US$ 3.6 billion in total, paid in ten years. These contributions would be deposited in a UNDP trust fund and used for social investment, environmental reparations in oil areas, and the development of energy alternatives. Some money is arriving, but not fast enough. The Yasuni ITT initiative is now under serious threat of cancelation. When on May 24 President Correa starts his third term, some fear that he will break with the Yasuni ITT initiative and open the area for drilling.
The report highlights why the EU and other rich countries should urgently support initiatives such as the Yasuni and other grassroots proposals to leave oil in the soil. The concept has caught fire in so many oil-extraction countries that it has given birth to a new word: yasunize.
“Towards a Post Oil Civilization” gives a historical perspective from Ecuador and Nigeria and features cases from Colombia to Canada, from Italy to Spain and from Norway to New Zealand. The report also charts the rise of fracktivism: activism against the dangerous drilling technique called fracking. Glocal alliances for climate justice are formed by grassroots communities at both ends of the pipeline: North and South are joining hands.
Some chapters deal with the international legal grounds for stopping extraction in National Parks and in indigenous territories, economic mechanisms for keeping oil in the ground and the political ecology of the Yasuni initiative. The report explains new and radical forms of political-ecological interaction.
Patrick Bond, senior professor of development studies at the Center for Civil Society (University of KwaZulu-Natal) says “In Durban, the next struggle is to close Africa’s largest oil refinery complex as part of an overall detox, and to prevent offshore drilling. Inspiring examples come from Ecuador, the Niger Delta, France and other partially-successful sites of resistance.”
“Leaving the oil underground does not translate to losses but savings. We must learn to save. The oil under the soil is still our oil. We must not exploit every resource simply because we have it.” says Nnimmo Bassey from Oilwatch and Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
Stop the Police Brutality Against Maruti Suzuki Workers: Kaithal, 19 May 2013: The Haryana Government yet again in a brazen and outright cowardly manner has sought to protect the interest of capital and particularly the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd by refusing to allow the victimised workers and their families to undertake a peaceful demonstration planned for today which was expected to draw in ten thousand people from across the state.
A short while ago, police lathicharged a peaceful demonstration of workers families outside the residence of State Industry Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala. Scores have been hurt in the lathicharge and the demonstrators are being arrested.
The Haryana Government, on the eve of this peaceful protest at Kaithal, imposed IPC Section 144 in the town and arrested close to 100 workers and their family members from the dharna site at the Kaithal Mini Secretariat at 11:30 pm last night. Several more were picked up from the entry points to the town including the bus terminus this morning. The workers and their family members have been sitting on an entirely peaceful dharna at the Mini Secretariat from 28 April 2013 demanding release of the 147 workers in Gurgaon Jail and reinstatement of the workers, both permanent and contract, terminated without enquiry following the 18 July incident. Despite the heavy police mobilisation and barricades at entry points of the town, thousands of people from across Haryana have been pouring into the city to gherao the State Industries Minister, Randeep Singh Surjewala at his residence. Wives, mothers and sisters of workers are present in large numbers at this demonstration demanding a just inquiry and an end to the state effort at criminalisation of the workers.
Officers at Kaithal Civil Lines Police Station and at the Office of the Superintendent of Police refused to provide copy of the FIR or even provide details about the arrests since last night to us or even to the advocate of the workers and their families. They even refused to mention under what charges the arrests had been made and where the workers and others who were arrested were detained.
There were two other large demonstrations in Kaithal today – one to celebrate Parshuram Jayanti organised by the Brahmin Samaj addressed by the Haryana Industries Minister, Surjewala and another of the Haryana Janhit Congress. So, the imposition of Section 144 IPC was clearly aimed at denying the Maruti Suzuki workers and their families their democratic right to peaceful protest. The large police mobilisation with tear gas and water cannons was only aimed at the Maruti Suzuki workers.
84 Sarpanches from across Haryana had extended their support to the Maruti Suzuki workers struggle at the last demonstration of the workers at Kaithal on 8 May 2013. The Haryana Government has stopped the funds to these Panchayats. Thus it is using both brute force and its fiscal powers to obliterate the struggle of the workers and put down the solidarity and support mobilised by the Sarpanches across the state. Elected representatives of the people are refusing to talk to citizens in their attempt to protect the interest of capital.
