May 14 2009
A shameful anniversary
India has never before witnessed such mobilisation of international and national support for a person imprisoned within its borders. Twentytwo Nobel laureates from different countries have issued spirited statements of protest against the continued detention of Dr Binayak Sen, a public health activist and civil liberties defender. International medical journals, including The Lancet and the British Medical Journal, have written strong editorials deploring his detention in Raipur, capital of the Central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Solidarity in the cause of securing his release has acquired the dimensions of a mass movement, with hundreds of people demonstrating or courting arrest in several cities across the globe every Monday. Health professionals, academics, human rights activists, artists, writers and film-makers have weighed in for Dr Sen’s release. Amnesty International has named him a Prisoner of Conscience.
Dozens of individuals have lobbied the government to free him. Legal fora all the way from a magistrate’s court in Raipur to the Supreme Court have been moved for his release. Public-spirited citizens who support Dr Sen have set up a remarkable website in solidarity with him (www.binayaksen.net). It receives an incredible 16,000 hits a day-more than the websites of many major newspapers.
And yet, never before has a government in India proved so thick-skinned and impervious to appeals made on behalf of such a person. Dr Sen was wrongly detained under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act 2005 (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004. On May 14, he completed two years of his detention-a shameful anniversary if there ever was one.
The PSA is a nasty law, which criminalises even peaceful protest, by declaring it “a danger or menace to public order, peace and tranquillity”, because it might interfere with or “tends to interfere with the maintenance of public order [ or] the administration of law.” This extremely harsh preventive detention law makes nonsense even of the idea of civil disobedience, a cornerstone of India’s Freedom Struggle. It should have no place in a democracy. Yet, the state government has filed a 750-page chargesheet against Dr Sen under PSA and other laws.
By Scott Shepherd
A GROUP of campaigners chained themselves together yesterday to campaign for the release of a top doctor jailed for speaking out about poverty.
Doctor Binayak Sen worked with the poorest people in central India for decades but was thrown in jail two years a go for speaking up for his patients.
The shackled campaigners – who included MSP and GP Richard Simpson – dressed in white coats and masks outside the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.
High Commissioner Refuses to Meet Delegation as Supporters in London raise Slogans Demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen on the Second anniversary of his arrest
A large demonstration, organized by the Release Binayak Sen Now campaign, took place in front of the Indian High Commission in London, between 2 and 6 pm today, demanding the immediate release of one of India’s most prominent medical and human rights activists. Wearing tunics that read ‘RELEASE DR BINAYAK SEN, PEOPLE’S DOCTOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER’, about a 80 demonstrators shouted slogans, sang songs, and handed out leaflets to passers-by. A delegation from the Release Binayak Sen Now campaign waited to meet the Indian High Commissioner, in order to hand him a petition signed by over 1,500 people who seek Sen’s release. The High Commissioner, however, refused to meet them.
The Campaigners raised slogans in English and in Hindi, which included ‘Indian Democracy Shame Shame’, ‘Justice for Binayak Sen’ and ‘Raman Singh sharam karo, Binayak Sen ko riha karo’. Representatives of Amnesty International were present during the demonstration and lent their full support to the campaign. More than a 1000 leaflets were distributed to the public and many people expressed deep concern and shock that a doctor and human rights campaigner should have been locked up for two years in India. Many others, both tourists and Londoners stopped to take photographs of the demonstration and expressed their support for Dr. Binayak Sen.
By Philadelphia chapter of Association for India’s Development
May 14, 2009, Philadelphia: Today marked the second anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of Dr. Binayak Sen, a kindly, bearded doctor with a lifelong commitment to the issues of community health and human rights, who has worked his entire life in service of the the remote tribal reaches in central India. Dr. Sen’s arrest has been condemned and questioned worldwide by prominent organizations and individuals. Dr. Binayak Sen, a brilliant doctor, human rights activist, vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the receiver of 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights has been kept behind the bars for two years by the Chhattisgarh police under the highly controversial “black laws” (CSPAS and UAPA) only on basis of some baseless accusations. None of the 64 witnesses examined so far have said anything against Dr. Sen. But Dr. Sen still keeps on languishing in jail with an ailing heart and in need of immediate medical attention, which also is being denied to him. Both the Chhattisgarh government and the government of India have turned deaf ear to all the national and international outcries. In spite of the fact that Dr. Binayak has a unblemished record of public service both as a medical doctor amongst the poorest and as a human rights crusader, Dr. Sen’s pleas for bail have been denied by the Chhattisgarh courts as well as the Supreme Court multiple times.
“The fake encounters, rapes, burning of villages and displacement of adivasis [indigenous tribals] in tens of thousands and consequent loss of livelihoods have been extensively chronicled by several independent investigations. Dr Sen’s arrest is clearly an attempt to intimidate PUCL and other democratic voices that have been speaking out against human rights violations in the state.” (Dr. Noam Chomsky)
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‘Release Dr. Binayak Sen Committee’- Pune organized a silent protest march yesterday evening to demand that BJP’s Chhattisgarh Govt. must release Dr. Binayak Sen. More than a hundred protesters ( mostly youth and intellectuals belonging to a whole range of organizations) marched for about one and a half kilometers from the Senapati Bapat statue towards the BJP office in the heart of the olds city. Protesters symbolically wore black ribbons across their mouths and more than half were wearing the Binayak Sen T shirt specially designed for today’s programme in different parts of India. Though it was a ‘silent’ rally, during the hour long rally, there was repeated announcement on the mike explaining why the silent protest March has been organized. This was quite effective and people were reading the Patrak being distributed along the way. At the beginning and end of the rally there were slogan shouting, songs, street play. Some of us formed a delegation to hand over a letter to the BJP Pune unit. This letter at the end urged them “to communicate the strong sentiments of citizens of Pune to the BJP national leadership, asking them to prevail upon the BJP led State Government in Chhattisgarh, to ensure that the unjustified charges against Dr. Binayak Sen are dropped immediately, enabling his release.”
