Target: President of India Pranab Mukherjee
Goal: Drop charges against peaceful protesters and insure protection for artists in India
Following a long string of government action against artists and protesters, the anti-terrorism branch of India’s government has pressed charges against a group of Dalit, or “untouchable,” folk artists and protesters. The government has accused them of collaborating with Maoist terrorists in the area, despite only highly circumspect circumstantial evidence linking the artists to illegal activities. Tell the government of India that no one should be prosecuted for speaking out against oppression, and urge them to drop the charges against this group.
The group, called “Kabir Kala Manch,” is a combination band and cultural group consisting of six members. Their works focus on the plight of inequality facing the Dalit people, who have been marginalized within Indian society for millennia. This cause is also supported by the Maoists, and it is speculated that this ideological sympathy is why a link was drawn between them. However, both Indian and international courts have repeatedly stressed that ideological sympathy is not the same as participating in terrorism.
The charges against the group, the majority of which is based on testimony from alleged Maoists, number over 100 pages. If convicted, all six members could face life in prison. The case is similar to that of a cartoonist tried in 2012, who was arrested following criticism of the Indian government, or that of Dr. Binayak Sen, an activist charged with sedition in 2010. In both cases the charges against them were investigated and found to be fraudulent following public outcry. Supporters of Kabir Kala Manch hope that the same will occur in their case.
We must let the Indian government know that it is grossly unjust to prosecute artists for speaking out against oppression. The charges against Kabir Kala Manch must be dropped, and protections enacted so that in the future artists are not threatened with legal action for peaceful protests.
Dear President Pranab Mukherjee,
The counter-terrorism branch of the Indian government recently arrested a group of six Dalit artists, “Kabir Kala Manch.” They have been charged with a huge number of crimes in collaboration with Maoist terrorists, however, much of this testimony is based on questionable testimony. While Kabir Kala Manch certainly have certain ideological sympathies with the terrorists, that in itself is not a crime.
Under the Unlawful Activities Act, a group must be actively involved in terrorism in order to be tried. In light of this, the Indian government should drop the charges against Kabir Kala Manch and enact protections so that other artists are not tried for their work.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: Gppande via Wikimedia Commons