India: Drop Charges Against Maternal Death Protesters

(Human Rights Watch) Indian authorities should drop criminal proceedings against peaceful protesters who sought accountability for maternal deaths in a public hospital in Madhya Pradesh state, Human Rights Watch said today. District officials cracked down on protesters on December 28, 2010, even as the Indian government was celebrating its recent appointment to the new United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.

About 1,000 people gathered peacefully on December 28 in the Barwani district to protest the high numbers of maternal deaths at the district hospital there and the lack of accountability for the deaths. Law enforcement officials arrested one protester, threatened to arrest others, and issued a warrant for another participant on charges of rioting, being part of an unlawful assembly, and obstructing public servants from performing their duties.

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