Aazaad Lab

4,999 supporters

    Started 4 petitions

    Petitioning Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India

    Support for Advocate Prashant Bhushan

    We, the undersigned, are extremely disturbed by news reports of the initiation of contempt proceedings by the Supreme Court of India against India's most well-known human rights activist, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan. He is a long-time pro bono defender of human dignity, civil liberties and justice for the under-privileged sections of the Indian society. He has fought for environmental protection and against corruption in high places. He has been an outspoken champion for judicial accountability and reforms in India’s higher judiciary. It is reported that the topmost body of the Indian judicial system has decided to put him on trial on the basis of two tweets and an 11-year-old contempt case. In the first tweet, Prashant Bhushan has commented about disturbing instances of inaction to protect civil rights and democratic institutions by the judiciary in recent years.In the second tweet, he has reflected about the incongruity about the Supreme Court being locked down due to COVID-19 on one hand, while the Chief Justice gets himself photographed in a public place with many around him without a mask. We have learnt that the contempt case against Prashant Bhushan is based on an interview given by him to a news magazine. His remarks that about half of India’s Chief Justices between 1990 and 2010 had indulged in corruption (not necessarily seeking ‘bribes’ or financial gratification) were based on reams of documentary evidence later detailed in three affidavits submitted to the Court. The affidavits, specified instances of alleged “corruption” for each of them and appended supporting documentary evidence. The Court chose not to pursue examining the evidence and put the case in cold storage. In our view, it is a universally recognised imperative for all judges anywhere in the world to be cautious about not only being free of fear and favour but also appear to be impartial and just. Any carelessness about respecting the rules of public conduct and maintaining a safe distance from the power elite causes a trust-deficit as well as a dangerous disenchantment with the system of justice.The legitimacy of a democratic system depends upon the rule of law and the protectors of law are expected to be guided about it by the letter and spirit of the Constitution of a given country. Therefore, any public statement by a legal luminary who has strengthened the judicial system by continuously and consistently approaching the Courts over the years for relief about common causes and critical issues of public interest must be respected rather than be punished. An institution as important as the Supreme Court of a country must be open to public discussion without the fear of retribution or action of criminal contempt. Indeed, criminal contempt as an offence has been circumscribed and made redundant in most functioning democracies, such as the USA and the UK. Even in India, the principle that criticism of the judiciary should not be stifled by the indiscriminate use of the power of contempt has been recognized by the Supreme Court as well as by academics and advocates of repute, such as the late Senior Advocate Shri Vinod A. Bobde who had stated [“Scandals and Scandalising”, (2003) 8 SCC Jour 32], “We cannot countenance a situation where citizens live in fear of the Court’s arbitrary power to punish for contempt for words of criticism on the conduct of judges, in or out of court.” In the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the Supreme Court of India,we urge its Honourable judges, including the Chief Justice, to reconsider the decision to initiate judicial proceedings on charges of contempt of court against Shri Prashant Bhushan who is one of the role models in the legal profession in a growing democracy like India. We hope that the Indian judicial system will prefer self-introspection and avoid any silencing of a concerned and committed advocate for his observations as a vigilant citizen.

    Aazaad Lab
    50 supporters
    Petitioning Delhi Police, Ministry of Home Affairs, cp​.​snshrivastava@delhipolice​.​gov​.​in

    Delhi Police: Immediately Stop the Persecution of Activists and Protesters

    We, the undersigned, are outraged at the harassment and recent arrests of students and other activists on fabricated charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Government of India (GoI), acting through the Delhi Police, is targeting activists who participated in non-violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the GoI is arresting and throwing activists into crowded prisons. It is criminalizing dissent and has created an atmosphere of terror in Delhi. Recently, Shifa-Ur-Rehman, the President of the Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged involvement in the Northeast Delhi pogrom. The Delhi police seized the mobile phone of Kawalpreet Kaur, the All India Students' Association (AISA) Delhi President, citing an FIR (that included a slew of charges under the UAPA). The Delhi police also used the UAPA to book former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid for his alleged role in the Delhi pogrom. In an earlier incident, Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar were detained and placed in prison on charges under the UAPA. Each day they are in prison or in police custody increases their chances of contracting COVID-19, especially Safoora Zargar, who is three months pregnant. In light of the global pandemic, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged all countries to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views”. The students and activists, who participated in the CAA protests and helped people who suffered as a result of the Delhi pogrom have been wrongfully arrested and imprisoned. While the people who actually incited violence and engaged in hate speech, such as Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, and Parvesh Verma, roam free. Is this justice according to the Delhi police? We demand that: - All the activists and students who have been arrested should be released immediately and all the charges, including those booked under the UAPA, be withdrawn. - The Delhi Police must stop arresting and intimidating the peaceful and justice minded activists, who have participated peacefully in the CAA protests. - The real culprits of the Delhi pogrom (like Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, and Parvesh Verma) should be charged with inciting violence and making hate speeches, and arrested/ Endorsed by: The Boston Coalition Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia Coalition Against Fascism in India Council on Minority Rights in India Free Saibaba Coalition Hindus for Human Rights India Civil Watch - International International Action Center, Boston Indian American Muslim Council Indian Americans Forum Philadelphia South Asian Collective South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Canada South Asia Solidarity Group, UK Students Against Hindutva Ideology Team Solidarity, Boston Image Credit: www.newsclick.in

