Uphold the Freedom of Expression, Condemn the Fabricated Cases Against Film and Media Persons
The space for dissent has been shrinking steadily under the predatory-capital-friendly government in Kerala. The police has been smelling the presence of ‘Maoists’ and ‘Islamic terrorists’ in strategic parts of the state; though hard evidence for the presence of such forces is almost entirely lacking, this move is surely not unexpected. There has been a spurt in the number of arrests under the UAPA. In the bargain, all expressions of protest against the suppression of human rights may be interpreted as ‘unlawful’ and ‘obstructive’. The following is a petition signed by prominent persons in film and media protesting against the most recent instance of the ongoing repression.
Petition to the Chief Minister, Kerala
We the undersigned strongly condemn the blatant attempt by the Kerala police to intimidate five colleagues from the field of film and media by filing fabricated cases against them for ‘rioting’, ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘public obstruction’ (IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 and 283 ). These five individuals- K.P.Sasi, noted filmmaker and activist, I. Shanmukhadas, film critic, Prasannakumar T.N., film activist, Shafeek, journalist and Deepak, filmmaker and film society activist- were participating in a peaceful protest on February 11 at Thrissur, Kerala, along with many others, outside the venue of the Vibgyor Film Festival 2013 against the concept of capital punishment and the summary execution of Afzal Guru. The peaceful protest which lasted for an hour, in no way disturbed public order or caused communal unrest. For this act of democratic expression, these fraudulent and trumped charges have been filed against them.
It is indeed shocking that the Kerala police should deny citizens their basic right to peacefully protest against the death penalty, which 97 nations across the world have abolished. As per Amnesty International data, over 2/3 of the countries of the world (140) are now “abolitionist in law or practice”. In India, there has been an alarming resurgence of the death penalty, which needs to be questioned and protested against by all those who stand for social justice and human rights. This crude act of intimidation by the state needs to be condemned by all and we urge you to ensure that the Kerala police to withdraw these false and malicious charges immediately.
Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Anjali Monteiro, TISS, Mumbai
K.P. Jayasankar, TISS, Mumbai
Nivedita Menon, JNU, New Delhi
Rahul Roy, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Saba Dewan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Shilpa Phadke, TISS, Mumbai
Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Ajay Bhardwaj, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Anivar Aravind, IT Engineer, Bangalore
Bishaldeb Halder, TISS, Mumbai
Charu Gargi, Filmmaker, Estonia
Lynne Henry, Filmmaker, Mumbai
P Baburaj, Film maker, Trivandrum
Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Rakesh Sharma, Filmmaker, Mumbai-Goa
Sanjay Mohan, Journalist, New Delhi
Shoba V. Ghosh, Mumbai University
Suma Josson, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Vivek Monteiro, Trade Unionist, Mumbai
Yousuf Saeed, Filmmaker, New Delhi.