We continue to stand in solidarity with the struggle of the members of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union and their demand for a fair inquiry, release of the arrested workers and reinstatement of the workers terminated after the 18 July 2012 incident. This struggle against capital and the complicit state is a critical turning point in upholding democratic rights of the working class.
We support the demands of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union:
1. The Haryana Government must immediately stop the assault on the workers of Maruti -Suzuki.
2. The Haryana Government must immediately order an enquiry into the events at Kaithal in the last 24 hours.
3. Government of Haryana should withdraw all charges and release all Maruti Suzuki workers and their family members arrested at Kaithal in the last 24 hours.
4. Government of Haryana should not oppose the bail application of the 147 workers in Gurgaon jail following the 18 July incident.
5. MSIL must reinstate all permanent workers who were summarily dismissed after the 18 July incident and regularise all contract workers who were on the rolls of the Company on 18 July 2012.
6. MSIL must negotiate in good faith with the MSWU.
Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab
People’s Union of Civil Rights, Kaithal, Haryana
Kulbir Singh and Ranjana Padhi
Peoples Union for Democratic Rights
New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
NAPM strongly condemns the arrest of Madhuri Krishnaswamy in
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) strongly protests the arrest of Madhuri Behen in district Barwani of Madhya Pradesh. It is a sad state of democracy to put her behind bars for fighting injustice and bad state of maternal health system.
Madhuri Behen from Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan was arrested on 16th May, 2013 afternoon in a case that was filed against her and others as a result of protests for forcing a pregnant woman i.e. Baniya Bai who was in a critical condition and was in labour to deliver in full public view just outside the Menimata PHC.
The case was filed against Madhuri, Baniya Bai’s Husband, Basant and others by the compounder and was registered as FIR No 93 of 2008. Madhuri and others had received a court notice to appear in the Court of Shri D.P. Singh Sewach, JMFC on 16th May. Madhuri appeared and was informed that the police had filed a closure report (khatma) but had not stated clear reasons for the closure and therefore the report was refused. Madhuri was arrested from the court complex. She has been remanded in JC till 30th May 2013 and will be placed in Khargone women’s Jail.
This case of Baniya Bai is also part of the writ petition filed in the High Court Of MP, Indore Bench in which the status of maternal health services was raised in light of 29 maternal deaths recorded in a span of 9 months in Barwani DH.
Details of the case are as follows:
A ST resident of of village Sukhpuri, Barwani. Baniya Bai was taken to the Menimata PHC for delivery by her father-in-law, Dalsingh, on the night of 11 November 2008. They made the 15 km journey on a bullock cart because no other transport was available. After admitting and taking a cursory look at her, the compounder, V.K. Chauhan, and nurse, Nirmala, left the PHC and went home.
The next morning, Baniya was forced by the compounder and the nurse to leave the hospital. Her family was asked for Rs. 100, which they did not have and so Dalsing immediately went to get money from their village. Despite attempts to re-admit Baniya Bai to the PHC, the compounder flatly refused saying that they could not manage the delivery so she would have to go to Barwani DH or Silawad Hospital.
Baniya’s relatives tried to get the Menimata hospital compounder, nurse and staff to call for the Janani Express, but were unsuccessful. The family was told to make its own arrangements to refer to a higher hospital. When forced to leave the PHC Baniya Bai crawled out of the labour room, on to the road outside the PHC, where she lay down in severe pain.
Eventually, Baniya’s mother-in-law, Suvali Bai, went looking for a Dai in the marketplace and found Jambai Nana, who had come to market collect her wages. After hearing about Baniya Bai’s situation, Jambai agreed to assist her, and at around 12PM, conducted a normal delivery on the road outside the hospital. The father-in-law gave his dhoti (loin cloth) to provide cover for Baniya Bai during delivery. Following this incident, a crowd gathered outside the health centre.
Madhuri was passing by, inquired about what was happening. She then called up the Silawad CHC, the Silawad Police Station as well as health officials from Barwani. Upon being informed, senior officials from the health department ordered for a vehicle to be sent immediately to the Menimata PHC. After being denied emergency obstetric care and being forced to deliver in public view, Baniya Bai’s and her child were taken to the Silawad Hospital for admission. The compounder was suspended after repeated demands for action from JADS, but was soon reinstated.
