PMANE hunger strike over but actions go ahead

17.05.2012 - Idinthakarai, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu - Tony Henderson

KKNPP refers to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project –

PMANE rejected such sly accusations by stating it has no role whatsoever in that act and repeated they have been leading a peaceful, democratic and nonviolent struggle for the past nine months without even a single incident of violence.

On the contrary, members of PMANE’s Struggle Committee have received several death threats. Members at Koodankulam were brutally attacked by police October 13, 2011, in front of the Koodankulam plant.

*“These incidents have been glossed over by the police and the governments. On May 11, 2012 one of our Struggle Committee members, Mr. V. Rajalingam from Koodankulam, was badly beaten up and verbally abused at 5:15pm near the East Bazaar of Kodankulam by a Mr. Stanley Jones, Vallioor Deputy Superintendent of Police and Mr. Rajapaul, Inspector of Koodankulam police station,”* the press release confirms.

Signed depositions were made by two activists, Mr. Rajalingam and Mr. R. K. Selvakumar, who witnessed the brutal attack, at the Public Hearing conducted May 14, 2012 in Chennai, by the Chennai Solidarity Group for the Koodankulam Struggle.

*“Some 15 other people from Idinthakarai, Koodankulam, Koothenkuzhy, Koottapuli, Nagercoil, Erode and Chennai also deposed on police brutalities, excesses and harassments at the same Public Hearing. The Panelists headed by Justice (Retired) A. P. Shah are in the process of preparing a report which is going to be submitted to the Central and State governments.”*

Another request was also a reminder, that the authorities investigate the attacks on the school of the Struggle Committee Coordinator with the same promptness and seriousness and apprehend the culprits.

The anti-nuclear protesters in Idinthakarai called off their fortnight-long hunger strike on Monday 14 May after Justice AP Shah, a former Chief Justice of Madras High Court intervened as a mediator.

Around 35 men had started a hunger strike on 1 May, when the PMANE struggle committee intensified their agitation against KKNPP, scheduled to be commissioned by June 2012. On 3 May, 302 women joined the protest.

Mr Victoria Pushparayan, one of the PMANE leaders, says the struggle committee decided to call off their indefinite hunger strike after Justice Shah assured the protesters that he would mediate for an early settlement of the issues raised by them.

*”However, we will continue our relay fast, we are open to all negotiations. Justice Shah has appealed us to make room for mediation,” Pushparayan said. “Justice Shah will head a panel of mediators and initiate talks with the government for a settlement on the Koodankulam issue. PMANE will continue its legal battle against Koodankulam nuclear power project in both High Court and Supreme Court.”*

Reports by reporter Jeemon Jacob on Tehelka news service give more details from Pushparayan: *”We have no intention to stop our struggle. We will continue the legal battle to meet our demands in a peaceful manner,”* he said. *”Three men and 64 women continued their fast till yesterday. It shows their solidarity and we can’t desert our people mid-way,”* Around 3000 villagers participated in a night vigil and candle march at Idinthakarai after the hunger strike was called off.

The local church pulled out of the protests. *”Yes, the church hierarchy has distanced from us, but people are with us. We are least bothered about who is against us, we are only concerned
about who are with us,”* said Pushparayan.

The government deployed 3,000 armed police in Koodankulam and declared the assembly of protesters illegal. More than 250 cases with charges of sedition and attempt to murder have been filed against PMANE leaders.

UPDATE
Amnesty International
URGENT ACTION
**three tamil nadu protestors face arrest**
At least three leaders of an anti-nuclear group in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are facing the threat of arrest, though more than 330 protestors ended their hunger strike on 15 May following a call from a former high court chief judge.

The peaceful protestors, including more than 300 women, went on hunger strike on 1 May at coastal Idinthakarai village as part of their protest against the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant project. The state police issued orders prohibiting the protests and surrounded the village, as if about to arrest the protestors.

The three leaders, teacher Dr S P Udayakumar, former Jesuit priest Pushparayan and Jesuit priest My. Pa. Jesurajan, told Amnesty International that even as the hunger strike was on, the police continued to charge the protestors with offences including “sedition” (crimes against the state), “waging war against the state”, “conspiracy” and “rioting with lethal weapons”. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment. Police also charged the three leaders and four other protestors with having abused, assaulted and attempted to murder two Idinthakarai villagers for refusing to join the protests. Over 180 protestors were arrested in March, and all were released within a month except for two men, Mukilan and Satish.

The former chief justice of the Chennai high court, Justice A P Shah, led a public hearing at Chennai into the claims of at least 180 protestors that they had faced false charges, including “sedition” and “waging war against the State”, and called for dialogue between the state authorities and the protestors on 14 May. The protestors ended their hunger strike after this. The judge also assured the protestors that he would take up the issue of filing of false charges with the National Human Rights Commission.

An Amnesty International researcher visited Idinthakarai and nearby coastal villages on 15 and 16 May, and found that hundreds of protestors were still defying the police orders prohibiting more than four people to gather within seven km of the project site, and were still assembling at the hunger strike venue. However, the police were not moving into the villages, and allowed visitors in.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:
n Calling on the authorities not to arrest the three protest leaders, and drop any false charges against them;
n Urging them to release the two peaceful protestors – Mukilan and Satish – currently in detention;
n Calling on them to immediately respect the protestors’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly in accordance with India ’s obligations under international law.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 28 JUNE 2012 TO:

Prime Minister
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi 110 00, India
Fax: +91 11 2301 7931
Email: Through website:
http://pmindia.nic.in/feedback.php
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
Ms.J. Jayalalitha
Fort St George
Chennai 600 009
India
Email: cmcell@tn.gov.in
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister

Solidarity messages may be sent to:
NGO
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
Dr S. P. Udayakumar
Idinthakarai PO 627104
Tamil Nadu
India

Categories: Asia, Human Rights

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