Free Satish Kumar International Day of Action

The first reports have started to arrive about the actions taken all over the world during the Free Satish Kumar International Day of Action. The campaign for the release of Satish Kumar, however must be stepped up. Check out the details of what you can do to help.
Satish Kumar was born on 24th June 1952. During his college days he turned to left ideology. After graduation he started to work at the Goodyear Tyre co. where he fought for the rights of the working class. He became general secretary and then president of workers' union in the factory. In 1987 he left the company and started the Mazdoor Morcha newspaper, which at that time was fortnightly, and started exposing corruption in all sections of society. This made him a lot of enemies but even many of his enemies respect him because of his bravery and fighting spirit for poor people. In 1996 his paper became daily facing all the financial difficulties. Despite threats from capitalists and fundamentalists he never left his path of fighting against corruption. This was his only crime.

Left parties and unions in India, together with the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, called for an International Day of Action on September 18th 2001 for the release of the popular Indian left wing editor Satish Kumar. (details of his case can be found at: Release Satish Kumar! Indian Left Wing Editor Imprisoned )

In Defence of Marxism asked all its sympathisers to take up this appeal in their respective countries.

Actions were organised in front of Indian embassies around the world. The first reports have already started to arrive from:

Austria, Britain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Pakistan, SpainSwazilandSweden, Zambia

Austria:

Dozens of letters from trade union and socialist activists were sent to the Indian embassy on September 18th, and a picket of the embassy might be organised for next week.

Belgium:

Letters and faxes of protest were sent to the embassy by Belgian trade union and socialist activists.

Britain: 

Supporters of Satish Kumar gathered at 1pm outside the Indian High Commission in London and handed in a letter of protest signed amongst others by Jeremy Dear, national newspaper organiser of National Union of Journalists, Tim Gopsill, editor of The Journalist (magazine of the NUJ), Nigel Pearce,(Member of the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Miners), Phil Waker (National Executive Committee of the Communication Workers Union), and dozens of other trade union and Labour Party activists. John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington also expressed his support for Satish Kumar's cause and promised to contact the Indian High Commission.



Canada:

The following letter was faxed to the Indian Consulate in Vancouver:

"Suite 540 - 1917 W. 4th Ave. 
Vancouver, BC 
V6J 3L4 
September 18, 2001

Consulate General of India

To Whom It May Concern: Subject: For the release of Satish Kumar We are aware that on the 18th of August this year, the Faridabad administration illegally arrested Mr. Satish Kumar under false accusations. We are appalled by this attack on a defender of the rights of the poor. The delay of his bail hearing until December is a crime and shows the real face of Indian democracy. We demand the release of Mr. Kumar and until such a time we will not cease to spread the news of this injustice throughout the world.

Alex Grant Federal Councillor, New Democratic Party of Canada
Miriam Martin British Columbia Young New Democrats"

Denmark:

A picket gathered outside the Indian Embassy and handed in the following letter:

"To the Indian embassy in Denmark

Sir,

We have come here today to protest against the undemocratic and illegal imprisonment of Satish Kumar, the editor of the paper Mazdoor Morcha. We come here today as a part of an international protest against this crime. World wide it has come to our notice that the Indian government has met the critical voice of Satish Kumar with imprisonment. This is a violation against all adherents of democracy and freedom of speech. This can not be ignored and will not be ignored by us. As parts of the Danish workers movement we have had ourselves to fight for our democratic right of freedom of speech and we will defend this right. The workers movement have always been an international movement and it is still. We see this undemocratic violation of the rights of our Indian brothers and sisters as a violation of our rights. We are here today to show that this imprisonment is already known all over the world and that we will spread the knowledge of this criminal imprisonment until Satish Kumar is free. The international reputation of the government of India is at stake. We will not be silenced until the government realises its mistake.

