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PRESS RELEASE 14 March 2008


A nationwide initiative has been launched for the release of popular health and human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen,controversially arrested in May last year on false grounds of having links with Maoists in Chattisgarh.

The initiative, of holding regular Free Binayak Sen Medical Camps for the urban and rural poor, in cities and towns around the country , is meant to raise public awareness about Dr Sen’s detention under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and call for his unconditional release. Dr Sen, a heart patient, kept in a prison in Raipur for the past ten month,s has lost over 15 kilos of weight during the course of his detention.

The medical camps are part of an effort to take forward Dr Sen’s innovative public health work to new areas and highlight the issues of nutrition, child health and the link between socio-economic rights and health. India has one of the worst health indicators in the world, even lower than that of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the areas of infant and maternal mortality.

The first such camp will be held in an urban slum area in thenational capital New Delhi on 15 March with the help of community organizations and volunteer doctors. Other camps are planned for March in Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Kolkata.

From April health activist groups in another six cities — Hyderabad,Bhopal, Lucknow, Calicut and Alleppey — will join the campaign. Two medical camps in solidarity with Dr Sen have already been held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in late February, organized by the JNU Students Union and meant for daily wage workers on the campus.

The arrest of the internationally renowned pediatrician, on what are widely seen as trumped up charges, has outraged health and human rights groups throughout the world. Activists see Dr Sen’s arrest as an attempt to punish him for exposing human rights violations in Chattisgarh.

Apart from being a public health activists, Dr Sen is also Vice-President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, India’s largest civil rights organization formed three decades ago as a response to the Emergency imposed on the country.

For further information contact:
Dunu Roy, New Delhi Ph: 9910687627
Satya Sivaraman, New Delhi Ph: 9818514952
Dr Rakhal Gaitonde, Chennai Ph: 9940246089
Dr Punyabrata Gun, Kolkata Ph: 9830922194
Dr N.Devadasan, Bangalore Ph: 080-26645232