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Back Activities Alerts Action Alert: India/Israel – Write letters demanding that Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi is immediately released by Delhi police authorities

Action Alert: India/Israel – Write letters demanding that Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi is immediately released by Delhi police authorities

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Journalist intimidated and threatened with being handed over to Israel in India

Contents

1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter
5. Addresses for sample letters

1. Summary

Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi has been under police custody since 6 March. He is accused of having masterminded an attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat on 13 February, yet has not been charged with any crime,

Write to the Indian High Commission in your country and demand that the Indian police authorities immediately release Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi. Please also write to the National Union of Journalists, and request that they take action in defending journalistic freedom in India.

2. Background

Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi is a well established and respected Indian journalist of almost thirty years, accredited by the Press Information Bureau (PIB). Based in Delhi for many years, he has covered conflicts such as the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Iraq by US-led coalition forces for media outlets such as IRNA, IRIB, Doordarshan and BBC.

In 1993 he launched his own news agency dedicated to coverage of the Middle-East, called Media Star News and Features. He is a familiar face in the Indian media, having covered many international summits and proceedings in Parliament. His work entails frequent travel to countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.

On 13 February, a bomb blast in New Delhi injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat. With little evidence, Israeli officials immediately blamed Iran and the Lebanese group Hizbullah for the bomb blast, and attempted to link it to a foiled attack in Tbilisi, Georgia.

On 15 February, Mohammad appeared on the political discussion programme Primetime on NDTV. He defended Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment, and stated that from his interactions in Iran with lawmakers and MPs he did not believe Iran seeks to develop a nuclear weapon.

On 6 March, Mohammad was taken from the Indian Islamic Centre at approximately 11:30AM. No arrest warrant was presented, and later that day his house was searched by five police officers – again, none of which were able to produce a search warrant. On this occasion, Mohammad’s son Shauzab was intimidated into signing an arrest ‘memo’, confirming the arrest of his father. He was thus not officially under arrest until that evening. He is now being informally accused of masterminding the attack in New Delhi on 13 February.

The treatment of Mohammad Kazmi has been met with widespread outrage in India. Many consider the allegations against Mohammad to be politically motivated, and that he is being targeted because of his frequent travels to Iran, his work for an Iranian news agency, and for his opposition to Israel.

His arrest has coincided with the arrival of Israel’s National Security Advisor, Yaakov Amidror, in India. The prospect that his case is being handled by external forces, rather than internally by the Indian police and intelligence services, is of great concern. Worryingly, the family of Mohammad have indicated that Mohammad has been threatened by plain-clothed interrogators to be handed over to Israeli intelligence for harsher interrogation.

Not only has Mohammad been under police custody for over two weeks without charge, but he has also been intimidated and threatened by his interrogators. His very detention has pointed to the politicisation and exploitation of the Delhi bombing, and the ease with which the Israeli authorities have manipulated supposedly democratic and accountable Indian institutions.

3. Action Required

IHRC requests its campaigners and supporters to write letters and emails to the Indian High Commissioner and/or Indian ambassador to their country, and the General-Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Michelle Stanistreet. Demand that Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi is released immediately from police custody, and that the National Union of Journalists takes action to protect journalistic freedom in India.

4. Sample letter
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Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

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a) Dr J. Bhagwati, Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
Dr J. Bhagwati, High Commissioner,
High Commission of India,
India House
Aldwych
London
WC2B 4NA

Email: hc.office@hcilondon.in

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Dear Dr J. Bhagwati,

Re: Arrest and detention of Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi.

I am writing to express my outrage over the recent arrest and detention of Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, a well-respected journalist, by Indian police.

Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi has been a freelance journalist for almost thirty years, accredited by the Press Information Bureau (PIB). Based in Delhi, he has covered conflicts such as the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Iraq by US-led coalition forces for media outlets such as IRNA, IRIB, Doordarshan and BBC.

On 6 March, Mohammad was taken from the Indian Islamic Centre at approximately 11:30AM. No arrest warrant was presented, and later that day his house was searched by five police officers – none whom produced a search warrant. On 7 March, Mohammad’s son Shauzab was intimidated into signing an arrest ‘memo’, confirming the arrest of his father. Mohammad has now been accused of masterminding the bomb attack on 13 February, which targeted the wife of the Israeli ambassador in Delhi.

I am one of the many who believe that the allegations against Mohammad are politically motivated. It is clear that Mohammad Kazmi – whose journalistic and professional records are impeccable – has been targeted due to his affiliation with an Iranian news agency.

