Protest in London to end death penalty in India

“End the death penalty in India now” was the key slogan chanted by over 700 people outside the Indian High Commission on Tuesday 30 September 2011.

This protest, called by Tamil Solidarity, demanded that the Indian government’s scheduled execution of Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan be cancelled immediately. So far the government has been forced to delay the execution but this has not satisfied the protesters at all. They demand the complete cessation of the death penalty in India.

Manny Thain, national coordinator of Tamil Solidarity in the UK, spoke at the start of the protest and explained why Tamil Solidarity organised this action: “Tamil Solidarity opposes the death penalty in India and every country. We stand for democratic rights.”

These three men are accused of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi but their case was not heard properly. These men have languished in solitary confinement for the past 21 years and have lived with the fear of being sent to the gallows at any moment.

Internationally there is huge disgust at the planned hanging of these three men and the media is increasingly looking at the credentials of the so-called ‘biggest democracy in the world’. The ‘End Death Penalty in India’campaign, which includes the Tamil Solidarity campaign, has gained considerable support worldwide.

In a matter of days over 1,000 people have signed the petition against the death penalty in India. The list includes well-known and celebrated human rights activists and spokespeople: Desmond Tutu, former archbishop and anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa; Noam Chomsky, US political theorist and activist; Arundhati Roy, writer, activist and Booker prize winner; Paul Murphy, Member of the European Parliament from the Socialist Party, Ireland.

This protest was one of several protests being organised internationally, particularly in Chennai in Tamil Nadu. There is no support for the sentence of capital punishment. Protests demand a re-trial or a pardon.

The sister of Murugan, one of the men on death row, joined Tamil Solidarity to hand a petition in to the High Commissioner. She appealed emotionally to the protesters in London and in Tamil Nadu, India to continue the protest in a peaceful way without injuring themselves.

The whole protest paid tribute to Sengodi, a young girl who self-immolated in Chennai in a desperate attempt to grab the attention of the media and the ruling elite in Tamil Nadu. They have been complicit with the central Indian government in refusing to pay attention to the demands of tens of thousand of protesters. But Murugan’s sister and the protest called on all who oppose the death penalty to join the struggle to win democratic rights for all including those on death row and the rights of all Tamil-speaking people in India and Eelam.

Manny Thain also spoke of how the Indian government has given political and material support to the Sri Lankan regime of Rajapaksa, accused by the UN of war crimes. This is a further cause for anger. This must stop. Tamil Solidarity demands a genuinely international independent investigation into the events of the war to be carried out by a people’s tribunal consisting of accountable representatives of the working class and poor people from all communities, cFollowing is the statement hand over to Indian high commission by Tamil Solidarity along with hundreds of signatures collected among Tamil
Speaking Diaspora in UK.hosen by them and observed by international trade union and human rights organisations.

MR Sritharan, a Sri Lankan member of parliament for Kilinochchi, a town in the north hit hard in the last months of the war, also participated in the protest and spoke. Paddali Makkal Kadchi Ilankovan also spoke along with Senan, the Tamil Solidarity international coordinator and numerous other activists. Tamil Solidarity asked the protesters to collect more signatures for the petition.
The End Death Penalty in India campaign and Tamil Solidarity will continue to build support internationally until a decision to end capital punishment is reached.

Following is the statement hand over to Indian high commission by Tamil Solidarity along with hundreds of signatures collected among Tamil Speaking Diaspora in UK.

Dear High Commissioner,

We are here today to protest against the death penalty given to Murugan, Santhan, and Perarivalan who were accused of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. We believe their case was not heard properly and the highest penalty of capital punishment is not justified and must be retracted.

These men have languished in solitary confinement for the past 21 years and have lived with the fear of being sent to the gallows at any moment. In fact a ‘life’ sentence is normally only around 14 years.

The Indian government has now been forced to delay their execution by eight weeks, through Chennai high court order, but we will continue to protest to demand that the death penalty be cancelled. We demand that either they are released immediately or their case is re-opened and heard publicly with the representatives of working people in India taking active part in it.

We register here our passionate and absolute opposition to capital punishment. It is an inhuman act and should not be in practice in any country, especially one claiming to be a ‘democracy’. We demand the immediate abolition of capital punishment in India.
We therefore demand that others who have been given death sentence: Afzal Guru, Devendranath Dass of Assam and Devinder Singh Pal Bhullar of Punjab, should also be pardoned and their mercy petition should be accepted.

Internationally there is huge disgust at the planned hanging of these three men and the media is increasingly looking at the credentials of the so-called ‘biggest democracy in the world’.

The ‘End Death Penalty in India’ campaign, which includes the Tamil Solidarity campaign, has gained considerable support worldwide.
In a matter of days over 1,000 people have signed the petition against the death penalty in India. The list includes well-known and celebrated human rights activists and spokespeople: Desmond Tutu, former archbishop and anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa; Noam Chomsky, US political theorist and activist; Arundhati Roy, writer, activist and Booker prize winner; Paul Murphy, Member of the European Parliament from the Socialist Party, Ireland.

That the Indian government has meanwhile given political and material support to the Sri Lankan regime of Rajapaksa, accused by the UN of war crimes, is a further cause for anger. This must stop. We demand a genuinely international independent investigation into the events of the war to be carried out by a people’s tribunal consisting of accountable representatives of the working class and poor people from all communities, chosen by them and observed by international trade union and human rights organisations.

The End Death Penalty in India campaign and Tamil Solidarity will continue to build support internationally until a decision to end capital punishment is reached.
 
Yours,
Tamil Solidarity Campaign
End death Penalty in India campaign