This programme has been covered today by most of the papers and BJP has got fair amount of bad publicity. IBN Lokmat a TV chanel aired a programme in the morning in which Abhay Shukla was interviewed and in the afternoon news there was a brief telephonic interview of Binayak’s daughter – Pranhita in Raipur anf myself in Pune.
Sakal, the most widely read Marathi paper carried yesterday an article by Milind Chavan on Binayak Sen and Lalit Mehta. This article critically analyses the murder of Lalit Mehta on 14th May 2008, incarceration of Binayak from 14th May 2007 and the murder of Narayan Hareka, Kameshwar Yadav, A. T. Babu – all working for the rights of the underprivileged. On the 8th May, Sakal had published a critical article by Anand Teltumbade, (a renowned leftist/Ambedkarist economist) on the continued incarceration obf Binayak.
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International Groups Demand Justice on the Second Anniversary of Dr. Binayak Sen’s Ongoing Imprisonment
Press Contact: Somnath Mukherji
May 14, Cambridge, MA: Student and human rights groups gathered on May 14th in several cities in the U.S. and Europe, including Boston, Washington, D.C., Buffalo, Philadelphia, London, Edinburgh and Berlin, to protest the continued and unjust incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen by the government of the state of Chhattisgarh, India.
Close to 70 people stood in a circle in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, to mark the second anniversary of his imprisonment and demand his immediate release. The group chanted, “Jailing him is insane – Free, Free Binayak Sen”. Coming from diverse backgrounds, people held up posters asking whether the price of working for the poor was jail. The gathering demanded the freedom of Dr. Sen along with the freedom from corruption and oppression of the indigenous communities of Chhattisgarh, for whom Dr. Sen has dedicated his life.
Dr. Sen, a human rights activist and physician for the poor, has been under detention without bail since May 2007. The protests are part of an ongoing global campaign by a coalition of over 50 International groups, including Amnesty International, Association for India’s Development, National Lawyers’ Guild and a group of 22 Nobel Laureates, which have all called for the immediate release of Dr. Sen. In India, thousands of supporters are courting arrest as part of the Raipur Satyagraha, a mass civil disobedience action in the city of Raipur where Dr. Sen is incarcerated.
Samalochana organized protest march against detention of Chattisgarh,PUCL general secretary Dr Binayak sen at Anakapalle at Muncipal office.
Protest was organized on the eve of completion of 2 years of his detention. Protest was inaugurated by AjayKumar, General secretary,APVVU. Speaking on the occasion Mr Ajaykumar said ”Chattisgarh had 80% of Indias mineral reserves and the state entered in to MOU with several Indian and multinational giants to set up large industries by snatching away local adivasi resources. The reason behind Dr Binayak sen detention is to convey message to all the people who oppose states unilateral resources allocation to industrial giants.”
Chakradhar-samalochana executive director said-India is having dubious distinction of even hard core criminals, peoples who loot public properties go to jail and come back as if they are their in-laws houses where as Dr Sen against who police filed to garner any credible evidence is languishing in jail for last 2 years. If the situation continues judiciary will also lose credibility. Basha from yuvakeka opined Dr Sen’s detention is testimony to the growing intolerance of Indian state against people who oppose their politics.Pamphlets were distributed to the public on the occasion.
The protest was attended by youth from youth from diffrenet organization in Anapalle.
HYDERABAD: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) State committee has demanded that Chhattisgarh State government release Binayak Sen who was arrested two years ago by the police under the provisions of the Special Public Security Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for suspected nexus with Maoists.According to PUCL leaders, Binayak Sen, 58, is a paediatrician who has been serving the public for 25 years. He has always opposed Maoist violence. He was the general secretary of the State unit of the PUCL and later became its national vice president. He was also in the advisory committee of the Chhattisgarh health department.Addressing a news conference here today, PUCL general secretary Jaya Vindhyala demanded immediate release of Sen and restoration of human rights in the State. She also demanded that the AP government drop all charges against revolutionary writer Gadar besides releasing the prisoners who completed 7 years of sentence, as per a GO. PUCL State unit leaders Keshawarao Jadav, Iqbal Khan and Vittal Rao were among those present.
Daijiworld Media Network—Mangalore (RS/CN)
Mangalore, May 15: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) called for the unconditional release of human rights activist Dr Binayaka Sen by protesting in front of the deputy commissioner’s (DC) office here on Thursday May 14.
The protesters urged that Dr Sen, who has been in Raipur jail for two years, be released immediately as the Chattisgarh government had failed to prove the charges against him.
P B D’Sa, district president of PUCL, said, “Dr Sen’s remand is a conspiracy by the government and it is a clear act of destroying the power of activism and compressing the pro-people’s voice.”
“Of the 83 prosecution witnesses, 16 were dropped and six declared hostile while another 61 have been deposed without corroborating any of the accusations against him. Dr Sen is in jail and his health is critical as he has been denied medical treatment”, he said.
Pattabhirama Somayaji said, “The only accusations against Dr Sen are the comments on ‘Salwa Judum’, which is a private team against the activists powered by the state government of Chattisgarh led by the BJP. The arrest and remand of Dr Sen over the past two years is a violation of human rights. The state government of Chattisgarh wants to keep the human rights activist in jail, hence he has not been released despite demands from all over the world.
PUCL leaders Suresh Bhat, Melvin Pinto, and Kabir Ullal were present.
Pics: Prajwal Ukkuda