International Human Rights Day – March to Parliament 10 December 2005
Hundreds of activists of nearly 30 mass organizations marched from Mandi House to Parliament under the banner ‘For Constitutional Guarantees and Enforcement Mechanisms for Human Rights, Democratic Rights and National Rights’
on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day. The rallyists from Delhi were joined by workers from Kanpur fighting for the right to work and livelihood, and people from all over India protesting the anti people policies leading to displacement of people in cities and villages from their homes in the name of “development”.
The march and rally reflected the fact that all sections of the people of India feel the absence of rights and are determined to fight for their realization and enforcement. Students from Manipur and Nagaland, mingled with women; youth from the working class slums and resettlement colonies mingled with professors and lawyers and social activists mingled with the workers from Kanpur and other places. And in one voice, people demanded rights, and declared their determination to fight to change India so that rights are enshrined and enforced. At the beginning of the march, the students from Delhi University, Kirorimal College staged a bold street play depicting the lack of rights in the lives of workers and ordinary people.
The participating organizations carried their own respective banners as well as placards highlighting their main demands in the march. These included demands for punishment of those guilty of organizing genocides – those responsible for the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 and of Muslims in Mumbai in 1993 and Gujarat in 2002, those responsible for the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984, demands for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and an end to atrocities by the Indian Army in Manipur, other northeastern states and Kashmir, demands for safety of women, demands for a comprehensive legislation for unorganized sector workers, demands for electricity and water supply in urban slums, demand for the right to work, demand for justice for the parents of disappeared persons in Kashmir, demand for rehabilitation of displaced persons and many others. Women and youth activists from the working class slums of Khadar Vistar and Sanjay Colony as well as Bawana and other far flung areas of the city came in large numbers to express their determination to fight for protecting their homes from the threat of demolitions and for living conditions befitting human beings.
The highlight of the March and Rally was that it brought together people and organizations fighting on different fronts for their rights and interests. The march ended at Jantar Mantar where it took the form of a public meeting. The number of participants swelled to more than a thousand with the coming together of those who were asserting their right to ensure that the government does concede the interests of the peasants and other large sections of the society in favour of the economic interests of a minority in the Ministerial meeting of WTO in Hong Kong. It was a real convergence of peoples’ movements for rights. The public meeting was jointly conducted by the various participating organisations who called upon representatives of various groups to address the gathering with their views and solidarity messages. A truck was decorated by banners and served as the makeshift stage and various organisations placed their banners around to give the impression of a amphitheatre. Various people who addressed the gathering included Prof Jagmohan, the grandson of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Mataji from Ankur Education, Swami Agnivesh from Peoples’ Caravan, Amarjeet Kaur from AITUC, Wing Commander Chhatwal of Sikh Forum, Bijju of Sanjay Colony Niwasi Sangharsh Samiti, Sucharita from Lok Raj Sangathan, Vishwajit from Manipur Students’ Association, Delhi, and others.
Summing up the mood of the participants, Sucharita from Lok Raj Sangahan called for build a country wide movement for Constitutional Guarantees and Enforcing Mechanisms for Human Democratic and National rights. She declared, that this was the beginning of a magnificent and far reaching transformation that is taking place in front of our very eyes. The people represented here, they are the fighters for justice, they are the best sons and daughters of the Indian people. They are fighting not for some petty personal demands, but for the building of a new India wherein workers and peasants, women and youth, and all the hitherto disadvantaged and discriminated, will be able to hold their head high and participate in the reconstruction of India to ensure the well being of all. The struggle for Constitutional Guarantee for Human, Democratic and National Rights is the struggle for the Navnirman of India. We will have to wage this struggle on many fronts, and we will draw all the fighting forces into this common struggle. It is a struggle that is based on the recognition that WE, the PEOPLE of INDIA, we the workers and peasants and women and youth of different nations, nationalities and peoples, are the real maliks of India, We Constitute India. We must reconstitute the Indian economy and polity so that we can control our own destiny.
The participating organizations included AIFTU, AITUC, Ankur Peoples Education, Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, Insaf, Kam ka Adhikar Abhiyan Samiti, Kapada Mill Mazdoor Union (Kanpur), Lok Awaz Publishers & Distributors Lok Raj Sangathan, Manab Adhikar Suraksha Samity, Manipuri Students’ Association, Delhi, Mazdoor Parishad,People’s Consultative Group (Assam), People’s Front, Peoples’ Caravan, PUCL, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Sanjay Colony Niwasi Sangharsh Samiti, Sikh Forum, We for Bhopal, All India Lubana Sikh Sanstha, Communalism Combat, International Human Rights Organisation (Punjab), Jan Sangharsh Manch (Gujarat), National 1984 Victims’ Justice and Welfare Society, Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, Punjab Rights Organisation, Lawyers for Human Rights International, Revolutionary Democracy, Disabled Rigths Forum, and several others.