Tural Abbasli is in prison. Tural, a political activist, postgraduate journalism student, and blogger in Azerbaijan, had used Facebook to peacefully protest against his country’s government.
He was also beaten while in custody after his arrest in March 2011, following his non-violent protests against human rights abuses by his government. Human rights group Amnesty International says it will fight for his release until Tural is free. I second this resolve.
This makes me think as to how should we use emerging technologies to face new challenges for our freedom, independence and human rights! Also, along with the new technologies must we not forget to keep ourselves abreast with the laws of our lands. One such case I demonstrate below from my own experience –
In 2002, I was arrested by the Delhi Police under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) vide F.I.R. No.324 of 2002. It was alleged that I had violated an order of the High Court of Delhi and had staged a demonstration blocking ingress / egress to a building near the Indian Parliament.
The allegations were wrong. Even then the Parliament Street Police Station, New Delhi, filed a charge sheet against me in a criminal court which was, however, pleased to grant me bail on my first appearance. But along with the charge sheet, the police – obviously acting at the behest of those who wanted to see me in jail anyhow – also filed one complaint under section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.). It was further (of course wrongly) alleged against me that I was warned about some prohibitory orders under section 144 Cr.P.C. in an area close to the Indian Parliament and even then I had demonstrated without listening to the warning.
Sadly… simultaneously, the such charges were made as one of the basis of disciplinary actions against me by my employers too… and they even proceeded to terminate my services finding me guilty of commission of a crime that I never did. What justice this? Are employers expected to sit as judges and conduct such trials from their offices … and that too ex-parte?
Undeterred, I pleaded before the criminal court that I had written a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, prior to my staging any demonstration, seeking his permission to stage a protest strictly in compliance with the law and order in force in that area … and it was the office of the police commissioner that did not give any response. I also pleaded that nothing was stated by the police as to how did I violate the prohibitory orders in place at the time of my arrest.
Rightly … finally, I was discharged from the case in 2005 as the New Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjeev Jain ordered:
“… nothing has been mentioned that … in what manner … (I) … violated the order under section 144 Cr.P.C. (Also) Merely by sitting … at a place and that too by observing the order of Hon’ble High Court does not make out the essential ingredients of offence under section 188 IPC. Under section 188 IPC one of the essential ingredients is that such disobedience should cause or tend to cause obstruction or annoyance. (Also) Nothing has been mentioned in complaint under section 195 Cr.P.C. to make out the said essential ingredients of the offence.
“After careful consideration, in my opinion, prima facie there is no sufficient material on record to proceed with the case. This is a summon trial case. Keeping in view the above observation, proceedings in the case be dropped under section 258 Cr.P.C. Personal bond and surety bond of accused stands discharged … (Accused) be deemed discharged from this case …”
I was thus relieved, having been discharged. But… today when I see many people being arrested in similar manners throughout the world… I do find myself helpless, at times. But wherever possible, I do extend my sincere advice which are always well appreciated. Let me also share that throughout my above trial, my defence counsel Rajesh Anand was of immense help.
What is Section 188 IPC?
Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such direction,
shall, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance of injury, to any persons lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both;
and if such disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
Coming back to the point, even Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of social networking site Facebook, says about himself that — “I’m trying to make the world a more open place.” About Facebook, he says it is “making the world more open and connected.”
And the micro-blogging site Twitter also lends itself to cause and action. “Every day, we are inspired by stories of people using Twitter to help make the world a better place in unexpected ways,” it proudly says about itself.
Greater Voice thus expects you to promote the right of people to say anything that serves the world. Hope … while reading this, you are reminded of the famous quote of the French writer-philosopher Volatire ((November 21, 1694 – May 30, 1778):
“What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbours, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”
Yes, I’m aware … that … there are people who are harnessing new technologies to fight for free speech and expression, and there are also people and organization that stand up to governments who attempt to use technology as a tool of repression.
One such force is Amnesty that … a year ago this month, helped free another outspoken journalist from Azerbaijan — Eynulla Fatullayev (see the image above). Eynulla was released after serving over four years in prison for investigating his government’s history of human rights abuses. Amnesty International organized some grassroots movement to apply pressure until his release on May 26, 2011.
Well, apart from all these, what we need today is one powerful movement … a world-wide awakening capable enough to blacken the faces of all … all who gag courageous voices in their respective areas of jurisdiction. May all have greater voice.
I am sure it will happen. If it has not happened so far it could be because things haven gotten bad enough. If they do, humanity will find a way.
Really its happening now a days. Very good, realistic and practical article.Thanks. All the best.