Taking forward Binayak Sen’s vision

International Solidarity to Dr Binayak Sen: A network of health workers worldwide to support the campaign for his release and to spearhead the issue of health and human rights.

We are a group of doctors, nurses, medical students, researchers and health workers from around the world, who share the global concern about the persecution of Dr Binayak Sen in India since 2007 and strongly support the concept of health care that promotes access to basic rights for all, equity and human rights for which he has been working all his life.

We strongly condemn the verdict of life imprisonment for ‘Sedition’ by a Sessions court in Chhattisgarh on 24 December 2010 despite the absence of any substantive evidence of wrong-doing.

We demand that

The Indian Government should immediately intervene to secure the release of Dr Binayak Sen and carry out a full public inquiry into the circumstances of his arrest and basis of his conviction.

Why the network

Binayak’s incarceration has made a wide range of health professionals in India as well as in different parts of the world realise that there has been gross injustice in spite of (or possibly because of) his functioning as a true professional in the health sector trying to reach the large section of the population in India who do not have access to modern health care. Many are convinced that the verdict of life imprisonment is motivated to silence any voice of dissent in India, in the state of Chhattisgarh in particular, where economic growth through national and multinational industries and mining are taking place at the cost of forceful displacement of indigenous people therein.

For Dr Sen’s release many doctors and students in different corners of the world have taken unprecedented efforts to offer their time and expertise by joining rallies with placards and signing petitions on one hand and offering professional support in free medical camps or similar efforts on the other. With heightened optimism we find so many health professionals around the globe sharing the concern for developing a healthcare founded on access to basic rights for all, equity and human rights.

Although many individuals and health organisations worldwide express their concern about Dr Sen’s incarceration, the efforts for his release are spontaneous and ill sustained and less forceful as not coordinated with other efforts elsewhere. This is the background for this proposal to form a network of health workers worldwide.

What the network will do

§    The network will help exchange ideas and information amongst health professionals worldwide about various efforts for Dr Sen’s release, by health professionals in particular.

§    The network will help build communication amongst all health workers sharing similar vision of health care.

§    The network will help expand global concern for Dr Binayak Sen’s incarceration and the vision of health that is at stake.

§    The network will facilitate global protests by individuals and health organisations/ institutions organised in various countries on a single Day or during a specified period.

§    The network will help strengthen local efforts for the release of Dr Sen through mutual support within the country and from members in other parts of the world.

§    The network will facilitate the pool of expertise that could be utilised to propagate and practise the vision of health care commonly shared by the members.

How the network will function

The network is not a rigid set up, but expects that individuals or representatives of health organisations participating in it will commit to take up certain responsibilities for its maintenance. The term ‘member’ in this paper has been used rather loosely. As the initiative develops, the need for separating members from supporters/sympathisers will evolve, so will the details of its function.

At this early stage, the network will focus on building and expanding the ‘members’ as a common pool and this will be done through taking up both global and national level events.

As the need evolves, there might be national level network (e.g. Intl. solidarity – India) forming part of the global solidarity.

What you can do

If you think it is worth an effort, please join the initiative.

Please encourage your colleagues to take part in the events showing solidarity to the campaign to release Dr Binayak Sen.

What about other injustice and health issues

This network is to demand the release of Dr Binayak Sen. Efforts undertaken through this initiative will however promote and highlight various issues as appropriate, be health or basic rights or human rights. As for example, on the forthcoming World TB Day, the initiative will highlight the tuberculosis situation in India and Dr Sen’s efforts to combat tuberculosis while appealing to relevant International bodies to help his release. (see below)

Some ideas

§    The initiative will start building and expanding through undertaking specific events and informing other like-minded individuals through various means.

§    The initiative will encourage expanding in more countries through individual contacts or other means such as relevant websites.

§    The initiative will encourage expanding in more states/cities/towns within a country through individual contacts or other means.

§    The initiative will identify specific Day or Week of action on a global level. The suggested dates are, 24 March – World TB Day; Supreme Court hearing dates (once announced); 14 May – anniversary of Dr Sen’s arrest; 15 August – Independence Day of India; 2 October – Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday; 26 October – Diwali (festival of light) in India; 10 December – Human Rights Day.

§    World TB Day – the initiative will draft a letter addressed to the STOP TB Secretariat and the Director General of WHO highlighting tuberculosis in India and Dr Binayak Sen’s vision and efforts (addressing tuberculosis and malnutrition/poverty); will circulate as wide as possible for endorsement by health professionals and health organizations/institutions

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