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David Barsamian’s Deportation: Statement of Protest

September 29, 2011

STATEMENT OF PROTEST

We write to protest the denial of entry to David Barsamian by Immigration Authorities at the New Delhi airport in the early hours of September 23, 2011, and we write to draw attention to the growing arbitrariness of the Indian Government in dealing with dissent of any kind.

David Barsamian is a veteran broadcaster, and founder and director of Alternative Radio, a weekly one-hour public affairs program offered free to all public radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and beyond. For more than 25 years Alternative Radio has provided information, analyses and views that are frequently ignored in other media. Structured around intensive interviews conducted by David Barsamian, these programs are carried by over 125 radio stations and heard by millions of listeners. He is the author of numerous books with Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and Tariq Ali.

David is a friend for many of us, but he is an older friend of India. He first came as a young man in 1966, and has since returned innumerable times, immersing himself in its  music, languages and poetry. He has taught himself Urdu and Hindi, learned to play the Sitar, and closely follows events in the sub-continent.

When he was deported on September 23 he had a visa which was valid for another 5 years, and although he last visited in February 2011, he had no intimation or warning that he was in violation of any of the conditions under which his visa was issued. The only thing that the Immigration Officers were able to tell him was that he was “banned” from entering the country, and that the reasons were a “secret”.

The deportation of David Barsamian unfortunately mirrors the manner in which Prof Richard Shapiro was arbitrarily stopped from entering India in November 2010. We are dismayed that this power to send people back from the airport is slowly becoming a weapon, used to discipline and silence people who draw any kind of attention to uncomfortable truths about India. A year later Prof Shapiro still has no formal response on why he was stopped, and when he can regain his right to travel to India, where he has family.

We therefore ask that the ban on David Barsamian and others like Richard Shapiro be revoked, and the Government of India not impede their return to India.

We demand that the right to travel and the right to free exchange of ideas between scholars, journalists, artists, and human rights defenders be respected and protected, and that government agents not authorize the denial of entry and eviction of visitors to India, or monitor their movement. Free exchange of ideas is one of the most basic human rights and values in free democratic societies. Freedom of travel is one of the most important avenues for furthering such exchange among peoples. Recognizing this, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange.

Signed:

1               Abha Sur, Academic

2               Amar Kanwar, Film-maker

3               Amit Bhaduri, Academic

4               Amit Sengupta, Journalist

5               Anuradha Chenoy, Academic

6               Ania Loomba, Academic

7               Angana Chatterji, Academic

8               Anthony Arnove, Publisher/Activist

9               Aruna Roy, MKSS, Activist

10            Arundhati Roy, Writer

11            Arpita Banerjee, Academic

12            Ashok Prasad, Academic

13            Ashim Jain, Activist

14            Ajay Skaria, Academic

15            Basharat Peer, Writer

16            Biju Mathew, Academic

17            Colin Gonsalves, Lawyer

18            D.Gabriele, Activist/Academic

19            David Ludden, Academic

20            Deepankar Basu, Academic

21            Dibyesh Anand, Academic

22            Gyanendra Pandey, Academic

23            Harsh Dobhal, Journalist

24            Himanshu Kumar, Activist

25            Hussain Askari, Journalist

26            Indira Unninayar, Advocate

27            Jean Dreze, Scholar

28            Joel Geier, International Socialist Review

29            K.B.Saxena, former secretary to Government of India.

30            Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Academic

31            Kamala Visveswaran, Academic

32            Lalitha Gopalan, Academic

33            Manisha Sethi, Academic

34            Manoranjan Mohanty, Academic

35            Mirza Waheed, Writer

36            Nagesh Rao, Academic

37            Najeeb Mubarki, Journalist

38            Nitasha Kaul, Writer

39            Noam Chomsky

40            N Raghuram, Academic

41            Madhu Bhaduri, former Ambassador

42            Mridu Rai, Academic

43            Nurul Kabir, Engineer

44            Pankaj Mishra, Writer

45            Parvaiz Bukhari, Journalist

46            Philip Gasper, Academic

47            Pranav Jani, Academic

48            Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer

49            Rahul Roy, Film-maker

50            Romila Thapar, Academic

51            Sanjay Kak, Film-maker

52            Satya Sivaraman, Journalist

53            Shabnam Hashmi, Activist

54            Shripad Dharmadhikary, Researcher

55            Shohini Ghosh, Academic

56            Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist

57            Simona Sawhney, Academic

58            Sukumar Muralidharan, Journalist

59            Suresh Nautiyal, Journalist

60            Suvir Kaul, Academic

61            Saba Dewan, Film-maker

62            Snehal Shingavi, Academic

63            Sherry Wolf, International Socialist Review

64            Tariq Thachil, Academic

65            Vandana Shiva, Academic

66            Vijayan MJ, Activist

67            Vrinda Grover, Lawyer

68            Ashok Choudhary, Activist

69            Pothik Ghosh, Radical Notes

70            Ramaa Vasudevan, Academic

71            Sreekanth Reddy, IT Professional

72            Kasturi Basu, Research scholar

73            Sanjeev Mahajan, Writer

74            Junaid Rana, Academic

75            Maliha Safri, Academic

76            Ramnath Bhat, Activist/Writer

77            Rupal Oza, Academic, New York

78            Vinay Bhat, Consultant, San Fraancisco

79            Sabina England, Filmmaker & Playwright

80            Ravindran Sriramachhandran, Academic

81            Shourin Roy, Writer/ Blogger

82            Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Political Science NJ

83            Harsh Kapoor, Activist

84            Sonny Singh, Musician

85            M. V. Ramana, Academic

86            Amita Swadhin, Activist/Educator

87            Anivar Arvind, Activist

88            Parvathy Prem, Graduate Student

89            Saadia Toor, Academic

90            Krishna Subramanian, Academic

91            Yogesh Chandrani, Academic

92            Umang Kumar, Freelance Journalist

93            Siddhartha Ghosh, Academic

94            Raza Mir, Academic

95            Subhash Mohapatra, Journalist

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