An Appeal on the Occasion of Forty Years of APDR in the Human Rights Movement

June 26, 2012

It was 25 June 1975. The eastern Indian state of West Bengal was going through tremendous political turmoil and state terror. At that crucial juncture, the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) began its journey with the demand for freedom of expression and the task of organising people against state repression. The first rally was on the demand of release of political prisoners, because at that time opposition political activities in West Bengal inevitably led to death by “encounter” or imprisonment.

Since then, APDR has marched through four long decades working for the protection and extension of the democratic rights of the people against state tyranny. In the last 40 years, APDR has not confined its activities to the movement for release of political prisoners. It has been able to play an important role in the democratic rights movement by mobilising public opinion against custodial deaths, campaigning for the abolition of capital punishment, raising the demand for the withdrawal of repressive laws such as MISA, NSA, TADA, POTA, POCA, AFSPA, etc. The association – sometimes together with other organisations – has registered its protest against gross violation of human rights in Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh and other places. Today, it is as vocal for the right to free expression as it was at the time of its birth. It has been carrying out a sustained campaign against evictions in the name of development. It believes that the state cannot disregard its constitutional duty to ensure food, clothing and shelter for all. It is the very basis of a civilised society.

Whatever may be the creed and colour of the political party in power, no act of state repression should go unchallenged – this is the fundamental principle of APDR’s work. It tries to stand by any activist who has been a victim of state repression irrespective of one’s political affiliation. It believes that people’s consciousness of democratic rights and their protests against state repression are the only trusted sentinels of democracy.

In the time to come, we want the human rights movement to become an invincible mass movement compelling all political forces to respect the basic tenets of human rights. With this aim, we pledge on the occasion of our 40th anniversary and our 24th conference to be held in Kolkata to carry on the struggle with our utmost capacity. We want you solidarity, support and criticism to help us continue this journey.

Share: Reflect frankly on your experience with or observations on APDR. We will discuss your views among our members and also publish a selection of these in a commemoration volume.

Suggest: Tell us how you can help in our work and what we can do to reach out to you better.

Support: APDR carries forward its struggle with small individual contributions from its members and sympathisers. It does not take any institutional funding, foreign or domestic. Given the ever-increasing range of its work and spiralling costs, it is always in pressing need of funds. We would be happy to accept small contributions in Indian currency, not exceeding Rs 20,000, from individuals who would like to support our cause. You could contribute by sending account-payee cheques or bank drafts drawn in favour of “Association for Protection of Democratic Rights” in the address given below, or contact us if you wish to make bank transfers. Please mention your name and contact details clearly so that we can get back to you. A line stating why you are contributing to APDR will be highly appreciated.

In solidarity
Debaprasad Roy Chowdhury, General Secretary, APDR

18 Madan Baral Lane
Kolkata 700 012
West Bengal, INDIA