Posts Tagged ‘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.
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
Report by Sarojini, Deepa and Aanchal
on behalf of the Delhi Binayak Release Committee.
‘Two Years Too Much! An Evening of Protest’ was organized in Delhi on May 14, 2009 by Artists for Human Rights and the Release Binayak Campaign to mark the second anniversary of Dr. Binayak Sen’s imprisonment.
The program took place on the lawns of Rabindra Bhawan, Mandi House, New Delhi from 5.30 p.m. till 9.00 p.m.
About 450 activists, students, eminent persons, academics, filmmakers, journalists, medical professionals and artists gathered to condemn Dr. Binayak Sen’s imprisonment, the murder of NREGA activist Lalit Mehta and state suppression of the voices of human rights defenders across the country. The evening was more a cultural protest, with song and poetry interspersed with just three speeches. Justice Rajinder Sachar, Illina Sen, Kaustav Banerjee and Arundhati Roy reiterated the gross injustice and violation of democratic values by the State and Judiciary, through the continued incarceration of Dr. Binayak and the need for continued struggle to demand his release and uphold democratic values.
Poetry by Manglesh Dabral, Gauhar Raza, K. Sachitanandan and Rehan encapsulated the repression by the state, and gave voice to the pain and struggle of those caught in the judicial maze.
It’s two years and the government is yet to take any step for the doctor’s release
(with inputs by Saloni Bhatia)
“Kick me, shake me, you can never break me” seemed to be the punch line of the emotionally charged ‘Free Binayak’ campaign held in Delhi on May 14. It marked the second year of imprisonment of human rights defender, Dr Binayak Sen, in Chhattisgarh.
The gathering saw hundreds of social activists, friends and supporters of Sen protesting against State atrocities through songs, poetry and straight-from-the-heart speeches. Participants voiced the need for a revolution and pledged their solidarity for the cause.
It started with a rendition Bob Dylan’s eternal classic, The Times They Are A-Changin. It was performed by a group of youngsters – Ritwik, Pakhi and Tushar, and everyone joined in the chorus. This was followed by a folk song, Gulabidas’s Marjeeva, by feminist Deepta Ghosh.
Explaining the song, she said, “Marjeeva denotes the man who dives into an ocean for pearls. It tells us that a person has to struggle and suffer pain to emerge successful and better than ever. Binayak Sen is also facing a tough struggle, but I know that like the Marjeeva, he will be vindicated and get justice in the end.”
Former Chief Justice of Delhi, Rajinder Sachar, was also present. “Why are we having this show? To convince ourselves, even though we know the truth? This campaign would only be successful if awareness is created outside these walls, and people are mobilised against injustice. I am ashamed to be a part of the judiciary that has meted out an unfair sentence to Binayak Sen. If Binayak is a Naxal, so am I,” he said. Amidst thunderous applause, Sachar continued, “I appeal to everyone to start a satyagraha and a jail bharo campaign to get justice for him. I assure you that I shall be the first satyagrahi to go to jail if this happens.”
Filmmaker and poet, Gauhar Raza, stirred emotions with his poems. “Lahu mein doobe yeh haath kab tak, rahenge dharma ke chaalak? (How long will these hands, soaked in blood, be the controllers of the people and religion?)” he read.
The campaigners demanded the immediate release of Dr Sen on medical grounds, an urgent repeal of draconian laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, the UAPA (amended), 2004 and immediate action to speed up trials of people who share Sen’s fate.
Author Arundhati Roy said, “Binayak’s imprisonment is unfair and must be repealed. The state has no evidence, and to complicate things, both the Congress and the BJP are in collusion to frame Sen. I appeal to all not to be frightened and fight against this injustice. Campaigns like these are the first step. Now, we must take things forward.”
Sen, a well-known paediatrician from Christian Medical College, Vellore, was a public-spirited doctor. Dedicated towards the cause of social good, he had spent nearly three decades providing medical services to the tribals of Chhattisgarh. It’s alleged that Sen was falsely implicated by the Chhattisgarh government. He was taken as a “Naxal supporter” after he raised his voice against the war waged by the State against its own people in the name of Salwa Judum. He has been in jail since May 2007 even as his health is deteriorating. Twenty-two Nobel laureates had signed a petition and sent to the prime minister appealing for Sen’s release. As yet, nothing has been done, learnt Hardnews.
ENGAGED CIRCLE -binayak sen
Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 20, Dated May 23, 2009
When truth is imprisoned and men reign over the law, India should stir up a storm, not watch unfazed
A FAMOUS STORY links two great Americans. When the United States invaded Mexico in 1846, Henry Thoreau, the great naturalist, refused to pay his taxes in an act of civil disobedience against the US and was sent to prison. His close friend and mentor from Harvard, Ralph Waldo Emerson came to see him in jail. Emerson quipped, “What are you doing inside?” The reply made Emerson blush. “What are you doing outside?” asked Thoreau.
Dr Binayak Sen, one of India’s noblest doctors, imprisoned by a cowardly Chhattisgarh administration because he exposed their crimes, might well speak to us in the manner of Thoreau were we to visit him. On May 14 it will be exactly two years since his unlawful arrest. There are times when jails become one of the few places of honour left in the world. After all, where would you like to find yourself if robbers and murderers were masquerading before the public as magistrates, judges and hangmen?
India today finds itself crouched in one such corner of shame. While well-known serial killers gamely garner tickets from national parties for elections and mass murderers sagely deliver their homilies from our television screens, women and men of integrity and courage must lurk and slide in the dark alleys of our cities or in the forlorn jungles of the land. It is a state of affairs which would have appalled and nauseated decent citizens a generation ago, let alone the heroes and heroines of our freedom movement. The sad truth is that as a civilisation, India’s standing in the world has suffered a precipitous fall during the last several years, even as our elated elite’s vainglorious aspirations to superpower-hood never miss a morning to announce themselves. Are they out of step, or are we? Time will tell, though it is as much up to us to determine which way the die of destiny will roll.
After six decades of freedom from colonial rule, India is still a largely poor country. One of the most severe forms of deprivation suffered by the poor is with respect to health, particularly so in a time when the cost of healthcare has shot up so dramatically. In such a context, it is worth asking how many Indian paediatricians one can name who have given 30 years of their lives as a volunteer in unstinting service to the needy poor in the countryside. At a guess, the actual number is in three figures and the name of Dr Binayak Sen figures prominently among them.
|Truth Trapped (above) On 2 February, 2008, Sen was taken in a police van to Raipur’s sessions court|
|Photo: SHAILENDRA PANDEY|
LETTERS AND APPEALS from Sen’s mother, 22 Nobel Laureates, Ex-Chief Justice of India — V.R.Krishna Iyer, Noam Chomsky and hundreds of other people of eminence in public life from around the world only reveal their ignorance regarding facts of the case. The Chhatisgarh government obviously knows better where justice lies. Thus, Dr Sen continues to languish in prison despite a serious cardiac condition.
One Rowlatt Act was enough to precipitate Jallianwalah Bagh nine decades ago, causing an intensification and acceleration of the Indian freedom struggle. A slew of far more invasive laws in ‘independent’ India — the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Unlawful Activties Prevention Act, to name just a few of the many that have been passed in recent years — draws a cowardly, paralysed silence today.