To: The President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi
We, the undersigned are shocked at the conviction of well-known public health doctor and human rights worker Dr Binayak Sen by a Raipur Sessions Court on charges of ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war against the Indian State’. The conviction carries a sentence of life imprisonment, a drastic and completely unjust fate, to be handed out to one of India’s finest social activists.
We call upon the higher Indian judiciary to uphold principles of law, justice and the rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and undo the severe damage done to the reputation of the judiciary itself through the Raipur court’s flawed judgment.
The charges against Dr Sen, of allegedly aiding outlawed Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh, have not been corroborated by any of the witnesses or evidence produced in court so far. On the contrary there have been numerous instances of the prosecution resorting to use of fabricated documents and contradictory testimonies to press its case.
We further believe that the charges against Dr Sen, made under draconian ‘anti-terrorist’ laws, are trumped up and intended to ‘punish’ him for his outspoken criticism of the Chhattisgarh government for its human rights violations against its own tribal populations. Dr Sen, a heart patient, has already spent over two years in prison from May 2007 to May 2009 and was released on bail by the Indian Supreme Court.
That the world’s largest democratic country cannot tolerate criticism and non-violent human rights activism is a matter of shame to Indian citizens everywhere and this attitude of intolerance needs to be roundly condemned. Such low quality of justice, routinely delivered in our courts, is indeed itself a threat to Indian democracy.
Not only should Dr Sen be released immediately from imprisonment and charges withdrawn, there needs to be a thorough inquiry against all those who have framed him so maliciously. We also demand adequate compensation to Dr Sen for being deprived of his basic freedoms and his family for being subjected to the most inhumane mental torture and persecution.
* * *
“The life sentence handed down against Dr Binayak Sen by a court in the India state of Chhattisgarh violates international fair trial standards and is likely to enflame tensions in the conflict-affected area. . . . Dr Binayak Sen was detained without proper charges for seven months, denied bail, and kept in solitary confinement for three weeks. Many of the charges against him stem from laws that contravene international standards. Repeated delays in the conduct of his trial have cast doubts about its fairness. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Indian authorities to immediately drop all the charges against Dr Binayak Sen.” — Amnesty International
Amnesty Slams Binayak Verdict
* * *
For more information, visit <www.freebinayaksen.org>. See, also, “A Shocking Verdict” (The Hindu, 25 December 2010); “Questionable Conviction” (Mail Today, 25 December 2010); Gyanant Singh, “Colonial Decree Returns to Haunt Rights Activists” (Mail Today, 25 December 2010).