|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
JUNE 22, 2004
|CONTACT: International Center on Child Labor and Education
Child Labor Activist Brutally Attacked during Rescue Raid
WASHINGTON - June 22 - Eminent child labor activist and Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labor and Global Campaign for Education Kailash Satyarthi was attacked brutally while leading a group of activists and parents to rescue some children from a circus in Colonelganj Tehsil of Gonda District in Uttar Pradesh, North India, 15 June 2004.
Acting on complaints of 11 parents and accompanied by 4 parents (two mothers and two fathers) Satyarthi approached the district administration, which reluctantly assigned the Sub Divisional Magistrate to conduct a raid in the Great Roman Circus along with Mr. Satyarthi. The Great Roman Circus was camping in Colonelganj, District Gonda. The District Magistrate had sided with the carpet industry when a similar raid had been organized by Mr. Satyarthi earlier in Eastern UP. Mr. Satyarthi had taken the case against the District Magistrate to the National Human Rights Commission. Mr. Satyarthi stated during a telephone conversation with Sudhanshu Joshi, Executive Director of the North American office of the Global March, a few hours before the raid of the Great Roman Circus that the District Magistrate must have already informed the owner of the circus about the raid. The area were the circus is camped is one of the most criminal pockets of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Satyarthi insisted that our report show that hundreds of children are being cruelly treated and exploited in this circus.
When the raid started the administration connived with the circus owner to offset the entire exercise, instead of facilitating the team led by Kailash Satyarthi. The circus owner with his men launched a barbaric attack on the team with lethal weapons, including knives, iron rods and guns. Mr. Satyarthi sustained serious head and body injuries and had been bleeding profusely. Mr. Satyarthi miraculously escaped and was rushed to Lucknow, the state capital, for medical emergency. Mr. Satyarthi was rescued by the other team members and taken out of the place, as the clear intention of the attackers was to eliminate him. Mr. Satyarthi's son and several others sustained serious injuries also. A foreign woman photo-journalist was also beaten up and her camera was smashed.
Until now several of the children who the team had gone to rescue are still stuck in the circus. Many parents are also in captivity. We are demanding that the provincial Government of the State of Uttar Pradesh should immediately release all the children and parents held in captivity by the owners of Great Roman Circus. The Government should immediately arrest the culprits led by the owner of the circus and the District Magistrate, who clearly connived with the attackers and led the entire administration as a mute spectator when the attack was perpetuated on Mr. Satyarthi and his colleagues.
We demand that the Indian Government take note of the seriousness of the matter and give Mr. Satyarthi adequate police protection and security as his life has been threatened by the circus owner. The circus owner has openly threatened that he will eliminate Mr. Satyarthi. Mr. Satyarthi should be provided police protection and escorted safely to Delhi.
This story is top news on Indian TV and radio and the clips of the circus owner threatening Kailash with a gun are being shown over and over again.
June 22, 2004
Kailash Satyarthi began sitting on an indefinite fast at 14:00 hours on Friday, June 18, 2004 in front of the Uttar Pradesh State Legislative Assembly in Lucknow to save the young girls from Nepal trafficked and trapped in the Indian Circus.
Kailash Satyarthi's fast has entered into the fourth day. Though it has been more than four days since he started his indefinite fast to demand the release of Nepali children, the provincial Government of Uttar Pradesh and local administration have not moved to take any measures to release the Nepali children trapped in the Indian circus. Mr. Satyarthi, despite failing health and heavy loss of blood, is in high spirits and ready to fight until all the children are liberated. However, his physical condition is worsening day by day.
His condition has deteriorated drastically today. As reported earlier, he had severe head injuries and blood loss. Today his blood pressure has shot up very high in the evening and the doctor advised to hospitalize him immediately. Mr. Satyarthi has refused to go to the hospital.
As you are aware, Mr. Satyarthi was attacked when he was leading a group of activists and parents to rescue the Nepali children trafficked and trapped in bondage with the Great Roman Circus camping at Colonelganj town in Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh on June 15, 2004.
The Global March, South Asian Coalition Against Child Servitude, and over a dozen other organizations organized a huge protest demonstration in New Delhi today. Over one thousand children, many of whom were rescued by Mr. Satyarthi and their parents participated in this demonstration. A number of celebrities, leaders of voluntary organizations, intellectuals, and general people concerned about the issue of human rights participated. Famous film actress Nandita Das joined hands with others to demand the immediate release of the children and action against the culprits.
Demonstrations were held at as many as 50 places all over the country and to express solidarity and demand urgent action from the Government. Demonstrations were held in Kathmandu before the Indian Embassy.
About 200 children, who were rescued by Mr. Satyarthi, are sitting with him in support. Parents of a few children still trapped in the circus are also sitting with him. All India Primary Teachers Association, with a membership of 3.5 million primary teachers, have also come to support the demands.
A team of the National Human Rights Commission is visiting the circus site today to investigate the whole episode. However, the administration is defiant and conniving with the circus. The Global March office received a telephone call from the circus owner, who is in jail, threatening to eliminate Mr. Satyarthi. In another telephone call a SACCS staff member, who had gone to rescue the children from circus, was threatened by circus personnel to kill him and his family members. Both incoming phone numbers were identified. An FIR has been lodged with the police.
In this critical hour, we fervently urge all to express solidarity and write to pressure the Indian authorities to take necessary actions immediately to meet the demands and save the life of Mr. Satyarthi. The three demands include the immediate release of trapped children, a probe into the condition and employment of children in all the circuses, and a judicial enquiry into the entire episode and punishment of the perpetrators. The protest should also be made to the Indian embassies in your country.
The necessary contact information is as follows.
1. Mr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India Fax: 91-11-2301-8668, 2301-5470, 2301-5603, 2301-8939 Tel: 91-11-2301-2312, 2301-8939 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mr. Shivraj Patil, Home Minister, Government of India Fax: 91-11-2309-4221 / 2309-3750 Tel: 91-11-2309-2462, 2309-4686
3. Dr. Abdul Kalam President of India Fax: 91-11-2301-7290, 2301-7824 Tel: 91-11-2301-5321 Email: email@example.com
4. UP Chief Minister Fax : 91-522-223-9234, 223-0002 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Chief Secretary, UP Fax. 91-522-223-8409 E-mail: email@example.com
We look forward to your immediate and urgent action at this critical time.
Beth Lindley, Deputy Director, International Center on Child Labor and Education, North American