- Government of India, State Government of Manipur, National Human Rights Commission of India
India, the world’s largest democracy, has imprisoned a Harvard alumni, Mr Erendro Leichombam, based on a Facebook post.
Erendro Leichombam, a 2012 graduate of Harvard Kennedy School, has been a vocal civic and political rights defender in the State of Manipur in India. Manipur is a small State in Northeasten India, where India’s religious minorities make the majority population, while being ruled by India’s majoritarian party.
When India is confronted with unparalleled grief due to COVID deaths, medical practitioners, scientists, and conscientious citizens have also been fighting the battle against disinformation about its cure. Many politicians and allies of the current right wing government have been promoting the religious agenda, defying science, that cow dung and cow urine could cure COVID. In this context, Erendro shared a Facebook post, while paying respect to the Manipur State Chief of the ruling party, who was laid to rest to COVID despite his support for the unscientific methods. On Facebook, Erendro underscored that the cure for COVID is science and common sense and not cow dung or urine, for which he has been arrested and put in jail. When Erendro secured a bail for his arrest, the State Government of Manipur invoked the National Security Act (NSA), a sedition law under which he can be kept under preventive detention for up to one year without any charges. This is in defiance to the Indian Supreme Court order which states that "governments should not curb the voices on social media either calling out for medical help or conveying their grievances during the coronavirus pandemic."
Freedom of Expression is cardinal to a healthy democracy. Arbitrary detention of a citizen based on a social media post is a violation of fundamental principles of democratic ideals and governance. Therefore, we, the Harvard alumni, students and allies, call for the immediate release of Erendro Leichombam and urge the Government of India to uphold constitutional justice to the People of India.
We, the undersigned Harvard alumni, students and allies, call for the immediate release of the activist and Harvard alumni, Erendro Leichombam, who has been arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) based on a facebook post.
The State Government of Manipur, India has undermined the Indian constitutional right to 'Freedom of speech and Expression' when they invoked the National Security Act (NSA) on Erendro Leichombam based on a facebook post. The post primarily addressed disinformation about unscientific cures at a time when India was confronting exponential number of COVID cases (28 million as of June 5th) and deaths (344,000) of its people. Manipur police arrested him and imposed preventive detention, which is a nonbailable provision extendable up to one year. The detention of Erendro also defies the Indian Supreme Court order which states that "governments should not curb the voices on social media either calling out for medical help or conveying their grievances during the coronavirus pandemic."
Arbitrary detention of a citizen based on a social media post is a violation of fundamental principles of democratic ideals and governance. We urge the Government of India to release Erendro Leichombam and uphold constitutional responsibility to the People of India.
The Release Erendro Leichombam petition to Government of India, State Government of Manipur, National Human Rights Commission of India was written by RightsDefender and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.