Double Your Donation: They Have Not Disappeared

August 30, 2021 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press, UN

Today, August 30, marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. On this day, we thank you for helping us ensure the names and stories of the victims live on.

Sukhminder Kaur holds onto the passport of her son, Sarabjit Singh, disappeared January 26, 1989, from his home when he was 17 years-old. Police barged into their home during wedding celebrations. She told Ensaaf, “No one has told me if my son is alive or not. I’m holding on to my own hopes, if someone tries to tell me that he is not, I feel angry. If you see something with your own eyes only then can you find peace. Like I told you before, he was precious.”

Victim passport in hand

More than 30 years have passed, and she has not received truth or justice for the disappearance of her son. As the United Nation states, the families of victims “alternate between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news that may never come.”

Ensaaf  stands in solidarity with victims of disappearances and unlawful killings in Punjab and throughout the world. Thank you for your financial support these past two weeks, helping us reach our goal of $30,000. Your contribution will help us create an undeniable and permanent record of India’s atrocity crimes.

Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive will serve as a permanent, powerful, interactive tool to educate the global community, complementing Ensaaf’s data site on Crimes Against Humanity.

Help bring their voices to the entire world!

10 Reasons to Support Ensaaf

December 20, 2019 in Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press, Reports

Ensaaf works to address impunity for crimes against humanity in Punjab, with strategies and methods that also impact other regions suffering from gross human rights violations. We already provide technical assistance to human rights defenders working in India and beyond. We provide litigation support to cases in India that will set precedent for the entire country. And we share our data and resources publicly, so any community can learn from our experiences. Our work is innovative, timely, and makes an impact in Punjab and beyond.

    Reason 10: We do 10x the work of other organizations with similar resources.
    Reason 9: We called out Sumedh Saini for atrocities. Next year, we’ll focus on Izhar Alam.
    Reason 8: Amar Kaur’s testimony and our Oral History Video Archive project.
    Reason 7: We recently documented the case of 18-year old Kulwant Singh. Every case matters.
    Reason 6: We are creating a permanent and thorough human rights archive.
    Reason 5: We impacted key legal cases.
    Reason 4: Our work is essential for survivors to be heard.
    Reason 3: We have a proven track record and great partners.
    Reason 2: We take charge of our own narrative.
    Reason 1: We must protect the human rights of the world.

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Ensaaf Launches Ground-Breaking Effort to Name Chief Perpetrators

August 30, 2019 in Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

On August 30, 2019, the International Day of the Disappeared, Ensaaf released its first in-depth perpetrator dossier of former Punjab Police Chief Sumedh Singh Saini. Our dossier includes a visualization identifying his victims, command history, awards, and known promotions. The dossier also includes news articles detailing a key legal case and disciplinary hearings, among other materials.

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Torture & Trauma Study

October 24, 2005 in Documentation

Expert Medical Study Documents Torture and Psychological Trauma Suffered by Families of the “Disappeared” in Punjab

In May and June 2005, Ensaaf organized the Physicians for Human Rights and the Bellevue/NYU School of Medicine Program for Survivors of Torture to conduct a study of 127 families who survived the disappearance of a family member in Amritsar, Punjab. These cases drew from those pending before the National Human Rights Commission in the Punjab mass cremations case. Ensaaf consulted with the investigation team in the U.S. for one year prior to the study, providing guidance and background on the legal proceedings. Ensaaf also organized all of the logistics of the study in Punjab.

October 24, 2005

Expert Study Calls on Indian National Human Rights Commission to Investigate Violations

(San Francisco, CA) Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Bellevue/New York University School of Medicine Program for Survivors of Torture (Bellevue) submitted a report today in the Punjab mass cremations matter pending before India’s National Human Rights Commission since December 1996. The report, entitled Evaluation of Litigants Pertaining to Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 447/95 Committee for Information and Initiative on Punjab vs. State of Punjab, is based on structured interviews and diagnostic evaluations of 127 family members of victims killed and illegally cremated by Indian security forces from 1984 to 1995.

“As a result of the death and illegal cremation of a close family member, most of the individuals interviewed demonstrated severe psychological disorders…”Dr. Allen Keller and Dr. Barry Rosenfeld

A six-member PHR/Bellevue investigative team with extensive experience in documenting torture and human rights abuses conducted this study in Amritsar, Punjab in May and June 2005 at the request of Ensaaf, a U.S.-based non-profit organization fighting impunity for human rights abuses committed in India. The PHR/Bellevue assessment reveals a “pattern of intentional abuse by law enforcement officials among multiple family members,” demonstrating that the Commission needs to investigate and adjudicate the fundamental rights violations committed by Indian security forces, beyond the illegal cremation of the family member.

“As a result of the death and illegal cremation of a close family member, most of the individuals interviewed demonstrated severe psychological disorders including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, with nearly half of those interviewed continuing to describe these symptoms more than ten years after the traumas occurred,” write Dr. Allen Keller and Dr. Barry Rosenfeld, authors of the report. They further write, “Many participants described permanent impairments and long-term disability related to the physical abuse inflicted by the authorities during the time period surrounding the death and cremation of their relative.”

CIIP vs. State of Punjab has proceeded before the Commission for nearly nine years. The Commission, however, has not heard the testimony of a single survivor in the Punjab mass cremations matter; nor has it found a single security official or agency liable for the thousands of disappearances and extrajudicial executions leading to illegal cremations in Punjab. The Commission continues to flout international and domestic law by refusing to investigate the secret cremations, ignoring fundamental rights violations such as the unlawful deprivation of life and torture of family members. The PHR/Bellevue report should compel the Commission to investigate the physical and psychological trauma suffered by victim families, in addition to the murder and illegal cremation of their relative.


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