As an international group of human rights lawyers from various countries, the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) supports the rights and struggles of peoples all over. The IAPL has been invited by its Indian chapter to visit, observe and report on the situation in Chhattisgarh. An international fact finding team visited Raipur, Jagdalpur, Dantewada, and surrounding rural areas on October 22-26, 2007.

A report of Preliminary observations and findings of the IAPL team on the human rights situation in Chhattisgarh, India particularly of the Adivasis in the Bastar region can be accessed here.

Excerpts:

The Salwa Judum campaign inten ds to concentrate tribal people in Dantewada in so called “relief camps” with the acquiescence and even blessings of the Chhattisgarh state. Only a few villagers reportedly moved voluntarily to the camps. Those that refused to leave their villages have apparently been forced by Special Police Officers (SPO), militias from the Salwa Judum campaign that did not hesitate to use coercion, threats, intimidation, deception and violence for this purpose. Serious atrocities have been reportedly committed by these forces.

Life conditions in the “relief camps” are close to inhuman… The majority of those we were able to speak expressed to us their earnest wish to go back to their villages, residences, farms and livelihood. Camp inhabitants who attempt to leave the hamlets are intercepted, returned to the camp and even punished. Camp life is a virtual detention…

Although they are now temporarily being fed by the camp authorities, they have no certainty about how long ration cards will be provided. Their houses and farms are abandoned. They don’t know when to return to their villages and what they will find upon their return.

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