Protest against Dr. Vinayak Sen’s unlawful arrest on Wednesday, May 14 in Pune

Dear friend,

PROTEST DHARNA AND RALLY AGAINST
Dr. BINAYAK SEN' S UNLAWFUL DETENTION
FOR THE LAST ONE YEAR
and Against all draconian laws which are threatening democracy in India

Program:   Dharna             Time: 4.30 – 6.30 pm        
                 Venue:              Sambhaji Park main gate
               
                 Protest March    Time: 6.30 – 7.30 pm        
                 Route:                Sambhaji Park – Senapati Bapat Statue, Alka Talkies, Deccan.

Date:        Wednesday, May 14, 2007  (anniversary of Dr. Sen's arrest)
 

Dr. Binayak Sen, paediatrician, public health professional and civil liberties activist  (PUCL)  has been in jail since his arrest on May 14, 2007, that is, one year ago. He was arrested under the draconian Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA) under false charges that he has waged war against the state and that he has supported Maoists. 

Who is Dr. Sen?

Dr Binayak Sen, alumnus of the Christian Medical College ,Vellore, has devoted a lifetime to  the healthcare of the tribal population of Chhattisgarh. Along with the legendary trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi, in the late 1970s, he founded the Shaheed Hospital in the mining town of Dalli Rajhara, an institution that  till today  continues to provide accessible and rational  health care to the people in general and to mine workers in particular. For the last fifteen years, Dr Sen has worked in a remote tribal areas treating  those afflicted with chronic malnutrition, endemic malaria  and other infectious diseases. He has contributed immensely to the public health field in Chattisgarh. He has also worked on issues of food and livelihood security, and has been the general Secretary of the State Unit of the Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), as well as the National Vice Resident of the organization.  In this latter capacity he has been  a vociferous critic of  police excesses carried out by an unaccountable state , and of the state sponsored   'Salwa Judum' in Chhattisgarh (a group of youth who are illegally provided arms by the state in the name of self-defence from the naxalites) that has led to near civil war conditions in large parts of southern Chhattisgarh.  Along with Salwa Judum the government has burnt adviasi villages and has ghettoed people in so called 'camps' in the pretext of protecting them from Maoists.  Camps have been virtual prisons for tribals without any freedom to move out and have to live on the  meager ration ration provided for them by the police. This has led to malnutrition and death especially among women and children.  Armed youth of the Salwa Judum have indiscriminately brutalized and killed adivasis saying they are supporters of Maoists.  The only "crime"  of Dr. Sen is that he relentlessly exposed these atrocities!

Dr. Sen's incarceration is all the more unjustified because on 31 March this year, the Supreme Court has also expressed its disapproval of the formation of the 'Salwa Judum' by the Chhattisgarh government and giving them arms to tackle the naxal menace. This is precisely the criticism made by Dr. Sen of Salwa Judum, for which he was charged with colluding with Naxalites and arrested by Chattisgarh Govt.

Dr Sen has earlier received the Paul Harrison Award from his alma mater for his contributions to 'redefining health care in a broken society', and the RR Keithan Gold Medal from the Indian Academy of Social Sciences  for  'a fresh and radical interpretation of Gandhiji's core concerns..'. He has recently received the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights from the Global Health Council (to be awarded on 29th May, 2008).  

All over the country, human rights violations by the state authorities directly or with the tacit support of the state have increased sharply in the recent past. The minority communities, the tribals, Dalits, women, sexual minorities, the farmers who agitate against the SEZ, those who work for communal harmony have been the target of  violence. The human rights activists/defenders too have been targeted by the state machineries in various ways.  

Pledge and Demand:

§    WE PLEDGE TO WORK AND STRUGGLE FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL, ESPECIALLY THE MARGINALISED AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.

§    WE DEMAND THAT DR. BINAYAK SEN BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY

§    WE DEMAND THAT THE STATE SHOULD RESECT AND PROTECT THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND DEFENDERS AND STOP INTIMIDATING THEM.

We call upon all of you who are concerned with the increasing violation of human rights by the various state governments and Central government to join us in this protest, which is being organised simultaneously in many cities all over the country. It is actually an attack on all human rights activists and all socially concerned citizens, whom the state is threatening that they can be locked up under fictitious charges if they protest police atroicities too much.

Let us not forget the famous German poet Pastor Niemollar, who was imprisoned by Hitler in 1937 in the Dachau concentration camp.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left
to speak out for me.

by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

Looking forward to having you with us on May 14 evening. Do get your friends along. The program is being organised by a number of progressive organisations of Pune. Lokayat is a part of the organising committee.

A pamphlet in Marathi on Dr. Binayak Sen and some more information about him in English are attached for those of you who are interested.

In solidarity,


Our website http://www.lokayat.org.in
Our blog      http://pune-lokayat.blogspot.com

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