    Aazaad Lab
    2,342 supporters
    Petitioning L. Rafael Reif

    MIT President Reif- Disinvite Islamophobe and Homophobe Subramanian Swamy

    We, the undersigned, appeal to MIT President Rief to disinvite Subramanian Swamy from MIT India Conference 2019. Subramanian Swamy is an Islamophobic, Homophobic and Casteist political operative from India who has made a career out of demonizing and vilifying marginalized communities especially religious and sexual minorities. We were shocked to find that the organizers of MIT India Conference 2019, an event “organized by students, staff, and faculties across different departments at MIT”, have invited Swamy to be a prominent speaker at the conference. This is especially appalling on the part of MIT, given that a little over seven years ago, faculty members of Harvard University had voted overwhelmingly to bar Swamy from teaching at the Harvard Summer School. The rare action was prompted by an op-ed penned by Swamy in which he advocated for the destruction of hundreds of Indian mosques and the disenfranchisement of non-Hindus in India. The faculty decision followed a petition endorsed by the broader Harvard student body. That was not an isolated incident. In 2016, following the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a bright Dalit Ph.D. candidate, large scale protests by members of oppressed castes broke out all over India and abroad. Swamy called these protesters, dogs in a tweet from his official Twitter handle.  Swamy has also been in the news for speaking out against the decriminalization of sex between consenting adults of the same gender insisting that, "It (Homosexuality) is not a normal thing. These are all American habits, there's a lot of money behind it. The Americans want to open gay bars, and it'll be a cover for paedophiles and a huge rise in HIV cases. It is a danger to our national security," In another interview, Swamy suggested that “being homosexual is "not normal", is "against Hindutva", and needs "medical research to see if it can be cured". Denigrating people with mental and psychiatric disorders is Swamy's another forte. Swamy warned against bipolar people joining politics as they are violent and unfit to “lead a public life.” Commitment to diversity and inclusion are fundamental values of MIT and it’s disheartening to see MIT openly endorsing a person who not only engages in divisive hateful rhetoric but openly calls for violence against marginalized groups. It’s evident that Swamy’s participation in MIT India Conference is not commensurate with the core values of MIT or with broader humanitarian values of inclusion, diversity, and respect for life. We appeal to President Reif to disinvite Subramanian Swamy and thwart the attempts of faculty members like Prof. S. P. Kothari who, through such acts, are trying to gain acceptance for their reactionary Brahminical ideology at MIT. Endorsed By: Indian American Muslim Council Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus North American Indian Muslim Association (NAIMA) BDCTV Muslim Peace Coalition USA Indian Minorities Advocacy Network ImanNet

    Aazaad Lab
    2,201 supporters
    Petitioning SP KOTHARI, David Schmittlein

    Prof. SP Kothari- Withdraw from Participating in World Hindu Congress 2018

    We, the undersigned, appeal to Prof. Sriprakash Kothari to withdraw from his role as Chair of  the World Hindu Congress 2018 (WHC). Prof. Kothari is the Gordon Y Billard Professor of Accounting and Finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-Sloan School of Management, and his participation in the WHC is not commensurate with the core values of MIT or with broader humanitarian values of inclusion, diversity and respect for life. The World Hindu Congress is being organized in Chicago, September 7-9, 2018. The stated purpose of WHC 2018 is: “...a global platform for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good”. The real objective of World Hindu Congress, however, is to legitimize and embolden the hate groups affiliated with India’s fearsome Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, to raise funds and to network internationally to further push their agenda of hate and violence. Officially, the World Hindu Congress is being organized by the World Hindu Foundation (based in Gurgaon, India). But going through the names of WHC’s Organizing Committee, it becomes amply clear that the real organization behind the event is Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America or "VHPA" (World Hindu Council of America), along with the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh or HSS, the official U.S. arm of the RSS. "VHPA" is the American arm of the nefarious Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS affiliate organization whose role in various incidents of communal violence in India is very well documented. VHP is also officially classified as a “militant religious organization” by the U.S. administration. The parent organization of the VHP, the RSS, and its followers have been known to be ardent admirers of Nazis and especially of Hitler. The second chief of RSS, late M.S. Golwalkar wrote in his seminal book ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’ - "...German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races - the Jews ... a good lesson for us in Hindustan for us to learn and profit by.". The VHP and its sister organization, Bajrang Dal have a long track record of intimidation of minorities, incitement of hatred and violence, and are linked to many acts of terror in India which have been documented by the Indian and international media, as well as Indian and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc. The political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  is the political arm of the RSS. Since the BJP came to power in India in 2014, there have been 100+ mob lynchings of minorities, including members of Dalit and indigenous communities by these extremist organizations under the guise of “cow protection”. In most of these instances, the perpetrators are roaming free while the victims, if they survive the lynchings, are being harassed with trumped-up cases for consuming or transporting beef. Commitment to diversity and inclusion are fundamental values of MIT and it’s disheartening to see an MIT faculty member not only associating with a divisive hate group but offering, inter alia, his leadership and MIT’s name recognition to an event meant to promote exact opposite of MIT’s values.   We want to see a secular India and the world where every religion and community is treated with equal respect and we see Prof. Kothari's participation in WHC as a direct challenge to values of diversity and inclusion. We appeal to Prof. Kothari and to all potential participants to withdraw from the World Hindu Congress 2018. Only by withdrawing from the event can Prof. Kothari send a clear and unequivocal message that the message of Hinduism and that of RSS's hate-filled propaganda are not the same, and that hate and bigotry cannot hide behind a façade of respectability. Signed Indian American Muslim Council India Civil Watch Organization for Minorities of India Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus  Sakhi for South Asian Women

    Aazaad Lab
    406 supporters