CHENNAI: Eminent personalities from across the spectrum, including writers, human rights activists, film makers and a Nobel laureate, have voiced their opposition to the death penalty to Rajiv assassination case accused Perarivalan, Murugan and Santhan. They also took part in a signature campaign against the very concept of capital punishment.
Speaking to Express, Booker award winner Arundathi Roy said: “I am unequivocally against capital punishment. The three accused, who have been convicted for having colluded with the LTTE in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, have already spent 20 years in prison. In the meantime, in the name of the sins of the LTTE at least 40,000 people – civilians as well as LTTE cadre – have been annihilated in Sri Lanka’s brutal ethnic war, in which the Government of India played an unforgivable part…. Now at a time when India is in the grip of a supposedly Gandhian revolution, perhaps people should prevail upon the government to step back from this public display of medieval barbarism.”
In his appeal to the Centre, Archbishop of Capetown and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu said: “The death penalty legitimises killing and diminishes the humanity of societies that continue to practice it. It is inhuman, and should be scrapped.”
Filmmaker Mahesh Dattani noted that the power over someone else’s life puts one in a position of extreme responsibility. “Justice in a civilised society is a punishment that gives the punished a second chance at life. Capital punishment does not allow that second chance.”
In his appeal on August 14 to the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, former Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer stated, “god will bless you for saving three young lives by commutation.”
A campaign ‘End Death Penalty’, launched 10 days ago by a group of seven young activists, has collected 4,503 signatures though their Facebook page and a petition on www.change.org. The signatories include Noam Chomsky, American intellectual and professor; Paul Murphy, member of European Parliament; Arundhati Roy; Binayak Sen, activist; Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker; Ari Sitas, South African poet and anti-apartheid activist; Varavara Rao, activist and poet; and writers Mahashweta Devi and Paul Zachariah.