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06 May, 2009

Binayak Sen day on May 14: ‘two years of shame for Indian democracy’

General Secretary
People’s Union for Civil Liberties

On 14 May 2009 Dr Binayak Sen, Vice President of the People's Union For Civil Liberties, and General Secretary of Chhattisgarh unit of PUCL, the well known pediatrician and human rights defender, will complete two years in a Raipur prison on false charges of abetting Maoist activity in Chhattisgarh, sedition, waging war against state under various sections of the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004 (amended) and the IPC.

PUCL and several human rights and social movements have been protesting against the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 and the UAPA (amended) 2004, and demanding their repeal and the release of all those detained under these draconian laws violating the Constitution of India in letter and spirit. Some 178 people have been detained under these draconian laws in Chhattisgarh, and they include traders, businessmen, journalists, doctors, NGO workers, film-makers, farmers, landless agricultural workers, cultural activists, etc. Ajay T G, film-maker and a member of the State Executive Committee of CG PUCL, was detained under the CSPSA 2005 on 5th May 2008, but was later released on bail as the state failed to file a charge-sheet against him in the stipulated 90 days. Even after completion of a year, the state has failed to bring charges against him in a competent court of law, although he is still required to record his attendance at the police station.

Dr. Sen raised his voice relentlessly against the war waged by the state of Chhattisgarh against the Adivasis in Dantewara in the name of Salwa Judum, and exposed the crimes committed by the state against its own citizens.

It will be two years of life snatched from one of India’s finest public-spirited doctors, who has spent over three decades in the service of some of the poorest and neglected people in this country. In these two years Dr Sen has indeed become a universal symbol for the struggle for the restoration of democratic rights in the country. He has been named a prisoner of conscience by the Amnesty International.

It will also be two years of shame for Indian democracy to have put someone like him in jail simply because the powers-that-be could not stand his criticism of their abject human rights record. For the Indian justice system too it will be a scandalous two years for repeatedly denying Dr Sen bail on specious grounds in a country where perpetrators of mass violence not just roam free but also contest elections and come to power.

The situation is not entirely dismal though, for these two years have also seen an unprecedented surge of citizen activism both within and outside India, calling for the release of Dr Sen and the end of undemocratic of ways of the Chhattisgarh government. Nobel laureates, medical professionals, academics, journalists, human rights and health activists, students, workers, rural folk – the sheer range of people who have got involved in this epic struggle to challenge the injustice done to Dr Sen -- and through him to all of us-- has been truly phenomenal.

It is in keeping with this spirit of fighting to preserve our rights, liberty and freedom that we once again call upon everyone to join the various protests, vigils, public meetings and cultural events taking place around the world on 14 May 2009 to mark the second anniversary of Dr Sen’s imprisonment.

In Raipur, Chhattisgarh, itself 14 May 2009 will be marked by a massive rally and courting of arrest as part of the satyagraha program, now entering its eighth continuous week.

We call upon all our state units to organize protest demonstrations on this day in their own States and, if possible join the satyagraha program at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, which has already seen hundreds of activists taking part from all over India.
On the evening of 13th May 2009 there will be a special event by singers, musicians, poets, theatre artists and others to both protest the victimisation of Dr Sen and also celebrate the determined public resistance to the decimation of democratic norms and values. Once again all those who can come for this event and also contribute to it through individual or group performances are welcome to join in.

We take this opportunity to call all of you to come to Raipur on the 13th and 14th May, 2009 and show your solidarity in support of a cause that is core of our constitutional democracy.

For further information contact:
1. Rajendra K Sail, President, Chhattisgarh PUCL , 098268-04519
2. Kavita Srivastava, (PUCL, National Secretary): 09351562965,
3. Sudha Bharadwaj, Member,EC,CGPUCL 09926603877,
4. Gautam Bandyopadhyay, Convener, CG PUCL 098261-71304
5. Vijendra, Joint-Secretary, CG PUCL : 09406049737
6. Sadiq Ali, Treasurer, CG PUCL : 094255-15411

For information on other programmes happening on 14th in the India and Internationally

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