Worryingly, Mohammad has claimed that he has been threatened by plain-clothed interrogators to be handed over to Israeli intelligence for harsher interrogation. This raises serious questions regarding not only India’s standards of policing, but also India’s national sovereignty. These concerns must be addressed by the Indian government if it is to be viewed as able to protect its own citizens.

If Mohammad Kazmi, a respected journalist who on one occasion met with Prime-Minister Manmohan Singh, can be intimidated and detained without charge – what does this say about freedoms under the world’s “largest” democracy?

India must not subordinate its judicial system to the political whims of Israel. Nor should Indian citizens be at the mercy of foreign intelligence services, or the agendas of external forces wishing to pursue their own interests.

I request that as Indian High Commissioner you address the genuine concern that Mohammad Kazmi is being targeted because of his work with an Iranian news agency. The Delhi police force must ensure that Mohammad Kazmi’s lawyer is permitted to monitor him during interrogation in order to allay fears that he is being threatened by his interrogators. Unless any charge is brought to Mohammad Kazmi, he must be released immediately from police custody.

I look forward to you reply.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

b) Michelle Stanistreet, General-Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Michelle Stanistreet,
NUJ Head Office,
Headland House,
308-312 Gray's Inn Road,
London,
WC1X 8DP

Email: generalsecretary@nuj.org.uk

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Dear Michelle Stanistreet,

Re: Arrest and detention of Indian journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi.

I am writing to express my concern over the recent arrest and detention of the well-respected journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi in India.

Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi has been a freelance journalist for almost thirty years, and is accredited by the Press Information Bureau (PIB). Based in Delhi, he has covered conflicts such as the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Iraq by US-led coalition forces for media outlets such as IRNA, IRIB, Doordarshan and BBC. He has been an outspoken critic of India’s relationship with Israel, and has openly supported Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology.

On 13 February, a bomb blast in New Delhi injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat. With little evidence, Israeli officials immediately blamed Iran and the Lebanese group Hizbullah for the bomb blast, and attempted to link it to a foiled attack in Tbilisi, Georgia.

On 6 March, Mohammad was taken from the Indian Islamic Centre at approximately 11:30AM. No arrest warrant was presented, and later that day his house was searched by five police officers – again, none of which were able to produce a search warrant. They confiscated a laptop and some of Mohammad’s papers. His son, Shauzab, was intimidated into signing an arrest ‘memo’ confirming the arrest of his father on 7 March. Mohammad is now being accused of having masterminded the 13 February bomb attack in New Delhi.

He has claimed that he has been threatened by plain-clothed interrogators to be handed over to Israeli intelligence for harsher interrogation. I am one of the many who believe that the allegations against Mohammad are politically motivated, and that he has been targeted because he has worked for an Iranian news agency.

Not only has Mohammad remained under police custody for over two weeks without charge, but he has also been intimidated and threatened by his interrogators. The National Union of Journalists must condemn his treatment if it is to truly represent the interest and wellbeing of journalists worldwide.

The ordeal endured by Mohammad Kazmi reveals the politicisation and exploitation of the Delhi bombing, which involves the targeting of those linked in any way to Iran. It is also indicative of the climate of fear and intimidation that a growing number of Indian journalists are forced to work under in the country – where criticism of Israel or visiting Iran can so easily lead to the violation of rights.

As General-Secretary of the NUJ, you have the power to make sure that the case of Mohammad Kazmi receives the publicity it deserves, and encourage support from other members of your organisation. I kindly ask that the National Union of Journalists takes action to ensure that a fellow journalist in India does not have his rights taken away from him in the name of politics.

I look forward to you reply.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

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5. Addresses for sample letters
a) Shri Gurjit Singh; Ambassador of India (designate) to Indonesia.
Embassy of India
JL HR Rasuna Said, Kav S-1
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan, 12950
INDONESIA.

Email: ambasador@net-zap.com

b) Mr Vijay K. Gokhale; Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia.
Mr Vijay K. Gokhale,
High Commission of India,
No. 2 Jalan Taman Duta,
Off Jalan Duta,
50480 Kuala Lumpur,
MALAYSIA.

Email: hc@indianhighcommission.com.my

c) His Excellency Shashishekhar Madhukar Gavai; Indian High Commissioner to Canada.

High Commission for the Republic of India,
10 Springfield Road,
Ottawa,
Ontario,
K1M 1C9,
CANADA.

Email: hicomind@hciottawa.ca

d) Mr Biren Nanda; Indian High Commissioner to Australia (designate).

Mr Biren Nanda,
The High Commission of India,
3 - 5 Moonah Place,
Yarralumla, ACT – 2600,
AUSTRALIA.

Email: dhc@hcindia-au.org

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Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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