As India Fights The Novel Coronavirus, We Are Determined To Stay United And Leave No One Behind

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that threatens the world carries difficult challenges for India too. Social disparities have become more evident as thousands of poor, day workers, farmers, transgender persons and other marginalized populations suffer from hunger and have little access to safety gear. The sudden nation-wide lockdown has left many stranded away from their homes and families, while many women and children who stay at home are facing increased violence.

This is the time to unite for humanity.

This pandemic has moved everyone to rise to the occasion. Our brave healthcare workers protect us on the frontlines. Citizens, authorities, and organisations are responding with self-practiced social distancing, relief measures, healthcare measures and providing accurate information to all. We may be physically apart, but we are united to fight the novel coronavirus!

As a human-rights movement, we are fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalizedto ensure that those most at-risk are not left behind.

It is now more important than ever for us to speak up for the rights of others and hold authorities accountable to ensuring our collective safety and well-being.

We are working to highlight stories and issues of those most at risk, directing attention of the Indian Government towards ensuring equal access to essential services like food, medicines, sanitary items etc. and urging action to aid relief groups on the ground.

To beat this pandemic, we must protect EVERYONE.

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Our ongoing response to COVID-19

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SUBMISSION: Recommendations on Protecting Children From The Impact of COVID-19: Measures To Reopen Schools & Prevent Child Labour & Abuse

Amnesty International India, in collaboration with the Institute of Social Education and Forum for Child-Friendly Schools submitted suggestions to the Government of India, in particular, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Home Affairs to protect the rights of children amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the submission.

STORY: The Women Warriors Fighting COVID-19 At The Frontline: ASHA Workers Left Without Hope

ASHA worker is a community health worker or the first point of call for any health-related demands and concerns of rural and now even urban India. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in India, the responsibilities of the ASHA workers were expanded while little was done to strengthen their paralysing social and physical protection.

Read the story in English. Hindi. Marathi.

RESOURCE: Survivor’s Guide To Help A Victim Of Domestic Violence

In these already stressful times, there are those women who must deal with the added burden of being stuck in an abusive environment. You can seek help and break the cycle of abuse, for yourself or for someone you may know. You are entitled to live in a safe space. Learn what survivors can do to keep themselves safe. Available in multiple languages.

Download the guide

RESOURCE: Bystander Guide To Take Action Against Domestic Violence

Bystander action can help women find help, speak up and protect themselves from abusive actions at home. A bystander can be anyone – a neighbour, a friend, a family member or even a complete strange who may be witnessing or may be aware of domestic violence taking place. Action guides available in multiple languages.

Download the guide

OPEN LETTER: Joint Open Letter To The Indian Government Calling For The Release of Human Rights Defenders At Risk

We are seriously concerned that the Indian authorities have routinely misused draconian, anti-terrorism laws such as the UAPA, to undermine human rights, stifle dissent and press freedom. This is even more concerning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the letter in English & Hindi

VIDEO: Migrant Workers Trapped In Cities Amidst The Lockdown Share Their Struggles

Migrant workers in a labour camp outside an IT park in Bangalore say they have not been paid their salaries since February. These workers want to go back home but they are being harassed and intimidated by their employers. The Central government and state governments must ensure that migrant workers who want to leave home must not face harassment or intimidation by their employers.

Watch the video

TAKE ACTION: Ensure Dignity and Protection For Sanitation Workers Fighting On The Frontline Of COVID-19

Thousands of sanitation workers across the country are risking their lives to keep our country clean and abate the risk of the virus. In return, the Government is paying little attention to their needs. From inadequate personal protection equipment (PPE) kits to unfair wages, decades of exploitation and discrimination faced by the workers may turn fatal during the pandemic. We urge the Government to take action and protect our sanitation workers now!

Sign the petition

TAKE ACTION: Stop The Crackdown On Dissent & Protect Lives At Immediate Risk In India

As the world doubles up its efforts to curb the impact of the Novel Coronavirus and protect everyone, the Government of India continues its crackdown on those who are critical of the Government. Those arrested are being sent to overcrowded prisons during the pandemic. We urge the Government to stop its crackdown on dissent! 

Sign the petition

BLOG: Bystander Action For Domestic Violence: What You Can Do To Help

Currently, with a nation-wide lockdown in India, many women are locked in with their abusers with nowhere to go. As per the National Commission for Women and news reports, there has been a distinct increase in cases of domestic violence due to the lockdown. Read this quick guide on how to help a survivor.

Read the full blog

STORY: Abandoned At The Frontline – India’s Sanitation Workers Seek Immediate Help From the Government Amidst COVID-19

At the frontline of this fight against COVID-19 in India are thousands of health care professionals and workers. However, for the sanitation workers among them, a sense of abandonment prevails. Amnesty International India speaks to sanitation workers to understand their current struggles and draft recommendations for the Government.

Read the full story in English. Hindi. Tamil

STATEMENT: India Must Put An End To The Unjust, Cruel And Continued Incarceration Of The Bhima Koregaon Activists

On the second anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon arrests, the Government of India must consider the release of the 11 human rights activists pending trial and ensure that their health and safety is not jeopardised simply because they have been critical of the state.

