INTERNATIONAL COALITION DEMANDS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF JAILED HUMAN RIGHTS CRUSADER IN INDIA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

‘FREE BINAYAK SEN!: ‘Solidarity Actions Planned in 10 North American and 3 European Cities

WHEN: Tuesday, May 13th/ Wednesday, May 14th
WHERE: In cities across the US, Canada and Europe


WHAT: A broad coalition of 37 organizations from US, UK and Canada have come together to demand immediate release of the jailed human rights activist, Dr. Binayak Sen, who was recently awarded the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award by the Global Health Council, Washington DC. The coalition consists of human rights groups such as Amnesty USA (which has declared Dr. Sen a Prisoner of Conscience), health rights groups such as the People’s Health Movement, antiwar groups such as the ANSWER Coalition and the Boston Mobilization, student groups from Harvard and Berkeley, local peace and justice groups from a number of cities, as well as a large number of diasporic groups based in US, UK and Canada. (A complete listing of groups is available below).

May 13/14th , 2008, which mark one year of Dr. Sen’s undemocratic imprisonment, are being observed as Global Days of Action to highlight his situation. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, coordinated actions are planned in 13 cities outside India. These include Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco, Houston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston in the US; Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; and London, Paris and Stockholm in Europe. More details about local actions are given below.


Dr Binayak Sen is a renowned pediatrician, public health specialist and the national Vice-President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). Dr. Sen is an activist with a lifelong commitment to the issues of community health and human rights, who was arrested on false charges of sedition last year, joining dozens of other human rights activists in Indian jails, charged under repressive “Black Laws.” Dr. Sen earned the ire of the government for opposing Salwa Judum, a private militia movement armed by the Government to combat ‘Maoist insurgency’. Salwa Judum has led to a spiraling increase in violence, which has displaced over 100,000 indigenous people over the last 3 years.


The challenges faced by human rights activists working in Chhattisgarh were thrown into prominence again last week, with the arrest of another activist with PUCL, Chhattisgarh, Ajay TG, under the same draconian law that was used to detain Dr. Sen and which grants unlimited power to the government to apprehend people on the merest suspicion of guilt. In addition to the release of Dr. Sen, the coalition is also asking for the repealing of these repressive laws, as well as the disbanding of Salwa Judum.


Over 4000 signatures from individuals around the world have also been collected on petitions asking for the release of Dr. Sen. Internationally acclaimed intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, George Galloway, Mahashweta Devi have all joined in urging the Indian government to free Binayak Sen and stop the harassment of human rights activists.


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For more information, visit  www.aidboston.org/FreeBinayakSen or www.binayaksen.net

Endorsing Organizations:


· Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – San Jose


Details for Actions:


Baltimore/JHU: Talk on Dr. Binayak Sen followed by signature campaign. May 13th, 2008 (1:30 to 2:30 pm) School of Public Health [Contact Email : Manjunath – mshankar at jhsph.edu or 952-201-8679]
Boston: Vigil @ Harvard Square on May 13, 2008 (7pm) [Contact Email: freebsen at gmail.com]
Houston/Dallas: Stay Tuned.
London: Vigil in front of Indian High Commission on May 13, 2008 from 1-3pm. [Contact Email: sasg at southasiasolidarity.org]
New York: Protest in front of Indian Consulate on May 13, 2008 (12:30pm). [Contact Emails: Ashwini: akr7 at columbia.edu or Murli: mnatrajan at yahoo.com]
Paris: Meet with the Indian Consulate staff to voice concerns and deliver petitions on May 13, 2008. [Contact Email: Sapna – sapnamg at gmail.com]
Philadelphia: Candle light vigil @ 40th and Locust street field on May 13, 2008 (7:30). [Contact Email: AID.Philadelphia at gmail.com]
Pittsburgh: Candlelight Vigil @ Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Avenue on May 13, 2008 (7:30pm) [Contact Email: maryganguli at yahoo.com or sparun at gmail.com]
San Francisco: Protest in front of the Consulate General of India, 540, Arguello Blvd. San Francisco, CA 94118 at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008. [Contact Email: mail at friendsofsouthasia.org]
Stockholm: Meet with the Indian Consulate staff to voice concerns and deliver petitions on May 13, 2008. [Contact Email: Pradyumna – pradyumna.singh at gmail.com]
Vancouver: Protest action at the Indian Consulate on May 14th, 2008. [Contact Email: Hari Sharma of SANSAD – sansad at sansad.org]
Washington DC: Protest in front of Indian Embassy, 2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 on May 13, 2008 (4pm). [Contact: Somu @ 703-728-8987 or Somu at aidindia.org]

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