Please call and fax the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary on the following numbers.
1.Chief Minister,Shri Shivraj Singh Cauhan
|Office Address||Shyamla Hills, Bhopal-
Phone +91-755-2441581,2441033 Fax +91-755-2441781
2. Chief Secretary
|Office Address||, Bhopal-
Phone +91-755-2441848,2441370 Fax +91-755-2441521
Medha Patkar, Dr. Sunilam, Arundhati Dhuru, Kamayani Swami,
Sudhir Vombatkere, Bhupender Singh Rawat, Vimal Bhai, Mahendra Yadav,
Meera, Seela Manaswinee, Madhuresh Kumar
Need to change the judicial and political system, resolves people’s convention
New Delhi, May 18, 2013: A people’s convention on the State’s Onslaught On Right to Freedom of Expression and Association organized here in the backdrop of suspension of INSAF’s FCRA and freezing of its bank account resolved to fight against the demonizing and draconian laws of Indian state in favor of dispossessed people and their basic rights.
Speaking on the occasion in the Constitution Club of India, NCP spokesperson Devi Prasad Tripathi informed the packed house that he has recently written a letter to the Home Minister of India Sushil Kumar Shinde to revoke its FCRA orders against INSAF unconditionally as this step may cause embarrassment to the government. The letter states, “…I apprehend that you actions against INSAF may appear to be motivated and may cause embarrassment to the government…INSAF and its allies are engaged in defending democratic rights of deprived communities and in strengthening secular spirit of the nation”. Tripathi said that the judicial and political system of this country needs to be transformed completely.
The convention started with paying homage to Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, the founder President of INSAF who passed away two days back. Delhi University Professor Achin Vinaik elaborated on the life and works of Dr. Engineer. After this, senior journalist Anand Swaroop Verma gave a detailed backgrounder of the corporate-security establishment nexus in India that started with a report of FICCI and ASSOCHAM and including the “wise” suggestion of the Prime Minister to “co-opt” the media in a meeting with home ministers of states way back in 2006. Manisha Sethi of Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association updated the same issue with new facts regarding defence deals and media-corporate nexus where Reliance group has a shareholding in 25 news channels.
Forward Block General Secretary Devbrat Biswas emphasized on continuing the struggles and people’s movements with people’s resources and leadership whether FCRA is continued or not. Educationist Anil Chowdhary categorically said that if the government vows not to take any foreign funding for development, then INSAF will be the first to surrender its FCRA and continue struggles without foreign funding. He said that since the government does not have the courage to do so, hence it may categorically state on its website whether which struggles are not applicable for foreign funding. Chowdhary satirically said that the government has a last and very easy resort to add a footnote in the constitution that all the rights apply to just 15 percent population of this country.
Other speakers including Kalyani Menon Sen, Ramesh Dixit, Anil Singh, Ashok Chowdhary, Ranjana Padhi and John Dayal expressed solidarity with the struggling pro-people forces and condemned the state’s onslaught on people’s basic rights. The convention concluded by passing a five point resolution condemning the recent arrests of anti-POSCO leader Abhay Sahoo, social activists Madhuri and PUCL activist Jaya Vindhyala.
New Delhi, May 14, 2013
Government wants to rein in people’s struggles related to land, forests, water and for dignity: Chitranjan Singh
Globalisation of resistance cannot be resisted, said Prof Achin Vanaik
Freezing of bank account cannot stifle democratic voice of dissent, said Anil Chaudhary
More than 300 organisations, action groups and grassroots activists, journalists, writers stand in solidarity
Following the suspension of the registration of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) under Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and freezing its bank accounts for 180 days, INSAF organized a press conference at Press Club in Delhi, which was addressed by Justice Rajinder Sachar, Prof Achin Vanaik (Former Dean, Dept of Political Science Delhi University, Social Activist Shabnam Hashmi and INSAF general secretary Chitranjan Singh. INSAF is a network of more than 700 NGOs involved in grassroots activities and people’s struggles. INSAF was created, post-Babri Masjid demolition, so that public consciousness could be raised on issues related to communalism, globalization and divisive politics. The Home Ministry has stated that according to information available with the Government agencies, the foreign funding received by INSAF is likely to be ‘prejudicial to public interest’.
