While India is reeling with Covid-19, the country’s central and state governments have refused to release an old man from prison. Varavara Rao, a 81 year old revolutionary poet, is in jail on the Bhima Koregaon case. Meanwhile, some inmates of that jail have died due to Covid-19. Prominent personalities of the country and abroad have become vocal in demanding the release of this revolutionary poet. As revolutionary student and youth organisations, we demand the release of Varavara Rao and all political prisoners around the world.
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the victory of the Dalits in the war against the upper caste Peshwas at Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra, Hindutva forces yet again attacked the people and on 28 September 2018 Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha were arrested from Delhi, Pune, Faridabad, Mumbai, and Hyderabad on multiple charges. Later Shoma Sen, Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and many other social workers, lawyers, poets and professors were arrested as well. They were charged under various unconstitutional laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), sedition and so on.
Also arrested was the 90 percent physically disabled Professor G N Saibaba, who is being held in the small ‘Anda Cell’ of the Nagpur Jail. The jail crucially does not have the infrastructure to keep someone in Saibaba’s condition. As a result, his physical condition is deteriorating day by day. The Indian state is also continuing to target the veteran Maoist theoretical leader Kobad Ghandy by conspiring to block his release from jail on new false charges despite him suffering from cancer.
On 28 May, poet Varavara Rao fell unconscious in jail. He was admitted to J J Hospital in Mumbai. Although his condition was just slightly stable, he was brought back to jail on 1 June. Varavara Rao’s family was not allowed to visit the hospital. They didn’t even get a chance to talk to the poet on the phone. In this situation, Varavara Rao’s wife applied for bail in the NIA court but that application was rejected. Although article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to life even if a citizen is imprisoned. On June 26, the NIA court again rejected the bail plea of Varavara Rao regarding illness. Varavara Rao has since contracted Covid-19 which in his current condition could prove to be fatal.
We have seen that in India different national and local parties make different promises during elections, but there is little difference between them in terms of anti-people policies and anti-people laws like UAPA, sedition etc. Almost all parties have been using these laws to suppress dissent. However, in spite of this repressive policy of the state, the protests and movements of workers, peasants, students and social workers in different parts of India have not stopped. And this is why the ruling class fears even the elderly Varavara Rao, or the physically challenged Professor Saibaba. That is why they have to be kept in jail even during the coronavirus crisis.
In contrast to the increasingly fascistic old Indian state, at least 100 leading intellectuals in the world, such as Noam Chomsky, Homi K Bhabha, Partha Chatterjee and Gerald Horne have written letters to the President and Chief Justice of India demanding the release of Varavara Rao. 375 prominent personalities of India including Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Shankha Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Kaushik Sen have written an open letter to the Central Government of India.
Meanwhile, recently 14 Indian MPs wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting that the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao be transferred from Taloja Jail in to a hospital. Several inmates have already died of coronavirus in that jail. Officially, the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases in India is about half a million, more than 16,000 died. Almost every day new records of infections and deaths are being set.
The Indian government is putting at risk the lives of Varavara Rao and others, who have been detained in attempts to demobilise and demoralise the people. The Government of India will be held responsible for the death of Varavara Rao or if any of the other political prisoners are infected with the virus during their detention during the coronavirus crisis. We once again demand the Government of India to immediately release the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao and all other political prisoners.
When it comes to the issue of political prisoners in Manipur, there is a large number of people behind bars under draconian acts such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), National Security Act (NSA), and Sedition law. Anyone with a voice of dissent, raising his or her voice against the government, the state, people who are demanding their democratic right to self determination are put behind bars. To understand the gravity of the situation, we can cite some newspaper reports. A report published in 2015 in The Hindu, a reputed Indian newspaper, says “Manipur, which accounts to only 0.2 per cent of the country’s population, has registered nearly 65 per cent of cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA). Out of the 975 cases of UAPA registered in the country in 2014, 630 are from the small north-eastern State of Manipur..” Another report in Times of India published this year indicates that the situation has slightly changed but the number of people charged under UAPA in Manipur still remains high. The report quoting Nation Crime Bureau Records tells us that in the year 2018, people charged under UAPA is 289 in Manipur, this number is higher than that of Kashmir for that year. Though Kashmir is known for state repression, Manipur has faced its own share.
In Manipur some of the Political Prisoners who are in prison, charged with the National Security Act (NSA) or under trial (not yet convicted):
Moirangthem Ranapratap @ Paikhomba Meitei ,KCP, PWG (Marxist Centre). He is currently in Tihaar Central Jail, Delhi (still under trial)
Khoirom Ranjit @ Rocky, Convenor, KCP, PWG (Marxist Centre). He is in Tihaar Central Jail, Delhi, right now. (still under trial)
Sapamcha Kangleipal @ Chiranglen, Manipur Maoist. He is currently in Sajiwa Central Jail, Manipur.
Moirangthem Inaocha @ Premananda, People’s Liberation Army. He is now incarcerated in Sajiwa Central Jail Manipur
In the last few years, hundreds of opposition leaders have gone missing in Bangladesh. Even under this Covid-19 crisis, the suppression of opposition views in Bangladesh has not been stopped. Political activists, including cartoonists, are being imprisoned for criticizing the government during the pandemic. Journalists are being thrown into jail for disclosing information about government irregularities and corruption. Journalist Kajal was abducted and later unjustly arrested and kept in jail.
The fascist Hasina-Awami government is strangling the masses of people with both the right steps not being taken to deal with Covid-19 and the continued repression of dissidents. In this case, the Hasina government is not at all different from the reactionary governments of other countries like the Modi government of India.
