in Manipur and the United Nations

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World Without Torture features CSCHR statement on Gaza

IRCT joins calls around the world to focus on trauma rehabilitation in Gaza

As the war in Gaza draws to a 72 hour calm in its fourth week, organisations around the world are taking stock of the damage caused. Figures from the BBC show 1,450 people have died, the majority of whom are Palestinian civilians. Internal displacement is still a real issue as 43% of the country is marked as a no-go zone. And only now, weeks too late, is the first humanitarian aid arriving in Gaza.

A glimpse of the destruction in a street in Gaza following an airstrike (picture courtesy of Wikimedia commons)

But the often unsighted consequence of war is trauma. Every day hundreds of new cases of trauma are exhibited yet the services established to ease this very suffering are being destroyed every single minute.

This week the IRCT published a story reflecting on the strain its membership in Gaza and Palestine are facing amidst this war. The story highlights the strain the members face each day in providing some normality for survivors of torture and trauma.

But they are struggling. While international aid and support is welcome in this 72 hour truce, the war must end completely so suffering ceases and the region can be accessed by international agencies who can implement concrete strategies beyond this current three-day window.

Civillians inspects the rubble (picture courtesy of UNRAW)

In unity with this come many calls from IRCT members across the globe to end the fighting, to ensure rehabilitation services are prioritised immediately and to stand side-by-side to support the men, women and children who are at the mercy of this conflict.

Statements of solidarity and calls to end the war

One such statement of solidarity comes from IRCT member CORE-H2H in Manipur, India, who joined 24 other human rights organisations in the Asia region in calling for an immediate end to “one of the most horrendous humanitarian disasters and crisis of serious human rights violations of this century. ” (Click here to read the full statement)

In Latin America, the Latin American coalition Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Instituciones de Salud contra la Tortura (the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Health Institutions against Torture, Impunity and other violations of Human Rights) calls upon States and international organisations, as well as society as a whole, to recognise and condemn the continuing breaches of human rights obligations in this war. (Click here to read the full statement)

Finally the IRCT joined its colleagues in the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition who call for armed groups on both sides, Israel and Palestine, to observe an immediate ceasefire and halt their continuing violations on international human rights and humanitarian obligations. (Click here to read the full statement)

The IRCT, along with hundreds of human rights organisations across the globe, is following very closely the events in Gaza and stands united with its members in the region, and across the world, in calling for an end to this war. Only a bilateral ceasefire, enforced by the international community alongside provisions for rehabilitation, can provide real prospects for peace in at this time in the Middle East.

Human Rights Defenders Urge India to End Military Relations With Israel

28 July 2014: Expressing condolences to all those families and communities that have lost their lives in the ongoing “situation of war” in the Gaza Strip over the last days, various human rights defenders and organizations of Manipur urge the government of India to end military and defence relations with the government of Israel including the purchase of military hardware from the country.

“The government of India to end military and defence relations with the government of Israel including the purchase of military hardware from Israel and step up humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip,” reads a joint statement from the organizations.

Here is the full text of the statement:

Human Rights Defenders Urge India to End Military Relations With Israel

MANIPUR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS’ STATEMENT ON GAZA: A SITUATION OF WAR EXISTS

Press Release on Gaza

 

A STATEMENT ON GAZA: A SITUATION OF WAR EXISTS

28 July 2014

Human rights defender and civil society organisations in Manipur are highly concerned with the ongoing situation of war in the Gaza Strip, and view it as one of the most horrendous humanitarian disasters and crisis of serious human rights violations of this century. We are extremely concerned that Israel, a full member state of the UN, and Palestine, a non-member observer state of the UN since 2012 are both directly involved in the crisis. The heart-wrenching pictures of mutilated and wounded infants and young children bears witness to the abject failure of the conflicting parties as well as the international community to conclude this tragedy and affront to humanity. Considering this escalating brutally violent situation that has seen no sign of ending till today, it has become necessary for us to express our united position.

