In Solidarity

  73 (Goal: 1,000)

Petitioning: In Protest against human rights violations

Petitioner: Chaman started on February 5, 2010

In Solidarity

To: Hon'ble Chief Minister
Government of Tamilnadu
Secretariat, Chennai 600 009

To: Smt. S. Malathi
Home Secretary
Government of Tamilnadu
Secretariat, Chennai 600 009


Piyush Sethia, a 33-year old green entrepreneur and environmentalist from Salem, Tamilnadu, was arrested by the Salem police and imprisoned on charges of sedition. On 26 January, before setting off on a bicycle rally from Salem to Sivagangai, the constituency of Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram, Piyush -- who was born and brought up in Salem -- went to the Republic Day celebrations in Gandhi Stadium, Salem, to distribute pamphlets. The pamphlets questioned why the rights guaranteed under the Constitution -- which was the subject of celebration on 26 January -- were not available to adivasis in Chattisgarh. He pointed out in his pamphlet that since 2005, more than 644 adivasi villages had been razed to the ground by Chattisgarh police and others armed by the State. More than 2.5 lakh people had been made homeless, and numerous had been killed, maimed and women sexually assaulted. Before he could distribute the pamphlets, he shared a few pamphlets with the police. The police immediately beat up Piyush, arrested him and charged him with sedition. The undersigned condem this perversion of democracy by the Salem Police, and urge you o set right this grievous wrong committed on Piyush for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed Freedom of Expression.

Piyush is a disciplined person with no bad habits, and a passion for justice. Following the spirit of the Jain tenets of non-violence and compassion towards human and nature, Piyush has earned himself a prominent name as an environmental and animal rights activist. Since 1997, Piyush has single-handedly and by inspiring school and college children planted tens of thousands of trees on the National Highway and on abandoned mining sites around Salem. He has helped the city police apprehend people who transported cattle to abattoirs in inhumane conditions.

His environmentalism does not restrict itself to protesting against environmental degradation. Rather, he extends it by what he calls "constructive environmentalism -- education, camps, outreach to special children through nurseries, and the numerous green businesses, including promotion of bamboo products, organic farming, clean and decentralised sources of energy such as biogas. He has promoted areca sheath platemaking as a cottage industry among several entrepreneurs in and around Salem resulting both in the creation of new jobs and the protection of the environment. The areca plates replace disposable plastics and thermocol, and Piyush has worked hard to disseminate the plate-making technology to many in Kerala, Karnataka, Mizoram, Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Piyush is a courageous individual who has played a prominent role in ending the illegal exploitation of minerals from the highly biodiverse, medicinal herb-rich Kolli Hills by a powerful multinational company. He has highlighted and been part of farmers' campaigns against pollution in Mettur, and residents campaigns against the Kuppamedu garbage dump in Salem. He helped facilitate the organisation of farmers on the foothills of Kanjamalai and successfully led a campaign that defeated the plans of another big multinational to mine the water, medicinal herb and biodiversity rich hill for steel.

More recently, he has exposed the illegal mining by powerful politicians in Salem, and is working with farmers who are threatened with eviction to accommodate a Special Economic Zone in Nallampalli, Dharmapuri District, Tamilnadu.

In his campaigns and efforts to prevent violence against people and the environment, Piyush may have disturbed many in positions of power. This may be the cause of his illegal arrest under the ridiculous charge of sedition. Piyush's arrest has been condemned by eminent people including Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar, Praful Bidwai and more than 100 other people across the country.

Through this email, we request you to to restore people's faith in democracy by revoking the illegal charges against Piyush and releasing him from prison with honour.

CC to
National Human Rights Commission, India

Signed by