Prof Vanaik said, after globalisation, globalisation of resistance is here to stay. It cannot be resisted. The double standard of the government is quite visible. It is so beholden to foreign direct investment (FDI) but it is acting against the unification of resistance which is globally vibrant gives meaning to democracy.
Shabnam Hashmi sought immediate withdrawal of the suspension order else we will demonstrate before the residence of the Home Minister.
Freezing of bank account cannot stifle democratic voice of dissent. Our right to resistance against right wing politics and economics is guaranteed by constitution. The policies of international financial institutions like World Bank Group remain a threat to democracy and we will resist it in public interest. How can being prejudicial to public interest be deemed a ground for suspension when the democratic practice is based on the prejudices about the public interest, asked Anil Chaudhary, a veteran social worker and a trainer of trainers.
At the conference a statement endorsed by more than 300 organisations, action groups and grassroots activists, journalists, writers etc. was also released. The statement expresses its solidarity with the stand of INSAF in asserting the constitutional right of every citizen of India to participate in governance, which includes the right to question, challenge and oppose the policies of the state through peaceful, non-violent and democratic means. Among signatories of the statement are Admiral Ramdas, Vasanth Kannabiran, Praful Bidwai, Ram Puniyani, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Sandeep Pandey, Kalyani Menon sen, Henri Tiphagne, Saheli, Ashok Chaoudhury, Subhash Gatade, Saeed Baloch (Pakistan), Saroop Dhruv, Asad Zaidi, Bejwada Wilson, Toni Leino (Finland), Antonio Villavicencio (Ecuador), Amanul Haq (Bangladesh) and other distinguished persons and organisations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Azerbaizan, Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Tajikistan, France, USA, Belgium, Canada, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Mangolia and kyrgystan.
It is noteworthy that INSAF has been demanding that International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like World Bank Group should be brought under rigorous legislative scrutiny. In this regard it organized a Peoples Front Against IFIs during the 46th Annual Board of Governors’ Meeting (AGM) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Greater Noida, Delhi during May 2-5, 2013. Is it a coincidence that the letter of suspension was received while the meeting of Peoples Front Against IFIs was underway. At this meeting several Members of Parliament came and expressed their support for making IFIs subservient to legislative will. Providing the reason for the suspension of the bank account wherein contributions are received under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, the letter of April 30, 2013. The letter was received on May 4, 2013. In doing so it withheld the information on the basis of which the suspension order has been issued.
The Ministry’s letter is in reaction to INSAF’s case against the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 in the Supreme Court and the new rules formulated under which all democratic action such as rallies, demonstrations, protests etc. are prohibited. The Ministry should have waited for Supreme Court’s verdict instead of curtailing the constitutional rights to resist and protest to defend rights within the constitutional framework. Such an impatient act of the Ministry through subordinate legislation and invoking of Section 13 curbs the right to freedom to protest and express dissenting voices.
Speaking in the conference, INSAF general secretary Chitranjan Singh said that to understand this governmental action, we need to visit the FCRA, 1976 and the amendments done to it in 2010 as well as the Rules formulated in 2011. A look at this will expose the real intent of the government as well as its repressive politics in the garb of stopping/curbing foreign funding. The new amendments to the FCRA done in 2010, especially its Rule 3, are highly controversial and are very relevant in understanding the current context and controversy. It says that activities of any organization which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like Bandh or hartal (strike), Rasta Roko (stopping trafffic), Rail Roko (Stopping Trains) or Jail Bharo (fill up jails) in support of public causes will be deemed as political in nature even if it is not a political party. The government, of course, has reserved the right to define or designate those organizations which will fall in this category. Such organizations cannot be recipients of foreign funding.
