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India: Update - Release on bail of human rights defender Mr Debendra Swain
On 28 February 2013, human rights defender Mr Debendra Swain was released on bail by Jagatsingpur District Court. Debendra Swain, leader of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (anti-POSCO People's Movement PPSS), was arrested by police on 3 February 2013 and faces ten criminal charges, reportedly including attempted murder.
The human rights defender has played a leading role over the past eight years in campaigning for the rights of villagers affected by the construction of a steel plant in the state of Odisha by South Korean company POSCO.
On the same day as Debendra Swain's arrest, twelve platoons of police were deployed to the village of Dhinkia, one of the areas in Jagatsinghpur district affected by the POSCO plant construction, allegedly in order to assist the company in acquiring land and driving out villagers. Since Debendra Swain's release, police forces have been deployed to the affected villages of Govindpur and Patna hat, while it is reported that further police forces may be deployed to Dhinkia.
While Front Line Defenders welcomes the release on bail of Debendra Swain, it expresses serious concern at the multiple criminal charges he faces, which it believes to be solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work as a community leader, and land and livelihood rights defender.
For more information on this case, please see Front Line Defenders' urgent appeal issued on 7 February 2013.