AFAD Secy-general barred from entering India

The secretary-general of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Mary Aileen Diez Bacalso, was barred from entering India on the night of August 17 at Mumbai International Airport, said a Srinagar-based human rights group.

Bacalso, who is also the focal person of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances, with 52 members worldwide,  on August 11 tried to apply for visa at the Indian embassy in Manila.

 “Though her papers were complete, her application was not accepted on the pretext that the time was too short, but they looked at the documents and were completely aware that she was travelling on August 17 to India,” said a spokesman of the Srinagar-based Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in a statement here.

“Around 10 pm on August 17, upon arriving at  Mumbai International Airport, Aileen was immediately taken to a separate office, where nine officials were present. Bacalso was sent back on the same flight and her passport was only handed over to her when she reached Manila,” he said.

The spokesman said the ban on AFAD representatives in India “shows the deep paranoia and hostility of the Indian government towards human rights activists”.

“The AFAD will report this blockade to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and to other special rapporteurs. The AFAD urges international human rights organisations and institutions to question the Indian government’s intransigence and their policies towards human rights work,” he added.

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