He further said that INSAF had challenged these very legal provisions on 5th August 2011 in the Delhi High Court but its writ petition was rejected on 16 September 2011. Subsequently, INSAF filed the same writ in the Supreme Court of India which was admitted. The Supreme Court has asked the Government to file a reply which it has not filed till date. It is interesting and ironic that while INSAF challenged the provisions of the FCRA which curb funding of organizations by designating their activities as political in nature, INSAF itself has been made a very first example of such prosecution and its bank accounts sealed by the govt this month in the name of political activities.
Chitranjan said that the Government wants to rein in peoples struggles related to land, forests, water and for dignity going on all over India from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir. It also wants to curb all the basic facilities available to such organizations & individuals. INSAF has played an important role in such people oriented struggles. If giving support in getting posters, banners and booklets printed, their distribution, bearing expenses for their display and saying things in defence of democracy becomes a political activity because of which your livelihood can be snatched, then it raises a very serious question: Is there any democracy in this country or not? The fundamental right to free expression under Article 19 (A) that we keep reciting, does it have any meaning?
Social organizations and movements across the country and abroad are demanding review and withdrawal of the order of suspension of the FCRA account of INSAF. INSAF and its allies are always engaged in defending democratic rights of deprived communities and in strengthening secular spirit of the nation. It is incomprehensible as to how such work in genuine public interest is deemed to be against public interest. ………………………………………. For further information, please contact:
INSAF @ 011-65663958 Shree Prakash @ 09406614800, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 May 2013
Civil Society condemns freezing of INSAF bank accounts, to challenge MHA orders
New Delhi, May 08’ 13: Civil society groups, concerned individuals, activists and representatives from peoples’ organizations have fiercely condemned the draconian act of freezing the bank account of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and suspension of its FCRA by Ministry of Home Affairs in a meeting held in INSAF office here on Wednesday presided by the senior journalist and human rights defender Anand Swaroop Verma.
The meeting deliberated on the grounds upon which this decision has been imposed by the government. Veteran educationist Anil Chaudhary raised question on the government’s action that invites FDI in sectors that displaces people and robs them of their livelihood on the one hand whereas bans FCRA of those who fight in support of peoples’ livelihoods and rights.
The meeting attended by eminent human rights defenders like Bezwada Wilson, Ashok Chowdhary, Kalyani Menon Sen, P.T. George, Ramesh Dixit, Rajendra Ravi, Afsar Jafri and representatives of various peoples’ organizations unanimously decided to fight the government’s decision under the newly formed banner Janadhikar Sangharsh Samiti. The first meeting against this backdrop is decided to be held on May 17 in the Constitution Club Of India, New Delhi.
It is to be noted that bank accounts of INSAF, a platform of more than 700 civil society and peoples’ organizations, was frozen by MHA, GOI earlier this month regarding which the communiqué was sent to its Delhi office on May 4, 2013. Three days after this, INSAF had taken legal recourse and challenged this undemocratic action of government in the Supreme Court on May 7.
Note: Kindly circulate widely
Citizens’ groups, people’s movements, socio-political activists from across India organised themselves to protest and force cancel the ‘civil society consultations’ of the World Bank Group in India. The World Bank has been conducting consultations for review and update of their environmental and social safeguards policies all over the world. The World Bank claims that these meetings “announced with as much advance notice as possible to facilitate informed participation from a diverse set of stakeholders”. In India, the three consultations were scheduled in Delhi (5th April), Bangalore (8th April) and Bhubaneshwar (10th April).
In Delhi and Bangalore, groups and individuals made their way into the consultations and raised objections to the way in which the WB has held the social and environmental safeguards review process. Holding placards and banners that read: “World Bank Quit India”, the demonstrators got the WB consultants and review team to call off and cancel the two consultations. In Bhubaneshwar, around 60 activists, including 10 affected persons from the IFC funded GMR Project, protested outside the Hotel Trident, the five star venue that hosted the consultation. Villagers affected by bank-funded projects were disallowed from participating and presenting their views in what is being advertised as ‘consultations with civil society’. While in Delhi and Bangalore WB could not do the consultation, the Bhubaneshwar one was shamelessly conducted under the shadow of police.
