CAMPAIGN CONDEMNS REPRESSION OF ANTI-POSCO PROTESTS, ARREST OF LEADER OF POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI


The Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national platform of tribal
and forest dwellers' mass organisations, condemns the Orissa
government's arrest of Abhay Sahoo, leader of the POSCO Pratirodh
Sangram Samiti (PPSS), and the continued repression of the protests
against the illegal POSCO project. Yesterday's arrest is just one more
step in the Orissa government's criminal attempts to hand over the
people's resources to POSCO.

The POSCO project is a massive violation of law and justice. Thousands
of families will be deprived of land, employment and livelihoods, even
as POSCO takes away hundreds of millions of tonnes of iron ore for the
price of a song. Contrary to talk of "development" vs. livelihoods,
this project will benefit no one except POSCO itself. Moreover, it is
also illegal, for under the Forest Rights Act of 2006 can no longer be
handed over to POSCO until the villagers' rights are recognised and
the community's consent has been taken. The Orissa government's
officers are guilty of committing and abetting the commitment of
criminal offences under the Forest Rights Act.

The people of the area, led by the PPSS, have been peacefully
resisting this assault for more than three years now. They have faced
killings, hired goons, bomb attacks, and a police siege. Indeed, at
one point Shri Sahoo himself assisted the police in protecting those
responsible for a bomb attack from the anger of the people. Yet at no
time have the police seriously acted against those responsible for
this violence, nor has the government of Orissa even once attempted to
hear the views of the people. The arrest of Abhay Sahoo is only one
more step in this process of repression.

Therefore we demand:

* The immediate cancellation of the illegal POSCO project and the
withdrawal of all police from the area;
* The immediate withdrawal of all cases against Abhay Sahoo and other
PPSS leaders and their release from jail;
* Prosecution of those responsible for the violence in the area and
compensation to the people for the three years of repression that they
have suffered;
* Prosecution of the government officials participating in and
abetting violations of the Forest Rights Act.