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    April 18, 2013

    Today’s ruling by India’s Supreme Court that the Indigenous (Adivasi) communities will have the final decision on plans for a bauxite mine by a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa is a landmark victory in recognizing indigenous rights in India, Amnesty International said today.

    A 670-hectare bauxite mine was due to have been developed on the Dongria Kondh Indigenous community’s traditional lands and habitats which they consider sacred.

    "The Dongria Kondh community, whose identity is fully dependent on these hills, has been fighting for the survival of their way of life for a decade. The mine would have resulted in violation of their rights as Indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to water, food, health, work amongst others. This ruling is hugely important for the Dongria Kondh,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India.

    March 22, 2013

    A new law passed by the Indian Parliament aimed at addressing sexual violence, while positive in some respects, has several deficiencies and also violates India’s international law obligations, Amnesty International said.

    The upper house of the Indian Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 on 21 March 2013, meaning that the law will come into effect once it is signed by the President.

    The lower house approved the law two days earlier, with less than half of its members present and voting.

    “The new law does have some welcome features,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India. “It commendably criminalizes several forms of violence against women including acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism. It is more sensitive to the needs of disabled persons, provides for certain victim-friendly evidentiary procedures and removes the requirement of government permission for prosecution of public servants accused of rape and some forms of sexual violence.

    February 14, 2013

    India must immediately halt the impending executions of four prisoners whose mercy petitions – the final course of appeal in the country’s justice system were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, Amnesty International said.

    Gnanprakasham, Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran are now at high risk of imminent execution.

    The President’s move came just days after the hanging of Afzal Guru – the second execution in India in fewer than three months following an eight-year hiatus.

    “This government has executed more people since November 2012 than in the previous ten years. To continue such a regressive trend would be truly shameful,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India.

    “Given the political climate and the two other recent executions, there is a real concern that these four men will be put to death soon. The Indian government must ensure that this does not happen.”

    February 12, 2013

    Legislators in India should substantially amend or replace the new criminal law on violence against women in the forthcoming budget session of the parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. On February 3, 2013, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee signed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, amending criminal laws, over protests from human rights and women’s rights groups across the country.

    Legislation addressing sexual violence should reflect international human rights law and standards, and incorporate key recommendations of the recently appointed Verma Committee, the rights groups said.

    “The new ordinance at long last reforms India’s colonial-era laws on sexual violence, but fails to provide crucial human rights protections and redress for victims,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Indian parliamentarians should insist on a law that deals with these critical issues.”

    February 09, 2013

    Today’s execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru indicates a disturbing and regressive trend towards executions shrouded in secrecy and the resumption of death penalty use in India, said Amnesty International.

    “We condemn the execution in the strongest possible terms. This very regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trend towards moving away from the death penalty”, said Shashikumar Velath, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

    Indian authorities hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru at 0800 hrs in Tihar Jail, New Delhi on 9 February 2013. His execution is the second in India in three months after an eight-year hiatus.

    Mohammed Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in December 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack the Parliament of India, waging war against India and murder in December 2001.  He was tried by a special court designated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a law which fell considerably short of international fair trial standards and has since been repealed, in 2004, after serious allegations of its widespread abuse.

    January 24, 2013

    A series of recommendations to curb violence against women in India in the wake of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman will require strong political action and judicial will if they are to be turned into reality, Amnesty International said.

    A panel led by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, appointed by the Indian authorities in December 2012 following widespread protests against the rape and killing of a young woman in Delhi, yesterday made public its recommendations.

    Key points included comprehensive changes to laws dealing with crimes of sexual violence, and key judicial and police reforms to ensure transparency and accountability in those institutions, as well as a reiteration of the rights guaranteed to women under India’s Constitution

    “The Indian authorities must follow up on their promise to give top priority to considering the Verma Committee recommendations. The Government must also actively initiate public education and other measures that need to be taken to change discriminatory attitudes towards women”, said Tara Rao, Head of Education  for Rights, Spokesperson, Amnesty International in India.

    January 10, 2013

    An Adivasi (Indigenous) rights activist in central India’s Chhattisgarh state has been released after spending 29 months in prison on what Amnesty International has always maintained were politically motivated charges.

    On Monday evening a trial court acquitted activist Kartam Joga of the last four charges against him, and he was released from Jagdalpur jail on Tuesday.

    Amnesty International had named him a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully expressing his views, and campaigned extensively for his release.

    After his release, Joga said messages of support sent by the organization’s members were “one of the key factors” which kept up his hopes for release.

    He urged the release of seven of his fellow activists from the Communist Party of India (CPI) who he says have been targeted and jailed on false charges for peacefully defending the rights of Adivasi communities.

    January 09, 2013

    An Adivasi (Indigenous) rights activist in central India’s Chhattisgarh state has been released after spending 29 months in prison on what Amnesty International has always maintained were politically motivated charges.

    On Monday evening a trial court acquitted activist Kartam Joga of the last four charges against him, and he was released from Jagdalpur jail on Tuesday.

    Amnesty International had named him a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully expressing his views, and campaigned extensively for his release.

    After his release, Joga said messages of support sent by the organization’s members were “one of the key factors” which kept up his hopes for release.

    He urged the release of seven of his fellow activists from the Communist Party of India (CPI) who he says have been targeted and jailed on false charges for peacefully defending the rights of Adivasi communities.

    October 08, 2012

    The Indigenous People who live near the town of Lanjigarh in India’s Orissa state used to have enough to eat, and plenty of pure river water for drinking, cooking and bathing. 

    A few years ago, a company named Vedanta Resources arrived in Lanjigarh because they had discovered a plentiful supply of an ore called bauxite. The company planned to build a refinery to turn the bauxite into alumina. 

     Vedanta Resources and the Orissa state government told the Indigenous community that they would get jobs and be offered money to give up their land and locate elsewhere. Some agreed. So the land was cleared for the refinery, whether everyone agreed or not. 

    Now, the air, water and land have all been polluted. The community did not know that their land would be severely polluted, and that they would not be given meaningful jobs. They did not know that the refinery’s poisonous waste, collected in “red mud ponds” would make them sick. They did not know they had a right to be consulted first, nor that it was their right to say “no” to the project. 

    "One of the most powerful and urgent pieces of human rights theatre ever made"
    The Herald

    On December 16, 2012, a young woman boarded a bus in Delhi heading for home. What followed changed countless lives forever. Internationally acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber (Mies Julie) has created a searing new work that cracks open the cone of silence around women whose lives have been shattered by violence. The draw: Rave reviews and dozens of awards including the coveted Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. For ages 16+. Contains adult themes and mature content. York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver.

    Nirbhaya: Performances November 3 to 14 Special Amnesty International evening November 4: ticket package $40 includes performance, post-show Q&A, and one drink – use "discount coupon" code Amnesty40.

     

    December 3rd, 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal industrial disaster in India. Within two weeks of that horrific chemical leak, over 8,000 people had died. Another 12,000 have died since from gas-related diseases. Some 500,000 survivors have suffered injury and disability.

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