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India: A Dark Day for Democracy and Freedom of Expression

Wednesday 29 August 2018 - 10:38am

Poet Varavara Rao was arrested on 28 August

29 August 2018, Delhi, India - PEN Delhi and PEN South India join large numbers of Indian citizens in unequivocally condemning the arrests and searches conducted on the homes of human rights activists, writers and thinkers on 28 August.

Sudha Bharadwaj, lawyer and rights activist, known for her work with tribal and women’s rights, P Varavara Rao, poet, activist and teacher, Gautam Navlakha, journalist, writer and human rights activist were arrested suddenly, with extensive searches being conducted on their homes and with material such as laptops, books and notes being confiscated. Vernon Gonsalves, activist, and Arun Ferreira, activist, writer and cartoonist, were also arrested. Other activists and intellectuals, including Anand Teltumbde, K Satyanarayana, KV Kurmanath and Father Stan Swamy had their homes searched.

These intellectuals and activists have consistently spoken out on behalf of the poor and marginalised, and have used their writings in the service of human rights. It is a dark day for India when crackdowns and arrests target those who fight for human rights, while murderers such as those who killed journalists, thinkers and writers, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh are yet to be convicted. PEN Delhi and PEN South India stand in solidarity with the activists and writers and their right to freedom of thought and expression.