“Independent India” Uses British Empire’s “Sedition” Laws to Suppress Dissent

The theatrical trailer of COURT, a winner of 17 International awards  An Indian reviewer said the film is a “remarkably assured, engrossing study of the power of the law and order machinery to crush protest through delays, deferred hearings and demands for further evidence.”  Forbes magazine in India said Chaitanya Tamhane, the director, is “Indian cinema’s new voice of subversion.”

Synopsis: A sewerage worker’s dead body is found inside a manhole in Mumbai. An ageing folk singer is tried in court on charges of abetment of suicide. He is accused of performing an inflammatory song which might have incited the worker to commit the act. As the trial unfolds, the personal lives of the lawyers and the judge involved in the case are observed outside the court.

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A Law Less Majestic

Sanctioned by an archaic law and other draconian legislation, “sedition against the state” is a handy tool to fell voices of dissent
Ushinor Majumdar, Outlook India Magazine, week of May 18, 2015
SEDITION  —  Section 124A, Indian Penal Code, 1860: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India.”
Punishment: Fine, or imprisonment of three years to life. Shall be punished with 104 (im­prisonment for life), to which fine may be added, or with impris­onment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
Exception: Criticism, to be determined by the judiciary
UAPA  —  Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967: Following a constitutional amendment, UAPA was enacted to “impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, on the (i) freedom of speech and expression (ii) right to assemble peaceably and without arms and (iii) right to form associations or unions” 

Punishment: Penalties ranging from five years to life imprisonment along with fines. If the offence leads to loss of life, a death sentence can be awarded.
Unlawful associations: Secessionist and terrorist associations; to be determined and notified by ministry of home affairs

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Behind every man who has been labelled ‘seditious’ by the State is a law that goes back 155 years. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code dates to 1860, three years after the British were rattled by what came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny. There is also the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a handy tool to silence ‘dangerous’ people with ‘dangerous’ ideas. Why, a week before it was held unconstitutional, Samajwadi Party leader and UP cabinet minister Azam Khan used Section 66A of the Information Technology Act to penalise a Class 11 student in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.
The police are arbitrary and indiscriminate in the use of the sedition law, arresting people even for activities like singing, acting in street plays, reciting poems, painting graffiti on walls, not standing up during the national anthem or for cheering the Pakistani cricket team. These have, of course, usually accompa­nied the more serious charges of sympathising, funding or acting with Maoists or suspected terror organisations.

India: Political Prisoner Saibaba on Hunger Strike for Basic Rights

Press Release

Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners

Condemn The Continuing Incarceration And Violation Of The Rights And Dignity Of Political Prisoner Dr. G N Saibaba!
  • The Case Of Dr. G N Saibaba Exposes The Vindictive Nature Of A Legally Challenged System!
  • Release Dr. G N Saibaba Unconditionally!

 

Image result for Dr. GN Saibaba

Eleven months have passed after Dr. GN Saibaba was abducted from the Delhi University North Campus premises on 09 May 2014 by the Maharashtra police. Dr. Saibaba was produced in the remote far flung Aheri police station in the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border to be charged under several sections of the worst draconian legislation the UAPA. Dr. GN Saibaba, joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and a tireless campaigner against the policies of loot and plunder of the successive governments in India, euphemistically called as Operation Green Hunt (OGH) had become the target of ire of the state with mounting criticism from the opinionated sections of the progressive, liberal middle-class as well as the rising protests of the vast sections of the people against the so-called development policies of the government which would and is resulting in the loss of livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of dalits and adivasis—the poorest of the poor in the subcontinent.

In the last eleven months of his incarceration, Dr. Saibaba has repeatedly brought before the court as well as the jail authorities the pressing need for his grant of bail, not on any humanitarian grounds, but on the merit of law as sanctioned by the provisions that are there for the differently-abled. He has pointed out to the judge in many of the video conferences—as he was produced in the court only once and the rest of the dates of hearing / production have been met through the video conference facility, which is also a grievous infringement of his fundamental right—that the facilities in the Nagpur Central Jail are little or none to meet even the survival requirements of a 90 percent disabled and wheel chair bound person like him. But as we can see, the court preferred to stand by the prosecution, in an atmosphere vitiated by the media which profiled the wheel chair bound activist academic as a dreaded and dangerous demagogue having links with a proscribed organization, the CPI (Maoist). In the due course of his fight for justice through his lawyers, Dr. Saibaba’s plea for bail was twice rejected by the Sessions Court of Gadchiroli and once by the Nagpur bench of the Maharashtra High Court. But the facts can’t be belied. Saibaba’s concern about his fragile health grew larger as he was diagnosed with a bend spinal cord resulting in rib crowding and the lungs getting affected. Being a heart patient the troubles with his heart further compounded and the latest medical report requires him to undergo an angiography the post-recovery of which can be fatal in the prison stay. Further tests showed stones in the gall bladder. Continue reading

Brazil: During World Cup Protests, “Free Saibaba” Banners Fly

Even as popular resistance to the FIFA-excused theft of public resources continued to grow, activists demonstrated on June 12, in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, demanding the immediate release of the professor in India, Dr. GN Saibaba, who was abducted and arrested by the Indian fascist state on May 9.
GN Saibaba is Delhi University professor of English literature, an active defender of the rights of the people and democracy. Demand the Operation Green Hunt (the war of the Indian State Against the People in India)! Freedom for all political prisoners!

