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PUCL Bulletin, 2007

Binayak Sen: Activists protest arrest

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Chhattisgarh PUCL!

Senior Columnist & Writer Mr. Praful Bidwai, and Mr. Mukul Sharma, Director, Amnesty International, India (also a journalist) visited Chhattisgarh on 15th & 16th September, 2007, and acquainted themselves with the deteriorating human rights situation in the State.

They visited the area where Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh PUCL has been working to provide healthcare to the rural people. They also met a number of citizens, journalists, social and human rights activists, lawyers, etc.

Their full Report is awaited.

They addressed a Press Conference on 16th September, 2007 at Raipur. The Press Release is enclosed herewith.

In the mean time, we would like to share the information that Dr. Binayak Sen's case is coming up for framing of Charges on 29th September, 2007 at the Trial Court at Raipur (Additional District Judge). The matter will be argued on Charges.

Many activists and organisations are planning to be present at the Raipur District Court on 29th September in support and solidarity.

Join Us To Defend Democracy & press for a Fair Trial!

With Regards,
Rajendra K Sail, President, Chhattisgarh PUCL

Press Release

Raipur, 16th September, 2007: We wish to express our strong protest against the continuing detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh PUCL, and an activist of Roopantar, and our solidarity with the cause of public service and defence of democratic rights which he represents. On 15th September 2007, we visited parts of Dhamtari District, where Dr. Sen has conducted important activities in the health field, to investigate if there is anything in his work or conduct which warrants the harsh action taken against him under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005. Upon talking to more than 20 people in Bagrumnala and Kekrakholi villages in Dhamtari, we failed to find any evidence of Dr. Sen's culpability in inciting the public to extremism or in helping extremist groups penetrate the villages where he works. On the contrary, he had been engaged in exemplary voluntary work in providing primary and preventive healthcare.

The Roopantar Clinic at Bagrumnala offers an extra-ordinary range of services including rapid testing for the falciparum strain of the malaria parasite, which has saved scores of lives which would otherwise have been lost. The Bagrumnala Clinic caters to eight villages which would otherwise not receive any healthcare services, especially from the State. It has provided services which are indeed irreplaceable and worthy of universal support. Its closure will cause entirely preventable loss of life and well-being among some of the poorest tribals of Chhattisgarh. All of the people we talked to expressed their gratitude towards Dr. Sen for his voluntary work, his role as a guide and educator in empowering disadvantaged people, and his ability to make them aware of their rights and entitlements, for instance, to water and housing, besides healthcare. All of them confirmed that Dr. Sen's role is widely seen in the area as a noble and self-less one, and there is not even the remotest evidence of instigating people to extremism or soliciting support for extremist ideas. We join other defenders of civil liberties and democratic rights in demanding Dr. Sen's immediate and unconditional release.

Praful Bidwai, Columnist & Writer Mukul Sharma, Director, Amnesty International - India

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014