India: environmental WHRD arbitrarily arrestedEvent
- Initial Date
- Mar 9, 2021
- Event Description
On 9 March 2021, woman human rights defender Hidme Markam was arrested by Chhattisgarhpolice on several charges, including charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)anti-terrorism law in relation to her alleged involvement in Maoist activities. The woman humanrights defender was arrested during an event in Dantewada in the State of Chhattisharh to markInternational Working Women’s Day, and to protest the custodial torture and sexual violence bypolice against Adivasi women in the State. Later that day, following her arrest, Hidme Markamappeared before a Magistrate and was remanded for 14 days in Jagadalapur prison. Hidme Markam is an Adivasi woman human rights defender advocating for indigenous rights,against police and state violence, and the impact of mining in the State of Chhattisgarh. She is theconvenor of the Jail Bandi Rihai Committee, a platform which advocates for the release ofthousands of Adivasi persons, particularly youths, criminalized and branded as Naxals and held inpre-trial detention. Hidme Markam is an anti-mining campaigner, focusing on projects led by largecorporations such as Adani Pvt Ltd., which threaten to destroy a sacred Adivasi hill, considered alocal deity by the community. She also campaigns against the detrimental ecological impact ofmining for the local area, resulting in the degradation of land and large bodies of water, and thedestruction of forests in the region. The woman human rights defender has also criticised theexpanding presence of military, police and para-military in the State. In 2019, she participated in apublic campaign against the establishment of a police camp in Potali by the Special Task Force andDistrict Reserve Guards. Advocating for the promotion of women’s rights and against physical andsexual violence against women by police and military officers is central to Hidme Markam’s work.Women in the State, especially from Adivasi communities, have been disproportionately affected byviolence and discrimination by officials. On 9 March, Hidme Markam participated in an event at Sameli, Dantewada to mark InternationalWorking Women's Day and to commemorate the death of two young women, one of whom wasconfirmed to have died whilst in police custody, in Chhattisgarh. The two women were reportedlysubjected to torture and sexual violence by officials whilst detained. Police officers arrested thewoman human rights defender at the event where approximately 300 villagers, community leadersand other women human rights defenders from the Jail Bandi Rihai Committee and ChhattisgarhMahila Adhikar Manch were present. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate also witnessed the arrest,having arrived at the event to engage with those attending. Fellow human rights defenders andcommunity members who attempted to oppose the woman human rights defenders arrest wereviolently pushed aside by the police officers. Multiple cases have been filed against Hidme Markamon charges under the regressive Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and others, a law that isroutinely used against human rights defenders in India response to their legitimate human rightsactivities. The exact charges against Hidme Markam are not yet known, and she remains inJagadalapur prison, and has been allowed access to her lawyer since her arrest.The woman human rights defender has engaged directly with high ranking state officials includingthe Chief Minister, Governor and Superintendent of Police of Chhattisgarh to seek redress, realisebasic fundamental rights and protection from harm for local communitiesaffected by the miningactivities in the region. She has worked peacefully with local authorities to address violationsagainst these vulnerable and oppressed communities, and represent the voices of members of thecommunities. Her arrest is in direct reprisal for her work, challenging powerful forces within theState, such as police, military and corporate interests. As a result of this work, the woman humanrights defender has faced threats and harassment in the past, culminating in her arrest on 9 March. Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest of woman human rights defender Hidme Markam as itbelieves she is being targeted as a result of her human rights work, advocating for the protection ofthe rights of Adivasi communities, especially Adivasi women in Chhattisgarh. Not only her arrest,but also the decision to carry out the arrest during an event marking the custodial torture of andsexual violence against two young Adivasi women, is particularly concerning. Front Line Defendersreiterates its concern regarding the use of the UAPA against Hidme Markam and other humanrights defenders in India, aimed at silencing them and their efforts to promote and protect humanrights in the country.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to liberty and security
- Environmental rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 9 March 2021, Hidme Markam, environmental WHRD, was arbitrarily arrested on false charges including repressive UAPA for joining an event on Women's International Day in Chhattisgarh State, India.