On Sunday, 11-18-12, two young women in India expressed themselves via the preeminent social media site, Facebook. Shaheen Dhanda remarked that, "People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a 'bandh' [shutdown] for that." This was in response to a total shutdown of the city of Mumbai for funeral services for the Hindu leader and fundamentalist political figure, Bal Thackeray. She also added that this was done out of fear rather than respect for the deceased. Her friend, Renu Srinivasan 'liked' Dhanda's status. For these two acts of expression, the two women were arrested by Indian police.
This is a blatant disregard for the simplest forms of the people's right to express themselves in a free society. By arresting these two young women under no greater criminal charge than stating their opinion and/or agreeing with the opinion of another, the police in India took one public step back into a dark time of oppression, and out of the present day where India had - until this action - shown itself to be a burgeoning superpower and modern freedom-minded young nation. Facebook's standing up for these women would be too big to be ignored, and would shed a light on this dark disgrace.
This petition asks Facebook's corporate leadership, as well as notable figures like Mark Zuckerberg, to stand up publicly for Shaheen Dhanda and Renu Srinivasan. It also asks that Facebook actively ensure that the two women are provided with quality legal defense, and that Facebook cover any charges such a defense may incur.
This is a simple case, and a simple instance of right and wrong. For a tremendously influential corporation like Facebook to allow such a miscarriage of justice and basic human rights to continue without standing up, is in itself a further miscarriage. Please join with other signers of this petition in a growing call for justice and freedom, and companies standing for what is right.
Thank you for helping to ensure others enjoy the full benefits of the freedoms you exercise most everyday!
These two women, Shaheen Dhanda and Renu Srinivasan, have since been released from jail after posting personal bonds. The charges have not been dropped, as of the writing of this message. These two women have publicly apologized for their actions - which is sad enough as it is - but Dhanda has also said she will never exercise her basic human right of expression via social media for the rest of her life. This is a dreadful situation, and to top it off, the two women still face criminal charges.
I ask you to use your company's global exposure and ability to reach, literally, billions of people to spread Facebook's support for Shaheen and Renu. I also ask you to find it in your heart to reach out to the two women and offer them the best possible legal defense against these grievously unjust charges.
Mr. Zuckerberg, show the world that Facebook is about freedom of expression for all, everywhere.