Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Telangana 82: Crimes against Humanity
An Open Letter to the Future Leaders of Telangana
Once Telangana is formed there is a good chance that we will be so happy and ecstatic that we may be ready to forgive anyone, even those who committed crimes against our people. I would like to warn us that such forgiveness will not be a sign of magnanimity but a sign of dereliction of our duty.
It is our duty to make sure we set the right precedents by prosecuting those who have used the instrument of power to impose repressive measures against the common man, depriving him of his basic rights, stripping him of human dignity, treating him like a criminal based on hunches and assumptions. In the last one year, the police and the authorities in our government have resorted to crimes against humanity and they should not be spared just because we got all busy in celebrations upon formation of Telangana.
It is our duty that no such repression happens elsewhere in this country, so that no other region or group have to endure a tyrannical administration just because they have no political or economic power, or because they are a minority in a state.
It is our duty to ensure that the process of state formation in this country doesn’t have to be so tough, so hard and so challenging. We in Telangana happen to be one of the most politically aware groups in the country, and even we had to face so many obstacles and hardships in our fight for a genuine and legitimate demand for statehood. Imagine what it must be like for those people who are not able to garner this kind of political pressure or this kind of mass mobilization. Their voice must have been suppressed before it is even raised.
In the last one year, we had to face indiscriminate arrests that were done based on pure whims and fancy of the police officers and administrators at the behest of callous and apathetic Seemandhra government. Kids are taken into custody and beaten up. Anyone sympathetic to the cause of Telangana could be in jail today. Even some of the egregious dictators would not submit their people to such totalitarianism.
When Nazis were defeated in World War II, they wanted to be treated as equals, as a losing country against the victors. They wanted to come to the table to discuss the post-war terms and conditions to sign a treaty. However, the Allies were in no mood to treat them as equals. They wanted to treat the German officers and leaders who carried out crimes against humanity as criminals. And therefore we had an historical set of judicial procedures called Nuremberg Trials. It was to set an example to all mankind so that no other country in future would use their unbridled power to suppress, maim and kill other human beings so mercilessly.
The Nazi officers argued that they were just following the commands and diktats of their bosses. But the Nuremberg Trials clearly established the theory of human responsibility. It demanded that the human conscience should prevail when delivering such oppressive measures coming from the commanding officers, even if it means one has to go against the official orders where necessary. These officers were found guilty as a party to crime though they were just executing their jobs.
If we do not follow up on these crimes and prosecute the police officers and administrators in charge of these atrocities against common and innocent people of Telangana, similar incidents will happen elsewhere in this country and may be even within Telangana in future. We carry a huge responsibility to set an example, not to seek revenge, but to deliver justice. We are in a unique position to set things right and we should not shy away from this duty bestowed upon us by the turn of historical events.
The way India championed the cause of freedom for many countries in Asia and Africa from the colonial masters after it became independent, Telangana should fight for the cause of new state formations in India in future.
Today we carry an obligation and duty given to us by human conscience to set a precedent for others so that no more will another human endure the same affliction in this country. Let’s pray there are no more Telanganas-under-Seemandhras in this country.
I want to request you to use your current position to convey the message right now that we will prosecute the administrators and police officers who are complying with the dictatorial and oppressive diktats. They should be told that they are a party to crime against humanity. We may be ready to forgive Seemandhra leaders, activists and people once Telangana is formed but we will not forgive the administrators and the police officers, those in positions of power, who have imposed the flagrant repression onto the people of Telangana.
Further Reading: Opening Statement of the Prosecution in the Einsatzgruppen Trial, September 29, 1947. (http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/einsatzopenpros.html)