HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India regarding the detention of Mr. Thirumurgan Gandhi at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru. Mr. Thirumurugan Gandhi is the leader of the May 17 Movement. The May 17 Movement has been in the forefront of many pro-people human rights movement. Mr. Gandhi advocates for the democratic aspirations of Eelam Tamils, Palestinians, Kurds, Kashmiris, Western Saharans and Sikhs. He engages on the issues of indigenous peoples and communities which have faced war crimes and has raised these issues in the UNHRC over the past few years.
On August 9, 2018, at around 4 AM, Mr. Gandhi arrived at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru from Europe. He has been detained by the immigration officials of the airport, allegedly on the basis of a ‘Look Out Circular’ (LOC). The LOC is stated to have been issued against him on the basis of instructions from the Tamil Nadu Police relating to previous cases he has been charged with. HRDA has been informed that no official papers had been provided to Mr. Gandhi reasoning his detention nor had he been provided with the copy of the LOC. It is to be noted that Mr. Gandhi was returning to India after attending the recent UNHRC session and also attended formal meetings in the European Commission as well as other meetings in Europe. During the UNHRC sessions in June 2018, Mr. Gandhi had on record stated about the killings of 15 people in Thoothukudi City of Tamil Nadu due to police firing and other police actions upon the peaceful protestors against the Sterlite industry, a copper smelter plant causing environmental pollution in the district.
Mr. Gandhi had also appealed to the UNHRC about the misuse and harassment of human rights defenders in India by arbitrarily using prevention detention laws and incarcerating them in prisons. Human rights activists, members of civil society organisations are being persecuted with false cases by the police in Thoothukudi as also recently observed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court and ordering quashing of the open FIRs. HRDA believes that this incident of issuing a LOC against Mr. Gandhi and detaining him at the airport is an act of reprisal against a human rights defender for participating in the UNHRC session and especially stating about the human rights violations in the state of Tamil Nadu. More importantly raising the issue of killing of 15 people by police firing and killings in Thoothukudi on May 22 & 23, 2018.
HRDA prayed for thorough investigation and to take immediate actions on the perpetrators of the case.