India: Action Alert – Bengaluru Police Brutally Assaulted Sexual Minorities

hijrasThe incident: On 20th October, Bengaluru police brutally attacked five sexual minority activists and arrested them on false charges when they tried enquiring about the illegal detention of five hijras (working class male-to-female transgenders). Police illegally detained and assaulted a large number of human rights defenders when they held a peaceful protest against the illegal police actions. Police also arrested 31 human rights defenders on false charges.

Action:

Coalition for Sexworkers and Sexual Minorities (a coming together of social movements and human rights groups in Bengaluru to resist police violence and to defend sexual minority human rights) requests you send emails or faxes to Indian authorities demanding action against guilty police for the crimes committed against human rights defenders. More information about the incident and the pretest actions is available at http://sangamablog.blogspot.com/

Please send a copy of your letter to advocacysangama@gmail.com.

A sample letter and email/fax details of the Indian authorities is given below.
SAMPLE LETTER:

To,

Mr. B. S. Yeddyurappa, The Honorable Chief Minister of Karnataka

Cc,

Dr. Manmohan Singh, The Honourable Prime Minister of India

Ms. Sonia Gandhi, The Respected Chairperson of United Progressive Alliance

Mr. S. Rajendra Babu, The Honourable Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission

Dr. Girija Vyas, The Honourable Chairperson of National Commission for Women

Ms. K. Sujatha Rao, The Respected Additional Secretary and Director General of National AIDS Control Organisation

Mr. Subray Rama Nayak, The Honorable Chairperson of Karnataka State Human Rights Commission

Dr. V. S. Acharya, The Honorable Minister for Home, Karnataka

Mr. S. Suresh Kumar, The Honorable Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights, Karnataka

Mr. P. M. Narendra Swamy, The Honorable Minister for Women and Child Development, Karnataka

Mr. B. Sriramulu, The Honorable Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka

Mr. Sree Kumar, The Respected Direct General & Inspector General of Police, Karnataka

The Respected Project Director of Karnataka States AIDS Prevention Society

Dear Sir/Madam,

Subject: Police harassment and suppression of rights of sexual minorities and human rights defenders in Bengaluru

We bring to your urgent notice the intense and targeted harassment of hijras (working class male-to-female transgenders) by the police of Bengaluru city over the past week. We are also shocked at the treatment meted out by the same police force on human rights activists who sought to enquire after the mistreatment of the hijras.

On 20th October morning, five hijras were caught by the police and taken to the Girinagar police station. In the station, the hijras were beaten up by the police, including the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), H. T. Ramesh. False charges under section 341 (wrongful restraint) and 384 (extortion) of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) were brought upon them. They were produced before the magistrate at 7:30 pm and were sent into judicial custody. All through the hijras were handled by men police and no medical treatment was given to the injured hijras in police or judicial custody. They were released on bail on 22nd October, 2008.

Upon receiving a call from one of the arrested hijras, five crisis team members of Sangama rushed to the Girinagar police station. Sangama is a human rights organization that has been working among hijras and other sexual minorities on issues of their rights and health for the past ten years. Sangama’s crisis intervention is recognized as an effective practice by the Indian Government through its National AIDS Control Plan III, 2006-2011 to be emulated by organizations working with sexual minorities and sexworkers across India. The crisis team members tried to enquire of the police about the arrested hijras.

To the surprise of the members, they were roundly abused by the police, and subjected to physical and verbal assault. All had their organizational ID cards with them, but this did not prevent them from being illegally assaulted and detained by the police at the Banashankari police station, and later at the Girinagar police station. All of them were accused of offences punishable under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), 145 (joining unlawful assembly ordered to be dispersed), 147 (rioting) and 353 (obstructing government officials in performing their duty) of the IPC. They were produced before the magistrate at 8.45 PM and were sent into judicial custody. These 5 crisis team members were released on bail on 22nd October, 2008.

