Release Virasam Members sign now

To:
The Chief Minister/Home Minister
Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
Hyderbad, AP 500001
India

We are troubled by the arrest of Pinakapani, Chenchaiah, Ravikumar and
Venugopal - all of them prominent writers and journalists and members
of Virasam. As reported in the newspapers, they were arrested either
in Nizamabad, AP or Aurangabad, Maharastra, along with two CPI
(Maoist) members on June 2nd, 2005.

Given that neither CPI (Maoist) nor Virasam is a banned organization
and no evidence has been presented by the Police to indicate that the
arrested were engaged in or planning any illegal or violent activity,
we are unable to comprehend the reasons for arresting them. We have no
choice but to conclude that the arrests are illegal and are an attack
on the freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of
press - vital elements in any vibrant democratic society. We wish to
note that our protest is not an endorsement of the views and actions
of Maoists or Virasam.

In the broader context, we are saddened by the violent- and
fear-stricken atmosphere that exists in some parts of the state today.
We are deeply troubled by the extra-judicial killings by the police
and the harassment of innocents in the name of combating left-wing
extremism; and the murder of innocents and local politicians by the
militant left-wing groups in the name of revolutionary politics. Both
these actions have only systematically undermined the democratic
institutions and made the ordinary people helpless victims.
It is unfortunate that the peace talks, which offered fresh hope and
break from both the militant violence and police repression, were
abruptly ended.

We demand that the state government immediately release the arrested
Virasam members and follow legal procedures in protecting their
rights. And in the long-term, we appeal to both the state government
and the left-wing militant groups to restart the stalled negotiation.

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Patsy KochBy:
AnimalsIn:
Petition target:
Andhra Pradesh Government

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