From Cairo and Geneva:
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a member of the OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture) network, and Eviction Watch – Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, a member of HIC-HLRN (Habitat International Coalition-Housing and Land Rights Network) have informed the International Secretariat of OMCT that on 15 December 2003, the West Bengal Government and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation forcibly evicted around 1500 families who were living in the canal settlements in the Bagbazar and Cossipore area, Kolkata Municipality, West Bengal.
According to the information received, heavily armed policemen and paramilitary forces carried out the operation. Most of the men living in the settlement were reportedly absent at the time of the eviction, being at work. As a result, women and children were left alone to face the brunt of the violent operation. It is estimated that almost 75,000 people became homeless due to this eviction, which was carried out in the absence of prior notice and resettlement plan. All the evicted families had been living at the Bagbazar and Cossipore area for 40 to 50 years. They had ration cards showing the address of this area as a proof of their legal permanent possession and residence. They even voted for elections from this address.
This violent eviction is not an isolated incident. On 22 September 2001, about 20,000 people were evicted from Tolly Nullah. On 2 February 2003 around 7,000 Dalits were evicted from Belilious Park, 129 Belilious Road, Howrah. After the eviction, these families had to settle in the Belgachia garbage dump, where they have been facing horrendous conditions. They have been living on the open street with no shelter from the sun, no drinking water and no sanitary facilities. As a result, M. Shiva, a 3-year-old child, died due to starvation. Until now, the West Bengal State Government has not provided any compensation to the victims and has failed to resettle them (see OMCT and HIC-HLRN joint urgent action appeals IND-FE 240703 and IND-FE 240703.1).
OMCT and HIC-HLRN are very concerned by the repeated massive evictions that the West Bengal administration has been carried out, especially as they have been extremely brutal.
The eviction of the 1500 families, as well as their current living conditions, contravene, inter alia, the inhabitants’ right to adequate housing; i.e., the right of all women, men and children to gain and sustain a secure place to live in peace and dignity. The Indian authorities especially violate those citizens’ entitlements to security of tenure; access to public and environmental goods and services; information; freedom from dispossession; participation; compensation, restitution and rehabilitation; and physical security. All are elements of the right to adequate housing as recognised in international law. Specifically, the authorities have breached their treaty obligations under articles 1, 2, 4, 11, 12, and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which India accessed to on 10 July 1979. The State has been derelict in its obligations as elaborated in the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comments Nos. 4 and 7 on the right to adequate housing, but also in articles 16 and 39 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that it accessed to on 11 January 1993.
Please write to the authorities in India urging them to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the families who have been evicted; guarantee the right to adequate housing of the evicted families, with particular attention to the following elements: security of tenure, access to public and environmental goods and services; freedom from dispossession; participation; compensation, restitution and rehabilitation; and physical security, as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among others; respect, defend, promote and fulfil human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.
Kindly inform OMCT and HIC of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply to: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. (Case IND-FE 241203 ).
The International Secretariat of OMCT,
The Coordination Office of HIC-HLRN.
24 December 2003.
Shri Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Chief Minister, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata. Fax: +91 (0)33 2214-5480; E-mail: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Shri Subrata Mukherjee, Mayor, Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Fax: +91 (0)33 2244-2578; E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Ashok Bhattacharya, Minister-in-charge, Municipal Affairs & Urban Development, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata, India. Fax: +91(0)33 2214-5480; E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India, South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi 110011, India. Fax: +91 (0)11 301-6857/301-9545 (O), +91 11 301-9334 (R); E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or http://pmindia.nic.in/writetous.htm
H.E. President Abdul Kalam, Office of the President, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi 110 004, India. Fax: +91 (0)11 301-7290 / 7824; E-mail: Pressecy@Sansad.nic.in
Justice Adarsh Sein Anand, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi 11001, India. Fax: +91 (0)11 334-0016; E-mail: email@example.com
Shri Dilip Singh Bhuria, Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes, Floor 5, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi,110003, India, Tel: +91 (0)11 462-3959, Fax: +91 (0)11 462-5378
From Karachi, Pakistan:
‘Revolutionary Democracy’ (September 2003) has published the article ‘The National Question in the Indian Union and Pakistan’. This is a document of 1952. Hundreds of such documents are still lying unknown and undiscovered because they reveal the hard facts about the brutalities of the ruling imperialist forces. The learned author of this article is an authority on his subject. Most of his considered views and predictions with respect to the Indian left movement in various regions proved true. Dyakov’s views regarding Pakistan were no doubt true in 1952. The then government which comprised of the feudal lords and the bureaucracy decided to live and work under the US fold. The terror of communism which US president Truman had was shared by the feudal government of Pakistan. The US and Pakistan exchanged and signed a number of drafts on security and defence. The left forces were so strong and integrated that they launched a violent resistance to Anglo-American imperialism. A massive student movement rose up and clashed with the police and paramilitary forces. Dozens of students were ruthlessly killed and hundreds arrested and tortured. In line with the Truman doctrine the ruling feudal lords instigated the religious leaders, the mullah forces and the majority of right-wing scholars and teachers who declared that the left forces were traitors, agents of the Soviet Union and the enemies of Islam. They pressurised the government to impose a ban on the left forces and the progressive writers. The government then utilised its legal authority and state power to crush the left. A homogeneous and peaceful climate was restored as wanted by the Truman doctrine while the SEATO and CENTO pacts which had been agreed upon were implemented. Pakistan provided the US government with military bases and an American air base was established at Peshawar. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the other red shirt activists were no doubt Congressites and followers of Gandhi but they too were unable to resist the US occupation. They too were declared traitors and jailed. In the decade after 1952 the red shirt leaders lost their militancy and compromised with the ruling tribal and feudal lords. Even the National Awami Party (NAP) during the 1980s abandoned its pro-Soviet orientation and gradually lost its popularity to such an extent that the reactionary forces of the MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal – Unified Action Conference) wiped out the NAP completely in the elections of 2001. It is the first time that the reactionary mullahs have been elected to the provincial assemblies and are ruling in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan. The left and progressive movements which dominated in Baluchistan until the 1970s have now withered away.
Though the peasant and labour movements exist they are weak, divided and almost impotent. Most of the known leftists are now working in foreign funded NGOs. Dozens of renowned left intellectuals have plunged into the folds of the establishment. Most of the progressive writers after 1960 denounced the ideological orientation in literature. Only Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz (Workers’ Federation) and its monthly ‘Awami Manshoor’ (People’s Manifesto) since the 1980s has been and is continuing to confront the revisionist and neo-liberal left forces and has succeeded in gaining sizeable ground in Punjab. Mazdoor Mahaz and Awami Manshoor have played a certain progressive role to the extent possible in fighting against the national policy of the Pakistan government.
The derivation of the facts by Dyakov are fine for the perspective of the 1950s decade. However the objective historical and political scenario were almost reversed in Pakistan in the 1960s. Therefore it is necessary to rethink, revise and recast Dyakov’s document of 1952 in relation to the present objective historical perspective of Pakistan.
Prof. Riaz Siddiqi
Editor, Awami Manshoor.
From Wroclaw, Poland:
Many greetings from Poland.
Thank you for systematically sending us the numbers of ‘Revolutionary Democracy’. I found the last issue of April, 2003 to be very interesting as it had many new studies about the history, theory, the international and internal life of the revolutionary communist movement and the Indian political, economic and social situation. All of it is very interesting for us. Many wishes for your future work and in your struggle against capitalism and for socialism.
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