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Activists demand withdrawal of privilege motion

By Sobhapati Samom

IMPHAL, July 25 � Demanding withdrawal of the privilege motion against human rights defender and media, more than a hundred human rights activists, representatives of civil society organisations and students bodies staged a silent sit-in demonstration here today.

The sit-in was held after a breach of privilege motion was moved in the State Assembly against Impact TV, a private cable TV channel and human rights activist Babloo Loitongbam for allegedly using un-parliamentary words against MLAs over the issue of Inner Line Permit system (ILP).

On Thursday, Speaker Th Lokeshore had referred the privilege motion to the Assembly Priviulege Committee.

�The human rights activists take a collective stand to defend the protections provided to the fundamental freedom of expression and association by Indian Constitution and the United Nation�s Universal Declaration on Human rights,� a joint press statement of human rights activists in Manipur said. �Such freedoms are rights and they are not privileges�.

All human rights activists have full right to freedom of expression and association and to assert the rights of the larger communities, the rights of students and their own, it claimed. These rights are included in the UN declaration on the rights of human rights defenders, 1998.

The statement further claimed in India, citizens are free to criticise politics, politicians, bureaucracy and policies. Therefore in a democratic society, every citizen has the right to criticise and express opinions on State functioning and policies and this is crucial in promoting a healthy and a vibrant democracy. Any State effort to muffle people�s alternative voices and critiques is an affront to democracy and a practice of a despotic military rule, it further said.

Human rights defenders and organisations of Manipur urged for revocation and withdrawal of the privilege motion against human rights defender and media organisation.

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