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Opposition mounts against India’s treatment of human rights activists

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 December 2010 09:50 No Comment]

Life imprisonment sentenced on human rights activist and medical practitioner Binayak Sen by Chhattishgarh court, on flimsy grounds of sedition that he was carrying messages for the Maoists, finds growing opposition from Indian media and intellectuals. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Tuesday boldly condemned the Indian court decision that the conviction on sedition charges was a "ridiculous" use of laws. Outraged and upset, Amartya Sen wanted his opinion that there was a deep miscarriage of justice, be known to the people as well as the court, PTI reported Tuesday. The Chhattisgarh court judgement was a "huge perversion of our system of justice, and particularly of the laws concerning sedition [...] the whole thing seems a ridiculous use of the laws of democratic India," Amartya Sen said. Meanwhile eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani came forward to argue the case in the Supreme Court.

Binayak Sen [Photo courtesy: APNNEWS.COM] The sentence on Binayak Sen is a calculated move by Indian establishment to terrorise and silence intellectual opinion in India is the general opinion both inside and outside of India.

This is only the first step in a state which has been extraordinarily keen in keeping Binayak behind bars, said Amartya Sen.

The judgement was timed to 24 December, the beginning of long holidays so that both domestic and international attention would be minimal.

Answering a question on the Maoist struggle in India by Colombo’s Sunday Observer a few days ago, New Delhi’s National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon said, “We are learning as we work.”

Hindustan Times on Binayak Sen:

Dr. Binayak Sen, 59, did his MBBS from Christian Medical College Vellore, in 1972 and later an MD in paediatrics.

He is the national vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). He became president of PUCL’s Chhattisgarh unit in March 2010.

From 1976 to 1978, he was a faculty member at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

He left his academic appointment to work in a rural health centre in Hoshangabad district of Madya Pradesh.

In the late 70s, he became a member of the Medico Friend Circle, an organisation of health professionals working towards an alternative health system for the poor.

Dr. Sen received the Paul Harrison Award for service to the rural poor in 2004. The Global Health Council gave him the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human rights.

His supporters say the Chhattisgarh government targeted Dr Sen for speaking out against extra-judicial killings in Maoist-dominated areas and the state-sponsored ant-Maoist campaign, Salwa Judam.

On December 24, 2010 a Raipur court declared Dr. Sen, Sanyal and Guha guilty of sedition and conspiracy. They were all sentenced to life terms in jail.

“Three days after a Chhatisgarh court convicted Binayak Sen of treason and sedition, the sense of disbelief seems to be growing, with more and more members of the civil society joining in to protest the judgment [...] The voices were unanimous in underlining the ironic distortions in the justice system — the use of archaic laws and police versions to punish the poor at a time the country was witness to the unprecedented criminality of the powerful,” was a report ironically from The Hindu.

On speaking out for Binayak Sen, Amartya Sen said, in spite of similarities of their names (Sen is a common Bengali surname), Binayak was no relation of his.

"But then he is also a relation of mine as an Indian citizen, and he is a relation of yours too as an Indian citizen. He is a relation of a lot of people as a global citizen, particularly a relation of those who, like him, fight against injustice in the world, right across the globe," Amartya Sen said.

What strikes the mind of an Eezham Tamil is how many intellectuals and media opinion the Eezham Tamils were able to get in support for them from India, when the Indian establishment was abetting a genocide against them and was even obstructing the UN human rights council from international human rights intervention in the island.

In the affairs of its tribal belt, India is only following the footsteps of Colombo it abetted and is abetting on the political question of Eezham Tamils.

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