Statement of protest against the deportation of David Barsamian from Delhi airport

September 30, 2011

[The Sanhati Collective endorses the following statement.]

We write to protest the denial of entry to David Barsamian by Immigration Authorities at the New Delhi airport in the early hours of September 23, 2011, and we write to draw attention to the growing arbitrariness of the Indian Government in dealing with dissent of any kind.

David Barsamian is a veteran broadcaster, and founder and director of Alternative Radio, a weekly one-hour public affairs program offered free to all public radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and beyond. For more than 25 years Alternative Radio has provided information, analyses and views that are frequently ignored in other media. Structured around intensive interviews conducted by David Barsamian, these programs are carried by over 125 radio stations and heard by millions of listeners. He is the author of numerous books with Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and Tariq Ali.

David is a friend for many of us, but he is an older friend of India. He first came as a young man in 1966, and has since returned innumerable times, immersing himself in its music, languages and poetry. He has taught himself Urdu and Hindi, learned to play the Sitar, and closely follows events in the sub-continent.

When he was deported on September 23 he had a visa which was valid for another 5 years, and although he last visited in February 2011, he had no intimation or warning that he was in violation of any of the conditions under which his visa was issued. The only thing that the Immigration Officers were able to tell him was that he was “banned” from entering the country, and that the reasons were a “secret”.

The deportation of David Barsamian unfortunately mirrors the manner in which Prof Richard Shapiro was arbitrarily stopped from entering India in November 2010. We are dismayed that this power to send people back from the airport is slowly becoming a weapon, used to discipline and silence people who draw any kind of attention to uncomfortable truths about India. A year later Prof Shapiro still has no formal response on why he was stopped, and when he can regain his right to travel to India, where he has family.

We therefore ask that the ban on David Barsamian and others like Richard Shapiro be revoked, and the Government of India not impede their return to India.

We demand that the right to travel and the right to free exchange of ideas between scholars, journalists, artists, and human rights defenders be respected and protected, and that government agents not authorize the denial of entry and eviction of visitors to India, or monitor their movement. Free exchange of ideas is one of the most basic human rights and values in free democratic societies. Freedom of travel is one of the most important avenues for furthering such exchange among peoples. Recognizing this, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange.

Signed:

1 Abha Sur, Academic
2 Amar Kanwar, Film-maker
3 Amit Bhaduri, Academic
4 Amit Sengupta, Journalist
5 Anuradha Chenoy, Academic
6 Ania Loomba, Academic
7 Angana Chatterji, Academic
8 Anthony Arnove, Publisher/Activist
9 Aruna Roy, MKSS, Activist
10 Arundhati Roy, Writer
11 Arpita Banerjee, Academic
12 Ashok Prasad, Academic
13 Ashim Jain, Activist
14 Ajay Skaria, Academic
15 Basharat Peer, Writer
16 Biju Mathew, Academic
17 Colin Gonsalves, Lawyer
18 D.Gabriele, Activist/Academic
19 David Ludden, Academic
20 Deepankar Basu, Academic
21 Dibyesh Anand, Academic
22 Gyanendra Pandey, Academic
23 Harsh Dobhal, Journalist
24 Himanshu Kumar, Activist
25 Hussain Askari, Journalist
26 Indira Unninayar, Advocate
27 Jean Dreze, Scholar
28 Joel Geier, International Socialist Review
29 K.B.Saxena, former secretary to Government of India.
30 Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Academic
31 Kamala Visveswaran, Academic
32 Lalitha Gopalan, Academic
33 Manisha Sethi, Academic
34 Manoranjan Mohanty, Academic
35 Mirza Waheed, Writer
36 Nagesh Rao, Academic
37 Najeeb Mubarki, Journalist
38 Nitasha Kaul, Writer
39 Noam Chomsky
40 N Raghuram, Academic
41 Madhu Bhaduri, former Ambassador
42 Mridu Rai, Academic
43 Nurul Kabir, Engineer
44 Pankaj Mishra, Writer
45 Parvaiz Bukhari, Journalist
46 Philip Gasper, Academic
47 Pranav Jani, Academic
48 Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer
49 Rahul Roy, Film-maker
50 Romila Thapar, Academic
51 Sanjay Kak, Film-maker
52 Satya Sivaraman, Journalist
53 Shabnam Hashmi, Activist
54 Shripad Dharmadhikary, Researcher
55 Shohini Ghosh, Academic
56 Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist
57 Simona Sawhney, Academic
58 Sukumar Muralidharan, Journalist
59 Suresh Nautiyal, Journalist
60 Suvir Kaul, Academic
61 Saba Dewan, Film-maker
62 Snehal Shingavi, Academic
63 Sherry Wolf, International Socialist Review
64 Tariq Thachil, Academic
65 Vandana Shiva, Academic
66 Vijayan MJ, Activist
67 Vrinda Grover, Lawyer
68 Ashok Choudhary, Activist
69 Pothik Ghosh, Radical Notes
70 Ramaa Vasudevan, Academic
71 Sreekanth Reddy, IT Professional
72 Kasturi Basu, Research scholar
73 Sanjeev Mahajan, Writer
74 Junaid Rana, Academic
75 Maliha Safri, Academic
76 Ramnath Bhat, Activist/Writer
77 Rupal Oza, Academic, New York
78 Vinay Bhat, Consultant, San Fraancisco
79 Sabina England, Filmmaker & Playwright
80 Ravindran Sriramachhandran, Academic
81 Shourin Roy, Writer/ Blogger
82 Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Political Science NJ
83 Harsh Kapoor, Activist
84 Sonny Singh, Musician
85 M. V. Ramana, Academic
86 Amita Swadhin, Activist/Educator
87 Anivar Arvind, Activist
88 Parvathy Prem, Graduate Student
89 Saadia Toor, Academic
90 Krishna Subramanian, Academic
91 Yogesh Chandrani, Academic
92 Umang Kumar, Freelance Journalist
93 Siddhartha Ghosh, Academic
94 Raza Mir, Academic
95 Subhash Mohapatra, Journalist