Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Toronto community group condemns life-sentence for Dr. Binayak Sen

Group also condemns state atrocities and criticizes filing of false charges against Dr. Ilina Sen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  -  Free Binayak Sen Campaign, Toronto Chapter

There has been world-wide condemnation of the sentence of life-imprisonment for sedition handed out to noted human-rights activist and physician Dr. Binayak Sen, along with two other accused, on Dec 24th, 2010, in the town of Raipur in central India. He was accused of collaborating with “anti-state forces”.

Dr. Jonathan Fine, founder of Physicians for Human Rights in Cambridge (MA), was in the court premises in India during the verdict. “I could not help crying when speaking with Binayak’s wife before and after the verdict was declared,” he said. According to Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen, “…the whole thing seems a ridiculous use of the laws of democratic India”.

Dr. Sen was awarded the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. Internationally celebrated for his work on behalf of the poorest and for his defense of human rights, Dr. Sen has been persecuted by the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh for speaking out against the violence perpetrated by the security forces and by the state-backed militia, Salwa Judum.

In the latest attack on Dr Sen and his family, on January 25, 2011, Dr. Ilina Sen, the wife of Dr. Binayak Sen, and a well-known Professor of Women’s Studies at Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, was also charged by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that she did not inform the local police about non-Indian scholars that were participating in a women’s convention at the University.

On Friday, February 5, 2011, the Free Binayak Sen Coalition – Toronto Chapter presented the Consul General of India Ms. Preeti Saran with a petition signed by over 200 local Indians and Canadians condemning Indian state action against Dr. Binayak Sen. However no official at the Consulate was present to take the petition. The group waited for 3 hours and in end left the petition at the reception. This shows the lack of Consulate engagement with the community. These signatures had been collected in just one week. Over thirty University faculty from across Canada (from the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University,
University of Manitoba, Queen’s University, and the University of Ottawa) signed the petition.

The petition promised that the Toronto Chapter would continue to publicize the issue. The Toronto Chapter informs the Consul General that Indians and Canadians are deeply concerned about Indian state atrocities. The Consul General could not make time to meet with the Coalition and discuss their concerns. The Toronto Chapter will not sit idle.

Contact: Nishant Upadhyay Monday, February 7, 2011
Email: kneeshant@gmail.com
Cell: (647 884 5065)

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