In hope of the immediate release of Satish Kumar

Frederik Ohsten
Member of the national leadership of Red Youth
Joannes Stykki
Member of Red Youth, Copenhagen
Teis Amundsen
Member of Socialist Youth Front, Copenhagen
Rikke Seerup
Member of Socialist Youth Front, Copenhagen
Kasper Siegismund
Member of Socialist Youth Front, Western area
Lasse Bertelsen
Member of Socialist Youth Front, Western area and international committee of the Painters Union, Copenhagen;
Andreas Blow, Member of Socialist Youth Front Holbek;
The Editorial Board of the Danish Marxist paper SOCIALISTISK STANDPUNKT

France:

Supporters of the French Marxist paper La Riposte produced a petition for the Fete de l'Humanite which was signed by several hundred workers and youth present at the festival. The petition demanded the immediate release of Satish. The signatures were presented to the Indian Embassy in Paris on the afternoon of the 18th.

-Germany:

"Dear comrades, we went to the India House in Frankfurt today where the Consulate General is based (see photos of lobby outside the building). We asked to meet the consul and were invited to come in and raise the issue with him. Two of us had separate meetings with the consul since he did not want to meet all of us together: Hans-Gerd Offinger, who handed over a letter of protest from the local branch of the journalists union (Wiesbaden), and Conny Beierlein, a chairperson of Frankfurt Young Socialists. Further information will follow."

Greece:

A letter signed by dozens of trade union and socialist activists was handed at the Indian embassy on S18. 

"Comrades:

We visited India embassy Wednesday 26th. We were Agelos and Spiros from Socialistiki Ekfrasi Editorial Board, Dimitris Nikakis from the Executive of the Shop Workers Union, Giannis Sakelariou President of Athens Tax workers Union. We gave him the protest letter to the Deputy Embassador. He said that he will ask his goverment for the case and he will inform us. I inform him that the number of signatures in the protest letter are indicative and we can mobilize many more people and even raise the question in European Parliament. We will contact him on Monday 1/10/2001."

Athens 26/09/01 
PROTEST RESOLUTION 

Sir, 
We have been informed that in August 18th, the well known journalist Satish Kumar, editor of the Mazdoor Morcha paper, has been arrested by the authorities accused with allegedly falsified circulation figures. This is a clear case of violation of the most elementary democratic rights and we consider it as a political repression. In a democratic society, a man who for twenty years is denouncing the corruption and the abuses of the power, he should have been praised and not imprisoned. We, trade unionists and activists of the Greek workers movement, express our deep denunciation for his arrest and we demand his release immediately. We will inform wildly the Greek worker movement and we will take all the necessary initiatives for his release. We will also follow closely the news about his personal well being.

Panagiotis Lafazanis Member of Greek Parliament 
Nicos Manesiotis Journalist 
Stelios Dafnis Member of Athens Trade Council. 
Kanelopoulou Asimina Member of the Executive committee of Textile Workers Federation 
Tsitonis Takis Member of EC of Archaeological places Workers Union. 
Fotopoulos Nikos Member of the National EC of technical electric workers union. 
Tasios Thomas Member of the National EC of Telecommunications Worker Union. 
Yiannis Sakelariou President of Athens tax workers union. 
Nikakis Dimitris Member of the Executive committee of Shopworkers union. 
Milonas Elias Olympic Airways Catering unionist. 
Thanos George Olympic Airways unionist. 
Tziolis Christos Member of Central Committee of Young Socialists (PA.SO.K. Youth) 
Karagianopoulos Stamatis Member of district Committee of Young Socialists. 
Kanelopoulou Christina Member of Young Socialists Athens Committee. 
Spiros Gougousis Editor of Sosialistiki Ekfrasi

India:

"Dear comrades

On 15th Sept a delegation of journalists social activists and literary people met Governor of Haryana Babu Parmanand at Chandigarh. The delegation was led by Rajender Yadav a veteran journalist and famous story writer regarding regular attacks on press people in Haryana.

On 18th a mass rally was organised in Faridabad. All participants were wearing black bands on their mouths as a symbolic protest against the attack on freedom of speech.

Regards to all comrades"

Italy:

Pickets of Indian Embassy and Consulates have been postponed for September 25 due to the legal requirements for getting official permission.

