Press Release: Collective statement to the Government of Odisha, India

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Dhinkia Village, Jagatsinghpur, Odisha

February 15, 2013

We, the undersigned, write on behalf of an international community of human rights activists, organizations, academics and independent experts to express our deep concern about the ongoing violent acquisition of land by the government of Odisha in Gobindpur village, Dhinkia Gram Panchayat. We strongly condemn the illegal use of force by the government of Odisha against village residents and protesting community members. The most recent wave of police violence, which took place between February 3-6, 2013, is consistent with a documented pattern of abuse, threats, and intimidation by the Indian government to forcibly acquire land in Odisha for the South Korean POSCO corporation’s steel processing plant. We wish to emphasize that these attacks are in clear violation of Indian law, as well as established international human rights norms and standards.  

Between February 3 – 6, 2013 we received direct reports of escalating government violence through our contacts among community leaders in Gobindpur, Dhinkia, Cuttack, and Bhubaneswar. We were informed that a police force of twelve platoons, along with senior government officials and POSCO representatives entered Gobindpur village at 4 am on Sunday, February 3rd. Reportedly, the police attacked a human barricade composed of over 350 women. The indiscriminate use of force, which allegedly included lathi attacks on women and children, injured over 50 people. Three women and one elderly man sustained serious injuries.

Although the land acquisition process has temporarily been halted, we find the Indian government’s continued efforts to forcibly acquire land for the POSCO project to be incredibly troubling especially in light of serious questions that have been raised regarding the legality of the project.   The environmental clearance for the POSCO project was suspended in March 2012 by decree of the National Green Tribunal – a body established by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. In addition, the government of Odisha has refused to follow the procedures established by the Forest Rights Act, whose provisions require clearance of the project by local governance structures, known as Gram Sabhas, which have issued three resolutions rejecting any diversion of land for the POSCO project. Further, the initial Memorandum of Understanding for the project, which expired in July 2010, has not been renewed.

According to Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, and Executive Director, Housing and Land Rights Network: “the lack of transparency, accountability, and due process in acquiring land for POSCO and moving ahead with the project is alarming. It is clear that the recent action in Odisha is a result of the Government’s insistence on promoting foreign direct investment, even though it violates the Constitution of India, international law, and the human rights of the local villagers. I strongly condemn this undemocratic action that also defies reports of independent and government-appointed committees cautioning against environmental and human rights abuses of the project.”

We urge the Indian government to take the following measures in order to address ongoing human rights abuses associated with the POSCO project: 

1.      Immediately cease all measures aimed at the forcible displacement of residents living in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha; 

2.      Carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the illegal use of force by the police and a government official on the morning of 3 February 2013 and hold those with command responsibility to account;

3.      Ensure adequate compensation to those injured and those who incurred loss and damage of property, and loss of livelihood;

4.      Rescind the false charges filed against more than 230 individuals and several prominent leaders of the anti- POSCO movement, and

5.      Uphold the rights of the affected communities established under the Forest Rights Act as well as the determination of the National Green Tribunal that raised serious environmental concerns relating to the POSCO project.

The Undersigned,

US Food Sovereignty Alliance, Oakland, CA

Women's Earth Alliance, Berkeley, CA

CASA del Llano, Hereford, TX

Grassroots International, Boston, MA

Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, Berkeley, CA

Boston Mobilization, Boston, MA

Friends of South Asia, Santa Clara, CA

Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal, PhD

International Development Exchange, San Francisco, CA

Pesticide Action Network- North America (PANNA)

The Oakland Institute

Association for India's Development

Plataforma Interamericana de de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

Nisha, [Haryana, Dhaka]

International Accountability Project

Action Contre Impunitie Pour Les Droits Humains

Action for Social Rights - formerly Youth Movement for Peace and People's Rights

Actionaid International

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

Afro-Colombian National Movement CIMARRON

Aliança para Promoçao do Desenvilmento da Comunidade de Hoji Ya Henda

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights

Amnesty International

Arab NGO Network for Development

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

Asian Foundation for Human Rights and Development

Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Institute for Human Rights

Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia

Asociación Comité de Familiares de Victimas de Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos “ Marianella Garcia Villas ”

Asociación Q’ukumatz

Association for Women's Rights in Development

Association Nigerienne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Niger  

Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia

Avocats Sans Frontières

BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights

Bretton Woods Project

Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Butere Focused Women in Development

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Economic and Social Rights

Center for Economics, Social and Cultural Rights Promotion

Center for Reproductive Rights

 Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)

Center of Concern

Centre d'Information Juridique/Femme Justice Aide

Centre for Applied Legal Studies

Centre for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Hakijamii)

Centre for Equality Rights in Accomodation

Centre for Minority Rights Development

Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos

Centro de Asesoria Laboral del Peru

Centro de Capacitación y Desarrollo de la Mujer y la Familia

Centro de Derechos Economicos y Sociales

Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente (Center for Human Rights and Environment)

Centro de Estudios Aplicados a los Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales

Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia)

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales

Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental A.C

Charter Committee on Poverty Issues

Child Rights Information network

Citizens for Justice

Collectif des Femmes du Mali

Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (Colombian Commission of Jurists)

Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humans, A.C.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Organization

Community Law Centre (University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Confederación Campesina Del Peru

Conscience International, formerly People Against Injustice (PAIN)

Corporate Accountability International

Defened Jobs Philippines

Democracy and Workers' Rights Center in Palestine (The )

Democracy Center (The)

Desarrollo, Educación Y Cultura Autogestionarios Equipo Pueblo A.C.