Around 150 human rights activists and lawyers from various organizations gathered outside the Banashankari police station by the evening of October 20. They tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the ACP and the Police Inspector to release the Sangama crisis team members. At around 7pm a peaceful protest started in front of the police station. The police then called in six of the protesters as delegates into the police station. The delegates were representatives of various women’s rights, dalit, trade union, sexworkers and sexual minority organizations. The policemen then proceeded to detain the six delegates for nearly four hours, without any drinking water or toilet facilities, and subjected them to physical, verbal and sexual assault. The policemen and officers also very categorically said that they knew what they were doing was illegal, but they were following orders from the top of the police hierarchy.

At around 7.45pm men police brutally attacked the peaceful protesters with sticks and subjected them to physical, verbal and sexual assault. Police crammed 31 of them into a small 12-seater police van, with no room to stand or breathe for 7 long hours. Police tried to avoid proper production of the accused before the magistrate to avoid protestors from complaining against assault, abuse and torture by police. They were produced only after serious protest and demonstration by lawyers at 1:30am. All of them were accused of offences punishable under Section 143, 145 and 353 read with 149 (common intention) of the IPC. These 31 activists were released on bail on 21st October, 2008.

We are shocked at the callous attitude of the Bengaluru police force, in not only physically assaulting the arrested hijras, but also the Sangama crisis team members, and the representatives of various sexual minorities, sexworkers, dalit, women, trade union and other human rights organizations, who went to enquire after them. We find that the reported assault on hijras and sex-workers in the city has been on the increase in the last few months. They are picked up by the police and detained or assaulted without any provocation. The statements of the police officers at Banashankari police station clearly points to an organized and systematic crackdown on these people. We need not point out to you that in the eyes of the law, all citizens have equal rights, irrespective of their religion, language, gender identity, sexual preference or employment. Therefore the targeted attack by the police on any particular community, whatever be the reason, is against the law that your Government is mandated to uphold.

We therefore demand:

1. Dismiss the guilty police including H. T. Ramesh (ACP) and M. Shivashankaramurthi (PI); and prosecute them for the crimes (assault, abuse, sexual assault and illegal detention) committed against human rights defenders
2. Stop brutal police violence (physical and sexual) against hijras and sexworkers on the streets of Bengaluru and punish the perpetrators of violence
3. We hope that your government will take immediate action to ensure that these demands are met, and that such human rights violations do not recur in the city.

Yours truly

CONTACT DETAILS:

Mr. B. S. Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka
Fax: +91-80-22253660/ 22281021/ 22253660
Email: cm@kar.nic.in
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Fax : + 91-11-23019545/ 23016857
Email : pmosb@pmo.nic.in
Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of United Progressive Alliance
Fax: +91-11-23794616
Email: 10janpath@vsnl.net
Mr. S. Rajendra Babu, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission
Fax: +91-11-23386521
E-Mail: chairnhrc@nic.in, covdnhrc@nic.in

Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson of National Commission for Women
Fax : +91-11-23236988
Email: ncw@nic.in
Ms. K. Sujatha Rao, Additional Secretary and Director General of National AIDS Control Organisation
Fax: +91-11-23325331
E-Mail: nacoasdg@gmail.com, info@nacoonline.org
Mr. Subray Rama Nayak, Chairperson of State Human Rights Commission, Karnataka
Fax: +91-80-22392206/ 22392207
Email: kshrc2007@gmail.com
Dr. V.. S. Acharya, Minister for Home, Karnataka
Phone/Fax: +91-80-22252536
Email: vsacharya@gmail.com
Mr. S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights, Karnataka
Fax/Phone: +91-80-22253631
Email: suresh.sadisu@gmail.com
Mr. P. M. Narendra Swamy, Minister for Women and Child Development, Karnataka
Fax/Phone: +91-80-22258965
Email: mandyapmn@yahoo.com
Mr. B. Sriramulu, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka
Fax/Phone: +91-80-22256093
Email: harish.osd@gmail.com
Mr. Sree Kumar, Director General & Inspector General of Police, Karnataka
Fax: +91-80-22215911
Email: police@ksp.gov.in
Project Director of Karnataka States AIDS Prevention Society
Fax: +91-80-22201435
Email: pdksaps@gmail.com, apdksaps@gmail.com

Paula Ettelbrick

email: executive_director@iglhrc.org
phone: 212-268-8040
web: http://www.iglhrc.org

The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression and/or HIV status.




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