Posts Tagged ‘Nobel Laureates
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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The demolition of Gandhian Himanshu Kumar’s 17-year-old Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada on May 17 shocked everyone acquainted with its work in the backward tribal area of Chhattisgarh. Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, who led an all-India fact-finding team to Dantewada, tells Jyoti Punwani what his team found:
Why was the Vanvasi Ashram demolished?
Himanshu had become an irritant for the Chhattisgarh government. He was doing a lot of development work, which is really the job of the government. In fact, the SP himself told us that they used to take Himanshu’s help on various occasions. But the ashram was also providing legal aid to the adivasis oppressed by Salwa Judum. In the last two years, Himanshu has filed 500 FIRs on their behalf. His most recent activity was to help resettle in their original villages, those adivasis who had been forcibly displaced by Salwa Judum.
By Antara Dev Sen
Home > OP Ed
It took two years of sustained shaming to get Dr Binayak Sen out on bail. The state had been stoutly ignoring the worldwide chorus of appeals and angry protests since the doctor and civil rights activist’s arrest on flimsy charges back in May 2007.
Now the Supreme Court has finally ordered his release from custody on a personal bond, on grounds of ill health. While this is lovely news, it is not really a victory of civil rights over state repression. In fact, that the state had managed to keep Dr Sen behind bars for so long without evidence, ignoring the international outcry and unrelenting national protests for two years, shows us what our wonderful democracy has been reduced to.
No, I am not being churlish at a moment of jubilation. Just cautious. Remember that Dr Binayak Sen is just the most high profile of many civil rights activists around India who are being harassed, tortured and even killed by government agencies for speaking up against state repression. Remember that the horrific terror laws they are held under are still firmly in place. Remember that Dr Sen had been protesting human rights violations of the tribals in Chhattisgarh by a state government keen to label critics Maoists and kill them in fake encounters, that he was arrested following his investigations into the murder of villagers by the police and state-supported Salwa Judum. The vicious Salwa Judum that carries out ethnic cleansing in the tribal areas (many say to further corporate agendas in this resource-rich belt) and had reportedly clapped almost 50,000 people in concentration camp-like conditions. Remember that more than a year ago, the Supreme Court had declared that band of vigilantes illegal.
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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.
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 Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
From: Kashmir Times, May 17 2009
If tyranny and oppression come to this country, it would be in the guise of fighting a common enemy. James Madison’s predictions have not only turned true for the country he headed as its fourth president but more or less for all democratic countries around the globe. India is no exception where the state finds its way to punish people who question its authoritative might and its lack of accountability in proclaimed a democratic system. It moulds laws, subverting the democratic spirit of the constitution, justifies them and corrupts the judicial system and the media to ensure that justice is what the state believes in. Binayak Sen, the man who has spent two years in prison in Chattisgarh, illustrates this beyond any shadow of doubt. For two odd years, all those who fail to accept the cock and bull stories routinely and officially doled out in defence of the indefensible acts of the government have been at pains to understand what really is Dr Binayak Sen’s crime? But he, like many others across this country, has certainly been projected as the kind of ‘common enemy’ that Madison talked about years ago.
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.
By Sadanand Menon
It is with a deep sense of indignation one writes this piece today, May 14, 2009. Exactly two years ago pediatrician and human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, was picked up by the Chhattisgarh police and incarcerated in a Raipur prison on charges of ‘waging war’ against the State under various sections of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (amended) 2004.
The charges against Dr. Sen include aiding and abetting Naxalites and sedition. Both the CSPSA, 2005 and the UAPA (amended) 2004 are ridiculously draconian laws, ultra vires of the Constituional guarantees provided to the citizen and several human rights organizations along with the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have been campaigning for their repeal and for the release of over 178 people detained under it. Those detained include lawyers, journalists, film makers, tradesmen, agricultural workers, activists in NGOs, cultural workers and such.
Both nationally and internationally enough mobilization and solidarity has been expressed by concerned citizens, including a committee of Nobel laureates and associations of professionals from the medical field. Amnesty International has described Binayak Sen as a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’. But the State has refused to budge. It has stuck to its version of the good doctor being a threat to law and order through actions interpreted as supporting the underground Maoists in the region.
In a more substantial sense, Binayak Sen’s work was seen as pioneering and life-saving in the Dantewada region of Chhattisgarh, where poor adivasis were subjected to extreme terror and coercion by agents of the State disguised as ‘Salwa Judum’, who were on a land-grab spree. Over three decades of work in the region by Dr.Sen to restore rights to the dispossessed has boomeranged, he himself now being dubbed an ‘enemy of the State’. That he has consistently been denied bail for two years and that now he is even being denied necessary medical help seems just a churlish retaliation against a humanitarian doctor who spared no opportunity to criticize and expose the abysmal human rights record of the Chhattisgarh government.
By Priyamvada Gopal, Dwijen Rangnekar and Aditya Sarkar
Oddly unblemished by global scrutiny, India’s civil rights copybook is a blotted one, with its fair share of arbitrary arrests, police atrocities, and concocted cases. The most prominent victim of an increasing criminalization of India’s strong traditions of dissent is Dr. Binayak Sen, arrested on 14 May 2007 on charges of abetting Maoist insurgency in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. A paediatrician by training, Sen has been working for decades with adivasis (‘tribals’) in Chhattisgarh. Having helped set up the pioneering Shaheed HospitaI for mine-workers, he was involved with several worker-based health programmes across the state.
As President of the Chattisgarh branch of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Sen was a significant voice against the violence rending the mineral- and forest-rich region, large portions of which have been handed over to private industry for exploitation, leading to large-scale displacement. In recent years Chhattisgarh has witnessed a protracted Maoist insurgency to which the state has responded with draconian anti-terror legislation. The 2005 stablishment of the Salwa Judum, private militias armed by the state government, has accelerated the conflict, leaving hundreds dead and thousands dispossessed. While treading a peaceful and democratic path through this carnage, Sen exposed a number of state-backed killings, violent dispossessions, and human rights violations in the region.
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.