Pakistan:

According to the decision to launch a World Action Day on September 18 the following steps were taken for the preparation of this action:

  • The application to the authorities in Islamabad for permission to hold a protest demonstration in front of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Although the application was not outrightly refused the delaying tactics of the bureaucracy forced us to change the venue. It was decided to hold the demonstration in front of the Rawalpindi\Islamabad press club. 
  • 2 A 4-page leaflet was produced with the photograph of Satish Kumar on the title. 5,000 copies were dispatched to all the regions of Pakistan for distribution on the Action Day. 
  • 3 The signature campaign chart under the PTUDC (Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign) masthead were circulated to the whole country. 1,200 signatures of prominent Trade Union leaders, PPP leaders, left intellectuals, youth and student leaders were collected on the Action Day. 
  • 4 All the regions prepared banners, placards and other material for the demonstrations in advance. 
  • 5 Press releases were sent out announcing the venues and timings of the protests in all the areas where they were to take place.

The protest demonstrations took place at the following places

RAWALPINDI\ISLAMABAD

The demonstration was organised under the auspices of the PTUDC. Due to the tense situation in the Capital city of Pakistan, there was a heavy police presence. At about the same time and in the vicinity there was also a demonstration by a sect of Islamic fundamentalists. In spite of this threat more that a hundred comrades from the Pindi\Kashmir and NorthWestern region participated. Some comrades from Jund, Texila, Wah Cantt and some other places traveled quite long distances to attend the demonstration. Leaflets were distributed to the passers by and crowd gathered around the demonstration. Although the demonstration was for a short while, the press covered the demonstration. In the papers of 19th September the photographs of the demonstration were splashed on the front pages of some of the main daily papers of the region.

CENTRAL PUNJAB 

the demonstration in central Punjab was staged in Lahore. The venue was again in front of the Lahore Press Club. There is no Indian embassy or consulate in Lahore. About 70 comrades came to the demonstration from Lahore, Kasur, Faisalabad and other suburban areas of Lahore. There was again a wide coverage of the demonstration.

SOUTH PUNJAB 

The demonstration took place at Sadiqabad, Press Club. More than 200 people attended the demonstration. Above 50 placards and banners were displayed in the protest meeting. The demonstration later took the shape of a procession, which marched through the main bazaar of Sadiqabad. A hundred people joined in the procession. Slogans for the release of comrade Satish Kumar were raised during the march. The procession ended peacefully. The main participants were the youth and workers from the industries around the area. This protest action also took place under the auspices of the PTUDC.

SINDH \ KARACHI

The demonstration in Karachi was also organised in front of the Karachi Press club. Banners and placards were displayed and slogans raised for the release of comrade Satish Kumar. 35 workers and left activists took part in the protest action.

BALUCHISTAN

The situation in Baluchistan is particularly tense due to its long border with Afghanistan. It is being speculated that the main US assault on Afghanistan, especially the Taliban headquarters in Kandha would take place from here. The army is patrolling Quetta and other cities of Baluchistan. Outdoor political activities are banned. Still the comrades were able to hold an indoor meeting and hold a small demonstration in Quetta. More than 50 participated.

Almost in all the regions and provinces protest demonstrations were held. There was substantial press coverage. This all took place in a very tense atmosphere in a society bracing for a US attack and intense war hysteria and fear.

The comrades have vowed to step the campaign despite the very difficult objective situation. The signature campaign goes on and the comrades are planning to hold another round of protest demonstration and Action. The fight will continue to the finish---the unconditional release of comrade Satish Kumar and withdrawal of all charges, which are false and fabricated anyway.

The victory of this campaign will go a long way in building the forces of revolutionary Marxism in the Indian Sub-continent.

Spain:

A picket of the Indian Embassy in Madrid has been organised for September 25. A delegation of Satish Kumar's supporters handed this letter to the Embassy:

Madrid, September 18,  2001 

To Indian Embassador in Spain,

Dear sir,

We would like to express our deep concern about the news we have received about the arrest, on August 18, of the known journalist Satish Kumar, editor of the Mazdoor Morcha paper. Satish has been known for more than twenty years for his denunciation of corruption cases and abuses of power on the part of the administration. This is why we are convinced that his arrest is a clear case of political repression on the part of teh Indian state. We also want to denounce the attempts of the government to silence the news about this arrest (...).