Once these ‘consultations’ are concluded, it is reported that the Bank will consider these areas, through internal dialogue, consultations, and a global series of dialogues with external experts, for reform. The core policies under review are the eight environmental and social safeguard policies namely Environmental Assessment, Natural Habitats, Pest Management, Indigenous Peoples, Physical Cultural Resources, Involuntary Resettlement, Forests, Safety of Dams – as well as the Policy on Piloting the Use of Borrower Systems for Environmental and Social Safeguards.
Experiences of groups and communities, engaging with these processes in last thirty odd years, to see genuine reform of the institution’s policies and possibly its democratisation, have been utterly disappointed. These ‘consultations’ are only used by the Bank to legitimise their destructive funding practices. When the bank continues to invest in coal fired thermal plants, mega dams and large hydropower projects, which are destroying lives, livelihoods and the natural environment, review of environmental & social safeguards is mere lip service. This round of consultations by the World Bank is facing protests in several other countries including Indonesia, Philippines, etc. for similar reasons.
If the World Bank is seriously concerned about the impacts of its investments, then the best test would have been to demonstrate sensitivity in their investments. In India, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector lending arm, is complicit in massive human rights and environmental violations that form the basis of a majority of its investment. For instance, the IFC lending to Lafarge in Meghalaya, mortgaging tribal lands protected under the 6th Schedule of Indian Constitution, to do illegal mining activities had been exposed even in the Supreme Court of India. Similar is the case of the IFC financed the super-mega USD4 billion Tata-Mundra 4000 MW power project in the ecologically sensitive Kutch region of Gujarat. World Bank-funded big hydropower projects like Allain Duhangan and Rampur projects in Himachal Pradesh and mega coal projects like Tata Mundra have been registered to get millions of dollars as free doles under the fraudulent Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change. The massive coal based project will clearly accentuate global warming emissions while the big hydro projects are neither clean nor sustainable. The World Bank has further endorsed such environmental crimes by offering a USD 1 billion loan to the Fifth Power System Development Project, which essentially is a transmission line for huge coal based thermal power plants including Tata-Mundra, Reliance-Sasan Power and Reliance-Krishnapatnam Power. By participating in such a manner, the Bank conveniently escapes blame for the disaster and yet benefits from financing ‘development projects’.
It is clear that the World Bank is in no way doing anything different from what has been done in past decades. Many such reviews have been conducted and thousands of groups and individuals have participated in the hope of seeing genuine reform of the institution’s policies and possibly its democratization, only to be utterly disappointed. The current exercise, therefore, is yet another charade to mask the true intentions of its major shareholders: France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, who is grappling with serious economic downturns and is conveniently using the Bank to force open global investment opportunities with scant regard to environmental and social impacts.
The World Bank’s Policy on Piloting the Use of Borrower Systems for Environmental and Social Safeguards has in the past decade been a mantra to pave the way for promoting investment at any cost. Over a decade ago the World Bank funded the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Environmental Management Capacity Building Project. The result was a massive dilution of India’s environmental and social safeguard norms. The resultant processes gave voice to those within the administration and industry who were crying hoarse that the carefully evolved rigour of “forest” and “environmental” clearance standards in India was thwarting economic growth. Now again the Bank is offering to lend USD 1 Billion for the Ganga Action Plan following the same infrastructure-centered, governance-ignoring model that has failed over the last 25 years, while at the same time funding river-destroying hydropower projects like the Vishnugad Pipalkoti project upstream. The Bank’s funding to the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation has been challenged before the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel, but the Bank is indulging in propaganda against the critics rather than withdrawing from the project. None of the affected people from any other ongoing or past Bank funded project or groups working with them have been invited to these consultations.
Even if one is to assume for a moment that the current exercise of ‘consultations’ is a genuine effort of the World Bank to consult stakeholders, the documents accessed on the range and depth of these ‘consultations’ reveal that they are highly segregated and sectoral. Moreover, participants have been carefully selected and largely include only those who may say what the Bank wants to hear. There is nothing public about such exercises, held, as they normally are, in highly secure 5 Star hotels in capitals around the world, with little or no prior information to the public. Further, World Bank officials typically ‘consult’ bureaucrats and do not engage with Legislators or Parliamentarians.