Dignity International

EarthRights International

Eastern Africa Coalition for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Economic and Social Rights Academic Network UK-Ireland

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Asia

Education and Research Association for Consumers Malaysia

Egyptian Center for Housing Rights

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)

Ekta Parishad


EQUIS: Justicia para las Mujeres

Estudio Para La Defensa De Los Derechos De La Mujer

European Anti Poverty Network

European Roma Rights Centre

Federação dos Orgãos de Assistencia Social e Educacional

Fédération internationale des droits de l'Homme

Federation of Women Lawyers

Femmes Cote d'Ivoire Experience

Food First Information and Action Network Organization

Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO)

Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth

Foundation For Human Rights And Democracy

Frente Autentico del Trabajo

Front Line - The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Fundacion Emmanuel Internacional

Global Action on Aging

Global Basic Income Foundation

Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Habi Center for Environmental Rights

Habitat International Coalition

Harvard Law School Project on Disability

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights

Housing and Land Rights Network

Human and Environmental Development Agenda

Human Rights Centre at the School of Law, Queens University Belfast

Human Rights Law Resource Centre

Human Rights Tech 

Inclusive Development International

Indonesian Legal Aid Society Association

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)

Institute for Democracy in South Africa

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay

Instituto de Estudos, Formação e Assessoria em Políticas Sociais

Instituto de Formacion Feminina Integral

Instituto LatinoAmericano De Servicio Legales Alternativos

Interchurch Organisation for Development

International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual RightsInternational Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights

International Commission of Jurists

International Human Rights Internship Program

International Women and Mining Network

International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific

Jus Semper Global Alliance (The )

Justiça Global

Justice, Development & Peace/ Caritas Commission

Karimojong Community Child Welfare Initiatives

Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre

Kenya Human Rights Commission

Kenya Land Alliance

Kituo Cha Sheria (Center for Legal Empowerment)

Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Center

Land Center for Human Rights

Lawyers for a Democratic Society

Legal Resources Centre

Legal Resources Centre Organization

Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal 

Maison des Droits de l'Homme du Cameroun

Masimanyane Women's Support Center

Mazingira Institute

Media Mobilizing Project

mines,minerals & PEOPLE

Minority Rights Group International

Mission Naya Nepal

Mouvement pour le Progres de Roche Bois

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People

Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens

Multi-Initiative on Rights: Search, Assist, Defend

Nairobi Peoples Settlements Network

National Economic and Social Rights Initiative

National Fisheries Solidarity

National Union of Domestic Employees

Network Movement for Justice and Development

Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH),

Observatorio de Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas

Observatorio de Política Social y Derechos Humanos de INCIDE Social, A.C

Office of Human Rights Studies, Mahidol University

Ogiek Peoples Development Program

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

People's Health Movement

People's Movement for Human Rights Learning

Plataforma Dhesca Brasil

Poverty Initiative

Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (The )

Programa de Justicia Global y Derechos Humanos

Programa DESC, Universidad Diego Portales

Programa Venezolano de Educacion Accion en Derechos Humanos

eProgramme on Women's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (The )

Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales

Rencontre Pour LA Paix Et Les Droits De L’Homme

Rights and Accountability in Development


Shelter Forum

Social and Economic Rights Action Center

Social and Economic Rights Action Center - Indonesia

Social Rights Advocacy Centre

Socio Economic Rights Initiative (formerly Shelter Rights Initiative)

Socio Legal Information Centre

Socio-Economic Rights Foundation

Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa

Sœurs Unies à l’œuvre

South Africa Human Rights Non-Governmental Organization Network, Tanzania Chapter

Southeast Asian Council for Food Security and Fair Trade

Spaces for Youth Development and Social Change (Spaces For Change)

Stakeholder Democracy Network

Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF)

Take Back the Land

Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education)

Terra de Direitos

Thailand Burma Border Consortium

Tierraviva a los Pueblos Indigenas del Chaco

Tribunal de Mujeres y Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales

Uganda Environmental Education Foundation

Waso Trustland Project, Kenya

Western Shoshone Defense Project


Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Educational Trust

Women in Law and Development in Africa

Women's Economic Agenda Project

World Organization Against Torture

Yiaku Peoples Association

Zi Teng

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association

Abdoul Aziz Niang

Adams Aswani

Africa Magongo

Alicia Ely Yamin

Alison Symington

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Anna Cody

Ayman Bardawil

Carol Jane Ransley 

Claire Mahon

D.J. Ravindran

Danwood M. Chirwa

Daria Caliguire

David Kinley

Deborah Ewing

Dolamohan Singh Babu

Evelyne Schmid

Ganesh Devi

Ge Mingzhen

George Kent

In-duk Ryou

Ingrid Gorre

Jacques Tshibwabwa Kuditshini

Jamil Junejo

Julieta Rossi

K'nyaw Paw

Lilian Chenwi

Luisa Nardi

Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona

Malcolm Langford

Maria Herminia Graterol GarridMary Jane Real

Maureen Meyer

Michael Lerner

Minar Pimple

Murielle Mignot

Patricia Ramirez Parra

Paulina Garzon

Pemii Benedict

Raju Prasad Chapagai

Rodrigo Bustos Bottai

Sarmila Shrestha

Suad Elias

Thomas Bruno Nzumbi

Tyler Giannini

Vincent Calderhead

Yves Lador



Read here for a recent urgent action sent on behalf of ESCR-Net's membership regarding serious human rights concerns with the POSCO/India project
See, also, recent statements by ESCR-Net members regarding the POSCO project and related concerns, including (attached) Press Release from the Housing and Land Rights Network, appeals by Amnesty International
and Front Line Defenders, a letter from the Adivasi community in Orissa and a blog by WITNESS.

See here and here for the letter published in the Indian press.