Revolution Online, May 2, 2011

From A World to Win News Service

Binayak Sen free on bail once again

We received the following from A World to Win News Service:

April 25, 2011. A World to Win News Service. Binayak Sen, the Indian medical doctor and advocate for tribal peoples sentenced to life in prison at hard labor in May 2007, is free on bail.

Sen was arrested in 2007 shortly after he exposed a massacre of tribal people in the state of Chhattisgarh, where he and his wife Ilina Sen have been active for three decades.

He was charged with sedition and waging war against the state. He was jailed for two years, ordered released on bail in 2009 by the Supreme Court of India, and then tried, convicted and imprisoned again by a court in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, in December 2010.

On April 18 the Supreme Court of India ordered the lower court to release him on bail. This does not mean the charges against him have been dropped, only that the sentence has been suspended pending appeal. He was required to surrender his passport and post a substantial cash bond to ensure his appearance at further legal proceedings.

The Supreme Court did not issue a statement explaining its decision. But it did throw doubt on the grounds his conviction was based on. The judges reportedly remarked that possession of literature produced by a banned "Naxalite" organization—in this case the Communist Party of India (Maoist)—does not constitute sedition, nor does sympathy with such an organization constitute a crime. In February, the Supreme Court ruled that membership in a banned organization is not a criminal offense in itself.

A graduate of one of India's leading medical schools, Sen had been working in the state of Chhattisgarh since 1981. He and his wife Ilina Sen trained rural health workers in Adivasi (tribal) and poor peasant areas, organizing rural clinics and promoting campaigns against alcohol abuse and violence against women. Their work substantially reduced the deaths of children due to diarrhea and dehydration, helping to bring down the overall infant mortality rate in the state. This made Sen one of India's most prominent public health specialists.

As a senior member of People's Union for Civil Liberties that works for the tribal poor, he earned the wrath of the Chhattisgarh authorities because of his political advocacy for Adivasis and his vocal opposition to the Salwa Judum, a state-backed militia formed to fight the Maoist-led revolutionary movement among them.

The CPI (Maoist) is leading a revolutionary upsurge centered in broad rural areas in northern and central India that is now the target of Operation Green Hunt, a military campaign launched by the central government.

Sen's cause was taken up by intellectuals, human rights activists and doctors throughout India and the world. A petition signed by 40 Nobel Prize winners called for his freedom. He was given the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights for his work, and the prestigious international medical journal The Lancet called for his release so that he and his wife could continue their work.

But Sen's co-defendants, Narayan Sanyal (said to be a senior Maoist leader) and Piyush Guha, were not granted bail and remain in prison. Sen is accused of passing letters from the imprisoned 74-year-old Sanyal, whom he visited in his capacity as a physician. The letters were allegedly found on Guha.

On the occasion of his release, the Coalition to Free Binayak Sen said, "We will continue to fight for the release of tribal rights activists and political prisoners and the safety of journalists and human rights activists in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere. Falsely accused of offenses under draconian laws, these victims of state power include Dr Sen's co-accused, Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal, and others such as Kopa Kunjam, Sukhnath Oyami, Sodi Sambo, Kartam Joga and Asit Kumar Sengupta, to name only a few among the hundreds held as prisoners by the state of Chhattisgarh alone. As recently as March 11th and March 13th, 300 houses were burned, women raped and men killed in the Dantewada district of the state by Koya Commandos (an offshoot of Salwa Judum).

"We reiterate our over-arching demands for which Dr Sen's case has become a symbol."

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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