We, trade union and youth movement leaders in Spain demand the immediate release of Satish Kumar and we will not rest until he is free of all charges. We will closely follow any news about his personal well being and his legal situation and we will spread in the Spanish labour movement and within its organisations the news about this attack against one of the most prominent fighters against corruption in India.

Yours,

Marcelino Camacho, Madrid Political Cte of United Left;  Miriam Municio General Secretary of the Spanish Students Union;  Xoaquin Garcia Sinde, Galician Executive of Workers Commissions CCOO,  Pilar Úbeda President of the Shop Stewards Cte of Telefonica Moviles Madrid; Conchi Garbi of the Shop Stewards Cte of Telefonica Moviles Madrid CCOO; José María Gil and Andrés de las Heras Guadalajara Executive of Workers Commissions CCOO; Bárbara Areál Convener of Education sector of United Left Madrid; Juan Ignacio Ramos Education Branch Communist Party Madrid; José Jiménez Jiménez Frederich Engels Foundation; LLuis Perarnau General Secretary of General Workers Union UGT Autonomous University Barcelona;. José Garcia Convener of Socialist Left Malaga PSOE; Txus Rodriguez Metalworkers Executive Cte Alava UGT.

Swaziland:

The President of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) wrote a letter of protest to the Indian government in the name of the organisation.

Sweden:

Dear comrades,

Today a delegation from the Editorial Board of Socialisten went to the Indian Embassy and gave them the protest in Swedenfollowing letter of protest. The letter can also be seen in the enclosed photo.

We were politely received, bur were not allowed to see the ambassador to present our case. I spoke to the ambassador on the telephone, but he was not prepared to say anything until he had spoken with the authorities in India. He promised we would receive a reply to our questions. We will continue to bother him until we get a reply.

Best regards,

Jonathan Clyne

"The Ambassador

Indian Embassy

Stockholm

Dear Sir,

The arrest of the well-know Indian journalist and publisher Mr. Satish Kumar has been brought to our attention. We would like you to convey our protest at this action to the appropriate authorities. We consider his arrest to be an attack on a fundamental democratic right - freedom of expression.

Mr. Kumar was framed and arrested in Faridabad, just outside Delhi, in the middle of August. For more than 20 years he has published a paper called 'Mazdoor Morcha', which is renowned for exposing corruption and cases of abuse of power by the state authorities. So popular had the newspaper become that five years ago, it began daily publication. As a consequence of the newspaper's exposures and attacks, Mr. Kumar has made many enemies within the local establishment and business community.

Mr. Kumar has been charged with allegedly falsifying circulation figures in order to increase the number of official advertisements in the paper. This has been firmly denied by him. Mr. Kumar's arrest was order by Mr. Ranbeer Sharma, from the Faridabad administration, who is the son-in-law of the central minister of state of the Home Department, Mr. I.D. Swamy. This act was completely irregular and illegal; as such matters come under the sole jurisdiction of the registrar of newspapers and not the state authorities. How can this be allowed to happen?

The Indian government is constantly censoring all electronic and print media about this case, through the Federal Information and Broadcasting ministry. For instance the Minister intervened personally to stop the broadcasting of an interview with the parents of Mr. Kumar. The same happened with a story written for the Indian Express. How can this be allowed to happen?

Formally, the high court has not refused bail, but has delayed matters till December. This means that, even if bail is conceded, Mr. Kumar will have been in jail, without trial, in very bad conditions, for almost five months! How can this be allowed to happen?

As a Swedish social democratic paper we see it as our duty to defend Mr. Kumar, who completely illegally has had his freedom of expression curtailed. If we do not receive satisfactory answers to our questions and the news of his release soon, we will not hesitate to raise his arrest widely within the Swedish labour movement.

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan Clyne and Kerstin Alfredsson

Editors of Socialisten

2001-09-18"

 

Zambia:

The Zambian Caucus wrote a letter of protest against the arrest of Satish Kumar and hand it over to the Indian Embassy.



Protests should be sent to:
Mr. L. K. Advani,
Minister of Faridabad,
Faridabad,
Nr. Delhi, India.
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and to the Indian government:
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Messages of solidarity to Satish Kumar should be sent to Vinod Malik at: 
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