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Amnesty International Appeal: Free Dr. Binayak Sen, Human Rights Champion in Chattisgarh, India

In Human Rights, India, Legal, People Making A Difference, Politics on May 12, 2009 at 9:26 am
Dr. Binayak Sen

Dr. Binayak Sen

Amnesty International launches a new appeal on 14 May calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr Binayak Sen, a human rights defender and pioneer of health care to marginalised communities in India, as Dr Sen completes his second year behind bars.

Dr Sen, 59, was arrested on 14 May 2007. Seven months passed before proper charges were filed against him, during which time he was denied bail and kept in soiltary confinement. He was finally charged with facilitating armed Maoist violence and if convicted, he could face a life term in jail. His trial has faced repeated, prolonged delays and has still reached no conclusion, months after legal proceedings began.  Amnesty International believes that the charges and evidence against Dr Sen are baseless and politically motivated.

On 14 May, campaigners around the world – in London, Edinburgh, Germany, Italy, the US and in locations all over India – will be protesting against Binayak Sen’s continuing incarceration. Many of them are fellow doctors who have taken up Dr Sen’s case. Amnesty is asking people to go to www.amnesty.org.uk/binayak-sen to send an appeal to the Indian authorities calling for the immediate release of Dr Sen.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

‘Dr Sen is a champion of the poor and the marginalised.  He has set up pioneering community health clinics and has stood up for indigenous communities whose voices are seldom heard. He has spoken out about government abuses of human rights when others were silent. Yet now he finds himself marking his second year in jail.

‘Dr Sen’s imprisonment is a glaring example of how the Indian authorities misuse security legislation to target activists. The new powers contain vague and sweeping definitions of ‘unlawful activities’.

‘Under no circumstances should peacefully defending people’s human rights be termed an ‘unlawful activity’ Dr Sen should be released immediately and allowed to get back to his important work for the local community.’

Prior to his arrest, Dr Sen had criticised the state authorities for enacting special security legislation. He had also highlighted unlawful killings of adivasis (indigenous people) by the police and by Salwa Judum, a private militia widely held to be sponsored by the state authorities to fight the guerrillas of the CPI (Maoist). The state authorities have so far failed to conduct effective and impartial investigations into these unlawful killings.

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