Ottawa (April 25, 2018): Disabled activist and teacher G.N. Saibaba continues to face serious health issues while being held in Nagpur Central Jail in India. Saibaba was convicted and sentenced by a Maharashtra court to life in prison under Indian anti-terror laws on March 7, 2017 after being accused of “unlawful activities”, conspiring to commit a “terrorist act” and “membership of a terrorist organization.” Saibaba is, according to reports, 90% disabled and requires the assistance of a wheelchair. He also suffers from several other serious health ailments including acute pancreatitis, cardiac complications, hypertension and a spinal disorder that inhibits use of his left should and hand.
Saibaba, who is a Delhi University professor of English, had raised issues of human rights violations of tribals during the Indian army’s Operation Green Hunt. In Delhi, he also organized human rights fact-finding missions to Jharkhand, Kashmir, Assam and Manipur. In May 2014, Saibaba was abducted by the Maharashtra police on his way home from Delhi University on accusations of being a Naxalite ideologue.
Amnesty International has stated that it believes the charges against G N Saibaba are fabricated and that the law under which he was tried and his trial did not meet international fair trial standards.
According to Amnesty International,
“The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is a draconian law that has been abused, with the use of fabricated evidence and false charges, to detain activists that are peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. Parts of the UAPA do not meet international human rights standards and are likely to lead to human rights violations. For example, the UAPA dilutes the evidentiary requirement for terror convictions and uses sweeping definitions of ‘acts of terrorism’ and ‘membership’ of ‘unlawful’ organizations, and does not comply with India’s international legal obligation.”
Since being imprisoned, Saibaba’s health has continued to deteriorate and jail authorities have not provided necessary updates to his family, despite repeated requests. Saibaba has been held in solitary confinement, in the infamous “unda cell” (egg cell), without adequate light or ventilation. He lacks necessary medical treatment and is unable to use the toilet without severe pain and discomfort, being forced to crawl on his hands and elbows.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today, “G.N. Saibaba’s detention and treatment is shocking. Draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act are a violation of basic human rights and the rule law. Human rights organizations, including the WSO are concerned that Saibaba has been targeted based on his human rights advocacy work and convicted on false pretences. We call on the Indian government to ensure that Saibaba is provided adequate facilities and treatment, particularly given his serious medical issues."
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, 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