Archive for March, 2008
FREE DR BINAYAK SEN CAMPAIGN
14 March 2008
A nationwide initiative has been launched for the release of popular health and human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen, controversially arrested in May last year on false grounds of having links with Maoists in Chattisgarh.
The initiative, of holding regular Free Binayak Sen Medical Camps for the urban and rural poor, in cities and towns around the country – is meant to raise public awareness about Dr Sen’s detention under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and call for his unconditional release. Dr Sen, a heart patient, kept in a prison in Raipur for the past ten months has lost over 15 kilos of weight during the course of his detention.
The medical camps are part of an effort to take forward Dr Sen’s innovative public health work to new areas and highlight the issues of nutrition, child health and the link between socio-economic rights and health. India has one of the worst health indicators in the world, even lower than that of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the areas of infant and maternal mortality.
The first such camp will be held in an urban slum area in the national capital New Delhi on 15 March with the help of community organizations and volunteer doctors. Other camps are planned for March in Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Kolkata.
From April health activist groups in another six cities- Hyderabad, Bhopal, Lucknow, Calicut and Alleppey will join the campaign. Two medical camps in solidarity with Dr Sen have already been held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in late February, organized by the JNU Students Union and meant for daily wage workers on the campus.
The arrest of the internationally renowned pediatrician, on what are widely seen as trumped up charges, has outraged health and human rights groups throughout the world. Activists see Dr Sen’s arrest as an attempt to punish him for exposing human rights violations in Chattisgarh.
Apart from being a public health activists, Dr Sen is also Vice-President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, India’s largest civil rights organization formed three decades ago as a response to the Emergency imposed on the country.
For further information contact:
- Dunu Roy, New Delhi qadeeroy at vsnl.com Ph: 9910687627
- Satya Sivaraman, New Delhi satyasagar at gmail.com Ph: 9818514952
- Dr Rakhal Gaitonde, Chennai subharakhal at gmail.com Ph: 9940246089
- Dr Punyabrata Gun, Kolkata shramajibiswasthya at yahoo.co.in Ph: 9830922194
- Dr N.Devadasan, Bangalore mail at phindia.org Ph: 080-26645232
Tribune News Service
Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) held a free medical camp for the daily contract workers on the university campus on Friday.
More than 250 workers and their families were treated at the medical camp, which was put up with the help of doctors and research scholars from the Center for Social Medicine and Community Health. Four workers were referred to AIIMS.
“Through this camp JNUSU is striving to ensure rights and facilities, so far denied to large number of daily wage workers,” said Sandeep, president, JNUSU. According to the doctors, most of the diseases were work related skin problems. Chest and breathing problems were also noticed.
“The medical camp was held as part of countrywide efforts to ensure the release of people’s doctor and PUCL vice-president Binayak Sen’s release,” said Sandeep, president, JNUSU. “Binayak Sen is presently incarcerated and was earlier a part of the faculty of the CSMCH.”
Binayak was arrested from Chhattisgarh on May14, 2007 under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“JNUSU plans to continue with the efforts and do follow up camps in next week, once the medicines are organised,” said Sandeep.
On 14th May 2007 when the Chattisgarh police arrested reputed public health and civil rights activist Dr Binayak Sen they threw into prison along with him all of Indian Democracy itself.
Detained under the draconian ‘Unlawful Activities Prevention Act’ on false charges of being a ‘Naxal’, slandered in the media, denied bail by the Supreme Court, Dr Sen’s case stands as a challenge to every Indian who aspires for a humane, democratic and civilized India. If this is the treatment meted out to the Vice-President of a national civil rights organization and a doctor of international reputation, who has dedicated three decades of his life to work among the rural poor and tribals, it can very well be imagined what more ordinary citizens are undergoing all over the country.
Right now as we write Dr Sen continues to be in jail and hearings of the case against him in the Chattisgarh High Court have commenced. While the future course of the trial cannot be fully predicted, going by past experience, it could be several years before even a judgment of sorts will be delivered. In the meanwhile Dr Sen, who has already lost 15 kilos in just ten months of imprisonment and is in poor health, will continue to languish in jail- robbed of his freedom for the sole crime of working with the poor and defending democratic rights.
However, given the vague provisions of the law under which Dr Sen has been arrested as also the deliberate delays in the legal process it is difficult to envisage how his release can be achieved without a national level social and political movement.
There is an urgent need now to carry forward the mission that Dr Sen has dedicated his life to – namely public health work among the poor and civil liberties activism on behalf of the powerless. The message that we, the people of India, need to send to those who are willfully throttling Indian democracy must be – ‘if you arrest one Dr Sen we will make sure there are many more like him to take his mission forward’.
It is with this objective it is proposed to hold regular medical camps and public health campaigns across India, starting modestly with one camp in the last week of every month in six or seven cities and towns. The camps will be organized by groups working with urban poor communities in various parts of India together with concerned medical professionals who are interested in both Dr Sen’s release as well as the cause of public health in general.
These camps and campaigns will over course of time highlight the work done by Dr Sen, particularly in the area of nutrition and the link between socio-economic rights and health.
We appeal to all who wish to work for a more democratic, just and healthier India to come forward and contribute to these campaigns in whatever way they can.
For further information contact:
- Dr Prabir Chatterjee firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 9433310060
- Dr Rakhal, Chennai email@example.com Ph: 9940246089
- Satya Sivaraman, New Delhi firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 9818514952
- George Sabu, New Delhi email@example.com Ph: 9810619901
- Dr Punyabrata Gun, Kolkata firstname.lastname@example.org 9830922194