The International Campaign Against Forced Displacement and SEZs launched in June 2008 during the Third International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) urgently call on all people’s movements, activists and allies to protest against the arrest of Abhaya Sahoo. Sahoo is President of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (POSCO Resistance Struggle Committee), which has been leading the people’s movement against a big land grab
in the state of Orissa by POSCO, a South Korean steel company. Sahoo was arrested on the evening of 12th October while undergoing treatment in a local hospital.
Villagers under the leadership of Abhaya Sahoo have rejected the government’s “development plan,” the first step of which is giving 4,000 acres of land to POSCO to build a huge steel plant and captive port that will displace 7 villages and 22,000 people. In addition to the farmers who will be displaced, thousands of fishermen and villagers in the port area will lose their livelihoods if this project goes ahead.
For three years, POSCO has been trying, unsuccessfully, to acquire the farmers’ land. Many protests and rallies have been organised by the villagers against the project. Farmers have kept the company from establishing offices in the villages, and have set up “check gates” at the entrances to the villages to check on the identification of outsiders and to prevent POSCO from starting to survey and demarcate the land. Blocked in its land acquisition efforts, POSCO has hired outside goons to destabilize the situation and provide a pretext to bring in police and paramilitaries.
Abhaya Sahoo has been in the forefront of the uncompromising resistance of the people of the village of Erressema to save their land. For the last 3 years he has resided in the project site. The Orissa government has arrested him to make the people leaderless, and have charged him under about 70 false cases so that he cannot get bail.
We condemn this repressive act by the Orissa government. The arrest of Abhaya Sahoo is an attempt to suppress the people’s struggle. Stand with the people of Erressema who are fighting to save their land and livelihood and demand the IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE of ABHAYA SAHOO.
The International Campaign against Forced Displacement and SEZs