[Reader-list] NEWS: Int'l women's body to seek genocidal alert in Gujarat

Frederick Noronha fred at bytesforall.org
Thu Dec 19 23:20:24 IST 2002

International women's body to seek genocidal alert in Gujarat

>From Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) A body of women belonging to national and
international organisations has called for a "genocidal alert" in Gujarat,
describing the violence that was perpetrated in the state earlier this year
as "crimes against humanity".

At a press conference here Thursday, the International Initiative for
Justice, an organisation formed by over a dozen Indian women's groups, asked
the international community and the Indian government to, among other
things, take urgent steps to try those responsible for the violence and
restore to Muslims their right to life, security and survival.

The organization had invited Rhonda Copelon, a well known legal expert and
professor of law at the City University of New York School of Law, and
others to visit the riot-affected areas of Gujarat to investigate the
violence, particularly physical and sexual, inflicted upon women since
trouble erupted on February 27 with the train torching at Godhra.

The Initiative additionally invited a panel of international women activists
from the U.S. Sri Lanka, Britain and Germany to visit the riot-torn state
where at least a 1,000 people had died in the February-May violence.

The group, which visited the state along with Indian women activists this
month after the December 12 elections, came out with hard-hitting
recommendations, which included what the group called "a genocidal alert".

Copelon said the international community, organisations and the U.N. bodies
should declare a genocidal alert in Gujarat "to put international pressure
on India to avoid a repeat" of the anti-Muslim violence that took place in

Among the group's other recommendations are:

* Utilise universal jurisdiction to fulfil the obligation to try genocide
and crimes against humanity under international law;
* Challenge the charitable and tax exempt status of organisations that
support, directly or indirectly, the Hindutva agenda; and
* Investigate and prevent the sending of funds to organisations
participating in the instigation and implementation of genocide and crimes
against humanity against the minority communities.

Copelon said Gujarat Muslims should be restored their rights to life,
security and survival, as guaranteed to others in India. "We fear that there
could be a repeat of such of acts of violence in other Indian states."

Copelon, who is also director of the International Women's Human Rights
Clinic, said "legitimate investigation and prosecution" should be carried
out against police and other officials and investigation and prosecution of
the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevek Sangh (RSS), the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena.

--Indo-Asian News Service

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