Protesting suppression of Greenpeace India

Kafila

Letter of Solidarity with Greenpeace India: A Statement

APRIL 24, 2015

by Gautam Bhan

The move by the central government to freeze Greenpeace India’s bank accounts and block sources of funds, is a blatant violation of the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association. It also seems to be an attempt to warn civil society that dissent regarding development policies and priorities will not be tolerated, even when these are proving to be ecologically unsustainable and socially unjust. These are dangerous signs for the future of democracy in India.

Specific allegations of legal violation contained in the Ministry of Home Affairs’ notice are aspects Greenpeace India needs to respond to. However, the notice also charges the organization with adversely affecting “public interest” and the “economic interest of the State”. These charges give the impression that Greenpeace India is indulging in anti-national activities, using foreign funds. However, dissenting from the government’s development policies, helping communities who are going to be displaced by these policies to mobilise themselves, and generating public opinion for the protection of the environment can by no stretch of imagination be considered anti-national, or against public interest. Quite the contrary, any reasonable policy of sustainable development (which the government claims to adhere to) will itself put into question quite a few of the mining, power, and other projects currently being promoted. ”

Civil society organisations in India have a long and credible history of standing up for social justice, ecological sustainability, and the rights of the poor. When certain government policies threaten these causes, civil society has a justified ground to resist, and help affected communities fight for their rights. This is in fact part of the fundamental duties enjoined upon citizens by the Constitution of India.

In two recent court judgments involving previous attempts by the government to muzzle Greenpeace India, the democratic principle of dissent has been upheld. In January 2015, the Delhi High Court observed: “Non-Governmental Organizations often take positions, which are contrary to the policies formulated by the Government of the day. That by itself…cannot be used to portray petitioner’s action as being detrimental to national interest.” In March, the Delhi High court observed that “contrarian views held by a section of people…cannot be used to describe such section or class of people as anti-national.” The court also observed that there was nothing on record to suggest that Greenpeace India’s activities “have the potentiality of degrading the economic interest of the country.”

It is shocking that despite these clear judicial pronouncements, the government has for a third time acted against Greenpeace India. We cannot but conclude that this is an attempt to divert attention from the serious issues that Greenpeace India and many peoples’ movements and NGOs are raising, regarding the need to respect the rights of adivasis and others who depend on the forests, wetlands, coastal areas, and other ecosystems, and the need to move towards policies that are ecologically sustainable and do not cause further climate change. Large-scale mining, such as in the areas that peoples’ movements are active, are a threat to forests and other natural ecosystems, to communities that depend on them including tribal peoples. These and other issues are highlighted by organisations such as Greenpeace India, which also generate significant information on the environment, crucial for taking the right decisions regarding sustainable well-being.

It is also shocking that while alleging violations regarding FCRA, the government ordered the blocking of even those accounts where Greenpeace India uses its domestic funding (and it is relevant here to note that the majority of its funds according to its audited accounts are from thousands of Indian individuals). It has even blocked its online donation facility.

The government should immediately take back these illegitimate, unfair, and repressive moves, and provide Greenpeace India a fair opportunity to respond. More generally, it must respect the freedom of speech that all Indian citizens have a constitutional right to, including the right to dissent, upheld by court judgments. The government’s attempts to browbeat civil society will not make the issues of social and environmental injustice disappear. We assert that long as these issues remain unresolved, civil society actors will continue to do all that is necessary towards a just and sustainable society.

Achin Vanaik, Retired academic, writer, and anti-nuclear campaigner, Delhi

A. Vaidyanathan, Former Member, Planning Commission

Achyut Yagnik & Ashok Shrimali, SETU: Centre For Social Knowledge And Action, Ahmedabad

Harsh Mander, Human rights worker and writer

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune

Aruna Roy & Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Rajasthan

Gautam Navlakha, Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi

Claude Alvares, Former Standing Committee Member MoEF, Goa Foundation, Goa

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan

Madhuresh Kumar & Suhas Kolhekar, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)

Shailesh Rai, Amnesty International India, Bangalore

Ravi Rebbapragada & Ashok Shrimali, Mines Minerals & People (mmP)

Vinay Sreenivasa, Alternative Law Forum (ALF), Bangalore

Swami Agnivesh, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Delhi

Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

Rajesh Krishnan, Coalition for a GM Free India

Ashish Kothari and Meenal Tatpati, Kalpavriksh, Pune

Sujit Patwardhan, Parisar, Pune

Madhuri Krishanaswami, Kisan Adivasi Dalit Mukti Sangathan, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh

