Archive for May, 2008
Statement of the convention
organised by PEACE, HRLN and ANHAD
Each time there is a bomb blast like the recent one in Jaipur, the Indian State reaches out its ‘long arms of injustice’ to pick a scapegoat from amidst the Indian population to cover up its own incompetence in providing security to its citizens.
The hapless creature, decorated and demonized by the ‘fashion designers’ of Indian officialdom, is then paraded before the entire nation to create a public spectacle prior to its ritual sacrifice.
The armchair warriors then call for ‘tougher laws’ to deal with terrorism while the scapegoat disappears forever into the black hole of the Indian prison system.
That the ‘prime suspects’ in such cases always happen to be bearded young Muslim men and Islamic theologists to boot is not a surprise at all. In the racist imagination of theadministration, police , intelligence agencies , security forces, sections of the media and politicians all the criminals in this country wear their ‘criminality’ on their faces- the suspects are always MAD- Muslim, Adivasi, Dalit.
Here is a brief report that appeared all day yesterday on the Indian TV channel IBN Live, showing a clip of Dr. Ilina’s speech accepting the Jonathan Mann Award on behalf of Dr. Binayak Sen in Washington DC on May 29.
Saturday May 31 2008 17:52 IST
The new Indian Express
G Babu Jayakumar
AS the band of drummers danced their way into the hall, the motley crowd waiting outside, followed them to join those already seated in the gallery, kickstarting the two-hour cultural extravaganza organised to protest the arrest of Dr Binayak Sen, a human rights activist in Chhattisgarh and also to coincide with the presentation of the Jonathan Mann Award to him at Washington on Thursday.
Organised by the committee for the release of Dr Binayak Sen in Chennai, the event, at the Chandralekha Centre in Besant Nagar, saw several groups of artistes from the marginalised sections of the society highlighting the atrocities committed on the common people by the establishment through folk songs, dance and a skit.
Armed Forces Special Powers Act completes 50 years as Indian law
While people couldn’t care less and the State continues to revel in the impunity granted to the armed forces, well-meaning social activists, journalists, academicians and young human rights activists demand the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 at a Seminar held in New Delhi on 22nd May 2008 –marking the 50 years of the legislation. The event went totally unreported in the Indian media. The author files this report and comments on various aspects of the draconian law.
50 years ago, on 22nd May 1958, in the face of rising political dissent in the North-east, India decided to add fiction to its laws -the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Though enacted only for a year, it has continued since. It contravenes the fundamental principles of jurisprudence, Indian law, particularly the right to life and right to a fair trial and international standards, particularly the derogable and non-derogable provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a signatory.
Doctors, academics and human rights campaigners in Scotland gathered on Thursday 29 May 2008 outside St. John’s Church, Edinburgh for a vigil demanding the immediate release of award-winning renowned doctor and human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen. On that day, Dr Sen was due to receive the Jonathan Mann Award For Global Health And Human Rights but cannot due to his illegal detention. Following the vigil, campaigners presented a letter to the Indian Consul in Edinburgh.
Dr. Sen’s arrest has been condemned worldwide by human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and PUCL, 22 British MPs who signed an Early Day Motion about the case; several Nobel laureates, well-known public health campaigner Dr Wendy Savage, Noam Chomsky, Aruna Roy, and Amartya Sen. Iain Gray MSP (Labour), Robin Harper MSP (Green), Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (SNP) and Bill Wilson MSP (SNP) have also given their support to the call for the release of Dr Sen.
Children protest incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen
Drumming up support: Members of Kanchi Makkal Mandram performing in Chennai on Thursday as part of a protest to seek the release of Dr. Binayak Sen.
CHENNAI: Protests from artists are often brushed under the carpet. But when a group of children decided to protest the continued incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen in a Chhattisgarh prison, the ‘Q’ Branch of the police showed up at the skit they performed.
Organised by the Corporate Accountability Desk, a protest programme was conducted at Elliot’s Beach Road on Thursday, in honour of Dr. Sen’s being conferred the prestigious Dr. Jonathan Mann Award. Played to a small and appreciative audience, the programme started with a ‘Parai’ performance by the Kanchi Makkal Mandram.
