UPDATE: Since Jammu & Kashmir was stripped of its statehood on 5 August 2019, several Kashmiri leaders, activists, journalists and lawyers have been stopped from flying abroad via New Delhi’s international airport. On 2 November 2019, news reports indicated that the J&K administration, now directly under the centre, maintains a no-fly list that includes around 450 prominent Kashmiris.

 

Southasian governments regularly misuse their discretionary visa allotment powers to keep out those they consider ‘undesirable’ – such as critical journalists, scholars, and activists. This practice is more widespread than is recognised, even in countries with a liberal image, as individual cases fall through the cracks and disappear. With our ‘Blacklist’, we endeavour to collate, track, expose and challenge this process. We see this as a collaborative effort; contact us whenever and wherever you come across any such instances. You can send the information anonymously, but it must be corroborated in some way.

Name
Country and date of visa denial
Several prominent Kashmiris, including activists Uzair Ronga and Shah Faesal, both from a recently launched political party J&K People’s Movement.
Country :
India
Date :
Since August 2019

Explanation

Since Jammu & Kashmir was stripped of its statehood in August 2019, several Kashmiri leaders, activists, journalists and lawyers have been stopped from flying abroad via New Delhi’s international airport. News reports indicate that the J&K administration, now directly under the centre, maintains a no-fly list that includes around 450 prominent Kashmiris. According the the reports, sources explained that “some people are on the radar for their activities and contacts abroad” and “could create trouble in that smooth transition”. (Sources: Economic Times)

Lenin Bista, former Maoist child soldier and a campaigner for justice for minor combatants
Country :
Nepal
Date :
August 2018

Explanation

On 24 August, 27-year-old former Maoist child soldier and a campaigner for justice for minor combatants, Lenin Bista, was barred from taking a flight to Bangkok, Thailand, to attend a workshop on youth in conflict areas. Bista had already been issued a boarding pass and had cleared immigration at the Tribhuvan International Airport when he was told that he couldn’t board the plane. According to immigration officials, he had not taken permission or recommendation from any government agency for the programme and was ‘partially blacklisted’. (Sources: Kathmandu Post, The Himalayan Times)

Kathryn Hummel, poet and author from Australia
Country :
India
Date :
July 2018

Explanation

On 31 July, Australian writer Kathryn Hummel was deported from the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, India, without adequate explanation. Hummel was travelling to Bangladesh, a frequent leisure and work destination for the author, following a brief visit to India. But she was forced to take the next flight back to Australia. Although the exact reasons for her deportation are unclear, immigration officials have referred to “visa inconsistencies”.(Sources: Scroll.in)

Annie Zaman, the only Pakistani participant in an upcoming academic conference in India
Country :
India
Date :
June 2018

Explanation

India’s Ministry of External Affairs refused political clearance of Pakistani academics for participation in a conference by Association of Asian Studies, slated to be held in Ashoka University in July 2018. The ministry wrote to the university saying it has “no objection from political angle for the proposed event with foreign participants (as per the list attached) (except participants from Pakistan)”. It added, “Kindly note this Ministry does not recommend participation from Pakistan in the proposed event.”

(Sources: Association for Asian Studies-in-Asia)
(Listen to our podcast interview with Annie Zaman)

India denies visa extension to three Chinese journalists associated with state-run Xinhua news agency
Country :
India
Date :
July 2016

Explanation

Xinhua’s Delhi bureau chief Wu Qiang, Mumbai bureau chief Lu Tang and Mumbai-based correspondent, She Yonggang, have been asked to leave India by 31 July. The move was reportedly taken following “concerns” expressed by intelligence agencies.

(Sources: The Wire)

Team from United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Country :
India
Date :
March 2016

Explanation

India denied visas for a delegation from the US government agency charged with monitoring international religious freedom. USCIRF had been able to travel to many countries, including those among the worst offenders of religious freedom, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar.

(Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian)

Christine Mehta Researcher with Amnesty International India
Country :
India
Date :
22 November 2014

Explanation

She had been doing research on the abuses committed under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir. Her Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card was revoked and she was given a ‘Leave India Notice’.

(Sources: The Hindu)

Aaron Gray-Block Activist with Greenpeace
Country :
India
Date :
6 June 2015

Explanation

Not allowed to enter the country despite having a valid visa and the relevant documents. He was later put on a flight back to Kuala Lumpur, but not officially deported.

Priya Pillai Activist with Greenpeace India
Country :
India
Date :
11 January 2015

Explanation

Stopped at Indira Gandhi International Airport from boarding a flight to London and told that her name was on a  list of people prepared by the government who cannot be allowed to travel abroad. She was scheduled to address British MPs on a proposed coal mining project in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh.

(Sources: The Hindu, DNA)

Matthew Rosenberg (The New York Times)
Country :
Afghanistan
Date :
20 August 2014

Explanation

Given 24 hours to leave the country for “pretending to have quoted Afghan authorities”.

[Note: Rosenberg’s expulsion order has now been reversed and the new Afghan president has publicly promised to allow him to return and resume his work.]

(Sources: Foreign Policy, The Guardian)

Aileen Bacalso (General Secretary of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD))
Country :
India
Date :
17 August 2014

Explanation

Deported and told she should know why.