Read the statement here.

STATEMENT: Joint statement in solidarity with the stateless

83 civil society organisations send an urgent call to states, donors, and other stakeholders to promote and protect the rights of stateless persons in their COVID-19 responses.

Read the statement here.

STATEMENT: COVID-19: Crackdown On Dissent Putting Lives At Immediate Risk In India

The Government of India’s ongoing crackdown on dissent and free speech is leading to the arrest of journalists, activists, lawyers, and students under repressive laws and being sent to overcrowded prisons which are potential COVID-19 hotspots.

Read the statement here

STATEMENT: Government of India Must Immediately Stop Intimidation of Journalists In J&K

“Access to information is essential in fighting the unprecedented pandemic we are facing. The Government of India must not muzzle the press. It must immediately release and drop all charges against journalists Masrat Zehra, Peerzada Ashiq and others who remain incarcerated solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and refrain from abusing its power in this time of crisis,” says Executive Director, Avinash Kumar.

Read the statement here.

APPEAL: Immediate Measures Needed For The Transgender Community In India To Deal With The COVID-19 Pandemic

An appeal was written with the help of individuals from the transgender community and was sent to Chief Ministers of States and Union Territories of India and Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority; Health Ministers of States and Union Territories of India to highlight the struggles and asks of the community.

Read the appeal here.

STATEMENT: Clampdown On Dissent Continues During The COVID-19 Pandemic In India

Human rights defenders, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha have surrendered before the National Investigative Agency (NIA) after the Supreme Court of India ordered them to. Considering the risk of COVID-19 spreading in India’s prison, Amnesty International India finds the order asking for surrender of these activists cruel and disappointing.

Read the full statement.

PRESS RELEASE: Government Must Act As Lives At Risk In Overcrowded Detention Centres In Assam

While steps taken by the Assam Government to release over 700 prisoners to contain COVID-19 outbreak are welcome, the Chief Minister of Assam must ensure that those declared foreigners and detained across the six detention centres of Assam are also released immediately.

Read the full statement

BLOG: A List of Fundraisers To Support India’s Most Vulnerable Fight COVID-19

Grassroots non-profits, citizen groups, civil society organisations and even individuals are coming together to help those on the margins fight COVID-19 and hunger. This list can help direct your support to those working tirelessly on the ground.

Read the full blog.

PRESS RELEASE: Government Must Refrain From Abuse of Power and Release All Arbitrarily Detained In Jammu & Kashmir.

 As Jammu and Kashmir enters the next phase of lockdown this time due to COVID-19, the Government of India must immediately release all those arbitrarily detained, restore full internet access and actively pursue trust building measures with the people of the region. We also released a joint statement with other civil society groups urging the release of arbitrarily detained prisoners in Kashmir.

Read the full statement.

STORY: India’s Transgender Community Fights COVID-19 Alone

Except Kerala, which has announced relief kits for 1,000 transgender persons registered in the state, so far no other state or the central government scheme includes specific protection measures for the community in its COVID-19 response strategy. Amnesty International India speaks to members of the transgender community to know how they are dealing with the crisis.

Read the full story.

STATEMENT: Battle Against COVID-19 Must Not Leave Behind The Poor And Marginalized Communities In India

The policies and schemes that are being planned and implemented to battle the pandemic by the Government of India must alleviate and not aggravate the hardships of the poor and marginalised communities.

Read the full statement.


Voices On Covid-19 & Human Rights

Opinion blogs from experts and individuals on the current situation and its human rights implications:

A Closer Looks At Women’s Unpaid And Underpaid Work During COVID-19

Lan Mercado, Regional Director at Oxfam in Asia, Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director at UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Yamini Mishra, Director for Global Issues Programme at Amnesty International – International Secretariat write about the increase in care work for women.

Read the blog

OPINION: The Novel Coronavirus And Its Impact On The Most Marginalised Communities

Paul Divakar, Chairperson, Asia Dalit Rights Forum & Beena Pallical, General Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights write on how Dalit families face increased discrimination even amidst a pandemic.

Read the full blog

OPINION: We Will Not Be Left Behind

Monica Vincent from Amnesty International writes on the struggles of communities who historically have faced discrimination based on work or descent.

Read the blog

OPEN LETTER: A Daughter Pleads For Her Mother’s Release From Jail Amidst A Pandemic

“What if this pandemic spreads inside our over-crowded jails with no hygiene standards followed & lack of space to practice social distancing?” Koel Sen, daughter of Shoma Sen, writes for release of her mother amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read the full letter

OPINION: COVID-19 and Reproductive Rights of Girls & Women

Poonam Muttreja from Population Foundation of India writes about the impact of the pandemic on the health of our girls and women.

Read the blog

OPINION: Pandemic Reverberations

Sarojini Nadimpally & Deepa V from Jan Swasthya Abhiyan write about the disproportionate response to COVID-19 that has left many vulnerable populations struggling without hope.

Read the blog

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