14th May 2008
Hundreds of activists in India and across the world today called for the unconditional release of jailed pediatrician Dr Binayak Sen, dubbing his incarceration a gross miscarriage of justice and a shame to Indian democracy.
On the first anniversary of the arrest of the renowned health and human rights activist they also demanded the scrapping of the Chhattisgarh State Special Security Act, a draconian legislation under which Dr Sen was detained. The protestors quoted the recent statement signed by 22 Nobel Laureates that says the internal security law does not ‘comport with international human rights standards’.
Candlelight vigils, fasts, public meetings and rallies in support of Dr Sen’s release were held in cities like New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, New Delhi, Raipur, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune. Apart from rights activists large number medical professionals all over the world took part in the protests.
In New Delhi in a memo to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, the Committee for the Release of Dr Binayak Sen said that the trumped up charges of ‘treason’, and ‘abetting unlawful activities’ foisted on Dr Sen have so far not been backed up with any evidence. The judicial process initiated against him is only meant to harass him personally and intimidate all those working for human rights in Chattisgarh.
The memo said that the arrest of Chhattisgarh PUCL executive member and independent filmmaker Ajay TG on 5 May 2008 on similar flimsy and vague charges exposed the desperation of the Chhattisgarh government following its inability to substantiate charges against Dr Sen.
The Committee for the Release of Dr Binayak Sen has made the following demands to the Chhattisgarh government:
- Drop all charges against Dr Binayak Sen, release him unconditionally and pay compensation for the harassment and loss of liberty he has suffered due to his detention;
- Drop all charges against Ajay TG, who is being victimised by your government for being an active member of PUCL and supporting the release of Dr Sen;
- Scrap the Chattisgarh State Public Security Act that violates the basic principles of the Indian Constitution as well as internationally accepted norms of justice and rule of law;
- Stop encouraging all-out civil war in Chattisgarh in the name of ‘Salwa Judum’, which even the Supreme Court has indicated is unconstitutional and amounting to abetment of murder by the state.
- Ensure a just and honest governance that improves the lives of millions of desperately poor people in Chattisgarh
Activists supporting Dr Sen have vowed to continue their peaceful agitation for his release and also raise the issue of other political prisoners around India who have been detained under various undemocratic laws. They have called upon the people of India to resist the imposition of a silent Emergency on the country in the name of ‘national security’ and containing terrorism.
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