Released from Jail, ‘Alternative Nobel’ Medha Patkar Still Faces Charges of Kidnapping in India’s Dam Protest
Environment, Human Rights, Peace, Democracy and Law, 25/08/2017
Indian activist Medha Patkar, leader of Save the Narmada Movement (Narmada Bachao Andolan) with which she shared the 1991 Right Livelihood Award, has been released on bail on charges of kidnapping a government official during the mass protest against the Sardar Sarovar dam. She is now due to stand trial.
“Today we enter a new phase in the Sardar Sarovar fight to stop irreparable loss to livelihoods. I thank the Right Livelihood Award for all actions taken. Next phase will be equally challenging,” Medha Patkar told the Foundation after her release from Dhar district jail in Madhya Pradesh where she had been held since her arrest on 9 August for breach of the peace.
Veteran activist Patkar, 62, has been protesting the inadequate rehabilitation policies of some 40,0000 citizens who would lose their homes as a result of being displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam. Patkar was detained on 7 August when the Madhya Pradesh police charged the camp of peaceful protesters using tactics such as baton charges and clubs tipped with nails, injuring 42 people in the process of dislodging the protesters. Her health condition remains poor.
“We join the voices of many concerned members of civil society from India and around the world in calling for all charges against Medha Patkar to be dropped. It is crystal clear that Medha is being targeted by the authorities solely for exercising her constitutional rights to peacefully protest against government policies. As India enters its 70th year as an independent country, India’s government should rethink how it interacts with activists and facilitate not obstruct the activities of its vibrant civil society,” Sharan Srinivas, the Foundation’s Director of Research and Advocacy, has commented.
Patkar’s arrest was in clear violation of her right to freedom of assembly guaranteed by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India has ratified and is thus legally bound by.
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation has written to various officials in the Indian government, the Indian National Human Rights Commission and has filed urgent appeals to the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders and freedom of assembly.
Medha Patkar and Baba Amte / Narmada Bachao Andolan received the 1991 Right Livelihood Award “for their inspired opposition to the disastrous Narmada Valley dams project and their promotion of alternatives designed to benefit the poor and the environment.”
For more information, please contact:
Sharan Srinivas, Director of Research and Advocacy: firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 22 555 0943
Listen to Medha Paktar’s statement issued just after her release: https://soundcloud.com/rightlivelihood/medha-paktar-released-from-jail-she-continues-with-her-fight-for-the-narmada-valley-people
Video about Medha Patkar’s 30-year battle to save the Narmada River is available from: https://vimeo.com/219489548