Biswajit Mohanty, Conservationist, Bhubaneshwar

Bittu Sahgal, Conservationist, Mumbai

Justice H. Suresh, Former Judge, Mumbai High Court, Mumbai

Lakshmy Raman, Sanctuary Asia

Rajeev Dhavan, Senior Supreme Court Advocate, Delhi

Tapan Bose, South Asian Forum for Human Rights (SAHFR), Delhi

Aneesh Thillenkery, Ekta Parishad

P.M. Bhargava, Supreme Court Nominee to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

Leo Saldanha, Environmental Support Group (ESG), Bangalore

Seema Kulkarni and K. J. Joy, SOPPECOM, Pune

Ramasamy Selvam, Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi

Kuldip Nayar, Snr journalist and columnist, Delhi

Praful Bidwai, Sr Journalist & columnist, Delhi

N.P. Chekkutty, Editor, Thejas daily, Kerala

Neeta Chalke, India Habitat Forum (INHAF), Pune

Pratibha Sharma & Dharmesh Shah, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

Malati Gadgil, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), Pune

Aparna Susarla, SWaCH, Pune

Yogeshwar Y. Dudhapachare, Green Planet Society, Chandrapur

T.R. Shankar Raman, Snr. Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF)

Shubhranshu Choudhary, CGNet Swara, Chhattisgarh

Radhika Rammohan & Sangeetha Sriram, reStore, Chennai

Tarun Joshi, Vanpanchayat Sangarsh Morcha, Nainital

Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)

K. Ramnarayan, Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand

Malika Virdi, Maati Sangathan, Uttarakhand

S. Faizi, Ecologist / Board member, CBD Alliance, Trivandrum

Neeraj Jain, Lokayat, Pune

Ingrid Srinath, Hivos, Mumbai

V.B. Chandrasekaran, Chatti Mahatma Gandhi Aashramam, Andhra Pradesh

John D’Souza and J. John, Centre for Education and Documentation (CED), Mumbai/Delhi

Prasad Chacko, Human Development and Research Centre (HDRC), Ahmedabad

Mansoor Khan, Film-maker, author, climate activist, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

Parineeta Dandekar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), Pune

Sudha Bharadhwaj, Trade Unionist and Human Rights Lawyer, Chattishgarh

Rachna Arora, Public Awareness on GM Food

Henri Tiphangne, Chairman, Forum Asia, Madurai

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Sr Journalist, Political Commentator, Filmmaker, Delhi

Maja Daruwala, Human rights activist, Delhi

Sethu Das, Founder Chair, Friends of Tibet, Delhi

Sudha Reddy, Eco-Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives, Bangalore

Shankar Sharma, Power policy analyst, Delhi

Paul Divakar, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDR), Delhi

K. Baburao, Advisor, NAPM, Andhra Pradesh

Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai

Uttam Jagirdar, Filmmaker and social activist

Ashok Chowdhury, All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)

Souparna Lahiri, All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM)

Chhaya Datar, Women’s rights expert

Mira Shiva, INES/ Diverse Women for Diversity, Delhi

Joseph Xavier, Indian Social Institute, Delhi

Nityanand Jayaram, Writer, teacher, social activist, Chennai

Usha Soolapani, Thanal, Kerala

Dunu Roy, Hazards Desk, Delhi

D. Roy Laifungbam, Centre for Organization Research and Education, Manipur

E. Deendayalan, The Other Media, Bangalore

Ravi Nair, South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRD), Delhi

Akila Balu, Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network, Chennai

Debi Goenka, Executive Trustee, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Mumbai

Sridhar Lakshmanan, Founder, Basecamp Social Research Foundation

Organic Farmers Market, Chennai

Safe Food Alliance, Tamil Nadu

Balaji Shankar, Thalaanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu

V.R. Anantha Sayanan, Founder, Tharcharbu Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu

J.C. Kumarappa Foundation, Tamil Nadu

Tula India, Chennai

Amit M. & Sreedevi L., Urban Leaves, Mumbai

Uzramma, Handloom supporter, Hyderabad

Blaise Joseph, Freelance artist, Belgaum, Karnataka

Sajeed Khalid, Welfare Party of India, Kerala State committee

S.P. Udaykumar, Activist, Tamil Nadu

Tara Murali, Architect, Chennai

Usha Rai, Development journalist, Delhi

Amala Akkineni, Actress, Hyderabad

Lalita Ramdas, Educator and activist, Maharashtra

Jai Sen, Researcher and editor, Delhi

Geetha Iyer, Consultant – Education, Suchindram, Tamil Nadu

Gautama G., Educationist, Chennai

Nandini Oza, Researcher and activist, Pune

Seetha Ananthasivan, Educationist, Bengaluru

Sharad Lele, Researcher, Bengaluru

Seema Purushothaman, Academic, Bengaluru

Benny Kuruvilla, Researcher, Delhi

Rohit Prajapati, Environmental Activist, Ahmedabad

Anant Phadke, Health worker and activist, Pune

E. Theophilus, Conservationist, Uttarakhand

Asad Rahmani, Conservationist, Mumbai

Palla Trinadha Rao, Advocate, Andhra Pradesh

Rajni Bakshi, Journalist and author, Mumbai

Arindam Biswas, Photographer, trekker, wildlife enthusiast, Kolkata

Lavanya Suresh, Academic, Hyderabad

Bipasha Majumder, Freelance communication consultant, Mumbai

Lisa Fonseca, Organic farmer, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

