About the Desk
The mission of the desk is to mobilize the Civil Society, campaign with the media and advocate for the protection of rights of and justice to threatened communities. The desk organizes workshops, seminars, campaigns in support of people’s organizations and movements to facilitate debate and discussion on the issues raised by them.
The desk supports the campaigns of peoples’ organizations and movements as well as initiates campaigns on its own. Eminent opinion makers, civil society actors, media and policy makers are mobilized through organizing different programmes.
The Other Media came into existence as a result of intense interaction and dialogue with struggle based peoples’ organisations and movements in India and middle class activists drawn from different areas of life. One of the premise on which The Other Media stands is on the fact that it has been evolved as an infrastructure to support the campaigns of various struggles and movements in the country. Thus the primary task of the Desk is to respond to the demands of the movements in supporting their campaigns both in Delhi or wherever it is needed. The Other Media over the years has evolved effective mechanism to respond to the needs of the movements in support of their campaigns. The Other Media has developed expertise and knowledge to support them in terms of methodologies and strategies of campaign in Delhi. It has a vast network of relationship and knowledge to support the campaigns and they are mobilized from time to time as and when need arises. Some of the movements and issues which The Other Media continues to support are indigenous people’s struggles, human rights struggles, struggles of the unorganized and organized sector of labour, minority rights issues and issues around which The Other Media work on. Apart from this The Other Media also has a network of relationship with environmental and ecological movements in the country who demand specific support for their campaigns.
The Desk would continue to support the campaigns and programmes of the adivasis/tribals groups, National Fishworkers Forum, Bhopal victims, victims of human rights abuses, All India Coordinating Forum for Adivasis and Indigenous Peoples. The Desk would continue to provide support to various initiatives of these groups in the form of fact-finding, organizing press conferences, public hearings, workshops etc.
The Other Media has been the initiator and a constituent of many important campaigns such as International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Campaign for the Repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Campaign for Rights of Adivasi/ Indigenous People.
a. Campaign for the Repeal of AFSPA
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) is one of the most draconian legislation ever passed by Indian state which gives the armed forces wide powers to shoot, arrest and search in areas declared disturbed. At present it is imposed in all the seven states in the north- eastern region and Jammu & Kashmir; it was used in the past also in Punjab. The AFSPA’s brutal ramification has seen regular incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape, and looting by security personnel.
The Other Media is involved in various activities towards strengthening the existing campaign against AFSPA and to collaborate with other actors in order to pressurize the Government of India through different strategies for the repeal of the law. The Other Media’s two-year program envisages a focused campaign bringing together all groups in the country that have been fighting for the repeal of the Act. It envisages the strengthening of the ongoing campaign with systematically putting together available data on forced disappearances; encounter killings, illegal detentions, custodial deaths, sexual harassment and rape in the areas notified under the Act.
The Other Media is closely associated with several CSOs and NGOs in the conflict regions, educational and research organizations and individuals based in Delhi and other parts of India on the issue of AFSPA. Several rounds of formal and informal discussions and visits to affected areas and meeting with victims has been a core part of this process. Information collection, sharing, reflection, collective sharing of responsibilities, are some of the activities under the program.
b. Campaigns in Support of Adivasis and Indigenous Peoples Movements
The Other Media is actively associated and supports various Adivasis and Indigenous people’s groups and organizations in order to play a catalytic role, garner and sustain support on various issues related with their living. In recent times due to persistent anti people policies and practices a number of anti establishment struggles have emerged that are led by the affected people fighting for land rights, control on local resources, environmental protection and livelihood. They have challenged the state’s rights to take away land and natural resources without their consent. In the process they have also challenged and fought against the might of the state and its capacity for brutality.
The Other Media plays a significant role in coordinating these scattered struggles to bring them onto common platforms and facilitate their activities with logistical support. The Other Media also strives to generate support for these movements in the mass media to bring their issues on national and international platform. The Other Media also helps them to acquire effective campaign skills, methods, strategies, tactics, etc.
