TODAY -

Summons served to Babloo, Impact TV; Human rights defenders protest
Source: Hueiyen News Service / NNN

Imphal, July 25 2014 : Close on the heel of human rights activist Babloo Loitongbam and a responsible person from local television channel Impact TV been summoned by the Committee on Privileges & Ethics of Manipur Legislative Assembly to present before it by 10 am tomorrow, a large number of human rights activists today staged a 'silent' sit-in protest.

The summons have been issued by the Committee in connection with the alleged derogatory statements made by Babloo against the 60 MLAs.

In a discussion programme "Manung Hutna" telecast by Impact TV channel, Babloo, who is the executive director of Human Rights Alert (HRA), dubbed all the 60 legislators as "mithibong mitambal" (nasty people) who do not want to implement Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur.



human rights activists   staged a 'silent' sit-in protest
human rights activists staged a 'silent' sit-in protest


On Friday, wearing black masks and fastening themselves with chains, human rights defenders held a silent protest here condemning the State administration's alleged brutal muzzling of the freedoms of speech and association in Manipur.

Participated by hundreds of human rights defenders, the sit-in protest was staged at Keishampat Lairembi Community Hall in Imphal West district.

The demonstrators held placards reading "To critique Government is our rights", "Your privilege 60 (MLAs) versus our rights 27 lakh", "Stop attacking human rights defenders", etc.

Human rights defenders of the State have taken a collective stand to defend the protections provided to the fundamental freedoms of expression and association by Indian Constitution and the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a joint press statement of the state's human rights defenders said.

It said such freedoms are rights and they are not privileges, therefore, no privilege may trump such fundamental rights, be it privileges of law enforcement agencies, the executive, legislative or judicial arms of Government.

The privilege of the 60 MLAs cannot prevail over the basic and fundamental rights of the 27 lakh citizens of Manipur, it maintained.

Human rights defenders from all section of society in Manipur have these freedoms and have been exercising the rights enshrined in both the Indian Constitution and International Human Rights Law, the statement said, adding all human rights defenders have full rights to freedom of expression of association and to assert the rights of the larger communities, the rights of the students and their own sets of rights, it asserted.

It added these rights are included in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders, 1998, citing that there are landmark cases in the Indian Supreme Court that have affirmed the nation's policy of allowing a free press and freedom of expression to every citizen.

In India, citizens are free to criticize politics, politicians, bureaucracy and policies, it said and added that therefore, in a democratic society, every citizen has the right to critique and assert opinions on state functioning and policies and this is crucial in promoting a healthy and a vibrant democracy.

The recent attacks on human rights defenders and introduction of privilege motions against a human rights defender and media unit of Manipur for expressing opinions on human rights issues of Manipur, in particular the merciless torture and cruel and inhumane treatment perpetrated on the young students for demanding Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in the state is very regrettable and reflects the precarious state of human rights in Manipur, it added.

It also called on the Government for urgent revocation and withdrawal of the privilege motions moved against a human rights defender and media organization in the state assembly on July 24, 2014 .

The statement further urged the Government to prosecute and punish all the law enforcement officials involved in unleashing merciless brutality against the young students demanding introduction of ILP in the state.

Earlier during the day, the Committee on Privileges & Ethics held a meeting at its office here and decided to serve the summons to Babloo and private channel Impact TV.

Accordingly, the Committee served the summons asking Babloo and a responsible person from local television channel Impact TV to present before it by 10 am tomorrow.


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