 

Chile: Indigenous groups mark Columbus Day with protests

October 13, 2013, Al Jazeera

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday.  Luis Hidalgo/AP

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday.  Luis Hidalgo/AP

Protesters clashed with police in Chile’s capital Saturday during an anti-Columbus Day march organized by Indigenous groups, with activists calling for the return of ancestral lands and the right to self-determination on the 521-year anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.

Demonstrators in Santiago threw rocks and other objects at police who responded with water cannons. At least 10 protesters were detained by police, local media reported.

More than 15,000 people participated in the march, organized by the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, who have been in a long struggle with the government over ancestral land taken from them during colonization.

While Columbus Day celebrations took place across Latin America, the Mapuche affirmed, “we have nothing to celebrate”, according to the Santiago Times.

A press release by the group complained of mistreatment by the state, particularly against Mapuche political prisoners, and on-going land disputes in the south. Continue reading

Statement by Bradley Manning: On Being Sentenced

by Bradley Manning
August 21, 2013

The following is a transcript of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability Continue reading

Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years for exposing war crimes

 

Summary by The Guardian, August 21, 2013

A quick summary of where things stand:

• A court-martial sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking government secrets. Manning is to be dishonorably discharged. He loses all pay. He is convicted of six Espionage Act violations. The sentence is expected to be appealed.

Manning, 25, is eligible for parole. He must first serve at least a third of his sentence. He has more than three years’ time served and has been credited 112 days for his “inhuman” treatment in a Quantico brig in 2010-11. In a best-case scenario for Manning, he might be released before he turned 35.

Judge Denise Lind announced the sentence in a hearing that lasted about two minutes. Manning had no visible reaction to the verdict. There were gasps from the crowd. As Manning was led out, supporters shouted “we’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley,” and “you’re our hero.” 

The ACLU, Amnesty International and other rights advocates and Manning supporters decried the verdict. It is unjust for Manning to spend decades in prison when the perpetrators of the wartime atrocities he exposed go free, Manning supporters argue.

It’s “seriously wrong” for a soldier who shared information with the public to be punished “far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians,” the ACLU says in a statement on the Manning sentence:

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A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.

Amnesty International called on President Obama to commute the sentence. “Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial,” AI’s Widney Brown said. “The president doesn’t need to wait for this sentence to be appealed to commute it; he can and should do so right now.”

What Will It Take to Free Our Political Prisoners?

July 16, 2013

By Liz Derias

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), a revolutionary organization based in the u.s. that fights to uphold the self-determination and the human rights of Black people in the world, has been working to free political prisoners for over three decades. The organization has actively worked on the cases of Assata Shakur, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt, the San Francisco 8 (SF8), the MOVE 9, the Cuban 5, and more. Additionally, MXGM has worked with the founding Black August Organizing Committee of California to popularize Black August, a month of commemoration and action in support of political prisoners.

Through the heed of political prisoners Assata Shakur and Nehanda Abiodun, MXGM has also taken a lead in inspiring and mobilizing the Hip Hop generation to take action in support of political prisoners, particularly through the annual Black August Concert, which has featured artists such as Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, and others. MXGM works with other leading organizations that have championed action to free political prisoners, such as the National Black United Fund, the Prisoners of Consciousness Committee, the Nation of Islam, and numerous support committees around the world.black august

This article will describe the history and current context of political prisoners in the u.s., the conditions for them while incarcerated, and the organizing strategies employed by MXGM over the years to free them.

The Legacy of COINTELPRO

We cannot discuss the case of political prisoners in the u.s. without having an understanding of COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO, or the Counter Intelligence Program, was the federal government’s secret program during the 1950s-1970s used against many forces of the Black Liberation movement, leftists, and political dissidents in the u.s., including the Chicano Nationalist Movement and the Puerto Rican Independence Movement. It was secret because it was illegal.

Under COINTELPRO, the FBI and local police forces assassinated, arrested, tortured, and framed hundreds of leftists, particularly Black leftists, who were considered to pose the greatest threat to the racist status quo of u.s. society. The tactics of COINTELPRO can be categorized in four main areas: infiltration of organizations, psychological warfare from the outside, harassment through the legal system, and extralegal force and violence, including extrajudicial killing and outright murder. The FBI’s stated motivation for the program was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order. Continue reading