The best indicator of the shallowness of this exercise is evident since the communities grievously hurt and suffering from the Bank’s lending and investment policies are not invited to these consultations. As a matter of fact, looking at things globally, the only complaint that the IFC’s Compliance Advisor/ Ombudsman has processed for Compliance Audit against a Financial Intermediary lending is from a project in India: IFC lending to IDFC and IIF, which in turn used that money to fund a destructive thermal power project of the notorious GMR Energy. Despite a formal complaint pending review against this investment, the Bank, its bureaucracy and consultants, have not invited the complainants and affected communities to the current ‘consultation’ process, thus revealing the sham and mockery that the current review mechanism is!
It took peoples’ movements, grassroots networks and allied organisations across the world more than 30 years to pressurize the World Bank Group to formulate and have in place mechanisms that would safeguard social-environmental-cultural-traditional interests of communities affected by the Bank’s financing of so-called ‘Development projects.’ However, it took the World Bank Group only one stroke of destructive imagination to bring in the new model of ‘Financial Intermediary Lending’ that wiped out all mandatory requirements posed by environmental and social safeguard principles on lending, as ‘Intermediaries’ are not bound by such standards. At a time when the FI model of lending in India by the IFC and the World Bank at large are expected to cross the halfway mark of their collective investments, it does not make any sense at all for the World Bank to be holding reviews of their environmental and social safeguards; they simply do not matter at all to the actual practice of the World Bank group’s member agencies.
The current ‘consultations’ are a complete sham and must be denounced by anyone genuinely committed to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), climate justice, sustainable development through democratic decision-making and the Principle of Intergenerational Equity.
Speakers at the Press Briefing held in Delhi on the 11th April included:
Clifton D’Rozario (Alternate Law Forum – Bangalore)
Himanshu Thakkar (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People – SANDRP)
Rajendra Ravi (National Cyclists Union)
Vimal Bhai (Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand)
Madhuresh Kumar (National Alliance of People’s Movements)
Citizen groups express deep concern against Strategic lawsuit against public participation against Dr. Sunilam & Dayamani Barla
Oct. 22, 2012, New Delhi: Imprisonment of Dr Sunilam, a socialist politician from Madhya Pradesh has been received with a sense of deep concern and dismay as part of a trend to silence voices of public interest by misleading the judiciary to save vested interests. Dr Sunilam has been part of Indian People’s Movement against WTO and anti-corruption movement in the country.
At a meeting convened by Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) over 20 citizen groups and peoples movements, the facts and circumstances related to the conviction and life imprisonment of Dr Sunilam were examined and future action in this regard was planned.
A meeting of eminent citizens and peoples’ movements is planned on October 28, 2012. In a related development, a solidarity meeting is planned in Hyderabad on October 26 at the office of National Alliance Alliance of Peoples’ Movements.
Former legislator and President of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Dr Sunilam led Kisan Andolans. On 12 January, 1998 which was a black day for the farmers’ movement of our country, the State Government under the leadership of Digvijay Singh brutally crushed the non-violent farmers’ movement using the state police. Under a big conspiracy, Digvijay Singh misused the State Police that fired bullets and 24 farmers were martyred. In this incident, 150 farmers were injured due to bullet fire.
The farmers of the district Betul had given a memorandum to circle office on 12 December, 1997. In this memorandum they demanded compensation for their damaged crops. But their effort remained unheeded. Again on 18 December 1997 they submitted another memorandum with a short notice, otherwise they would start a big movement for their agricultural losses. Due to inactive conduct of Government officials, the farmers were bound to form “Kisan Sangharsh Samity”. With the formation of this outfit, thousand farmers started indefinite protest (Dharna) against the oppressive Congress regime, in Tehsil Compound.
The state police continued its oppressive attitude towards farmers but on January 9, 1998 around 75000 farmers marched in Betul protested peacefully. The District Magistrate of Betul came forward and proposed compensation of only Rs. 400 per acre. This little amount was too insufficient to hurt the farmers’ sentiments. Again agitated farmers were on the crossroad and on 11th January, 1998 they siege the Multai Tehsil and all 450 villages of this tehsil. It was a historical Bandh, while police administration tried hard to maintain normal traffic. Farmers opposed the intervention of police authorities. In a response police and Congress hooligans fired few buses and in conspiracy police charged some farmer leaders for this arson. On 12th January 1998, farmer’s leader Dr. Sunilam decided to enter in Tehsil but the state police had already ordered to shoot farmers Dr. Sunilam reached Tehsil office and requested again and again to stop such firing but police authority did not heed his request. They were acting on the order of their Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. The whole drama was to annihilate Dr. Sunilam. He was arrested, beaten brutally by police and faced all kind of police torture.
