Posts Tagged ‘health and human rights
Civil society groups, academics and human rights activists have come together and appealed to the Chhattisgarh High Court to reverse the “injustice” meted out to human rights activist Binayak Sen.
In an appeal sent to the Chief Justice of the High Court, they said that if this was not ensured, India’s already dented credentials as a democracy and an upholder of human rights would be irreversibly damaged.
“While hearing the appeal for bail and reversal of the judgment of the Raipur sessions court, we urge the Chhattisgarh High Court to consider this case in the light of the complete lack of concrete and independent evidence against Dr. Sen, and his demonstrated commitment to promote human rights through non-violent means. It would be highly desirable to ensure speediest possible hearings in this case, enabling an early decision,” the appeal said. It expressed confidence that given the entire background, timely justice would be done.
The appeal was issued at the end of the annual meeting of the Medico Friend Circle held in Nagpur.
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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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On Jan 4, the day this issue of The Lancet went to press, Binayak Sen should have been celebrating his 61st birthday. Instead, found guilty of treason and sedition by a court in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, Sen is facing the bleak prospect of a life behind bars. It is an inhumane sentence for a committed humanitarian, whose life before his imprisonment was devoted to improving the health and welfare of some of the most marginalised and poverty-stricken people in India—the Adivasi. This work led to Sen becoming the first Indian recipient of the Jonathan Mann award for Global Health and Human Rights in 2008.
From the outset the charges against Sen reeked of political motivation—a reaction to Sen’s tireless documentation of human rights abuse at the hands of the state. He was accused, on the flimsiest of evidence, of acting as a courier for the imprisoned Maoist leader Narayan Sanyal. The subsequent trial, spanning more than 3 years, was Kafkaesque. Its conclusion is a travesty.
Reaction to the ruling was swift, with the Indian press unanimous in their criticism of the court’s decision. Amnesty International described Sen as a prisoner of conscience, while a statement signed by over 80 prominent academics worldwide decried the sentence as savagery. The Lancet adds its voice to this chorus of condemnation.
In April, 2009, we called for the Indian Government to intervene in the case, and ensure that justice be done. An injustice can still be overturned by India’s supreme court. If it is not, the already profound damage done to India’s credentials as an upholder of human rights will be damaged for years to come. Where the state failed to provide for its poorest citizens, Sen stepped in to give them health care and to champion their rights. His reward: to be convicted under a section of the penal code first introduced by the British to quell political dissent, and later used to convict Mahatma Ghandi. On his conviction, Ghandi argued that the administration of the law had been “prostituted consciously or unconsciously for the benefit of the exploiter”. The conviction of Binayak Sen shows that, in parts of modern India, precious little has changed.
PRESS RELEASE 4TH Jan 2011
Today on the 61st birthday of Dr Binayak Sen group of physicians, health activists and human right defenders have come together to form Physician for Human Rights- India. This independent and non political organisation will work on the principles of human rights, medical ethics and social justice. Physicians for Human Rights is a worldwide organisation established in 1981 with a solid foundation of over two decades of investigation, advocacy and accomplishment. It has campaigned vigorously for the human rights of health care workers in various countries and has been in the forefront of the International campaign for justice for Binayak. In fact its founder Jonathan Fine has been in India closely following the case and was present at Binayak’s trial.
We choose to offer the position of Honorary Chairman of Physicians for Human Rights / India to Dr.Binayak Sen who has given his life to these principles and to serve the poorest among us. Without neglecting others equally worthy, we will work tirelessly for his release from prison and complete exoneration of unjust accusations. His prompt return to the fight for human rights, civil liberties and service of India’s masses is essential for the sake of our nation. We strongly communicate our dismay and call for the dropping of charges , recognition of his exceptional contribution to Health & Human rights , his sacrifices & his deep commitment , & rare integrity , his proclaimed consistent support of Non Violence .It was for the above human values reflected in his life & work he was awarded for being a role model for Medical students , by CMC Vellore his Alma Mater .R.R Keithan award for demonstrating the values of the ” father of the Nation” and Johnathan Mann award for his work with the Tribals .
Physicians for Human Rights – India will mobilize health professionals to advance health, dignity and justice, and to promote the right to health for all. Harnessing the specialized skills, rigor, and passion of doctors, nurses, public health specialists and scientists, PHR India will investigate human rights abuses and will work towards stopping them . We believe that human rights are essential preconditions for the health and well-being of all people. PHR India will educate health professionals and medical, public health, and nursing students and organize them to become active in supporting a movement for human rights and creating a culture of human rights in the medical and scientific professions.
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As the New Year of 2011 rolls in it will already be an entire week inside a cold and harsh Raipur prison for Dr Binayak Sen.
For many of us the conviction of this well-known health and human rights activist by a local court in Chattisgarh for ‘sedition’ and ‘conspiracy’ has made it impossible to mouth clichés like ‘Happy New Year’ to anyone anymore. It is really more an ‘Angry New Year’ and that will remain our greeting till Dr Sen is released, all charges against him dropped, his tormentors punished and his family compensated for all the torture they have undergone and are going through.
We are angry at the state terrorism of the Chhattisgarh government, using the Maoist insurgency as an excuse, for a wholesale attack on all democratic principles. We are angry at the political persecution of Dr Sen and many others in Chhattisgarh for taking up the cause of tribal populations. We are angry at the summary executions of ordinary people by police or their displacement from ancestral lands by corporations with the help of corrupt governments.
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in New Delhi
The Supreme Court directive to release Dr. Binayak Sen on bail raises the question of the illegality of his detention .
