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Workshop for Human Rights Defenders at Ekalavya Training Centre, PARA

The first of a series of workshops for Human Rights Defenders(HRD) has begun at Ekalavya Training Centre, PARA(People’s Action for Rural Awakening), Ravulapalem, East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh on 9th April, 2010. The first day’s progamme began with the garlanding of Dr Ambedkar’s statue and lighting the lamp at 10 am by Adv Muppala Subba Rao, Convenor of AP Human Rights Association and Fr Thomas Pallithanam, Director of PARA –the two champions of Human Rights Promotion and Protection. There are about 100 Human Rights Defenders representing tens of communities and hundreds of sanghs from nine districts, actively participating in the 2-day programme conducted in collaboration with the People’s Watch –Tamil Nadu.

Adv Subba Rao spoke about the various aspects involved in human rights defence and its increasing necessity in today’s atmosphere of ever-increasing human rights violations. He explained about the various Human Rights Institutions and their terms and conditions.

Fr Thomas Pallithanam then facilitated group discussions based on the role of the participants as individuals in protecting human rights and also asked the groups to reflect and share the experiences in the various fields(land, gender, children, Adivasis, Dalits, Differently Abled, Education, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Right To Information, Domestic Violence etc.)the HRDS are working, especially as some of participants have more than 15 years of history of human rights defence. He said that Human Rights Defence is peaceful & non-violent and reminded that it is universal, based on international standards and respects the others’dignity.

It was discussed that some of the problems the HRDs face are false cases being filed against them, labeling them as anti-socials or naxals, mud-slinging, threatening, blackmailing etc by the police, officials, politicians and so on, harassing the family, forcing silence on them, creating every possible hurdles against them … It was also pointed out that in such situations, the right to assembling, communicating and organizing, the right to seek, obtain, hold information, right to immediate remedy & protection and right to lawful exercise of profession have to be explored. G. Prasad of CRAF was also one of the resource persons.

Compiled by Jose Kunnel