Protests against occupation of Iraq banned in India


Press Release of 20th March Committee Against Imperialist Occupation of Iraq
20 March, 2004.

The right-wing federal government of Indian in office led by BJP arrested and detained more than 200 people, who gathered at Ramlila Grounds, Dariyagunj, when they were going in a demonstration towards American Centre at Barakamba Road, New Delhi as part of international day of protests worldwide.

Among the prominent leaders who were arrested include Dr. B.D. Sharma, Chairman, Bharat Jan Andolan, Dr. Darshan Pal, President, All India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF), Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, Dr. Rakesh Rafiq, All India leader of Yuva Bharat, Raj Kishor, Secretary of Struggling Forum for Peoples Resistance (SFPR), Varavara Rao, Revolutionary Poet from Andhra Pradesh, O.K. Yadav, Samajka Nyaya Morcha, PK Shahi, Trade Unionist, (AIFTU), Sunil, (SFPR), Dr. AK. Arun (Yuva Bharat), Narendar, Trade Unionist(ICTU), Gurmeet Singh (AIPRF), Javed Zafar, Secretary, Student Islamic Organisation, Yaseer (SIO), apart from many activists from Punjab, Haryana and Bihar.

The police gave no reason whatsoever for the arrests. The activists are detained for hours so that they cannot plan for any other protest later in the day. However, they held a meeting while in detention protesting the Indian Government´s stand towards American occupation of Iraq and total disrespect for basic freedoms of the citizens.

We strongly condemn the undemocratic arrests of the anti-Iraq occupation activists and leaders. We appeal to the international community to condemn and raise protest against these arrests which obstructs the freedom of speech and assembly of the citizens of this country. By banning the anti-occupation rally, the Vajpayee Government has shown its support to the American aggressors of war and occupation of Iraq and the fascist-Zionist Israeli regime. On a day when people in all countries world over are demonstrating against the American occupation in Delhi the reactionary government in India arrests and detains the protestors.

The banned protest is part of the international day of solidarity to the people of Iraq who are bravely resisting the Anglo-American occupation of their country. The protest demonstrations are simultaneously organised all over India as part of the decision of "Mumbai Resistance 2004", an international event that was held in Mumbai between 17 – 20 January 2004, parallel to World Social Forum (WSR). Today i.e. 20th March protests are taking place in many cities and towns of India, like Mumbai, Nasik, Nagpur, Kolkota, Ernakulam, Bangalore, Patna, Surat, and Ahmedabad and in many other places.

We appeal to all the people of India and the international community to condemn the arrests made by the Indian Government restricting the freedom of speech and expression.

Dr. DarshanPal,
On Behalf of 20th March Committee Against Imperialist Occupation of Iraq

Gautam Navalakha
Editorial Consultant, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW)
Member of the 20th March Committee Against Imperialist Occupation of Iraq

G N Saibaba
General Secretary
All India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF)