Amnesty to Modi: Stop Using Violence Against Peaceful Protesters

People Revolt in India Against Hindu Rulers Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on December 19, 2019
People Revolt in India Against Hindu Rulers Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on December 19, 2019.

Global human rights organization Amnesty International has advised Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi of India to allow peaceful protests against the new citizenship law, which aims to persecute Muslims.

According to Amnesty, people protesting peacefully against India’s new citizenship law are facing a brutal crackdown by the Indian Government. More than 1000 people have been arrested and over 5000 detained.

Internet services have been shut down in many parts of the country, and at least 30 people have been killed, Amnesty said in an online petition that urges PM Modi to respect people’s right to dissent and participate in peaceful protests.

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In December 2019, the Indian Government passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) that discriminates on the basis of religion, particularly Islam. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in protest of the law and many were met with police brutality, arbitrary detention under repressive or colonial laws, and ill-treatment in detention.

Amnesty adds that people in India continue to face threats to their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association. The authorities continue the use of legislation that prohibits the gathering of more than 4 persons and imposes a blanket shutdown on internet services.

Excessive force, including police firing and lathi (baton) charge, is further used to deter largely peaceful protests. With this approach, Amnesty warns, India stands in absolute violation of international human rights laws and standards.

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It further says that Modi continues to maintain a deafening silence as peaceful protests are being crushed violently across the country, including in his own constituency of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (UP).

The Amnesty petition asks Modi to respect people’s right to dissent and stop the crackdown on peaceful protests in India. It suggests the Modi government to unequivocally condemn the excessive police and vigilante violence used on peaceful protesters and drop the charges against the protesters.

The petition also urges Modi to ensure that peaceful protesters detained and arrested are treated with dignity and respect in line with international human rights standards, with the establishment of a fully independent investigation into reports of excessive use of force towards protesters and vigilante violence to ensure those guilty of perpetrating violence are prosecuted.

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Rakesh Raman