Raypur satyagraha Press Release 14 March 2009

Raipur Satyagraha for the Release of Dr. Binayak Sen

The first batch of 50 volunteers, taking part in the satyagraha for the release of jailed human rights and health activist Dr Binayak Sen, are proceeding to Raipur to court arrest on 16 March 2009.

The satyagrahis, will be led by well-known social worker and Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey and include activists from different parts of the country. The satyagrahis are demanding the release of Dr Binayak Sen.

The Satyagraha being launched on 16 March will be continued every Monday in front of the jail in Raipur where Dr Binayak Sen is incarcerated. Participants in the satyagraha include members of various civil society groups, human and civil rights organisations, trade unions, lawyers, medical professionals and women’s groups, organisations and individuals from across the political spectrum.

The satyagrahis in Raipur are asking that the Government of Chattisgarh stop opposing the grant of bail to Dr Sen, who has already spent over 22 months in jail since his arrest on false charges of abetting outlawed Maoist activity in the state.

“Denial of bail should not be used as a punitive measure as this goes against the spirit of the entire justice system and constitutional rights” said a statement from the Raipur Satyagraha Campaign. The best traditions of justice and precedents set by Indian courts themselves demand that ‘bail should be the rule and jail the exception’ it said.

While the Raipur Sessions court rejected his bail application in July 2007, the Chhattisgarh High Court denied bail twice, first in July 2007 and again in December 2008.

Though Dr Binayak Sen has been arrested on grave charges under the draconian Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act, none of the 38 witnesses produced in his trial so far at a sessions court in Raipur have corroborated any of these charges. In December 2008, 18 months after his arrest, the State called in an additional 47 extra witnesses to testify. The Chhattisgarh government and its police have also not been able to provide any proof of his involvement in illegal activities.

In the days and months following his incarceration, Dr Binayak Sen has received tremendous support from the people of India, and outside. 22 Nobel Laureates signed a letter in support of Dr Binayak Sen. Both international and national media, television and print, through news stories and editorials, has consistently pointed to the unjustified nature of Dr Binayak Sen’s imprisonment.

The Raipur satyagraha is being launched also to express the widespread sense of public indignation, dissatisfaction and frustration with the way the Indian legal system and executive has responded to Dr Binayak Sen’s case.

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