Madhya Pradesh Government had lodged 66 cases on 250 farmers along with their leader Dr. Sunilam. Additional Session Court of Multai will give the verdict in three cases on 18th October, 2012. Today, 14 years have been passed.
Dr. Sunilam is a socialist brave heart farmer leader and a courageous friend of the toiling masses. His struggle for the Madhya Pradesh farmers is a significant struggle after independence. Both, the Congress and the BJP (prominent national parties) came into power and showed their negligence about this Multai incident.
Despite an adversarial State government, in 1998, Dr Sunilam won the legislative assembly seat of Multai, by a margin of 50% votes. He contested this seat as an independent candidate from farmers’ community. He won the Multai assembly seat in 2003, with 60% of polled votes as a candidate of Samajwadi Party. He was made the leader of the Samajwadi Party in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Formerly he was the National Secretary of Samajwadi Party.
Taking note of Dr Sunilam’s background, the appeal for supporting him merits endorsement of all the concerned citizens who love democracy and cherish citizen’s liberty.
The meeting also discussed the case of Dayamani Barla who is ajournalist turned anti-displacement, tribal, woman activist from Jharkhand as part of a similar trend to harass public interest persons. She was granted bail by a local court of Ranchi on October 18, 2012. But she was arrested again when friends and colleagues of Dayamani reached jail to receive her, they were told that she is been arrested in the Nagari case and can’t be let off. She was sent to Jail on October 16, 2012 in fourteen days judicial custody, after she surrendered before the court in a matter of April 25, 2006. Six year ago, she was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including Section 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), for participating in a protest demonstration, which blocked the road, demanding job cards for rural laborers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. She availed bail in to the matter at that time from the concerned police station and the matter was almost closed one. This not the first time when she is intimidated or harassed but the government is leaving no chance to target her. The recent intimidation and arrest is due to her leading a restless, successful and mostly peaceful (except once when police opened fire on villagers) struggle against the acquisition of fertile land at Nagari, a village situated at few kilometers from the state capital and where government wants to build IIM, IIT and National Law School. The government is desperately trying to crush the movement, by hook or crook.
It is not a matter of Dr Sunlam and Dayamani Barla alone. Harassment of activists on fake pretexts and conviction in fabricated cases has become a trend that merits the response of the sane legal, social and political minds to defang the bite of the strategic lawsuit against public participation.
New Delhi: ‘It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as being involved in terrorism’ said the interim jury recommendations at a two day peoples hearing on fabricated cases at the Constitution Club. Jury members included Justice Rajinder Sachar Dr. Ram Puniyani, Dr. Binayak Sen and journalists Saba Naqvi and Ajit Shahi.
The depositions from across the country thoroughly exposed the role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India.
The Jury also noted that ‘the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor. This has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families’.
Saba Naqvi emphasized that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.
Dr. Binayak Sen recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. He also added that the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.
Civil society groups at the meeting will ensure that National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.
The public hearing also recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.
It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.
On the second day of the peoples hearing depositions were made on behalf of Kerala politician Abdul Nasser Maudany by former MP Sebastian Paul and Omar Mukhtar, the eldest son of Maudany. Suresh Velamanoor from the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) spoke about how the Kerala police branded his organization as a terrorist outfit.
Anjum Habib from the Muslim Khwateen Markaz ( Muslim Womens Organisation) in Kashmir spoke about how she was falsely implicated under POTA and spent five years in Tihar Jail. Neena Ningombam and Babloo Loitongbam from Manipur spoke about tragic cases of more than 1500 young people who were killed in extra judicial encounters. Ningombam spoke about the loss of her husband in a fake encounter and her continuing struggle for justice not just for herself but hundreds of young widows in Manipur.
The final jury recommendations and report of the meeting will soon be released by the organizers.
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