· Police mercilessly use tear-gas and bullets against a crowd of 2000 people;
· 3 adivasis killed and about hundred people injured in police firing; many in critical condition;
· Heavy militarization in the area; close to a thousand police and Forest Department personnel involved in operation;
· Situation continues to be tense.
· Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch (constituent of National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers) had taken possession of about 500 acres of land, which the Forest Department then took away from the people even though the land had been denotified in 1974;
· Tribal families depended on this land for their livelihoods and subsistence, but were suddenly declared "encroachers";
· The struggle for land was being resolved through negotiations with the District Magistrate, but the Forest Department used force to sabotage the negotiations.
For more information, please contact: NFFPFW firstname.lastname@example.org
Act Now to Condemn these Human Rights Violations!!
Please modify the sample letter below or send it as is, to:
· Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Fax: +91-11-2301-9545, 2301-6857
· Shri P.R. Kyndiah, Minister for Tribal Affairs
Fax: +91-11-2307-0577, 2338-1499
· Shri A. Raja, Minister for Environment and Forests
Fax: + 91-11 - 2436-2222
· Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Fax: 91- 755- 254-0501/ 255-1781
· Shri D. P. Ahuja, District Collector of Rewa
· Shri Ravi Gupta, Superintendent of Police, Rewa
SAMPLE PROTEST LETTER
We strongly condemn the police firing on the struggling tribal forest people of Ghateha village of Rewa district in the State of Madhya Pradesh, India and the atrocities committed on women, children and members of the Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch on April 19, 2007.
We understand that the tribal villagers had taken possession of a piece of forest land which was first denotified in 1974 and then claimed back by the Forest Department, thus suddenly labelling the forest dwellers as "encroachers."
The struggle for this land gained ground during the last few months and some 1500 families moved in and built temporary shelters and huts (jhopris).
The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) and other forest officials have been threatening the tribals all along, and as recently as 5 April, 2007, 15 villagers were charge-sheeted and 9 of them were put in jail.
It is also reported that on April 17, forest officials and police threatened the tribals with dire consequences if they did not leave the land. The next day, the District Collector of Rewa came to the village and started negotiations with the villagers and assured them in front of the Samajwadi Party MLA, K. K. Singh, Munnilal - one of the conveners of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) - and other activists from Uttar Pradesh and Rewa, that the villagers would be compensated with land after ascertaining the nature of this particular land under contention.
However, on the morning of April 19th, the DFO and the district police started mobilizing a strong police force in the village and after surrounding the area for five hours started firing tear gas shells followed by assault with batons (lathi charge) and firing. Women were beaten up as they formed the first cordon to protect the other villagers. Police and Forest Department officials burnt and looted the villagers' houses.
Around 100 people are reported to be injured, many with bullet wounds and nobody to take care of them. No medical treatment is available. The village is still being surrounded by a strong police force.
i. an immediate halt to all police action and withdrawal of police force;
ii. immediate medical attention and treatment for the injured;
iii. strong administrative action against the DFO, other forest officials and local police officials; enquiry in to the incident by a sitting judge;full
iv. compensation to the villagers in lieu of property and valuables destroyed;
v. protection of the human rights to land and livelihood of the tribals;
vi. a just settlement of the land issue based on consensus and dialogue.
We look forward to your urgent intervention in this grave matter.