THE Supreme Court’s direction on May 25 to release Dr. Binayak Sen, vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), on bail from the Raipur Central Jail marks a milestone in the history of the civil liberties movement in India. Never before has the bail plea of an individual unjustly kept in prison been the subject of such an intense campaign by intellectuals and activists across the world.
The campaign seeking Sen’s freedom intensified after 22 Nobel Prize winners, including Amartya Sen, signed a public statement on May 9 last year describing him as a “professional colleague” and appealing to the President and the Prime Minister to ensure his release so that he could receive in person the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in Washington. The helplessness of the Centre, and the refusal of the Chhattisgarh government to oblige only indicated that the struggle for Sen’s freedom could be long and daunting.
By Patralekha Chatterjee
There is much to celebrate. Dr Binayak Sen has been finally granted bail by the Supreme Court. The 59-year-old doctor and human rights activist has paid a steep price for defending the health and rights of tribal communities in remote pockets of Chhattisgarh: two precious years of his life spent within the four walls of Raipur jail, and denial of medical treatment at a hospital of his choice despite a heart ailment and worldwide pleas from Nobel laureates, human rights activists, doctors and numerous concerned citizens.
The personal ordeal of Dr Sen, winner of the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, appears to be temporarily over. But the issues thrown up by the Binayak Sen case go beyond an individual, his iconic status, or the suffering of his family. They raise inconvenient questions about India today, which can be dodged only at great risk.
“The bail has nothing to do with the ongoing trial. It’s the discretion of the Supreme Court to grant him bail. But the trial will continue”, said a miffed Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh’s BJP chief minister, immediately after the order of the country’s highest court. Dr Sen was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act in May 2007 for suspected links with Maoist rebels. The prosecution has failed to throw up legally-admissible evidence to support the accusations in the chargesheet till date, and this is not for want of trying.
Here’s a bit of context to Dr Sen, the public health activist. I caught a glimpse of the man’s vision on a visit to the health clinic in Bagrimnala village, a tribal backwater plagued by malaria and malnutrition in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district, in mid-April this year.
David Barsamian Interviews Satya Sivaraman
Satya Sivaraman is an independent journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist based in New Delhi. He is the author of “Asia Sees America and other Rants.”
In your article “The Mistrial of Dr. Binayak Sen” you write, “Anyone trying to figure out, after the recent Mumbai attacks, whether India will ever win its war on terrorism should take a close look at a court case currently underway in the central Indian province of Chhattisgarh.” Who is Binayak Sen?
Dr. Binayak Sen is a medical doctor who has been working in the province of Chhattisgarh. He’s a graduate of the prestigious Christian Medical College in Vellore, in south India. When he was employed at the one of the top universities in Delhi, he decided to go to this province where there was a very interesting independent trade union movement called the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, where the union leaders, apart from the usual union kind of activities and activism, wanted to also address issues of health, particularly for workers, because the state of public health and public health infrastructure is so poor in many parts of India.
So he went there and he helped set up the Shaheed (Martyrs) Hospital, which became the first hospital run by a trade union in this country. It was low-cost health care for the first time affordable to a lot of people, not just workers but the whole area around the hospital. Shankar Guha Niyogi, the leader of the trade union movement was the visionary behind this whole idea of integrating health care into trade union activities. Health care as in direct intervention in health care; not just demanding that the government give them medical facilities but also actually doing somebody about it hands on. Niyogi was assassinated in 1991 by goons allegedly hired by the owners of the Simplex Group of companies.
Binayak Sen symbolizes the kind of dignified prisoner of conscience who inspires people who have never thought of civil liberties to campaign for his freedom
Here, There, Everywhere | Salil Tripathi
Hold those celebrations cheering India as the world’s most populous democracy.
Two years ago today, the Chhattisgarh Police arrested Binayak Sen, a paediatrician who has spent three decades treating the poor in the state’s remote parts, for collaborating with Maoists. Sen was accused of helping communication between clandestine groups that couldn’t interact with each other freely. In fact, he was meeting a sick Maoist leader, with permission from a senior police official.
The State has at its disposal draconian, colonial-era laws—tightened in post-independent India—which it used to arrest Sen, and to keep him in jail. It has vigorously challenged his appeals, despite his deteriorating health. Last year, the Global Health Council gave him the Jonathan Mann Award for health and human rights; 22 Nobel laureates have called for his release; and Sen symbolizes the kind of dignified prisoner of conscience who inspires people who have never thought of civil liberties to campaign for his freedom.
Tuesday 12 May 2009
by: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
On May 13, the world’s most populous democracy will complete its periodical, primary exercise in popular governance. On this date, India will complete its month-long, five-phase general election.
The very next day, however, will mark the second anniversary of the arrest of a medical missionary and human rights activist of India. The case of Binayak Sen will continue to illustrate the struggle in India, as elsewhere, for democracy beyond elections.
Binayak’s story has been told several times (including in my article, The Importance of Saving Binayak Sen, June 03, 2007) since the police took him away from his home on a tribal district in India’s central state of Chhattisgarh on May 14, 2007. The reputed doctor, with a widely recognized record in health care for some of the most helplessly wretched of the earth, has been denied bail repeatedly since then and treated as a dangerous criminal.
He has been detained under two draconian Indian laws – the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CPSA), placed on the statute book only in 2005, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Both these laws allow for arbitrary detention without any right to appeal. The string of charges against him includes sedition, criminal conspiracy, making war against the nation, and knowingly using the proceeds of terrorism.
The main case of the state government of Chhattisgarh, fully controlled by the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), casts Binayak in the role of an accomplice to the Maoist insurgents active in the tribal territory. The case has been spiced up with the specific charge that he was acting as a messenger between the insurgents and a high-security, Maoist inmate of the Chhattisgarh prison, Narayan Sanyal. The charges have been repeatedly refuted.