Jonathan Mann Awardee Binayak Sen released on bail today
By Bobby Ramakant
May 25, 2009
The author is a World Health Organization (WHO)’s WNTD Awardee (2008) and writes extensively on health and development. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bail was granted to the paediatrician Dr Binayak Sen who was jailed in Raipur prison since more than two years now, on alleged false charges of abetting maoist activities in Chattisgarh, sedition and waging war against the state.
"This committed advocate of civil liberties has spent over three decades in the service of some of the poorest and most underserved communities and raised his voice relentlessly against atrocities in the State of Chhattisgarh . The imprisonment of Dr Binayak Sen is symbolic of gross injustice and violation of democratic values by the State and the suppression of the voices of human rights defenders" said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee (2002) and member, National Presidium, Lok Rajniti Manch (People's Politics Front - PPF).
The ‘Jonathan Mann for Global Health and Human Rights’ Awardee (2008) Dr Binayak Sen, who is a well-known paediatrician and human rights defender in Chhattisgarh, had completed two years on 14 May 2009 in a Raipur prison.
"Last year, twenty-two Nobel laureates from around the world had appealed to the Indian government to allow Dr Binayak Sen to receive the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in person at the end of May 2008. But Indian government denied the permission and Dr Sen's wife had received the coveted global health award on his behalf" informed the firebrand social activist Arundhati Dhuru, who is also the national convener of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM).
Dr Binayak Sen of Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, who has helped establish a hospital serving poor mine workers in the region, founded a health and human rights organization that supports community health workers in 20 villages, and is the general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has been imprisoned in Raipur for two years now without trial as a result of unproven allegations that he was a naxal courier. Not only Dr Sen denies committing any crime, but his lifetime contribution to strengthen democracy and fight for the most underserved communities defies such accusations. The public pressure was mounting in many parts of the world demanding release of Dr Binayak Sen and undoubtedly his release today on bail will give a positive ray of hope.
The PUCL-Chhattisgarh Unit, with Dr. Binayak Sen's active leadership as its General Secretary, had exposed the government sponsored so-called campaign Salwa-Judum in Chhattisgarh which legitimizes extra-constitutional violence and pits adivasis against adivasis.
In Lucknow , a candle light vigil was held in Hazratganj to mark the two years of Dr Sen's imprisonment and to up the demand for his release. Many civil society organizations including Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (UPVHA), Vatsalya, Sahayog, Humsafar, Health-Watch, Samadhan, Asha Parivar, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Lok Rajniti Manch (People's Politics Front - PPF) had jointly called for the release of Dr Sen.
"The activists were not only demanding release of Dr Sen who was released today but also that the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act should be repealed in the undercover of which grotesque human rights violations take place in the state and the Salwa Judum be winded up. Both the other demands are still pending" said SR Darapuri, who is the Vice President of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in UP.