Within the last five years, since 2009, the Palestinian region known as the Gaza Strip has experienced at least three major incursions by the defence forces of Israeli state that resulted in untold human suffering to the local population in the most shocking dimensions. The present one, and third of the offensives, of bombardment and assault of Gaza from land, air and sea by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), using a wide variety of sophisticated modern weapons against a basically exposed civilian population, has now gone on for as many as twenty days. Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is a naked attempt to obliterate civil society in the Gaza Strip.

Health institutions, hospitals, mosques and even schools in Gaza have been deliberately targeted in this the latest outbreak of war, and the death toll has crossed 1000, of which more than 80 per cent are claimed to be civilians and includes more than 200 children. There are more than five thousand injured, at least half of them are children and UN claims that there are now 167,000 internally displaced persons in Gaza. The patent abrogation of international humanitarian and human rights norms is glaring in the images depicting the brutality of the deepening crisis in the Middle East.

On the other hand, at least 35 personnel of the IDF have been killed, many of them attributed to reported friendly fire, and rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets by Hamas have been continuous. Civilian casualties in Israel have been relatively very low, only three, contrasting with the very high toll among the Palestinians. Dozens have been reportedly injured in the rocket attacks. There is no recorded internal displacement in Israel.

“Disproportionate” must be the qualifying descriptor of this violent confrontation by the Israeli state. Internationally accepted position of every country’s right to self-defence definitely does not include any right or privilege to commit a genocidal and merciless campaign of state terror upon an unarmed and defenceless civilian population in what is perhaps rightly called the world’s largest and most shameful open prison.

In 1994, after 27 years of occupation,  granted the right of self-governance to Gaza through the Palestinian Authority. Prior to this, Gaza had been subject to military occupation, most recently by Israel (1967–94) and by Egypt (1958–67), and earlier by Syria when Gaza had been part of the Ottoman Empire. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been de-facto governed by Hamas, a Palestinian group claiming to be the representatives of the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian people. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly “accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations”. Gaza forms a part of the Palestinian territory defined in the Oslo Agreements and UNSC Resolution 1860.

The wars that have involved the Gaza Strip wrought havoc amongst its population. The physical and psychosocial health consequences constitute a major burden in Gaza. The widespread use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in this region has led to courageous initiatives from the medical fraternity to rehabilitate the survivor victims. Many years of effort painstakingly built up over the two decades is being ruthlessly and rapidly destroyed. It will take many years to gain some small ground again to rehabilitate the victims of this latest flare-up of armed conflict.

In 2009, the UN’s Human Rights Council established the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict with the mandate “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.” The report of this mission, known as the Goldstone Report, is perhaps the most prominent, comprehensive and fair human rights report on the Gaza till date. Yet, many of the important recommendations made to both the Israeli state and the Palestinian Authority have never been implemented.

The Human Rights Council, last Wednesday, adopted yet another resolution to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights since mid-June in the Gaza Strip, and it also condemned Israel for potential infractions of international law. While we welcome this resolution that marks the concern among the international community of nations, we remain with scepticism whether such steps will ever be a positive and constructive impetus towards a just solution to the Israel-Palestine question.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (S/RES/242), which was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War has yet to be implemented. In fact, this resolution has been assigned to the growing heap of adopted resolutions by the United Nations that are rejected or ignored by the parties to the conflict. Adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, the preamble to this resolution refers to the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security.”

