The doctor will not see you now

Global protests will be held today for Dr Binayak Sen, a medical doctor who has been jailed for the last two years in India. Amnesty believes that the charges and evidence against him – allegations that he was involved in Maoist violence – are completely baseless and politically motivated.

Dr Sen is a paediatrician and a champion of the poor and the marginalised in one of India’s more poverty-stricken states, Chhattisgarh . Together with his wife, also a medical doctor, he set up community health clinics and trained local people to be health workers, bringing medical care to communities that had previously been ignored.

But he hasn’t just focused on the health of poor people in Chhattisgarh, he has also spoken out for their rights. And this is what may have brought him into conflict with the local authorities.

Prior to his arrest, Dr Sen had criticised the state authorities for enacting special security legislation. The Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act allows the authorities to arbitrarily arrest, detain and seek to punish people on unclear grounds

Dr Sen had also highlighted unlawful killings of local indigenous people, known as adivasis, by the police and by a private militia called Salwa Judum. This militia is widely believed to be sponsored by the state and used to fight Maoist guerrillas in the area. In his role as a doctor and a human rights defender, Dr Sen has also met leaders of the guerilla group, the CPI (Maoist), who were held in prison. These meetings were officially sanctioned by the authorities, but they’re now being used against him.

The trial process has been deeply flawed. It took seven months before any charges were filed, during which time he was denied bail and kept in soiltary confinement. And his trial has been delayed and delayed. So Dr Sen has not been found guilty of any crime but today marks two years behind bars.

There’s a very vocal campaign calling for his release, though. Doctors all over the world have taken up his case – 100 of them will be outside the Indian high Commission in London from 2 ‘til 6pm today – and The Lancet and British Medical Journal have both featured his case.

Amnesty is launching a new web appeal today, asking people to go to https://www.amnesty.org.uk/binayak-sen and send an appeal to the Indian authorities calling for the immediate release of Dr Sen. If you can’t make one of the demos in London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Germany, Italy, the USA or all over India, you can still speak up for a man who has spoken up for countless others.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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