Monday, December 07, 2009


Chhattisgarh, India

For the People's Right
to say NO to displacement and Tribal Genocide And to demand
the right to live with justice and peace

Dear Friends,

You are aware that the Tribals of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh State are continuously facing large-scale displacement from their homes, fields and forests. Activists, journalists and scholars working in this area have also provided evidence of tribal genocide in the last five years by State and its various agencies, including the police.

The recent past of gross human rights violations has consisted of the aggressive onslaught by the State sponsored vigilante group called the Salwa Judum. Simultaneously, an anti-democratic draconian law called the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 was brought in to silence all dissent. In the last four years it has been systematically used against human rights defenders, journalists, film-makers, lawyers, intellectuals and ordinary citizens whenever they have the State has felt the need to silence people. The latest move regarding elimination of the tribal people has been an escalation of the offensive by the State, in the name of Operation Green Hunt in the heartland of Dantewada. Paramilitary troops along with the state armed police deployed in very large numbers by the Central and the state governments have been carrying out military operations against the tribals in the name of curbing Maoists and retrieve territories from them.

In order to build public opinion and to support the tribal people in their demand to stop this displacement and genocide and to reclaim their right to life with justice and peace, several community based and people's organisations, trade unions and human rights groups from Chhattisgarh and outside are planning a series of activities in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.

This letter is being sent to you so as to ensure your presence and participation between 14 December 2009 and 7 January 2010 at Dantewada and express your solidarity and raise your voice in support of the tribals. The list of events and dates are as follows:

1. Padyatra: 14 December to 26 December 2009

The first phase of this three week campaign consists of a padyatra from Nendra village to Dantewada town via Lingagiri. This padyatra will be led by Himanshu Kumar of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram and other tribal leaders of this region and will pass through more than 17 villages.. A group of approximately 40 students, journalists, academics and activists from different parts of the country will also join the padyatra. The main objective of the padyatra is to restore a sense of confidence amongst the tribals who are living in acute fear due to the continuous onslaught of the security forces. The padyatris will also document the atrocities that the tribals have been subjected to including the situation of hunger, food insecurity, lack of health and educational facilities and other forms of deprivation faced due to the ongoing displacement and war in the region.

2. Dantewada Satyagrah: 25 December 2009 to 5 January 2010

Tribal people from all over Dantewada and other regions of Chhattisgarh will launch a Satyagrah on 25 December 2009 which will have the support of tribals from Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh among other states. We are hoping that large groups of people from these states and from all networks, unions and organisations working on diverse people's issues will respond to this call and join in the Satyagrah for atleast a few days. The objective of the satyagrah is to bring together concerned people from all over the country to demand in one voice an end to displacement of people and to the war that is underway in this region, apart from demanding the implementation of the SC orders on rehabilitation in the context of displacement due to the violence of salwa judum.

A Raipur Support Group coordinated by Chhattisgarh Unit of PUCL has been set up for the Satyagrah. This group will provide assistance to the people coming from the Northern, Eastern and Western regions India as well as from other parts of Chhattisgarh. Raipur is situated on the Mumbai-Kolkata route and is well connected by train from most parts of the country. Dantewada is situated 400 kms from Raipur and direct buses are available between the two towns through the day and night that take about 12 hours each way

People coming from the South can take trains or buses from Vishakhapatnam or bus it down from Hyderabad. The distance between Hyderabad to Dantewada via Bhadrachalam is 500 kms and takes about 16 hours.

3. Jan Sunwai: 6-7 January 2010 (the date may be advanced or postponed by a day)

The Satyagrah will culminate with a Jan Sunwai where tribal residents of this region will share their experiences of the Salwa Judum, Operation Green Hunt and their struggle for justice. This Jan Sunwai will be witnessed by a panel of ex-justices, senior activists from various people's movements, ex-bureaucrats and policemen, journalists and intellectuals including those from among the tribals.

This letter is a request to you and your group/organisation to begin preparing for your participation in the series of events given above. A more detailed invitation shall be sent to you soon. For more details please contact at the phone numbers provided below.

We are:

Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, People's Union for Civil Liberties (Chhattisgarh), Chhattisgarh Visthapan Virodhi Manch, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha – Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Human Rights Law Network (Chhattisgarh), National Alliance of People's Movements, Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagriti Sangathan, Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)-Chhattisgarh, Gram Sabha Parishad, Tribal Welfare Society, People's Union for Democratic Rights, Committee for the Release of Binayk Sen-Mumbai and others (endorsments by other organisations are awaited)

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