Posts Tagged ‘2011
From Spirit of 1848 Listserve
Lancet India series “Towards Universal Health Care” was launched in Delhi yesterday. Dr Binayak’s contribution is in it. He was supposed to be on the panel. An empty chair with his name was kept. I attached the poster in front which has pictures of Mandela, Suu Kyi & Binayak. Richard Norton editor Lancet talked about Binayak in his opening address & so did Dr. Srinath Reddy Chair Public Health Foundation & also chair High Level Expert committee on Universal Coverage of Health Care formed by the PM. On 15th the Artists for human Rights are protesting musically & on 30th Jan Mahatama Gandhi’s Matyrdom day protests for Binayak will be held all over the country & outside. Binayak’s case comes up in Bilaspur High Court in Chhattisgarh on 24th Jan Ilina Dr. Binayak’s wife had come to the MFC meeting on 7th evening to share. It has been very painful for the family specially Binayak’s 84 year old mother & his daughters, besides Ilina who is being treated for cancer herself, trying to manage her teaching job, spend hours in the never ending legal battles. Just keeping you all updated.
The conviction of doctor and human-rights activist, Binayak Sen, could have implications for India’s attempts to achieve universal health-care coverage. Patralekha Chatterjee reports.
At a time when India is working towards making access to health-care universal, a 61-year-old medical doctor, nationally and internationally acclaimed for running health clinics for poor tribal communities in remote parts of central India, is fighting a grim battle to prove he is not a threat to the country’s security.
Doctor and civil-rights activist Binayak Sen, the first Indian recipient of the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, is in jail. On Dec 24, 2010, a trial court in Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh state in central India, sentenced Sen to life imprisonment for sedition on the charge that he carried a letter between two members of a banned left-wing extremist outfit.
The doctor vehemently denies any wrongdoing and has appealed to the High Court, which will take up the matter on Jan 24. His family and legion of supporters inside and outside India point to the many glaring loopholes in the prosecution’s evidence.
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The Irish Times – Thursday, January 13, 2011
Opinion & Analysis
THE CONVICTION for sedition and the life sentence imposed on renowned Indian paediatrician and human rights activist Binayak Sen is a serious stain on India’s democratic credentials. It also appears to be a flagrant breach of legal precedent established by the country’s own supreme court.
The trial has prompted widespread concern from rights groups, the media, academics, and medical colleagues in India and internationally. The British medical journal, the Lancet , has rightly described the trial as “Kafkaesque”, the sentence, “a travesty”. The latter is “so over the top and outrageous that it calls into question the fundamentals of the Indian justice system,” India’s the Hindu newspaper argued.
Dr Sen, an outspoken critic over three decades of both rebel violence and state repression, particularly against the tribal Adivasi people, was convicted on December 24th by a Chhattisgarh state court under the vague terms of penal code provisions prohibiting words or actions which promote “hatred or contempt, or excite or attempt to excite disaffection” towards the government. A legacy of colonial times, the clause was used to convict Mahatma Gandhi, and Nobel-laureate Arundhati Roy was recently threatened under it for a speech on Kashmir. The offence was ostensibly curtailed, however, when the supreme court ruled in 1962 that, given a constitutional protection of free speech, unless violence was incited sedition could not be found.
Prosecutors produced no evidence of incitement by Dr Sen but instead relied on dubious claims that he acted as a courier between an ailing, jailed Maoist leader he had been visiting and a supporter outside prison. The meetings, which took place in the presence of officials, were undertaken in Dr Sen’s capacity as both medical doctor and local representative of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Defence lawyers claim a “smoking gun” letter, purportedly from the Maoists and urging Dr Sen to investigate police atrocities in a Maoist stronghold, was forged by police.
Dr Sen’s real “offence”, and that of many others under arrest in the Chhattisgarh region, appears to have been to try to draw attention to brutal government-backed vigilantes, the Salwa Judum, who raided rebel-dominated villages in the mid-2000s, forcing tens of thousands to abandon their homes. The “if you’re not with us you’re against us” paranoia of the state government has produced a serious injustice. Dr Sen must be freed and the role of the authorities investigated.
India: Towards Universal Health Coverage
Published January 11, 2011
This Series of papers on India’s path to full health coverage reveals that a failing health system is perhaps India’s greatest predicament. The papers in this Series reveal the full extent of opportunities and difficulties in Indian healthcare, by examining infectious and chronic diseases, availability of treatments and doctors, and the infrastructure to bring about universal health care by 2020. The Series brings together a rapidly growing body of evidence to show that Indian health is in crisis. As the country with the largest democracy in the world, India is well positioned to put health high on the political agenda.
One notable absentee from the launch of the Series on Jan 11, 2011 is paediatrician and Comment author Binayak Sen. He remains in prison, an appalling situation discussed in an Editorial in the Jan 8-14 issue of The Lancet.
