By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy
Still We Resist!
A Public meeting of Activists,
Students and People’s Movement to observe Human Rights Day !
Dadar Matunga Cultural Center
“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.” (Human Rights as defined by the United Nations)
Words like ‘sedition’, ‘terrorism’, ‘anti-national’, ‘urban naxal’ etc. have been overwhelmingly used in the past few years to stifle dissent. Laws and acts – like the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Trans Bill, UAPA (Amendment) Bill etc – which are communal, anti-poor and against the marginalized populations, have been passed by the Parliament.
Many recent amendments seek to remove existing safeguards provided to people by the Constitution. A situation of total clampdown of basic rights , like that in Kashmir, is being passed off as “normal”. Militarisation of various regions in the country has intensified and draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act are being used vociferously to silence dissenting voices. People belonging to particular communities are being labeled as ‘illegal’ and being detained, lynched and persecuted. On one hand, most essential services like education, health, jobs are being privatized and unemployment is on a rise, while on the other, an unsustainable model of development is being forced upon people. This has caused large scale displacement and robbed people of access to their land and other natural resources. The effect of climate change, environmental degradation has come knocking at our doors and threatening the very existence of human kind. Mass media has become a means to spread misinformation and propaganda in order to hide the degrading state of human life in this country.
There need be no delay in acknowledging and declaring that democracy in India is on its last legs, that the rights of most Indian citizens have been suspended. Human Rights violations are occurring on an unprecedented scale and attacks on Human Rights defenders by the State and state-sponsored institutions are multiplying every day. Surveillance and shutting down of dissenting voices has outpaced the economy in the past 5 years. This is among the most severe clampdowns on civil liberties that we have witnessed in a long time. Not that this situation is unprecedented – similar conditions have been created under different regimes throughout Indian history. The oppressive twin forces of brahminism and capitalism continue to marginalise people on the basis of caste, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, etc. as they have done for many decades now. What stands out most about the current situation is that everything is being done at the behest of a Brahminical Hindutva organization – the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) – with a thorough hollowing of the pillars of democracy. As we witnessed recently in Maharashtra following the assembly elections, Constitutional morality has been abandoned, and democratic processes are being abused by those seeking to retain power.
In the face of ever-mounting human rights violations, we seek to mark and observe International Human Rights day to not just expose the government for its wrongdoing but also to remind ourselves of the need to stand guard and continue to come together by various means and methods in order to fight such oppression. For this purpose, a public meeting is being planned on 20th December 2019, with the intention of jointly discussing subjugation of human rights, and attacks on human rights defenders and social movements. To rebuild solidarity, and to find a way to counter such attacks, we need to join hands and express our views in unison.
Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy invites all activists, students’ and civil society organizations, and social movements to participate in this public meeting. Let us stand together in defense of democratic rights, especially our right to dissent – and let us extend uncompromising solidarity with all people’s movements in India and the world over.