Dionne Bunsha, Journalist, Mumbai

Shivaji K. Panikkar, Ambedkar University, Delhi

Rana Roy, Student

Sagar Rabari, Activist, Ahmedabad

B.K. Manish, Tribal rights activist, Raipur

Cedric Prakash, Director, PRASHANT, Ahmedabad

Akhilesh, Academic, Bhubaneshwar

Aseem Shrivastava, Author and economist, Delhi

Palak Aggarwal, Sustainable Development Practitioner, Odisha

Mohan Hirabai Hiralal, Forest rights activist, Chandrapur

Harsh Kapoor, Human rights activist, sacw.net

Raj Kishore Das, Retd officer, teacher, Bhubaneshwar

Arun Wakhlu, Training and leadership professional, Pune

Satya Rai Nagpaul, Filmmaker, Mumbai

Ghanshyam Shah, Social researcher, Delhi

Persis Ginwalla, Ahmedabad

Shishir K. Jha, Academic, IIT Bombay

Nagmani Rao, Academic, Pune

Chandrasekaran P., Software engineer, Chennai

Aparna Krishnan, Homemaker, Chennai

Suresh Lakshmipathy, Entrepreneur, Chennai

Sandeep Pattnaik, Researcher, Bhubaneshwar

Hardika Dayalani, Program Coordinator, Hunnarshala Foundation, Uttar Pradesh

Sabita Parida, Development professional, Delhi

Mona Mishra, Strategic Planning consultant UNDP, Sexual Health and Rights activist, Delhi

Snehal Shah, Research consultant, Delhi

Krishna Srinivasan, Social worker and Enviro-Legal Researcher, Pune

Neeraj Bhatnagar, Action Aid, Mumbai

Aravinda Maheshwari, Auroville, Tamil Nadu

Jasmin Maheshwari, Auroville, Tamil Nadu

Gajanan Khatu, Economist, Mumbai

David Selvaraj, Visthar, Bangalore

Gajanan Khatu, Economist, Mumbai

Shreenivas Khandewale, Agronomist, Nagpur

Bindu Desai, Human rights activist, Mumbai

Balaji Shankar, Organic farmer and writer, Sirkazhi, Tamil Nadu

Balachander Swaminathan, Software professional, Tamil Nadu

Shashank Kela, Writer, Chennai

Subhayu Mishra, Member, Wild Orissa, Mumbai

Atul Gupta, Filmmaker, Dehradun

Venkat T., Researcher, Chennai

Suhas Paranjape, Water specialist, Pune

Louis Menezes

Joe Athialy, Activist, New Delhi

Avin Deen, Conservationist, Bengaluru

Ananda Vadivelu, Institutional economist, Delhi

G. Chandrasekhar, Cardiac surgeon and sustainable farmer

Sumitra Purkayastha, Researcher, Kolkata

Yatish Mehta, Businessman and activist, Mumbai

Sahba Fatima, Jr. consultant, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi

G. Baskaran, Ravi Kunjwal, Amritanshu Prasad, Rahul Siddharthan, Sitabhra Sinha, V.S. Sunder, & T. Vinod Kumar, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai

T.S. Vijaya Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

V.R. Anantha Sayanan, Activist, Chennai

Vineetha Bambasala, Environmentalist, Bengaluru

N.D. Hari Dass

Kiran Seth, Academic & founder, SPICMACAY, Delhi

Roy Jacob, Farmer, Kerala

Meera Rajesh, IT Consultant & environmentalist, Bengaluru

Walter Mendoza, Pune

Reva Dandage, Educator, Udaipur

Shobana Ramkumar, Teacher, Chennai

J.R. Ganesh Babu, Chennai

Chithra V., Teacher, Chennai

Daya Lakshmi, Chennai

S. Annapoorni, Homemaker, Chennai

D.W. Karuna, Researcher, Chennai

Satyarupa Shekhar, Researcher, Chennai

Mahi Puri, Wildlife researcher, Bengaluru

Narasimha Reddy Donthi, Hyderabad

 

Address for correspondence: Meenal Tatpati, meenaltatpati@gmail.com

 

Copy to: Shri L.C. Goyal, Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block, Central Secretariat, New Delhi 110 001

 

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