Release: Rights Groups Call on India, South Korea to Suspend POSCO- India Steel Project and Address Human Rights Concerns

South Korean President in India to advance on investment projects

For immediate release. India, January 16 2014 Human rights violations connected to the POSCO-India project must be addressed as a matter of priority by India and South Korea during South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s state visit to India, saidrights groups, Video Volunteers and ESCR-Net today. India and South Korea should discuss and make public concrete measures to address serious allegations of human rights abuse tied to POSCO’s steel project in Odisha state. In the lead up to President Park’s visit to India, Indian officials took several measures aimed at accelerating POSCO’s Odisha project. India’s new Environment Minister revalidated environmental clearance for the project’s steel plant, in violation of the stay order given by India’s National Green Tribunal. At the same timeOdisha’s Chief Minister approved POSCO’s compliance report, a prerequisite for the granting of a prospecting license for mining rights. National and international rights groups have repeatedly urged India and South Korea to suspend the POSCO-India steel project until and unless it complies with international human rights standards. “In light of serious allegations of human rights abuse, India and South Korea should suspend any further activities on the POSCO project and take meaningful and immediate action to address human rights concerns,” said Chris Grove, Director of ESCR-Net adding that, “development projects should not come at the expense of the human rights of people”. Video Volunteers along with several other Human Rights organisations has been documenting the people’s movement in solidarity with the POSCO PratirodhakSangramSamiti. The film ‘The People Vs. POSCO’ released in October 2013 and was shot by Video Volunteers’ Community Correspondents during a fact-finding mission carried out by ESCR-net and IHRC- NYU in November 2012. The mission also resulted in a report titled ‘The Price of Steel’. The video and report found that Indian authorities have actively targeted those who speak out against the POSCO-India project with violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions.  Local police have barricaded villages, occupied schools, levelled thousands of fabricated criminal charges against individuals opposing the project, and have failed to protect individuals from consistent and sometimes fatal attacks by private actors who are allegedly motivated by the interests of the company and of the State. The report further concluded that India’s attempts to forcibly evict people from their lands to make way for the project violated both international legal standards and Indian law. Video Volunteers’ Director Stalin K. said, “This project is a classic example of the sort of development we’re pursuing. Just because they live in villages there is an assumption that their economy is not developed whereas it is far more developed than what POSCO proposes.” He added that, “The struggle against POSCO is not just about fighting illegal acquisition but questioning the very method of non-consultative development that destroys existing local economies in the name of a national prosperity.” In October 1st2013, eight independent U.N. human rights experts called for a halt to the mega-steel project, citing serious human rights concerns including the impact of forced evictions on affected communities’ livelihoods and means of subsistence.  The experts urged India, POSCO and the Republic of Korea to fulfil their respective human rights responsibilities. The government of India has yet to respond to the human rights concerns raised by rights groups or publicly address the Press Statement released on October 1 by the group of U.N. experts. About Video Volunteers: Video Volunteers is an international community media organization that equips women and men in underdeveloped areas with creative, activist and video journalism skills, enabling entire communities to expose underreported stories from their communities and take action to right the wrongs of poverty, injustice and inequality. In India, it has created the largest, most diverse network of Community Video Correspondents in the world. Video Volunteers currently has 206 Community Correspondents spread over 23 states in India.   About ESCR-Net: The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) is a collaborative initiative of over 200 groups and 50 individual advocates from around the world working to secure economic and social justice through human rights. ESCR-Net seeks to strengthen the field of all human rights, with a special focus on economic, social and cultural rights, and further develop the tools for achieving their promotion, protection and fulfillment. Through ESCR-Net, groups and individuals exchange information, develop a collective voice, amplify their actions, develop new tools and strategies. By facilitating joint actions, enhancing communications and building solidarity across regions, the network seeks to build a global movement to make human rights and social justice a reality for all. For more information, please visit:<>  
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