Friday, December 24, 2010

Outrage for Christmas from Indian Government - NTUI strongly condemns Dr. Binayak Sen life imprisonment conviction for treason

Today a Raipur Additional District and Sessions Court held Dr Binayak Sen and two other people guilty of treason, and sentenced them to life imprisonment for trying to help Naxals establish a network to fight the state.The court pronounced the verdict convicting Dr Binayak Sen, Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha guilty of treason and waging war against the state. Dr Sen was arrested soon after the verdict was pronounced.
Dr. Binayak Sen, a doctor of the working class and civil rights activist in Chattisgarh, was arrested under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in May 2007. He remained in prison for full two years, before being released in May 2009. The whole charade of the Chattisgarh law enforcement machinery was fully played out in full public eye over this whole period. Today, with the conviction of Dr. Sen, another chapter in the charade is completed.

This case received international publicity as an example of state repression of any dissent. Dr. Sen, as the state General Secretary and national Vice President of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties was and remains one of the most prominent civil rights defenders in the country. In convicting him, the Indian state is convicting democratic rights in the country. It is, as Dr. Sen’s wife Ilina said, a “sad day for Indian democracy”.
Over the past month the case of the prosecution was given wide publicity, for the blatant falsehoods and preposterous claims made by it. For example, a email message from Ilina Sen to the Indian Social Institute (ISI) in Delhi, a prominent institution working on human rights was claimed by the prosecution as proof of contact with the ISI in Pakistan. This clearly shows the total lack of police
investigation, and in fact, the disregard for all norms of good legal practices exhibited by the Chattisgarh state. It shows the arrogance of a state machinery, secure in the belief that it cannot be held accountable for its actions, and has unchallenged right to take away the liberty of any person it holds as opposed to it. In the context today, when state and big business interests are so closely linked, any form of opposition to big business and capital, particularly by the poorest sections of society, is readily seen as anti-state. The numerous draconian laws against dissent, enacted across the country, are examples of a growing repression by the state of all forces opposed to its policies of “development” – that only increases the displacement and destitution of the poor.
That the judiciary which is supposed to mediate on behalf of those denied justice has today handed out this judgment condemning a defender of human rights. In a situation today when the naked complicity between business interests and the state is being brought out daily, the responsibility of the judiciary to uphold and defend the rights of the people, and in particular defend the rights of human right defenders cannot be overstated. It is this responsibility that has been seriously challenged by the Sessions Courts in Chattisgarh today.
NTUI calls upon the UPA Government to appeal the Raipur Court order in defence of the rights of citizens provided for in the constitution.
NTUI strongly condemns this conviction and will continue the fight to release Dr. Sen.
For more information, contact:
Gautam Mody, Secretary NTUI: +91 7838383758
Rosa Basanti on +91-11-26214538 or +91 9873255780


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