Press Statement from 25th APDR Conference

August 12, 2014

Association for Protection of Democratic Rights

Kolkata, 10 August 2014

25th Conference of APDR Cuts out New Tasks

The 25th Conference of APDR was held on 9-10 August 2014 at Dipankar Chakraborty Mancha (Nikhil Bishwa Ahmadiya Muslim Jamat Hall), Narendra Davolkar Nagar (Diamond Harbour). The conference, held in the 42nd year of the longest functioning human rights organisation in the country, was attended by 340 delegates from APDR’s branches spread all over West Bengal.

The conference noted that the tasks of the rights movement had become tougher than ever at the present juncture, which also emphasised its relevance. In West Bengal, there is a government that pays scant regards to democratic norms, despite the fact that the present ruling party had come to power promising the restoration of democratic rights curbed under the Left Front regime. This government is intolerant of any criticism and uses strong-arm tactics to muzzle even the slightest of dissenting voices. It has not fulfilled its assurances to withdraw the repressive joint forces from Jangal Mahal. In continuation of the Left Front government’s policy, it has put behind bars many political activists and has shamelessly amended the West Bengal Correctional Services Act to deny them the status of political prisoners. The conference identified the expansion of the shrinking democratic space in the state as the most important task before the organisation. It demanded the unconditional release of all political prisoners and freedom of expression, including political expression.

It also noted that with the installation of the NDA government at the Centre, communal forces across the country, in various spheres of the society including academic planning bodies, have become too eager to impose the rule their hard-line Hindutva. Communal tensions prevail at many places and members of the minority community are living in fear. Side-by-side, the NDA government implementing the privatisation-liberalisation-globalisation policy introduced by the UPA at a faster pace while reducing whatever social security cover was there. The most drastic changes are proposed to be made in the labour laws, which will take away much of the rights the workers have gained through decades of struggle. The conference mandated a more proactive role for the APDR in the democratic rights movement in the countrywide rights movement in association with its fraternal organisations in the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) in the coming days.

The Conference expressed concern over the disastrous impact of the so-called ‘War on Terror’ by the imperialist camp led by the USA on all human rights. It condemned the plunder of Gaza by the US-backed Israeli forces. While demanding the latter’s unconditional withdrawal, it also demanded that India government stop hobnobbing with the repressive regime in Israel and condemns the aggression through an unequivocal motion in parliament. At the same time, the conference recognised and hailed the new democratic upsurges at various points including Africa, West Asia, parts of Europe and the Americas. It expressed total solidarity with these struggles which will certainly help expand the sphere of democratic rights and add new dimensions to it.

The conference re-elected Sachhidananda Banerjee as President, Amitadyuti Kumar as Working President and Dhiraj Sengupta as General Secretary, along with a 50-member central secretariat.

Dhiraj Sengupta