BANGALORE: CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL IN SOLIDARITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Release Dr. Binayak Sen Now!

May 14, 2008 (Wednesday)
Place: TOWN HALL, Bangalore
5.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m.


In the post neo-liberal era of free market economy and globalization the onslaught on the human rights of all the marginialised and subaltern communities has increased. Corporate led globalization in connivance with the State has attacked the natural resources and habitats of the communities leading to the looting and plunder of the land, water, trees, forests, rivers, mountains living space like slums and villages alike in the name of development. While on the one hand the atrocities by the State have continued on the people by using police force, on the other hand the human rights activists/defenders who have raised voice against these atrocities have also been targeted and intimidated systematically. Among many such human rights defenders languishing in jail under false charges and without any substantial evidence and scope for fair trial is Dr. Binayak Sen of Chattisgarh.


Dr. Binayak Sen, paediatrician, public health professional and civil liberties activist (PUCL) has been in jail since his arrest on May 14, 2007. He was arrested under the draconian Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA) under false charges that he has waged war against the state and that he has supported Maoists.


Who is Dr. Sen? Dr Binayak Sen, alumnus of the Christian Medical College ,Vellore, has devoted a lifetime to the healthcare of the tribal population of Chhattisgarh. Along with the legendary trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi, he founded the Shaheed Hospital in the mining town of Dalli Rajhara, an institution that till today continues to provide accessible and rational health care to the people in general and to mine workers in particular. For the last fifteen years, Dr Sen has worked in a remote tribal areas treating those afflicted with chronic malnutrition, endemic malaria and other infectious diseases. He has contributed immensely to the public health field in Chattisgarh. He has also worked on issues of food and livelihood security, and has been the general Secretary of the State Unit of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), as well as the National Vice Resident of the organization. In this latter capacity he has been a vociferous critic of police excesses carried out by an unaccountable state , and of the state sponsored ‘Salwa Judum’ in Chhattisgarh (a group of youth who are illegally provided arms by the state in the name of self-defence from the naxalites) that has led to near civil war conditions in large parts of southern Chhattisgarh. Along with Salwa Judum the government has burnt adviasi villages and has ghettoed people in so called ‘camps’ in the pretext of protecting them from Maoists. Camps have been virtual prisons for tribals without any freedom to move out and have to live on the meager ration ration provided for them by the police. This has led to malnutrition and death especially among women and children. Armed youth of the Salwa Judum have indiscriminately brutalized and killed adivasis saying they are supporters of Maoists. The only “crime” of Dr. Sen is that he relentlessly exposed these atrocities!


Dr Sen has earlier received the Paul Harrison Award from his alma mater for his contributions to ‘redefining health care in a broken society’, and the RR Keithan Gold Medal from the Indian Academy of Social Sciences for ‘a fresh and radical interpretation of Gandhiji’s core concerns..’. He has recently received the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights from the Global Health Council (to be awarded on 29th May, 2008).


All over the country and also Karnataka in particular, human rights violations by the state authorities directly or with the tacit support of the state have increased sharply in the recent past. The minority communities, the tribals, Dalits, women, sexual minorities, the farmers who agitate against the SEZ, those who work for communal harmony have been the target of violence. The human rights activists/defenders too have been targeted by the state machineries in various ways.


Pledge and Demand:

  • AT THIS CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL WE PLEDGE TO WORK AND STRUGGLE FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL, ESPECIALLY THE MARGINALISED AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.

  • WE DEMAND THAT DR. BINAYAK SEN BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY

  • WE DEMAND THAT THE STATE SHOULD RESECT AND PROTECT THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND DEFENDERS AND STOP FROM INTIMIDATING THEM.

Committee for the Release of Dr.Binayak Sen
C/O Janaarogya Andolana Karnataka (JAAK)
359, Ist Main, Ist Block, Koramangala,
Bangalore – 560034.