The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 11 January 2011
Securing the right to health for all in India
The debates around securing the right to health for all in India are at a complex and sensitive stage. In India, we have gross inequity in health-care delivery. The huge inequity is evident, on the one hand, in flourishing international medical tourism, and high-technology biomedical interventions done cheaply, and, on the other, minimum levels of health care being unavailable to those unable to pay.1
The health status of people transcends the health-care sector, and the social determinants of health, such as food, water, sewerage, and shelter, still elude large numbers of the poorest citizens in India. Between the early 1990s, when the process of economic reforms began, and now, the yearly per head consumption of food grains in the country has drastically deteriorated.2 The latest National Family Health Survey (2005—06) provided grim evidence of very slow improvement in infant mortality, persistently low rates of child immunisation, and shocking rates of malnutrition.3 Inequity in social determinants of health and health care in a market-based system itself becomes a pathogenic factor that drives the engine of deprivation.
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The life sentence awarded to Binayak Sen would only accelerate the process of debasement of democracy and the rule of law.
THE Raipur Sessions Court has shocked the citizen’s conscience by delivering a judgment that makes a mockery of fundamental rights. The judgment against human rights defender and health activist Binayak Sen has brought unprecedented disgrace and ignominy upon India’s judicial system, and more generally, upon Indian society and politics. It will take a Herculean effort to roll back the personal, institutional, social and political damage that the verdict has caused. Merely overturning it in a higher court will not be enough.
Awarding life imprisonment to someone charged with an offence no greater than that of passing on letters from an undertrial prisoner to an allegedly extremist group’s leaders should appear altogether revolting to a civilised mind. This violates the principle of proportionality between crime and punishment (or provocation and reprisal).
On January 8, 2011 at 3 pm Free Binayak Sen Campaign–Doctors in Solidarity addressed a press conference at the Calcutta Press Club.
The doctors present called for immediate release of Dr. Binayak Sen. They declared that signature campaign will be launched in five medical colleges of the city demanding his release.
It has been declared that doctors will raise fund to help Dr. Sen’s legal battle.
Medical College Democratic Students’ Association has decided that it will organise a Free Binayak Sen Blood Donation Camp on January 22, Saturday at Medical College from 9 am.
COURT SAYS PARAMILITARY APPROACH IS A PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION
ALL SIDES AGREE ON NEED FOR HIGH LEVEL MONITORING COMMITTEE – DIFFER ON ITS COMPOSITION
PRESS RELEASE ON HEARING OF SALWA JUDUM MATTER
7th January 2011
The Salwa Judum matter was heard in Court 9 of the Supreme Court today by Justice Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar. This time all the main parties to the court were present – the last few times, the Solicitor General had asked for adjournments. The petitioners were represented by Senior Counsel, Mr. Ashok Desai (who is arguing the case pro-bono), the Centre by the Solicitor General, Mr. Gopal Subramanium and the State of Chhattisgarh by Mr. Harish Salve and Mr. Manish Singhvi.
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On 4 January 2011, the occasion of Dr Binayak Sen’s 61st birthday, the Free Binayak Sen Campaign together with groups working on issues of the health and nutrition has launched an initiative to distribute blankets and feed homeless people in Delhi.
The month-long initiative is meant to help homeless citizens of Delhi to tide over the coldest part of the winter with additional nutrition. Many homeless people die every year in Delhi and other parts of northern India due to severe malnutrition during winter months.
The initiative is part of a larger campaign calling for the immediate release of Dr Sen, who has was unjustly sentenced on 24 December 2010 by a local court in Chhattisgarh to life imprisonment for ‘sedition’ and ‘conspiracy’.
The initiative is also meant to bring public attention on the issue of malnutrition among India’s poorest communities which Dr Binayak Sen, along with other public health workers, have been highlighting for many years.
Times of India, 7 January 2011
by Dipankar Gupta
When Binayak Sen was arrested it gave a much-needed boost to the Maoists. As they advocate violence to achieve their ends, it is like oxygen for them every time the state commits a travesty of justice. It is worth remembering that armed movements, of whatever variety, have succeeded only in autocratic, dictatorial and monarchical states, but never in democratic ones.
If there is one major reason why communists have failed in contemporary times, it is because they do not know how to function in a democracy. Whether it is Russia, China or Cuba, communists struck successfully in places where democracy was missing. This generalisation holds true not just in the case of insurrectionary communists, but for all those who advocate violence as a political weapon.
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Hindustan Times, January 03, 2011
by Praful Bidwai
The Raipur sessions court judgment against civil liberties defender and health activist Binayak Sen has provoked outrage. His two-year long detention had drawn protests from the world over. The only substantial charge against Sen is that he passed on three letters from Narayan Sanyal, an undertrial, suspected — but not yet proved — to be a Maoist, to the Maoist leadership.
It takes several leaps of imagination, or nasty prejudice, to pronounce that carrying three pieces of paper containing trivialities such as congratulating the CPI (Maoist) on completing its party congress, amounts to sedition. Sedition means spreading disaffection against the state. It was introduced into the Indian Penal Code by the colonial State to repress the freedom struggle and muzzle the freedom of expression.
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