It’s Operative Paragraph One “Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

  1. Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
  2. Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

In this position, human rights defender and civil society organisations in Manipur reiterate that we are aware that the situation of human rights within both the Palestinian Territories and Israel (including the occupied territories) is inadequate. Israel is seen as a transgressor while the Palestinians are perceived as the wronged. However, the situation in Palestinian Territories may be considered as one of declining civil liberties for its citizens, due to the many reliable reports of shooting deaths of civilians by Palestinian security personnel; the summary trials and executions of alleged collaborators by the Palestinian Authority; extrajudicial killings of suspected collaborators by militias; and the apparent official encouragement of Palestinian youths to confront Israeli soldiers, thus placing them directly in harm’s way. Discrimination of non-Jewish populations in Israel is also widely reported. The practices of political imprisonment and administrative detention are very high in Israel according to reliable sources. Accusations of alleged use of civilian or non-combatant human shields to achieve “military objectives”, a war crime, have been raised on both parties to the conflict.

Militarisation and flawed financial aid in this region with the support of arms supplies from many known and unknown sources has been one of the major hurdles to reach lasting peace. Munitions from foreign suppliers are used by both parties to the conflict to target civilians. There must a concerted resolve and action place a strong embargo on all arms and weapons supplies to both warring parties. This is, in our view, one of the key components of any immediate and long-term initiative towards real peace in the region. The vision of peace in this region must be informed by the committed understanding that demilitarisation is the only answer to the insecurities and perceived threats to Israel or the Palestinians.

We cannot ignore the regional geopolitical strategies employed by the Israeli state, which consistently transgresses every norm and decent value of the community of nations in the world. This constitutes the roots of the stubborn conflict and intransigent nature of both warring parties. Western companies’ continued investment in companies and projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people continue to perpetuate a deeply unjust expansionism of an obviously hegemonic state. 17 EU countries recently issued warnings to their citizens against doing business or investing in illegal Israeli settlements. It is now a fact that tax-payers’ money from USA and European countries have been used by their irresponsible governments, corporations and financial institutions to finance Israel’s military and unlawful settlements. Such flawed aid and supplies underwrites the true economic costs of Israel’s belligerent role in the region.

The human rights defenders and organizations of Manipur fully recognize the Right to Self Determination of all peoples, and:

Express heart-felt condolences to all those families and communities that have lost so many lives in such a brutal and violent manner over the last days. The civil society in the Gaza Strip is being literally obliterated, and the loss is not just a loss to all humankind but also our failure;

Call upon the Government of Israel, Hamas and other armed militant Palestinian organisations in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian National Authority to immediately end all forms of aggression and offensive action against the citizens of the Gaza Strip and Israel;

Further call upon them to end violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip, and the resolutions of the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council on the situation of Palestine including Gaza;

Call upon the peoples of Israel and Palestinian Territories to abide by norms of human decency, non-discriminations and any form of racism or racial discrimination; any form of apartheid and anti-Semitism is rejected;

Call upon the United Nations to immediately impose an overdue comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups;

Commends the government of India for its support to UN Human Rights Council resolution made during an emergency session on 23rd July 2014 in Geneva that condemned in the strongest terms the “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms” arising from the Israeli military operations since 13 June, called for an immediate ceasefire and decided to launch an independent inquiry into purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;

Further urge the government of India to end military and defence relations with the government of Israel including the purchase of military hardware from Israel and step up humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip;

Also call upon private and public corporations and financial institutions such as ABP, Hewlett-Packard, Veolia, Barclays, Caterpillar, and G4S, among others, to withdraw immediately from continued investment in companies and projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people.

END/

Signatories:

All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association (AMANA)

Centre of Network and Empowerment (CoNE)

Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE)

Centre for Research & Advocacy (CRA Manipur)

Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD)

Civil Liberties and Human Rights Organisation (CLAHRO)

Civil Liberties Protection Forum (CLPF)

Committee on Human Rights, Manipur (COHR)

Ethno-Heritage Council (HERICOUN)

Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association Manipur (EEVFAM)

Families of the Involuntarily Disappeared’s Association Manipur (FIDAM)

Federation of Regional Indigenous Societies (FREINDS)

Forum for Indigenous Perspective and Action (FIPA)

Human Rights Alert (HRA)

Human Rights Initiative (HRI)

Human Rights Law Network Manipur (HRLN-M)

