Thirumurugan Gandhi, is one of the most committed and honest activist from Southern India, who fights for the democratic rights of all people for the past nine years. He consistently advocates for the democratic aspirations of Eelam Tamils, Palestinians, Kurds , Kashmiris ,Western Saharans and Sikhs. He has also spoken in the Geneva human rights sessions in the United Nations (UN) for the past three years in support of the nations without states, indigenous peoples and communities which have faced war crimes against the imperial forces. He has represented Tamil civil society in Permanent people’s Tribunal for Srilanka in Bremen, Germany (2013).
Human rights activists Thirumurugan Gandhi, Daison Jose, Ilamaran , Arun who were arrested on 21.5.2017 for conducting candle light vigil for the dead in the Srilankan civil war.
The arrested activists were denied bail and on 29/5/2017, the police levied charges under “The Goondas Act” in short, on four of the jailed activists Thirumurugan Gandhi, Daison Jose, Ilamaran , Arun. These activists have voiced their support for various democratic people’s movements and human rights issues.
Ever since the end of the 2009 genocidal civil war in Sri Lanka, in which more than 1, 50,000 Tamils were massacred, the people of Tamilnadu have been conducting candle light vigils once a year to remember the genocide. The candle light vigil has been conducted in the marina beach in Chennai continuously for the past 6 years in the month of May, when at the peak of civil war thousands of Eelam Tamils were slaughtered daily by the Sinhala state. Thousands of people, including women and children participate in the candle light vigil to pay tribute to the killed Eelam Tamils. It’s a common practice by humanity around the world to remember the dead and pay tribute to them. The Tamils have a culture of paying tribute to the dead near the water bodies, a river or sea. The peaceful marina event that has been happening for 6 years is a reflection of the Tamil Culture.
Even the UN General Assembly resolution 60/147 adopted on December 16, 2005 clearly specifies about the Commemorations and tributes to the victims of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law. To deny this right to the Tamils to pay tribute to the fellow Eelam Tamil brethren who suffered genocide at the hands of Sinhala government is to deny us our basic human rights.
The ‘Goondas Act’ which is leashed on the human rights activists, the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Forest Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum Grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982 (Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982), called “The Goondas Act” in short is a preventive detention law.
“Remembering the dead is a fundamental right of the culture of every people and begs the question of how weeping commons, remembering their loved ones, can threaten public order and safety?
‘Goondas Act’ is used by the state governments generally to attack and intimidate political opponents who speak truth to power. This legislation tramples upon the personal liberty of a citizen without giving him a chance to opt for judicial scrutiny, The Act is meant to be used only under exceptional circumstances in cases of grave and imminent threat to public safety and order. A total of 8,450 of them have been detained under the Goondas Act and the NSA since 2011 and many of them have been thrown outside by the court.
One of the main principles of legal jurisprudence is that any person accused of any offence should be given an equal chance to be heard and to defend himself in the courts of law, This preventive law denies the detained person this chance. The procedure requires that within seven weeks of detention, the detainee should be brought before the Board, which has three retired judges as its members. When these avenues fail, the higher courts can be approached. The majority of the cases have been habeas corpus petitions on which the higher judiciary ruled in favor of the victims, coming down heavily on the States mainly for non-application of mind and procedural lapses.
It is to be noted that the legal attack is part of the trend where the rulers of the Indian Union trying to dismantle, intimidate, coerce human rights activists. No one should be arrested for mourning the dead. We are worried about the shrinking democratic space for reason and deliberation, one of the cornerstones of a constitutional democracy. We condemn the attack on Human rights defenders, which is a message to other activists to silence them. We call upon all the democratic forces across the world to show solidarity to one of our fellow beings.
We request the Human rights organizations to release press statements in expression of solidarity.
We insist the Human rights organizations and other special interest groups to pressurize the state government to repeal the “The Goondas Act” immediately.
We request international community and organizations to come forward and condemn Indian government’s attack on human rights defenders Thirumurugan Gandhi, Daison Jose, Ilamaran and Arun Kumar.
We deplore the recent wave of arrests by the Government of Tamilnadu and the use of force to disperse peaceful protests. We urge you to write to the Indian authorities, Indian diplomatic representatives and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your respective countries to draw their attention to your concerns and forward them this statement.
– May 17 Movement TamilNadu, India Phone: +91-9884072010 mail: [email protected] www.may17iyakkam.com