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India: The courage to be free

Sunday 26 November 2017, by siawi3


The Courage to Be Free

Citizens for Jutice and Peace
From the Editor’s Desk

26, Nov 2017

Teesta Setalvad

Injustices come in different forms, each no less oppressive than the other. To develop a vibrant and inclusive movement that builds on this understanding, we need to forge synergies and alliances. For our rights to be protected, we need to stand as firmly for the rights of all others. This fundamental understanding is what is driving CJP forward in both our vision and work. The past 15 years have been both exacting and rewarding and given us insights into the functioning of India’s criminal justice system (CJS). Wherein justice is more often than not, denied.

The flashes of victory, of which CJP has had its share, have come despite and in spite of the system. This de-construction and learning from the past 15 years within our courts and beyond, and another three decades in de-constructing the politics of division and hate, have been precious. We now wish to use and share these experiences to an expanded area of human rights protection. We wish to learn from other practitioners, active in multiple areas of rights abuse. We have realised that, for there to be substantive justice, for a vast section of Indians who are voiceless and marginalised, there needs to be expert hand holding by citizens with legal expertise, knowledge and sheer guts. Who are able, with tenacity, to assist survivors and witnesses to negotiate a complex and intimidating system. We are committed to building a wide and vast team of rational and energetic Indians, staunchly believing in the non-negotiable ideals of freedom, equality, liberty, justice and fraternity and ready to stand up against individuals or forces that undermine these values. This is the constitutional bedrock on which India rests.

As an expert on law once famously said, “Law and constitutions are but the paper safeguards of liberty. A people must have the will to be free.”

CJP believes in having the courage to be free. Free to express thoughts and beliefs, to encourage debates and dissent, to challenge repressive moves by government whether these actions are through the police or any other agency. The courage to profess a commitment that puts human needs, dignity and rights at the core of all concerns, also means that, apart along with confronting repressive actions by the state and government agencies we, in equal measure, challenge injustices and indignities within society, perpetrated by non-state actors, encouraged surreptitiously in the name of culture and tradition, even within family hierarchies.

It is only such a synergy in thought and action that can today help us all, islands of commitment and excellence, to morph into tidal waves that compel injustice to be washed away. Towards that ideal and dream, we re-dedicate ourselves. On this November 26, 2017, Constitution Day