Soni Sori
Soni Sori
Soni Sori

Mr. Shri Nanredra Damodardas Modi,
Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister?s Office,
Room number 152, South Block,
New Delhi, India.
Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857.
E-mail: [email protected]?/ [email protected]

Dear Prime Minister,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

?I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

Human rights defender Ms Soni Sori has been the target of an ongoing slander campaign led by the Inspector General of the Police of Bastar region, Mr Kalluri, following a press conference in which she drew attention to an alleged arbitrary killing by the police. She further received direct threats from the Inspector General.

Soni Sori is a human rights defender who advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples in India, with a focus on women’s rights. She works in Chhattisgarh, where the long-term conflict between Maoists and government security forces has greatly affected the indigenous people in the area. Together with her cousin, journalist Ms Lingaram Kodopi, she uncovered human rights violations committed by both sides of the conflict. Soni Sori has previously been targeted by the authorities on several occasions. In 2011 she was imprisoned on trumped-up charges relating to eight cases where she was accused of being involved in attacks against the police. In prison, she repeatedly suffered torture and sexual harassment by prison staff. By April 2013, she had been acquitted of six of the eight cases filed against her. She was released in 2014 and has since been repeatedly subjected to harassment and intimidation by the police.

On 1 August 2015, following a press conference which Soni Sori held at the Jagdalpur press club to discuss the unlawful murder of Mr Hemla Podiya, she was threatened by Inspector General Mr Kalluri. Helma Podiya, who lived in Nahadi village in Dantewada, was shot in the back by a police officer on 28 July 2015. While the police maintain that it was an encounter killing, during the press conference Soni Sori publicly stated that the killing was arbitrary. On 30 July 2015 she had visited Nahadi village and talked to witnesses who stated that there was no confrontation between the police and Helma Podiya, and that the killing was therefore unlawful. On the night of 28 July 2015, joint security forces consisting of 500 officers reportedly raided homes and beat villagers in Nahadi village. Hearing the commotion, Helma Podiya left home and, shortly after, was shot dead by one of the officers.

Furthermore, Mr Kalluri is reported to have begun a slander campaign against the human rights defender. Following a recent incident in a market in Geedam that resulted in the stabbing of a trader, police officers, including Mr Kalluri, held a meeting with the trading community, during which they blamed the human rights defender for the attack. Mr Kalluri warned the community that the attacks will continue unless the locals decide to excommunicate Soni Sori and her fellow human rights defenders.

I express my concern over the threats against human rights defender Soni Sori, which it believes to be an attempt to prevent her from carrying out her peaceful and legitimate advocacy in defence of human rights.

I urge the authorities in India to:

1. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Soni Sori;

2. Take measures to ensure that public figures refrain from making statements or declaration stigmatising the legitimate work of human rights defenders;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

?

Human Rights Defender & ?Freelance Journalist

Twitter @wnicholasgomes

Email: [email protected]

www.facebook.com/williamnicholasgomes

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.