WSO Expresses Concern at Conviction of Indian Human Rights Activist

Ottawa (December 24, 2010): The World Sikh Organization of Canada expresses its concern at the conviction of human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen in Chhatisgarh India on charges of treason and sedition.

Today an Additional District and Sessions Court in Raipur India convicted Dr. Binayak Sen and two others of sedition and treason and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The court found Dr. Sen guilty of carrying letters with “seditious content”. He was sentenced under the Special Public Security Act which restricts public meetings, organised protests and opposition of government policies.

Dr. Sen is an office holder in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and a well known physician and human rights activist who has worked with tribal populations in Chhatisgarh region for decades. Dr. Sen highlighted police and Maoist atrocities in the region and has also been openly critical of the Salwa Judum, the state government’s militia, which has been implicated in widespread abuses.

Dr. Sen’s arrest and detention has been condemned by Amnesty International and twenty-two Nobel laureates, including such prominent personalities as Noam Chomsky, Amartya Sen and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy. The Nobel laureates wrote to India’s President and Prime Minister and Chhattisgarh state authorities asking that Dr. Sen be allowed to travel to the US to receive the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. The letter also stated, “we also wish to express grave concern that Dr Sen appears to be incarcerated solely for peacefully exercising his fundamental human rights,”

“Dr. Sen’s conviction highlights the continuing dearth of liberal democratic values in India. The use of the judicial system and state machinery to silence legitimate political dissent is shocking in a country which prides itself as ‘the world’s largest democracy’” said WSO Senior Policy Advisor Gian Singh Sandhu.

“Dr. Sen’s detention and conviction mirrors a trend we have seen in India for many years of persecuting human rights activists on falsified and illegitimate grounds. Democratic countries across the world have a duty to take this issue up with India and ensure the silencing of human rights activists does not continue.” Said WSO President Prem Singh Vinning.

WSO stands in solidarity with other human rights groups and activists in calling for immediate justice for Dr. Binayak Sen.

The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit international organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

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For more information, please contact:

Amanpreet Singh Bal
Tel. 905-567-1795, Cell 416-677-1528,
asinghbal@gmail.com
or
Gian Singh Sandhu
Senior Policy Advisor
604-341-2755
gianssandhu@gmail.com