INDIA: Right Livelihood Award Laureates condemn incitement to murder Swami Agnivesh

A Press Release from Asia Press Office, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

We, the undersigned Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, and the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, are deeply alarmed by reports published in Punjab Kesari, Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagaran, Navodaya Times, and ABP News Channel on 24th and 25th April 2015, stating that Hindu Mahasabha members from Haryana have offered a reward of 500,000 Indian Rupees to anyone that beheads Swami Agnivesh (RLA 2004).

We join Adama Dieng, Special Advisor on Genocide Prevention to the UN Secretary General, and other international civil society leaders in condemning this brazen incitement to commit violence, and we express our fullest solidarity with Swami Agnivesh.

We urge that the Haryana police investigate this threat as a case of abetment to murder and criminal intimidation under Sections 108, 115 and 503 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and hold the perpetrators accountable.

We also note with deep concern that the aforementioned media organisations have reported this grave threat in a manner that glorifies and incites violence. Section 19(2) of the Indian Constitution clearly states that the freedom of speech does not include the freedom to incite a criminal offence.

We have written to the Editors of the media organisations requesting a full apology, and intend to request the Press Council of India to investigate this serious breach of journalistic ethics if the media organisations do not respond. Further, we call upon the police to investigate these media organisations for abetment to murder under Sections 108 and 115 IPC.


On 18thApril 2015, Swami Agnivesh visited Srinagar, Kashmir, to participate in a fast. There he expressed his desire that conditions be created to allow Kashmiri Pandits to return to Kashmir and live side by side with their Muslim neighbours, and not be placed in separate townships.

Hindu Mahasabha members in Haryana responded to Agnivesh’s appeal for interfaith unity by publicly calling for his murder. This is in gross violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution that enshrines and protects individuals’ right to life and personal liberty. In recent days, Agnivesh has also received two threatening phone calls from a group in Maharashtra.

Swami Agnivesh is a recipient of the joint Honorary Right Livelihood Award in 2004, along with the late Asghar Ali Engineer, “for promoting over many years in South Asia the values of religious and communal coexistence, tolerance and mutual understanding.”

Signed by the following Right Livelihood Award Laureates:

Dr. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians, Canada (RLA 2005)
Prof. Dr. Anwar Fazal, Director, Right Livelihood College, Malaysia (RLA 1982)
Basil Fernando, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong SAR, China (RLA 2014)
Dr. Hans Herren, Founder of Biovision Foundation, Switzerland (RLA 2013)
Dr. SM Mohamed Idris, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (RLA 1988), Consumers Association of Penang and the Third World Network, Malaysia
Asma Jahangir, Pakistan (RLA 2014)
Bianca Jagger, Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Nicaragua/UK (RLA 2004)
Ida Kuklina, The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia, Russia (RLA 1996)
Birsel Lemke, Turkey (RLA 2000)
Helen Mack Chang, Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala (RLA 1992)
Prof Dr. h.c. (mult.) Manfred Max-Neef, Director, Economics Institute, Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile (RLA 1983)
Prof. Dr. Raúl A. Montenegro, President, Fundación para la defensa del ambiente, Argentina (RLA 2004)
Frances Moore Lappé, Co-Founder, Small Planet Institute, USA (RLA 1987)
Nicanor Perlas, Center for Alternative Development Initiatives, Philippines (RLA 2003)
P K Ravindran, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, India (RLA 1996)
Dr. Sima Samar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Afghanistan (RLA 2012)
Mycle Schneider, Germany (RLA 1997)
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya, India (RLA 1993)
Prof. Michael Succow, Founder, Michael Succow Foundation for Nature Conservation, Germany, (RLA 1997)
Suciwati, widow of Munir, Indonesia (RLA 2000)
Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan, Karuna Trust & VGKK, India (RLA 1994)
Shrikrishna Upadhyay, Executive Chairman, Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal, Nepal (RLA 2010)
Prof. Dr. Theo van Boven, The Netherlands (RLA 1985)
Martín von Hildebrand, Founder and Director, Fundación GAIA Amazonas, Colombia (RLA 1999) 
Chico Whitaker Ferreira, Brazil (RLA 2006)
Alla Yaroshinskaya, Russia (RLA 1992)
Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares, United Kingdom (RLA 2001)

Signed by the following RLA Board & jury:

Jakob von Uexkull, Co-Chair, Board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, UK
Dr. Monika Griefahn, Co-Chair, Board of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Germany
Ole von Uexküll, Executive Director, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Sweden

For more information, please contact:

Sharan Srinivas, Right Livelihood Award Foundation 
Phone: +46 8 702 03 35