Friday, 26 January 1.30pm-4.30pm
India House, The Aldwych, London WC2
(nearest tube: Holborn)
On December 13, 2001 the Indian parliament was attacked by five men. They were killed by the security forces but even today their identity remains a mystery. Three other men, who according to the police masterminded the attack, have also not been found.
However, on 14 and 15 December, 2001 the investigating agencies together
with the Special Cell of the Delhi Police picked up four persons, all
Kashmiris, and charged them with the offence of conspiring to attack the
parliament under India’s notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
After a nationwide campaign for a fair trial, two of them, Syed Abdul Rahman
Geelani and Navjot Sandhu who was jailed along with her newborn baby, have been acquitted of all charges, a third, the husband of Navjot Sandhu, has had his death sentence converted to ten years in prison. But the fourth Afzal Guru was due to be hanged on October 20, 2006. A stay on his execution has been obtained by the Save Afzal Campaign through a Mercy Petition, and he is now being held in Tihar jail in Delhi. But he is still facing a death sentence.
WHO IS AFZAL GURU?
Afzal Guru was involved with the JKLF for only three months in 1990 when large numbers of Kashmiri youth were attracted to the movement. During these three months he neither received any training nor took part in any activities. For details see his wife Tabassum’s letter:
After he surrendered he was constantly picked up by security forces, asked to spy on people and also routinely tortured. He eventually decided to move to Delhi hoping to be left alone but even here the notorious Special Task
Force caught up with him and continued to harass him.
His trial was a mockery of justice since he was denied an opportunity to
defend himself – he did not even have a lawyer. Afzal was not involved in the actual attack on the Indian parliament and he did not kill or injure anybody and the Indian Supreme Court has ruled that there was no direct evidence against him, only circumstantial. However the court has sentenced him to death because in their words the “the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender… The appellant, who is a surrendered militant is a menace to society and should become extinct.”
ABU GHRAIB STYLE TORTURE AND MEDIA COLLUSION
In the Special Cell of the Delhi police Afzal was kept naked for two days and beaten mercilessly – once by a man who later appeared as a prosecution witness; police officers urinated in his mouth saying ‘This is the way you can break your Roza(fast)’. After he was tortured he was handcuffed and made to sit on a chair and forced to ‘confess’ at a media conference.
But television broadcasts did not show the handcuffs and did not show the men who tortured and humiliated him. On the 15 and 16 of December 2006, New Delhi Television (NDTV) re-ran the ‘confession’ several times although they had been informed that by now that the Supreme Court of India had rejected it and the High Court had reprimanded the police for it. The programme was accompanied by remarks such as ‘See how natural, how truthful, how fluent his statement appears’ and ‘Who can believe that such a statement can be given under torture’. They then invited viewers to act as a virtual lynch mob by soliciting SMS messages from them asking whether Afzal should be hanged in light of the tape telecast by them.
Right-wing Hindu chauvinist forces of the Sangh Parivar have continually
harassed members of Afzal’s campaign while calling for Afzal to be hanged.
Afzal Guru faces a death penalty although:
• There is no direct evidence against him and he is known not to have
injured or harmed anyone
• The Courts have found that the investigating agencies deliberately
fabricated evidence and forged documents against him and others accused.
Currently Afzal is waiting for the results of a Mercy Petition but the
decision of the courts is extremely uncertain. Even after enormous efforts by his campaign he is being denied basic rights in prison – he is not allowed to go out of doors for even half an hour of sunlight and the Red Cross who have access to Kashmiri prisoners have not been allowed to visit him.
SAVE AFZAL GURU!
Further details: 07814983105 firstname.lastname@example.org