On Thursday 14 May it will be two years to the day since Binayak Sen - a medical doctor and human rights activist based in Chhattisgarh state in in central India - was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Public Securities Act. He is still in jail, although he is in poor health and could suffer a heart attack at any moment. His incarceration is a part of the general attack on democratic rights taking place all over India and across the world.
Binayak Sen is accused of links with Naxalite insurgents who have widespread support in rural Chhattisgarh. The evidence against him is flimsy. He is not a Naxalite and has consistently opposed violence. The progress of his case through the courts has been desperately slow and shamefully confused. The real reason for his arrest and continued incarceration is his record of speaking out against the barbaric militia called Salwa Judum - a private army sponsored by the state to make war not only on the Naxalites but on their pool of potential supporters amongst the rural poor of Chhattisgarh.
Ilina Sen - Binayak Sen's wife - says "Chattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has made it a matter of pride to keep Binayak inside."
On 4 May 2009 India's Supreme Court asked the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh to respond within two weeks to a petition for bail from Binayak Sen.
A motion (S3M-03618) calling for Binayak Sen's release was tabled in the Scottish Parliament by Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (SNP, Lothians) on 5 March. It is no longer current (ie MSPs can no longer sign it).
14 May will be marked in Raipur, Chhattisgarh by a massive rally and courting of arrest as part of the Satyagraha program, now entering its eighth continuous week. There will be demonstrations and vigils around the world on the same day, including demonstrations in Edinburgh, Bristol and London
Votes will be counted in India's elections in 16 May.
What you can Do
- Join the demonstration in Edinburgh:
1:00pm Thursday 14 May, outside Surgeons' Hall, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW.
A "chain gang" of doctors will parade in handcuffs and chains. Please come along even if you can only spare half an hour. White "doctors coats" will be available. But if you can bring a white doctors coat/technicians coat/lab coat of your own, please do.
A meeting at the Consulate General of India, Edinburgh has been arranged for 3pm
Organised by Amnesty International and Scottish Action for the release of Binayak Sen. Supported by SACC
- Ask your Westminster MP to support the Early Day Motion (EDM 1441) tabled by Jeremy Corbyn on 6th May. You can contact your MP using www.writetothem.com
Full text of EDM 1441 and list of MPs who have given their support
- Take part in one of the other events being organised around the world:
Two Years Too Much - protests around the Globe on May 14 2009 in support of Binayak Sen
- letter to the Guardian by UK academics "We urge that Dr Sen be released, and be treated in the spirit of India’s own constitution" (2 April 2009)
- British Medical Journal "Indian paediatrician has been two years in prison without trial" 9 May 2009
- "RIGHTS-INDIA: Activist Doctor's Incarceration Flouts Democratic Norms" - IPS report, 8 May 2009
- "Give Binayak Sen Bail! Or Else Give Us Jail!" report and pictures of demo in Raipur 4 May 2009
- At stake in India's elections - analysis, 11 May 2009
- Ilina Sen and Kavita Srivastava in Edinburgh - listen to the the speeches given in Edinburgh by Binayal Sen's wife Ilina and Kavita Srivastava, Secretary of Indian civil liberties group PUCL
- The Barefoot Saviour - poem by Bashabi Fraser