An Open Letter to
The Honourable Chief Justice,
Andhra Pradesh High Court
4 December, 2020
We, as a group working towards achieving a safer and more just society for women, are writing this open letter to you in great dismay at some recent developments in Andhra Pradesh state.
As you are aware, the alleged gang-rape case of 11 adivasi women of the Kondh tribe by 13 men of AP Special Police personnel during a raid conducted in Vakapalli, has had a long legal history since August 2007, first in High Court of Andhra Pradesh and then in Supreme Court, and now in the SC/ST Special Court where it is in the final stages of hearing. After a decade-long chequered legal battle, the Supreme Court in 2017 ordered that the case be heard by an SC/ST Special Court. Whether the High Court or Supreme Court, the judiciary stood by the victims all these years and has helped to institute a special court for hearing the case.
यौन हिंसा तथा राज्य के दमन के विरुद्ध महिलाएं (डब्लूएसएस) फादर स्टैन स्वामि की गिरफ्तारी पर अंचभित है। फादर स्टैन स्वामि एक बुज़ुर्ग पादरी हैं जो पिछले पांच दशकों से आदिवासी मुद्दों पर काम करते रहे हैं। उन्हें 8 अक्टूबर, 2020 की रात में बदनाम भीमा कोरेगांव-एल्गार परिषद षडयंत्र प्रकरण में गिरफ्तार किया गया। एक सच्चे कार्यकर्ता और प्रतिष्ठित विद्वान की इस गिरफ्तारी की डब्लूएसएस भर्त्सना करता है और बताना चाहता है कि इस दयालु व विनम्र व्यक्ति के खिलाफ लगाए सारे आरोप हास्यास्पद हैं। हम बताना चाहते हैं कि 1 जनवरी, 2018 के दिन हुई भीमा कोरेगांव हिंसा की जांच दरअसल देश के अग्रणि मानव अधिकार कार्यकर्ताओं को सताने का एक ज़रिया बन गई है। इस जांच के दौरान 15 अन्य वकीलों, कार्यकर्ताओं, लेखकों, कवियों, बुद्धिजीवियों को इसी तरह के बेतुके आरोपों में बंदी बनाया गया है। कुछ तो दो साल से भी अधिक अवधि के लिए कारागार में बंद रहे हैं।
WSS is appalled at the arrest of Father Stan Swamy, an elderly Jesuit priest working on adivasi issues for the past 5 decades in the infamous Bhima Koregaon – Elgar Parishad conspiracy case on the night of 8 October, 2020. WSS condemns this most recent arrest of a sterling activist and a reputed authority, and calls out the sheer absurdity of charges against this kindly and gentle soul. We note that the investigation into Bhima Koregaon violence on 1st Jan 2018 has turned into a farcical witch-hunt against the leading human rights activists in the country, in which 15 other lawyers, activists, writers, poets, intellectuals and activists of renown have already been imprisoned under similarly ludicrous charges, some for over two years.
Today, 5th August 2020, marks a year since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and the beginning of the clampdown on communication in Kashmir.
A four-member team from WSS had visited Kashmir from September 23-28, 2019 to interact with the people, especially women and children, to understand the present conditions since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and the bifurcation of the State into two union territories, and to express solidarity with them in their struggle. The team traveled across the districts of Srinagar, Shopian in the South and Baramulla and Kupwara in the North and interacted with people from various walks of life: older and younger women ‘trapped’ in their homes, schoolteachers, hospital functionaries, hawkers, scrap-dealers, roadside vendors, shopkeepers, orchard owners, taxi and auto drivers, school and college students, lawyers, journalists, and activists. They visited villages and mohallas, courts and hospitals at random and were not guided by anyone.
The observations, conversations and discussions they had during this visit came together as ‘Zulm Zakhm Azaadi: Women’s Voices of Resistance in Kashmir‘.
We would like to offer the book to every person interested in understanding what the events of the past year have meant for the life of an ordinary Kashmiri.
Zulm_Zakhm_Azaadi is free to download, but contributions are welcome! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for contributions or to order a hard copy of the book. (Cost = 100/- + courier charges)
WSS Condemns the Hounding of Photo Journalist in Kashmir
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) condemns the hounding of photo journalist, Masrat Zahra, by the Cyber Police in Srinagar, Kashmir. They have filed cases against her under section 505 the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 13 of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), for posting her professional work online. WSS stands firmly in support of this fearless journalist and others like her who have recently been harassed in the line of duty for reporting the truth. Continue reading