13th May 2007
We, the following Civil and Democratic Rights organizations, strongly condemn the arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Chhattisgarh) and Vice President, PUCL (National) under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004 and Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2006. Dr. Sen is a very well-respected civil rights activist of long standing who has the rare ability to integrate his medical profession with his activism. He had come to Bilaspur today to attend his clinic and was informed by the City Superintendent of Police to go to the local thana [police station] for recording of statement. When he arrived at the thana, he was arrested.
The arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen came after a week of false charges by the SP Raipur that Dr. Binayak Sen is a Naxalite. For the last few days, the police has made similar public statements against several other PUCL (Chhattisgarh) activists and democratic rights activists including Ms. Rashmi Dwivedi and Mr. Gautam Bandopadyay.
Arrest of civil and democratic rights activists is neither new nor original. The experience of various Civil Rights organizations including the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee over the last two decades is enough proof of how the state has attacked those who have questioned the state and exposed the truth behind fake encounters, disappearances, and rapes that form an integral part of the operations of state forces. In the present context, it is well known that the Chhattisgarh Government has been indulging in the most brazen brutality in the adivasi areas of the state to suppress the Maoist movement. Dr. Sen’s untiring work in documenting the atrocities and violations committed by the state forces in the guise of the Salwa Judum [militias employed by the state government] has earned him the ire of the police. PUCL, Chhattisgarh and other democratic activists have been raising their voice and campaigning against these illegal and inhuman practices, and for this service to democracy, the familiar allegation of being a “Maoist” is made against them.
When the UAPA was amended in 2004 after the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and when the Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act was enacted in 2006, we expressed the apprehension that it would be used against democratic movements and activists, and the apprehension has been proved right.
We condemn the arrest of Dr. Sen and demand his immediate and unconditional release.
- K. Balagopal, General Secretary, Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh
- G.K.Ramaswamy, Convenor, People’s Democratic Forum, Karnataka
- Nagraj Adve, Secretary, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi
- D. Suresh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee
- Sujato Bhadra, Secretariat Member, Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal
Download a PDF file containing the following:
- Joint Press Release from Civil Liberties Organisations
- Press Release from People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi
- Appeal from Chhattisgarh PUCL
- Press Release from Chhattisgarh PUCL
- Chhattisgarh PUCL Statement on Fake Encounters
- Open Letter from the Brother of Dr. Binayak Sen
- Bio of Dr. Binayak Sen
Who Is Dr. Binayak Sen?
Dr. Binayak Sen is a very well-known activist who is highly respected both in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere. As a medical doctor, Dr. Sen has been actively involved in providing health care to the poorest people as well as monitoring the health and nutrition status of the people of Chhattisgarh. Dr. Sen helped to set up the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha’s Shaheed Hospital, a pioneering effort to establish a health programme and hospital owned and operated by a workers’ organization for the benefit of common people. Besides being actively involved in the Shaheed Hospital, Dr. Sen is a very well respected member of Jan Swasthya Sahyog which is committed to developing a low-cost, effective community health programme in the tribal and rural areas of Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh. He was also a member of the state advisory committee to create a pilot community-based health worker programme across Chhattisgarh that later became known as the Mitanin [community health volunteer] programme. He also donates his service to a weekly clinic in a tribal community in Dhamtari district.
As General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, Dr. Sen has helped to organize numerous fact-finding campaigns about human rights violations in the state including custody deaths, fake encounters, hunger deaths, dysentery epidemics, malnutrition, and other similar violations. In recent times he has worked intensively to bring large-scale oppression and malgovernance within the so-called Salwa Judoom in Dantewara to national and international attention. Dr. Sen has regularly spoken to the local and national media on these issues.
Dr. Sen has been contributing theoretical papers to books and journals on public health. He was the recipient in 2004 of the Paul Harrison award for lifetime work of medical care in the service of humanity, an award given annually by the Christian Medical College, Vellore to one of its alumni.
People’s Union for Democratic Rights is a Delhi-based organisation, fighting for people’s rights in India for more than twenty five years.