Statement of Support for Dr. Binayak Sen’s Travel to Washington, DC, to Receive the Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights

We, the undersigned organizations, wish to convey to the relevant authorities in the government of India and state of Chhattisgarh our sincere pleasure in announcing that a citizen of India, Dr. Binayak Sen, has been selected to receive the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights for 2008. After receiving hundreds of nominations for the award from throughout the world, the distinguished jury of public health and human rights experts who decide this award each year selected Dr. Sen on the basis of his years of service in poor and tribal communities in India, his effective leadership in establishing self-sustaining health-care services where none existed, and his unwavering commitment to civil liberties and human rights.

We also would like to convey our concern and dismay that Dr. Sen remains imprisoned, after nearly one year without trial, on allegations that he passed notes from a rebel leader whom he treated in jail to a person outside the prison. Dr. Sen has denied all wrong doing and nothing in his character or history, as a dedicated community leader who has urged a peaceful settlement to this conflict for years, would support the accusations made against him. These allegations have not been substantiated or proven and have prevented Dr. Sen from providing his much-needed health services to the poor in his area, as well as his community leadership activities as an officer of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

We kindly request that the relevant government authorities at the state and national levels address this case fairly and swiftly and consider fully the tremendous contributions that Dr. Sen has brought not only to communities in Chhattisgarh, but to all of India and to the world. We request that means be found to release Dr. Sen to attend the 35th Annual International Conference on Global Health in Washington, DC, where he has been invited to receive the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in person on May 29, 2008.

As with any citizen, Dr. Sen deserves due process. In addition, the international jury of experts reviewing the nominees were impressed that the doctor is held in such high regard by many patients and peers for his exemplary professional work and leadership over the years. Dr. Sen’s attendance at the awards’ ceremony on May 29 will not, in our opinion, jeopardize the judicial process in India, a country that prides itself as the world’s largest democracy where human rights and rule of law are respected and practiced, and we urge you to make this possible.

  • Nils Daulaire, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO, Global Health Council

  • Thomas Dougherty, M.P.H., Executive Director, Doctors of the World-USA

  • Joel Lamstein, President, John Snow, Inc

  • Albina du Boisrouvray, Founder and President, Association François-Xavier Bagnoud

  • Mary Robinson, Executive Director, Ethical Globalization Initiative

  • Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D, Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School

  • Stephen H. Lewis, Co-Director, AIDS-Free World

  • A. Frank Donaghue, CEO, Physicians for Human Rights

  • Abhay Bang, M.D., M.P.H.

  • Lydia Mann-Bondat, Naomi Mann, and Aaron Mann, children of Jonathan Mann
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