12, Jul 2022 | CJP Team
To be respected and appreciated by one’s peers is a high and rare honour, and Teesta Setalvad’s peers as well as human rights organisations and grassroots reform groups are writing to CJP, sharing what they feel makes the human rights defender and her work special.
Former Lucknow University Vice Chancellor Roop Rekha Verma says, “I have known Teesta Setalvad for more than 30 years. She is a soulmate!” She goes on to call Setalvad, “An uncompromising fighter for human rights. A fearless champion of equal citizenship and rule of law.” The feminist and scholar further says, “Teesta has always stood for liberal values, equal citizenship and composite culture. She has raised an unequivocal voice against all forms of divisive and backward-looking conduct. I know closely how she has risked her safety in order to get justice to the victims of violence irrespective of the victim’s caste or creed.” Expressing solidarity for her fellow educationist and human rights defender, Verma says, “Today, when she herself is the victim of injustice, I wish to declare that I stand with her. I support her cause of justice, rule of law and democratic values. I demand withdrawal of all cases fabricated against her.”
CJP stands in solidarity with the human rights defenders targeted by a vindictive state. A healthy democracy needs voices of dissent. We also need human rights defenders and social activists to work tirelessly to uphold our shared values of equality, peace and justice. Join CJP now!
Meanwhile, Kabir Dixit, who is an advocate on record at the Supreme Court, recalled, “I had met Teesta Setalvad for the first time in Kathmandu in 2014. We were both part of a delegation of Indian Human Rights Defenders meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association, Maina Kiai.” Dixit recounts, “At the end of the three-day meet, Teesta had stayed up the whole night drafting the final representation summarising the submissions of the various groups and organizations represented there. I assisted her till late in the evening. Came back, first thing early morning, to find her deep at work without a break.” He goes on to say, “Teesta Setalvad is one dedicated, trained activist who knows the efforts that go into seeking accountability from the mighty Indian state in some of the most significant human rights cases. That’s what makes her formidable. She is relentless, and therefore hounded.”
Sonal Mehta, a human rights activist from Ahmedabad, says, “I have known Teesta for the past 30 years. As a human rights activist, she is the most vocal, fearless and intelligent person. Her honest and unwavering commitment to the cause of upholding highest constitutional values and defending numerous defenceless and legally marginalised citizens of our country has earned highest appreciation from the global community of civil and political rights defenders.” Mehta further says, “She has tirelessly fought against the blatant subversion of constitutional rights of minority citizens during Mumbai riots, Gujarat violence, Uttar Pradesh communal violence and genocidal activities of the Indian State against its citizens, both, among civil society, as well as in the courts at every level.” Mehta lauds Setalvad saying, “Coming from a privileged family has never deterred from using that opportunity to fight for others even at the risk of her personal life. We are all going through a trying time, with most authoritarian regimes suppressing the voice of freedom and equality for all. Let us hope that people like Teesta will become shining light on the pages of Democratic History of India and inspire the generation that will have to fight the battle of freedom all over again.”
Tripura Village Workers Union released a statement of solidarity saying, “Teesta Setalvad, through her many programs on the ground and with marginalized communities, has become one of the boldest voices of this nation. The government is determined to suppress such voices of resistance. This is a mockery of justice. She has been arrested without any investigation.”
In fact, the international community is also still keeping an eye on the matter of Setalvad’s arrest. Recently, when Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights and EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, met with Arun Kumar Mishra, who is the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and is also a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, he brought up the matter of Setalvad’s arrest, apart from that of the arrest of journalist and Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair and the investigation into the death of Fr Stan Swamy.
#India: Met today with @India_NHRC Chair & discussed range of issues, including the role of the NHRC on: #ESCrights; Detention of activists & journalists incl. recent arrest of @TeestaSetalvad @zoo_bear; investigation into the death of Fr Stan Swamy. pic.twitter.com/ZZKOCYhgmD
— Eamon Gilmore (@EamonGilmore) July 8, 2022