Venkat, one of the organisers, referred to ‘parai’ as the “voice of the oppressed.” This was followed by a series of songs against mindless consumerism by the Chennai Kalai Kuzhu.
The grand finale was a skit by children from ’Pudiyador,’ a non-governmental organisation dealing with children’s education on the state of Adivasis in Chhattisgarh.
May 24, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Public health issues are inextricably linked with human rights and it is only apt that many health professionals will involve themselves in such issues. The response of governments and the corporate sector to the work of such professionals suggests how they are seen as threats to the established order.
It is a year since Binayak Sen, a paediatrician and human rights activist from Chhattisgarh was arrested and placed in custody under sections of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (2004) for alleged links with the banned Maoist groups. To justify his detention, evidence is being manufactured to project him as a “hard core Naxal”, who supports violent means for opposing the state. This is despite the admission of the prosecution lawyer, during framing of charges in the sessions court, that he had no evidence of Bianyak being a Naxalite [Medico Friend Circle 2008]. Binayak’s “crime” is that, apart from providing medical care to the rural poor and working class communities, he felt compelled to be involved with the issue of human rights since he perceived health work not merely as provision of medical services but as efforts that counter the suppression of the socio-economic and political rights of the marginalised [Sathyamala 2007]. It was this perspective that led to his becoming a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and, later on, its vice-president due to his continued involvement in human rights issues.
Awards Banquet of the Global Health Council.
Washington, DC, May 29, 2008.
What I speak today reflects the thoughts of my husband Dr Binayak Sen, who, in other circumstances should have been here, as well as of myself. On behalf of PUCL, Rupantar, Medico Friends Circle, Jan Swasthya Sahayog, Peoples’ movements and Human Rights organizations across my country, we would like to thank the Global Health Council for the Jonathan Mann Award given this year to Dr Binayak Sen, as well as for the hospitality they have extended to me and my daughters. I can not emphasize how much this honor and recognition of our work, and the support of the global health community, means to us at this time. We would like also to specially remember the Christian Medical College, Vellore, and its alumni all over the world, who have made the cause of Binayak’s freedom their own. Binayak would especially like tell you that it is a great privilege to be heir to the legacy of Dr Jonathan Mann and to be able to carry it forward. Like Dr Mann, Binayak believes that unless we try to change the world it will never change, and he is even now paying the price for following this principle..
India’s anti-Maoist laws become an international embarrassment
Tribulation, but not a trial, for Dr Sen
May 29th 2008 | RAIPUR
From The Economist print edition
HOTEL MAHENDRA, in the capital of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, seems an unlikely spot from which to hatch a plot against the government. It is a humdrum hotel overlooking the city’s jail. But, according to state prosecutors, it is one of the places where Binayak Sen, a celebrated doctor and human-rights activist, conspired with Chhattisgarh’s Maoist insurgents. The doctor, whose trial began in April, has now spent over a year detained on the other side of the prison wall.
Dr Sen worked in the remote reaches of Chhattisgarh, one of several places where India’s Maoists (known as Naxalites) hold sway, raiding police stations, sabotaging telecom towers and intimidating villagers. He helped set up a hospital for miners and trained community health-workers. He is also an official of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which campaigns against human-rights abuses. He became a vocal critic of the government’s strategy of arming and mobilising villagers against the Naxalites, thereby relying on vigilantes to quell an insurgency which the state itself has failed to end.
The Indian government refused to release activist Binayak Sen, who was honored with the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights.(Associated Press)
By Nora Boustany
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, May 30, 2008; Page A10
An international effort led by Nobel laureates has failed to secure the release of a prominent Indian doctor and activist who was honored in Washington yesterday with the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights.
Binayak Sen, who has worked with the poorest of the poor in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, has been a vocal critic of the government’s use of armed groups to push villagers out of mineral-rich forests to boost development. He was jailed in April 2007 on sedition charges, including allegedly being linked to Maoist rebels and smuggling a letter for an accused Maoist prisoner he had visited.