The Other Media has been working on Adivasi rights for more than a decade, through different forums and platforms. The All India Coordinating Forum of Adivasis/Indigenous People (AICFAIP) came into being in this process as a collective expression of resistance, struggles and solidarity. The AICFAIP is a collective expression of resistance, struggles and solidarity, which provides a means of communication, interventions, support actions in struggles and common actions. It has also constituted working groups on women, threatened peoples, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ rights, and generation of reports and publications on issues and struggles.
Other than the AICFAIP, The Other Media’s Campaigns desk works in collaboration with many other struggles, movements and networks across the country in terms of supporting and strengthening them for larger socio-political struggles. In the case of the people’s movement challenging the POSCO industry in Paradip, Orissa, The Other Media coordinates with a small group of organizations and individuals – academicians, journalists, rights activists and peoples’ movement representatives – to strengthen the local movement. The Other Media is actively supporting Fish Workers Forum against the newly tabled Coastal Management Zone.
A most frightening fight between adivasis and the corporate supported by the state is being played in the former Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state. The state sponsors and supports Salwa Judum – a vigilante group of local politicians and lumpens – that ostensibly fights the Maoists who have been active in the area for over thirty years now. Salwa Judum since its inauguration in 2005 has displaced over 200,000 adivasis from their homes, killed men and raped women. All this is done in the name of fighting Maoists.
The Campaign Desk has been supporting the anti-Salwa Judum campaign and civil liberties movement since the situation in Bastar began to deteriorate. In 2006 The Other Media was involved in constituting a citizen’s committee of eminent persons, who went to Dantewada and had came out with a fact-finding investigation report. Later in collaboration with support of other activists, individuals and civil society groups had come together for form the Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh. Today the Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh (CPJC) is deeply concerned about the gross violation of human rights going on in Chhattisgarh in the name of fighting “internal terrorism”.
c. Campaign for Justice for Bhopal Victims
The Other Media has been actively campaigning for the struggle for justice with regard to the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal along with Survivors’ organisations and other support organisations. In September 2002, the loosely strung informal group of social and environmental justice organizations came under a semi-formal coalition banner called the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB). ICJB is a coalition of all the public interest organizations and individuals that have joined forces to campaign for justice for the survivors of the Bhopal disaster. The mission and objectives of ICJB are grounded in the day to day concerns of the survivors by the presence of key members from Bhopal including a trade union of gas-affected women stationary workers. The Other Media has been one of the initiators of ICJB. Members of the ICJB jointly and separately campaign to secure health and justice for the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster and those affected since by underground water and soil poisoned by toxic chemicals left behind by Union Carbide.
The year 2004 marked the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster and several programmes were held. In a National Convention organized by The Other Media nine Fact Finding Mission (FFM)) study reports were released. FFM reports were discussed and debated in the Convention. In 2006 and 2008 the survivors groups successfully walked their way to Delhi to demand justice and remediation for the contaminated environment they live in.
d. Women Against Militarization and State Violence
The Other Media Programme “Women Against Militarization and State Violence” came into being in 2007 as an outcome of its involvement in the conflict regions of Kashmir and North East through civil society organizations there. In terms of work with women in conflict areas, The Other Media has been associated with Naga Mothers Association (NMA), Naga Women’s Union of Manipur (NWUM), Indigenous Women’s Forum of North East India (IWFNEI), Boro Women Justice Forum (BWJF), Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asong (KNCA) etc. in North East and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in Kashmir.
A conference of women titled “State Violence and Women: Survivors, Defenders and Leaders” was organized by The Other Media on 6-8 July 2007 in New Delhi. It focused on experiences of women from regions with a long history of militarization. The participants who included women representing civil society organizations, individuals, media persons and academicians from India’s North East and Jammu and Kashmir decided to constitute a working group that would continue the process of bringing together women from the conflict regions. The Other Media was requested to provide a secretariat in Delhi for coordinating the activities of the process.
Since 2007 The Other Media has been supporting the program and providing the secretariat that coordinates the programs planned by the working group. It also helps the working group to formulate programs responding to the needs of the situation in the conflict areas.