Statement by “Queers Against State Violence Sponsored by Vedanta Resources”

Article 5 of Universal declaration of Human Rights:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

As queer individuals belonging to a diverse community, we recognise that nothing is an isolated issue. Our lives, issues and struggles intersect among ourselves and with the ‘mainstream’ society. We are a handful LGBTQ identified individuals and activists from Tamil Nadu and would like to be identified as “Queers Against State Violence Sponsored by Vedanta Resources” for the purpose of this statement. We are not a group or movement, and we do not represent the whole queer community in Tamil Nadu but rather have come together to respond to the ongoing human rights violation in front of us.

As queer individuals of conscience in Tamil Nadu, we condemn and stand in opposition to the strategies and the violence of the Tamil Nadu Government backed by the Indian Government and Vedanta’s Sterlite Unit on the people of Thoothukudi.

We empathize with people and protests of residents of Thoothukoodi; for whom the basic atmosphere is challenged. At a time when the residents of Thoothukudi are taking up rights for free speech and rights to protest, they are answered with violence and guns. Thirteen individuals have been killed including a minor, torments of violence have been directed by the state to protect the interests of a corporate. The brutal force, isolating the people of the region by curbing internet communication and the continuing violence used by the state machinery on the protesters demanding for a safe and healthy environment in their own land can be only termed as war on India’s own citizens by the Indian state. We realise it is our responsibility to speak out against dishonest tactics employed by Vedanta, and the state and the central government.

As individuals who are critical about appropriation of voices, we call out on Hindutva communal forces who are consciously blind towards their caste, class and gender privilege, and belittle the rightful people’s protest. This gross appropriation of the people’s voices using one’s celebrity status and access to media is shameful and loathsome.

We also appeal to the queer individuals in other states of India and outside India, after assessing your privacy and safety, to join the protests in their respective places which are organised in support and solidarity of the people of Thoothukudi. We urge the London Stock Exchange to delist Vedanta Resources for flouting every decency of humanity and for continuing their corrupt and illegal activity against the people of Thoothukudi.