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Update: Supreme Court Grants Bail To Prisoner of Conscience Kopa Kunjam

Kopa Kunjam

 International Coalition demands Release of Prisoner of Conscience Kopa Kunjam.
Summary: Human rights and development worker Kopa Kunjam has languished in jail in Chhattisgarh for more than 18 months. The charges against him are baseless; the state has not been able to produce any credible evidence. We believe his incarceration is politically motivated.

Read the full statement...>> 

Sign petition to demand the immediate release of Kopa

UPDATE Sept 30 2011 -- Great news today that the Hon. Supreme Court Judges AK Ganguly and GS Mishra granted bail to Adivasi human rights activist Kopa Kunjam . The case was argued by senior counsel Shri Colin Gonsalves supported by Adv. Anubha Rastogi.

 Intn'l Coalition Demands Immediate Release of Prisoner of Conscience Kopa Kunjam

The Government of Chhattisgarh should immediately release Kopa Kunjam, who is a human rights and development worker with the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA), a Gandhian organization based in Dantewada. He was arrested on December 10, 2009 on charges of murdering Salwa Judum [13] leader Punem Hunga. Mr. Kunjam has been imprisoned since then, has faced physical abuse after his arrest and no credible evidence has been produced by the prosecution so far. Amnesty International has appealed for his release immediately[12]. His application for bail has been rejected by the trial court and the Chhattisgarh High Court and is now pending before the Supreme Court.

Kopa Kunjam is an adivasi activist from Dantewada and has been involved in campaigns around local issues such as against alcoholism for a long time. After joining VCA in 1996, he had worked on watershed, public health, and total sanitation programs. He worked to rehabilitate more than 30 villages [2] that had been abandoned following attacks by Salwa Judum and security forces [3]. This was done after the Govt. of Chhattisgarh failed to carry out the Supreme Court orders [4] in 2008 to disband the Salwa Judum and rehabilitate the people displaced by its violence.

Kopa had documented and exposed the following cases of human rights abuses by the security forces:

  • Samsetti rapes: Four women belonging to the Samsetti village in the Dantewada district, along with 2 others, were gang raped by Special Police Officers  (SPOs) in 2006. Kopa helped the women file court complaints in 2009. [5]

  • Matwada massacres: Three adivasi men were killed by Salwa Judum on March 18, 2008, in front of a police station and close to a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) camp. With VCA, Kopa helped the widows file a petition in the High Court. [3],[ 6]

  • Singaram massacres On January 8, 2009, 19 people were killed in the village of Singaram. Kopa helped the relatives of the victims file a petition in the High Court. [7],[11]

  • Massacres at Gachanpalli and Gompad Six villagers were killed by security forces on September 17, 2009 in the Gachanpalli village and 11 more were killed in the nearby Gompad village on October 1, 2009. As part of VCA, Kopa was involved in investigating the killings and filing a petition in the Supreme Court in November, 2009, [Writ petition (Civil) 103, 2009]. On January 6, 2010, 12 petitioners went missing only to be produced in court on Feb15, 2010.                                            [8]     

The police and SPOs tried to silence Kopa by threats, bribes and beatings [9],[10]. When these tactics failed to work, he was arrested under fabricated charges.

Kopa is one of the many social workers who have helped expose the systematic human rights abuses in Chhattisgarh by the state backed Salwa Judum and the security forces. The Supreme Court in its July 5th, 2011 judgement [1] has reprimanded the Government of Chhattisgarh for arming civilians and victimizing human rights defenders and social workers. Binayak Sen, Sukhnath Oyame, Kartam Joga, Ajay TG are only some of people who have been jailed on false charges for raising their voices against the state.

The prosecution has been unable to produce any evidence to support the charges. The two prime prosecution witnesses have refused to corroborate police accusations against Kopa while other witnesses have failed to appear in court.

We demand:

1. An immediate release of Kopa Kunjam and other human rights defenders .

2. An independent inquiry into the circumstances leading to the detention of Kopa on false charges and fabricated evidence and that responsible officials be held accountable.

3. That the state ensure democratic space for peaceful dissent.

Organizations in India
  1. Adivasi Ekta Sangathan, Koraput
  2. Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
  3. Arvind Memorial Trust, Lucknow
  4. Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Delhi
  5. Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Manipur
  6. Centre for Organisation Research & Education
  7. Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan
  8. Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti
  9. Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights
  10. Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen
  11. Delhi Forum
  12. Delhi Metro Kamgar Union
  13. Disha Students' Organization, Delhi and Lucknow
  14. Human Rights Forum
  15. Human Rights Law Network
  16. Idu Mishmi Cultural and Literary Society (IMCLS)
  17. Indian Community Activists Network
  18. INSAF
  19. Janchetna, Lucknow
  20. Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Ludhiana
  21. Manthan Samayiki
  22. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
  23. Moving Republic, Bangalore
  24. National Alliance of People’s Movement
  25. National Forum of Forest People’s and Forest Workers
  26. Organization for Protection of Democractic Rights, Hyderabad
  27. Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat
  28. People Solidarity Concerns, Bangalore
  29. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (National)
  30. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Rajasthan)
  31. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Tamil Nadu & Puduvai)
  32. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Chhattisgarh)
  33. People’s Union for Democratic Rights
  34. RITES Forum, Malkangiri, Odisha
  35. Rivers Basin Friends (Assam)
  36. Sangbad Manthan
  37. Sudhir Dhawale Muktata Abhiyan
  38. Textile Workers' Union, Gorakhpur

United Kingdom
  1. South Asia Solidarity Group, UK

United States


  1. Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, MIT
  2. Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, San Francisco
  3. American Jewish World Service
  4. Amnesty International, USA
  5. Association for India’s Development
  6. Gadar Heritage Foundation
  7. India Foundation, Inc.
  8. India Friends Association
  9. Indian American Muslim Council
  10. International Accountability Project
  11. Intl Coalition for Justice in Bhopal
  12. International Service Society of Michigan
  13. Massachusetts Global Action
  14. Matahari: Eye of the Day
  15. Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group
  16. Peninsula Peace & Justice Center
  17. SAMAR - South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection Collective
  18. Sanhati
  19. SAPAC - South Asian Progressive Action Collective, Chicago
  20. Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment Inc.
  21. Western New York Peace Center
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