Human to Humane Transcultural Centre for Torture and Trauma (H2H)

Just Peace Foundation (JPF)

Life Watch

Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR)

Movement for Peoples’ Right to Information Manipur (M-PRIM)

North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF)

Reachout

Threatened Indigenous Peoples Society (TIPS)

United Peoples Front (UPF)

CSCHR Press Conference on Rashida Manjoo’s final report of her mission to India

The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN held a press conference on 30th May 2014 to welcome and commend the final report of Ms Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences who visited India on an official mission upon the invitation of the government of India in 22 April to 1 May, 2013. The coalition had written to her in January 2013, inviting her to visit Manipur during her mission. Ms Manjoo visited Imphal during her sojourn in India and held an open consultative meeting with victims and families, NGOs and civil society organisations of Manipur and the North Eastern region of India. At the consultation, CSCHR submitted a memorandum to her, which included documentation of violence against women in Manipur in the context of internal armed conflict.

Links to the media reports of the press conference are provided below.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINKS TO SEE THE PRESS REPORTS

SANGAI EXPRESS: Recommendation to repeal AFSPA hailed

THE IMPHAL FREE PRESS: Civil societies demand implementation of UN recommendation

HUEIYEN LANPAO: ‘Recommendation for AFSPA repeal a success for rights activists’

NAHAROLGI THOUDANG: Rashidana AFSPA athuba matamda louthoknaba recommend toukhré

e-PAO.NET: ‘Recommendation for APFSA repeal a success for rights activists’ Source: Hueiyen News Service

THE PEOPLE’S CHRONICLE: UN Spl Rapporteur recommends repeal of AFSPA

Final Report of Mission to India by UN Special Rapporteur, Rashida Manjoo

The official report of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms Rashida Manjoo’s mission to India in 2013 is out. During her mission to India, Ms Rashida Manjoo visited Imphal on 28 April 2013, and held an open meeting at the Classic Hotel which was attended by many organisations from the North East region of India as well as women victims and/or their families. CSCHR submitted a comprehensive memorandum to Rashida Manjoo during her visit to Manipur.

Her report recommends the “repeal, as a matter of urgency, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and ensure that criminal prosecution of members of the Armed Forces is free from legal barriers.”

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK PROVIDED TO SEE THE REPORT

Rashida Manjoo_SRvaw report_India mission

CSCHR welcomes Indian Supreme Court’s judgement on commutation of 15 death sentences as unconstitutional and urges for judicial review of AFSPA

PRESS RELEASE

Imphal, 25nd January 2014

CSCHR welcomes Indian Supreme Court’s judgement on commutation of 15 death sentences as unconstitutional and urges for judicial review of AFSPA

The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN – a coalition of human rights organisations of Manipur – welcomes the far-reaching pronouncement of the Supreme Court on 21st January 2014, commuting the death penalty of 15 convicts to life term on ground of unexplained delay in deciding their mercy plea by the government and mental illness. The death penalty of 13 condemned prisoners has been commuted to life on the ground of inordinate delay on part of President to decide their mercy pleas. The other two convicts were given life sentence on finding that long years on death row had made them mentally ill.

This judgment delivered after the court heard a specific case, went through its merits and demerits and arguments of the parties. The landmark judgement is a reflection of the stature and role of India’s highest court of law. Time has come when the people of India expect a clear stance on the question of death penalty from the guardian of the Constitution and supreme authority for resolving disputes of legal and constitutional in nature.

Article 51 (c) of Indian Constitution clearly stands to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations and we also expect that the democratic Indian state would follow the international opinion and abolish the death penalty completely. The judiciary must take up the cudgel to facilitate the same.

The Indian state has made voluntary pledges and commitments before UN; wherein it proclaimed – “India shall continue to cooperate with United Nations treaty bodies and contribute constructively …”  The justified international opinion on capital punishment affirmed while the United Nations made researches in 1988 and 1996 regarding executions and capital punishments that ‘Research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect then life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming.

