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21 May, 2015

Right Livelihood Award winners condemn death threat to Swami Agnivesh

Swami Agnivesh, the Arya Samaj leader and well-known activist, made an appeal for inter-faith unity while visiting Kashmir last month. Hindu Mahasabha members in Haryana responded with a public call to murder him. He also received two threatening phone calls from a group in Maharashtra.

Swami Agnivesh had received the Right Livelihood Award in 2004, along with the late Asghar Ali Engineer, “for promoting over many years in South Asia the values of religious and communal coexistence, tolerance and mutual understanding.”

In a statement, fellow winners of the Right Livelihood Award, and the Right Livelihood Award Foundation said:

We, the undersigned Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, and the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, are deeply alarmed by reports published in Punjab Kesari, Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagaran, Navodaya Times, and ABP News Channel on 24th and 25th, stating that Hindu Mahasabha members from Haryana have offered a reward of Rs. 5,00,000 to anyone who beheads Swami Agnivesh.

We join Adama Dieng, Special Advisor on Genocide Prevention to the UN Secretary General, and other international civil society leaders in condemning this brazen incitement to commit violence, and we express our fullest solidarity with Swami Agnivesh.

We urge that the Haryana police investigate this threat as a case of abetment to murder and criminal intimidation under Sections 108, 115 and 503 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and hold the perpetrators accountable.

We also note with deep concern that the aforementioned media organizations have reported this grave threat in a manner that glorifies and incites violence. Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution clearly states that the freedom of speech does not include the freedom to incite a criminal offence.

We have written to the Editors of the media organizations requesting a full apology, and intend to request the Press Council of India to investigate this serious breach of journalistic ethics if the media organizations do not respond. Further, we call upon the police to investigate these media organizations for abetment to murder under Sections 108 and 115 IPC.

The following are the Right Livelihood Award laureates who have signed the statement:

Dr. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians, Canada (RLA 2005)
Prof. Dr. Anwar Fazal, Director, Right Livelihood College, Malaysia (RLA 1982)
Basil Fernando, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong SAR, China (RLA 2014)
Dr. Hans Herren, Founder of Biovision Foundation, Switzerland (RLA 2013)
Dr. SM Mohamed Idris, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (RLA 1988), Consumers Association of Penang and the Third World Network, Malaysia
Asma Jahangir, Pakistan (RLA 2014)
Bianca Jagger, Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Nicaragua/UK (RLA 2004)
Ida Kuklina, The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, Russia (RLA 1996)
Birsel Lemke, Turkey (RLA 2000)
Helen Mack Chang, Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala (RLA 1992)
Prof Dr. h.c. (mult.) Manfred Max-Neef, Director, Economics Institute, Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile (RLA 1983)
Prof. Dr. Raúl A. Montenegro, President, Fundación para la defensa del ambiente, Argentina (RLA 2004)
Frances Moore Lappé, Co-Founder, Small Planet Institute, USA (RLA 1987)
Nicanor Perlas, Center for Alternative Development Initiatives, Philippines (RLA 2003)
P K Ravindran, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, India (RLA 1996)
Dr. Sima Samar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Afghanistan (RLA 2012)
Mycle Schneider, Germany (RLA 1997)
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya, India (RLA 1993)
Prof. Michael Succow, Founder, Michael Succow Foundation for Nature Conservation, Germany, (RLA 1997)
Suciwati, widow of Munir, Indonesia (RLA 2000)
Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan, Karuna Trust & VGKK, India (RLA 1994)
Shrikrishna Upadhyay, Executive Chairman, Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal, Nepal (RLA 2010)
Prof. Dr. Theo van Boven, The Netherlands (RLA 1985)
Martín von Hildebrand, Founder and Director, Fundación GAIA Amazonas, Colombia (RLA 1999) 
Chico Whitaker Ferreira, Brazil (RLA 2006)
Alla Yaroshinskaya, Russia (RLA 1992)
Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares, United Kingdom (RLA 2001).

The below-named members of RLA Board and Jury have also signed the statement:

Jakob von Uexkull, Co-Chair, Board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, UK
Dr. Monika Griefahn, Co-Chair, Board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Germany
Ole von Uexküll, Executive Director, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Sweden

For more information, please contact:
Sharan Srinivas, Right Livelihood Award Foundation 
Phone: +46 8 702 03 35

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