In Nepal, the repression of truly revolutionary forces has continued with comrade Uma Bhujel “Shilu” being re-arrested for the tenth time following a court release order. Uma Bhujel “Shilu” is a Central Committee member of the Biplab led Communist Party of Nepal.
The repression of dissident voices has also been seen among the imperialist nations. In Canada, the state’s genocidal policy against the Indigenous nations has intensified as resistance to capitalism and settler-colonialism has increased internally. Most recently this has been seen with the response and aftermath to the RCMP invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. The state has been quick to attack and arrest those defending their lands or those active in the blockades called in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation in order to deal a blow to the Canadian state’s economy.
DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF REVOLUTIONARY POET VARAVARA RAO!
DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
This is the list of participating groups:
Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement/Bangladesh
Revolutionary Student Movement/Canada
Revolutionary Student Front/West Bengal (India)
Socialist Students’ Union of Manipur
All-Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary)
All-Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary)
International Webinar For Release the poet and political activist Vara Vara Rao and other political prisoners all over the world
1.Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement/Bangladesh
2.Revolutionary Student Movement/Canada
3.Revolutionary Students’ Front/West Bengal(India)
4.Socialist Students’ Union of Manipur (SSUM)
5.All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary) Nepal
7.All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary) Nepal
28 July Germany – TKP/ML for the freedom of turkish comrades and Indian prisoners
Numerous demonstrations were held this week across the country to condemn the results of the Munich TKP/ML trial. Ten people were arrested around Europe in 2015 and extradited to Germany, detained for over four years during legal proceedings for alleged membership in the Communist Party of Turkey/ Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML).
On July 28 they were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 2.75 years to 6.5 years for no specific crime other than being members of a “foreign terrorist organization” (referencing TKP/ML), a Party that is not even classified as a ‘terrorist organization’ in Germany. The arrests, convictions, and sentences are clearly politically motivated and were done in service of the fascist Turkish state. Below are pictures from protests in Munich, Bremen, Hamburg, and Berlin.
USA news – Austin Community Honors Garrett’s Sacrifice and Whitney’s Courage
By Mike Talavera
When US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry shot and killed anti-racist activist Garrett Foster last weekend, his goal was to attackthe movement for Black Lives. The Austin community has instead come together this week in honor of Garrett’s sacrifice and stood alongside his fiancé Whitney, who has become a symbol of resilience in the wake of her fiancé’s death.
The two had already been important figures in the local protest movement and had consistently taken to the streets to demand better lives for Black people. Even after Garrett’s passing, the strength of their bond and their “frontline every time” politics extended to those around them, resulting in stronger unity among revolutionaries, activists, and the everyday working people who have taken to the streets against the police.
That unity was clear the night after Garrett’s murder, when a silent vigil at 4th and Congress boiled over into a march. Eric Brown, a fascist-friendly police collaborator, was for the first time kicked out of a protest as the crowd chanted “Act like a cop! Get treated like a cop!”
In retaliation, Brown singled out a woman with the Mike Ramos Brigade who had led the confrontation against him and said, “You’re Moroccan, you got shit to deal with in your own country.” Brown has earned a reputation for subverting political debate by bringing up his identity as a Black man, but in this instance he showed that he was willing to use racism as a last ditch attempt to save face.
Many speeches were given throughout the night, including by a Tribune Support Committee member. “The minute the pigs got on the [crime] scene,” the member said, “they fucking spun that story, and then the fucking bourgeois media started spinning that story, and we have a fucking responsibility to Whitney, to Garrett – we got to spread the fucking truth!”
Another speaker drew the connection between how Garrett’s actions, his commitment to the movement, spoke volumes of who he was as a person, and how Daniel Perry’s reactionary actions likewise defined him. “When [Perry] sped and made this right [turn], and drove through this, he knew what he was doing,” the speaker said. “He was on a mission.”
This past Wednesday, the community once again congregated to take up the work of Garrett and Whitney, this time by supporting their group Austin Direct Action to carry out their work of handing out donations and serving food to the homeless under Interstate 35. United Neighborhood Defense Movement had been asked to coordinate while Whitney and others attended Garrett’s funeral. Grills served hot food, hundreds of bottles of water and other beverages were distributed, and a large amount of clothing was also given out.
“Every week Garret, Whitney, and their close friend were out here serving the people and we are so grateful to be able to help them as they mourn,” UNDM said in a statement. “Their strength and dedication to the people inspire us. Garrett died in service of the people and those close to him continue this fight.”
In the Balkans there has been organized successfully a camp of revolutionaries and activists. The revolutionaries of the Serbian „Partija Rada“ also reported about the camp. International solidarity was expressed at that camp as well, which is an important sign to all antiimperialists and revolutionaries. Especially in the situation of aggravating crisis of capitalism, the solidarity and connections between the antiimperialists and revolutionaries of different countries is getting even more important, in order to strengthen the joint struggle against imperialist exploitation and oppression.
Here is an unofficial translation of the statement of the „Partija Rada“:
„The general circumstances in which the world finds itself, as well as the situation in the Balkans, shows the necessity to mobilize the most conscious and most combative parts of the people’s masses to prepare for the upcoming struggles. To prepare for more decisive class-struggles against the dictatorship of capital and the upcoming fascism. To prepare for the liberation of the Balkan peoples from plunder, dependence and slavery in which they find themselves; to prepare for the strengthening of a revolutionary subject who will be able to respond to a given historical task.
We know our way! With the Balkan Resistance Movement!“