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Northern Ireland: Chain-gang of shackled doctors highlight plight of doctor on “trumped up charges”

A “chain gang” of shackled doctors will parade today (Thursday) in Belfast to call for charges to be dropped against one particular doctor who dared to speak out on behalf of his patients.

Individually handcuffed, and chained together, 24 campaigners will dress as doctors with white coats, stethoscopes and chains to highlight the plight of Dr Binayak Sen, an award-winning paediatrician who has spent three decades serving poor communities in central India.

The demonstration will launch Amnesty International’s justice campaign which will run throughout the two weeks of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. Campaigners will be out and about at Festival events and in the university area of Belfast every day until the end of October asking people to have their photographs taken as part of a worldwide online campaign.

Dr Sen was imprisoned in May 2007 on what Amnesty International has called “trumped up charges”, with his only crime being to expose the negative impact of government policies on poor people in the region. Dr Sen’s arrest has been condemned worldwide by renowned doctors and Nobel laureates. He is currently on bail awaiting trial.

Patrick Corrigan, Programme Director for Amnesty International, said: “Festival time is an opportunity to celebrate our freedoms. This year Amnesty is giving festival-goers a chance to bring justice to a man who desperately needs our help.”

Dr Sen visited prisoners to provide legal and medical assistance and with the full knowledge of and permission from the jail authorities. The authorities allege that he passed letters between imprisoned members of a banned leftist group, despite his visits being supervised and facilitated by the prison authorities.

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