The following open letter to the Indian High Commission was drafted at an academic forum on Wednesday, which was attended by Yes to Life, No to Mining member the Gaia Foundation. It condemns the muzzling of activist and human rights defender Gladson Dungdung and calls for awareness of this injustice as well as redress and compensation following what seems to be a politically motivated stifling of free movement and expression.
12 May 2016
We would like to express our disappointment and protest at what appears to be, in this event, the unwarranted prevention of Gladson Dungdung, a courageous Adivasi rights activist from the Saranda Forest in Jharkhand, India, from coming to speak in the University of Sussex, UK.
It is an unacceptable breach of democratic rights, that the state uses its powers to stop an invited speaker from attending an important workshop in the University of Sussex, in which he was due to give evidence to scholars on the condition of people and environment in the Saranda forest, where mining leases for natural resources have been granted to multi national mining companies including the British listed Vedanta Resources. Many scholars in academia are following developments there with interest and attention.
We are writing to the Indian government and the Indian High Commission here in the UK, to express our outrage and condemn the suppression of fundamental freedoms of movement and speech of a prominent Adivasi activist.
We demand that our colleague Mr. Gladson Dungdung is compensated and the authorities apologise for preventing him from attending this conference for which he had a valid British visa. We had invited him to the UK as our honoured guest to speak at several events and his presence was missed and plans had to be changed at last minute. This incident has been widely reported in Indian media as well as the Huffington and Washington Post, and we will ensure it is carried by British media also.
Vinita Damodaran, Centre for World Environment History, University of Sussex
Francesca Feruglio, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Sylvia Goddard, SPRU, University of Sussex
Malvika Gupta, Delhi University
Rumana Hashem, National Committee of Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group
Joseph Lambert, Gaia Foundation.
Magnus Marsden, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex
Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Paola Moscoso, University of Sussex
Felix Padel, Centre for World Environment History Associate
Miriam Rose, Foil Vedanta, London
John Rowley, The Gandhi Foundation, London
Ruth Santos, Global Studies, University of Sussex
Zuky Serper, Centre for World Environment History, University of Sussex