(Sources: The Hindu, AFAD)

Maxine Lange Student, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Country :
India
Date :
July 2014

Explanation

Denied visa to do internship with South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC). RTI application has been filed since no official reason was given.

(Source: Ravi Nair, Executive Director, SAHRDC)

Anastasia Gorodilova Student, Brown University, USA
Country :
India
Date :
June 2014

Explanation

Denied visa to do internship with South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC). RTI application has been filed since no official reason was given.
(Source: Ravi Nair, Executive Director, SAHRDC)

Maria Petrova Student, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Country :
India
Date :
June 2014

Explanation

Denied visa to do internship with South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC). RTI application has been filed since no official reason was given.

(Source: Ravi Nair, Executive Director, SAHRDC)

Penny Vera-Sanso (Senior lecturer, Birkbeck College, University of London)
Country :
India
Date :
8 June 2014

Explanation

Refused entry by immigration officials without an explanation.

(Sources: The Hindu, Rediff)

Meena Menon (The Hindu)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
13 May 2014

Explanation

Given a week to leave the country. No reason was given.

(Sources: The Hindu, The Guardian, CPJ)

Snehesh Alex Philip (Press Trust of India)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
13 May 2014

Explanation

Given a week to leave the country. No reason was given.

(Sources: The Hindu, The Guardian, CPJ)

Declan Walsh (The New York Times)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
2 May 2014

Explanation

Given 72 hours to leave the country on the eve of Pakistani elections for conducting “undesirable activities”.

(Sources: Huffington Post, New York Times)

Willem Marx (Bloomberg TV)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
February 2014

Explanation

Author of then recently released book Balochistan: At a Crossroads, Marx was told by the Pakistani consular staff in New York that he was not welcome in the country, and that “it was the agencies” – a term referring to the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.

(Sources: International Business Times, CPJ)

Jagmeet Singh (Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) of Ontario)
Country :
India
Date :
8 December 2013

Explanation

Denied entry citing that “The government of India, like any other government, has a sovereign right to grant or refuse a visa to any foreign individual and it is not obliged to give any justification or explanation for exercising this prerogative.”

(Sources: The Global Mail, Times of India)

Kirity Roy (Chief of Indian rights organisation Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM))
Country :
Bangladesh
Date :
19 September 2013

Explanation

Denied visa because of “[failure] to fulfill required criteria.”

(Sources: The Daily Star, Dhaka Mirror)

Malay Sengupta (Laywer)
Country :
Bangladesh
Date :
19 September 2013

Explanation

Denied visa because of “[failure] to fulfill required criteria.”

(Sources: Dhaka Tribune, Daily Star)

Anita Joshua (The Hindu)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
1 June 2013

Explanation

Denied renewal of visa because the “tenure [was] over”. (Sources: Hindustan Times)

Razaul Hasan Laskar (Press Trust of India)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
1 June 2013

Explanation

Denied renewal of visa because he spent seven years in Pakistan instead of the usual three.

(Sources: India Today, CPJ)

Roger Bilham (Senior geophysicist at University of Colorado)
Country :
India
Date :
December 2012

Explanation

Denied entry because his ‘activity’ under tourist visa was “not commensurate with the type of visa granted”.
An expert on seismology, Earlier that year, Bilham had addressed a press conference by Greenpeace on the potential seismic risk to the proposed nuclear power plant complex at Jaitapur, Maharashtra.(Sources: The Hindu, Economic Times)

Carol Crayson (Journalist)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
October 2012

Explanation

Denied visa because the “country’s policy strictly prohibits the movement of foreigners in Tribal Areas and PTI cannot guarantee the security of those who it wants to take along.”

(Sources: Awaz Today, The Nation)

Yacine Helali (Journalist)
Country :
Pakistan
Date :
1 October 2012

Explanation

Denied visa because “country’s policy strictly prohibits the movement of foreigners in Tribal Areas and PTI cannot guarantee the security of those who it wants to take along.”

(Sources: Awaz Today, The Nation)

Maya Kobayashi (Nuclear activist and Fukushima survivor, invited by Greenpeace India)
Country :
India
Date :
3 March 2012

Explanation

Denied entry to India after visa cancellation. Was told: “Your application for Business Visa does not match with the stated purpose of your proposed visit and is tantamount to factual misrepresentation.”

(Sources: The Hindu, Daily Mail)

Tom Heinemann (Danish Broadcasting Corporation)
Country :
India
Date :
January 2012

Explanation

Visa application denied because “The stated purpose when DR journalists applied for a visa the last time was to make a documentary, but they ended up producing a reality show based on India. The series depicted all sorts of things, including life in our slums.”

(Sources: Asian Correspondent, CPJ, Daily Mail)

Lotte La Cour (Danish Broadcasting Corporation)
Country :
India
Date :
January 2012

Explanation

Visa application denied because “The stated purpose when DR journalists applied for a visa the last time was to make a documentary, but they ended up producing a reality show based on India. The series depicted all sorts of things, including life in our slums.”

(Sources: Asian Correspondent, CPJ, Daily Mail)

David Barsamian (Founder of Alternative Radio)
Country :
India
Date :
23 September 2011

Explanation

Deported. No official reason has been given.

(Sources: The Hindu)

Richard Shapiro (Professor of Anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS))
Country :
India
Date :
1 August 2010

Explanation

Denied entry because of political activism in the state while on a tourist visa.

(Sources: Indian Express, Kashmir Process)