A collective of 18 human rights and media organisations in India has called upon the Indian government to immediately repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that had been in force since 1958 as the most repressive tool, providing the armed forces and other para military organisations working in tandem with the armed forces, to even kill on suspicion.
This Act has led to gross civil and political rights violations including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial execution, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, arbitrary arrest and detention, says the unanimous resolution adopted at a deliberation of HR organisations along with other groups who are in solidarity with the issue, held in Delhi from 12 to 14 November, this year.
This call for the total repeal of the AFSPA comes in the wake of the first anniversary of the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack that is now being hyped in the Indian media, for stricter national security measures and stronger military and intelligence interventions, even across borders.
Following is the Joint Statement from 18 human rights organisations in India
14 November 2009
We the civil society groups from Jammu and Kashmir and the North East affected by militarisation and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and other organisations in solidarity, having come together from 12 to 14 November 2009 at New Delhi and deliberated on the issues of AFSPA,
Taking cognizance of the prolonged imposition of the Act in one part or the other since 1958 and its adverse impact on the democratic rights of the peoples of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir,
Concerned that AFSPA continues to be the most important repressive tool of the Indian state that empowers even a non commissioned officer of the armed forces of union to kill on mere suspicion and provide legal immunity from prosecution, thereby causing untold misery and agony among the peoples of the affected regions,
Concerned over the importance being given to AFSPA on the part of the state in the context of the increasing militarisation of the society in the sub-continent especially after 9/11 and the growing communalisation of the polity in India as a whole,
Concerned over the way the media is reporting incidents of violence in J&K and the North-East by and large ignoring the assault on human rights by the guardians of law and order and broadly endorsing, in the name of ‘national security’, those policies of the state that militate against democratic norms and humanitarian principles.
Noting that this Act has led to gross civil and political rights violations including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial execution, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, arbitrary arrest and detention,
Further noting that the imposition of AFSPA also has severe economic, social and cultural cost including erosion of civil administration, lack of access to education, basic health care, destruction of properties and sources of livelihood, and environmental destruction,
Further noting that the continuation of the ‘disturbed area’ status under the AFSPA in many part of the country is illegal in view of the violation of the mandatory six monthly periodic directed by Supreme Court in its 1997 Judgment.
Further noting that the climate of impunity entrenched in these areas have led to the complete failure of the Rule of Law including non-registration of cases against the armed forces, and even if the few cases where investigations are completed the criminal prosecution is pending for want of sanction from the Central Government on the application send by the State governments,
Recalling the Government of India’s own B.P. Jeevan Reddy Committee (2005), Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerappan Moily (2007) and Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir headed by Mohammad Hamid Ansari (2007) have consistently recommended the repeal of AFSPA,
Further recalling that different committees and commissions set up by different State Governments into specific incidents of violence have also acknowledged the unbridled power the security forces enjoys under AFSPA.
Emphasizing that the regions where AFSPA has been imposed, there exist suppressed democratic aspiration of people and the prolonged imposition of AFSPA has resulted in deepening the cycle of violence, repealing AFSPA will open up the necessary democratic space for addressing the root causes of the political instability.
Therefore the collective unanimously:-
– Calls upon the Government of India:
1. To repeal immediately
– The Armed Forces (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) Special Powers Act, 1958 (as amended in 1972), and
– The Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990
2. To refrain from inserting any part of the Acts into any other legislation granting unbridled powers to the armed forces of the union or the State police.
– Calls upon the people of India to support the ongoing campaign for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and resist the increasing militarisation of democratic spaces.
1. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)
2. Boro Women Justice Forum (BWJF)
3. Borok People’s Human Rights Organisation (BPHRO)
4. Borok Women’s Forum (BWF)
5. Campaign For Peace & Democracy (Manipur) (CPDM)
6. Centre for Law Development (CLD), Srinagar
7. Human Rights Alert (HRA)
8. Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
9. Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Centre (JKTUC)
10. Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asong (KNCA)
11. Manipur Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD)
12. Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM)
13. Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)
14. Naga Women Union Manipur (NWUM)
15. New Trade Union Initiatives (NTUI)
16. Saheli Women’s Group (NWG)
17. Samindar Karbi Anime (SKA)
18. The Other Media (TOM)