“BREAD OR FREEDOM? CAN WE HAVE BOTH?”: Join us in a conversation with Dr. Ilina Sen

Please join us in a conversation with Dr. Ilina Sen, renowned scholar, feminist and human rights activist from Chhattisgarh, India.

Location: Rutgers Presbyterian Church (236 West 73rd Street, New York, NY, USA). Closest subway is # 1 train to 72nd street

Date: June 1, 2008 Time: 7-9 p.m.

Dr. Ilina Sen is an internationally known feminist scholar, human rights activist, a pacifist, an agronomist, a builder and manager of institutions committed to equitable and participative development, and an author. She is a professor of Gender Studies at Mahatma Gandhi Hindi University in Wardha, and manages an innovative NGO, Rupantar in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Rupantar, set up by Ilina and her husband Dr. Binayak Senhouses programs including a village clinic in a falciparum malaria endemic area, an agricultural program focused on organic farming and preservation of indigenous biodiversity (e.g., of rice), program on food security and distribution systems, and several women’s empowerment initiatives including resources for victims of domestic violence. Together, both Ilina and Binayak have worked for three decades among some of India’s most impoverished and socially stigmatized populations (miners, peasants and India’s indigenous groups) on issues of health, livelihood and civil liberties. They have also published several books in Hindi.

On May 14, 2007, Dr. Binayak Sen was arrested in Raipur, under the controversial Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. Charges against him mostly focused on his official activities as general secretary of India’s leading civil liberties organization, the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), visiting under-trial prisoners in the Raipur jail (to record their testimonies about health and treatment in prison), especially visits to individuals accused as “Naxalites” (the term for India’s Maoists) and allegations that he “passed messages” to them. Dr. Sen. has denied all these charges categorically. In the past few months, several national and international protests and statements of concern have been reported, including a statement by 22 Nobel Laureates petitioning the government of India and Chhattisgarh to free Dr. Binayak Sen. Recently, Dr. Sen was recently awarded the prestigious Jonathan Mann award for Global Health and Human Rights for his services to poor tribal communities and his unwavering commitment to human rights.

While Binayak remains in jail, Dr. Ilina Sen has co-coordinated his legal defense, been his publicist and liaison agent, raised funds, worked as a college teacher, and looked after the wellbeing and education of their two daughters. Ilina has made the journey to the US to receive the Jonathan Mann award on behalf of her husband and to present his case in person to the world at large.

For more information contact Rev. Dr. Louis Knowles or Melanie Squillante at the Vellore Christian Medical College Board at 212-870-2640

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