In the multi-layer judiciary of India, there is ample scope to rectify judicial wrong committed by lower layer by the upper one, but in case of capital punishment ordered by a court and subsequently executed, termination of a human life cannot be regained by any judicial rectification. The law cannot take away what it has not given.

We urge the Indian state to see overwhelming international opinion and accede to the Optional Protocol on the abolition of the death penalty of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Such a step would promote a torture-free culture in our society and more humane society for our future generations.

CSCHR urges the apex court of India to take such a progressive interpretation of the right to life to review AFSPA, which 16 years ago upheld its constitutionality, as its continued imposition in certain parts of the country amounts to Government of India abdicating its obligation to protect the right to life of the population inhabiting the “disturbed areas” and imposing a discriminatory and racist de facto death penalty by Indian armed forces without due process of law.

(Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy)

Convenor

Manipur: Perils of War and Womanhood

CSCHR is pleased to share its latest publication “Manipur: Perils of war and womanhood”.

Bookcover

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ACCESS THE PUBLICATION

MANIPUR perils of war and womanhood

CSCHR launches BOOK “Manipur: Perils of war and womanhood”

CSCHR, on Sunday, 12th January 2014, at the Nupi Lal Memorial Complex auditorium, Imphal, released its latest publication “Manipur: Perils of war and womanhood”, a memorandum submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo in April 2013. The book was jointly released by Thangjam (O) Khumanleima (mother of Thangjam Manorama, who was sexually assaulted brutally and then murdered in cold blood by personnel of the Assam Rifles unit stationed in Imphal on 11 July 2004), Irom (O) Sakhi (mother of Irom Sharmila, who has been on an unprecedented protest hunger strike since 2001 for the repeal of the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act), Poirei Leimarol Apunba Meira Paibi Manipur president Memchoubi, Sharmila Kanba Lup convenor Soibam Momon, Kangleipak Women Welfare Association president Memcha, Women Association for Civic Action Kangleipak president RK Tharaksana and human rights activist RK Sanahanbi.

Rashida Manjoo visited Imphal on 28 April 2013 and held a public consultative meeting during her official mission to India.

Invitation_CSCHR_book relase_120114

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR THE PRESS COVERAGE OF THE EVENT

‘Manipur : Perils of War and Womanhood’ released

‘Manipur: Perils of War and Womanhood’ released

Report of the Justice N. Santosh Hegde headed Commission appointed by the Supreme Court of India

CSCHR member Extrajudicial Execution Victims Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM) filed a Writ Petition in December 2012 – WP (Crl) No. 129 of 2012 – before the Supreme Court of India (SC). The SC appointed a special 3-member Commission headed by Justice N. Santosh Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India with a direction to make a thorough inquiry in the first 6 (six) cases of alleged extrajudicial execution from over 1500 detailed in “Compilation-I” filed by the Writ Petitioner, with a further direction to the Commission to record a finding regarding the past antecedents of the victims and circumstances under which they were killed. The SC also further directed the Commission to report regarding the functioning of the State Police and the Security Forces in the State of Manipur; and, in the case the Commission finds that the actions of the State Police and/or Security Forces transgressed legal bounds, the Commission should make its recommendations for keeping the state police and security forces within the legal bounds without compromising the fight against insurgency. The SC also stated in its order that the Commission should address the larger question of the role of the police and the security forces in Manipur.

The Commission, after having several sittings including public sittings at Imphal, Manipur, and having received many written submissions, documents, affidavits including personal appearances by witnesses for the petitioners and the respondents (Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Assam Rifles, Home Department of Manipur, Manipur Police) submitted its report on 30 March 2013.

The report was finally made available to the petitioners only in July.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE FULL REPORT

JUSTICE HEGDE COMMISSION REPORT

UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns – Report of Mission to India

Please see our Reports section to see the Mission to India report of UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns.

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