Here is a brief report that appeared eight times all day yesterday on the Indian TV channel IBN Live, showing a clip of Dr. Ilina's speech accepting the Jonathan Mann Award on behalf of Dr. Binayak Sen in Washington DC on May 29. The speech already appears in the previous post.
Acceptance Speech on behalf of Dr. Binayak Sen for Jonathan Mann Award Awards Banquet of the Global Health Council. Washington, DC, May 29, 2008.
What I speak today reflects the thoughts of my husband Dr Binayak Sen, who, in other circumstances should have been here, as well as of myself. On behalf of PUCL, Rupantar, Medico Friends Circle, Jan Swasthya Sahayog, Peoples’ movements and Human Rights organizations across my country, we would like to thank the Global Health Council for the Jonathan Mann Award given this year to Dr Binayak Sen, as well as for the hospitality they have extended to me and my daughters. I can not emphasize how much this honor and recognition of our work, and the support of the global health community, means to us at this time. We would like also to specially remember the Christian Medical College, Vellore, and its alumni all over the world, who have made the cause of Binayak’s freedom their own. Binayak would especially like tell you that it is a great privilege to be heir to the legacy of Dr Jonathan Mann and to be able to carry it forward. Like Dr Mann, Binayak believes that unless we try to change the world it will never change, and he is even now paying the price for following this principle..
Both Binayak’s and my parents came from the part of the world that is now Bangladesh, and as such, we can perhaps lay claim to a South Asian identity. This is the first time that this award has been given to a South Asian- a region that is home to more than a quarter of humankind, and to some of the world’s poorest communities. It is in this context that the intercept between Health and Human Rights acquires the special meaning that it has for us, a meaning embedded in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirming the right of ALL to a standard of living adequate for health and well being…including food, clothing, housing, necessary social services, and the right to security in situations beyond individual control.
The critical importance of this section becomes clear when we compare the promises of this ideal with what prevails on the ground. In India, nutrition surveys of the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau have shown that over 33 % of the population have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5, considered to be the minimum level for less than starvation standards. Translated to demography, this means that over 400 million people are exposed to near starvation conditions. To add to this catastrophic situation, we are confronted now with a new set of crises. Between 1990 and 2005, the daily per capita availability of foodgrains has fallen from 510 grams to 438. World food prices have risen, and the concentration of land ownership in a few hands has intensified.
These poverty stricken communities are not mere statistical data sets for us. For the last quarter of a century, it has been our privilege to work with, and share the lives of many such communities in a part of Central India called Chhattisgarh. Our experience with these communities tells us that in the kind of situation we have been describing, it is the communities’ access to common property resources – grazing lands, water, forest resources, biodiversity- that mitigate to some extent the baleful effects of an alienated economy. Unfortunately in the recent past, the pressures of ‘development’ have seen to it that these resources have become increasingly sequestered in private and corporate hands. This new round of resource acquisition has placed major stresses on the modalities of democratic discourse that the civilized world has come to cherish after the bloody history of colonial conquest and intolerance. In our part of the world, Peace has been a major casualty, with official policy often privileging the interests of the few over the well being of many. The work of Rupantar and other groups has attempted to uphold a more convivial model of development, but in the face of contradictory tendencies that are much larger, it becomes very hard to preserve even small islands of common good.
The roots of extremism in many of our societies lie in this kind of a situation. It is impossible to seek a purely law and order or vigilante solution to what are basically the problems of non-inclusive growth. The Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh has actually increased the fissures and increased the violence in our society. Behind the 8% growth rate of the Indian Economy, there are major subsets of the population that are totally disenfranchised. We are firmly committed to Peace: but to a Peace animated by justice and equity and based on the values of life and liberty. In the absence of these, restoration of peace through military action can only lead to the graveyard of peoples’ aspirations. I end with a plea that in the twenty first century let us not repeat the bloodshed that our ancestors inflicted upon populations across large areas of the globe. The resources of the world are for us all to share. Let us affirm our faith in that common cause.
In the strongest government reaction so far to the increasingly embarrassing publicity surrounding international recognition of Dr. Binayak Sen's work in public health, paediatrics and human rights,
"Senior government sources have told Times Now Binayak Sen is not absolved of his involvement with Naxals. The Court has taken a decision on Sen's bail and now the State Government is the final authority. However, the Government feels that the issue around Dr Binayak Sen is a well orchestrated campaign and just because he is selected for a western award, doesn't make him less guilty in their view. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the State Government is right in opposing Dr Sen's appeal."
Whatever happened to "innocent until proved guilty"?
1. The government spokesman should have referred to Dr. Sen's alleged involvement with Naxals. He is still an accused, but not yet a condemned man. Instead, the spokesman chose to refer to him as if his involvement with Naxals was already an established fact. But this is contradicted by the gapingholes in the prosecution case that have already been exposed in the media, as well as by the collapse of all the state witnesses brought forth by the state in the trial so far. Therefore his guilt is far from established, and can never be unless the state interferes massively in the judicial process, or unless the judges themselves suddenly find themselves without the requisite resilience to withstand political pressure.
2. The fact that the Supreme Court has refused him bail is now being used by Dr. Sen's detractors as proof of his guilt. It's difficult to believe, I know, but the Supreme Court dismissed the bail petition, not with an argument, but in one line, completely ignoring the arguments of Binayak Sen's defence lawyers. This seems likely to deter any lower courts from granting any future bail petitions. The whole point seems to be judicial entrapment, as a lesson to all those who might wish to be critical of the government's stance. Lalit Surjan, in an article in Hindi in the Deshbandhu, asks why the protests against his arrest originate almost exclusively from outside Chhattisgarh. The answer is in the operation of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. The people of Chhattisgarh are feeling so "specially secure" that they dare not open their mouths in public!
3. Those who insist "Let the courts decide" make the unwarranted assumption that Dr. Sen is likely to get a fair trial. I too reluctantly concede that continuing with the trial is probably the only option left to clear his name, but why does he have to remain in jail? The evidence so far about the fairness of the judicial process is mixed. The evidence lies in the courts entertaining evidence that has been fabricated, obtained under torture, but the trial judge has so far in tried to be fair. The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act itself is a bad law, yet it has been passed and approved, which tells us something of the working of the legislative process.
Finally: Why is there such a paucity of media reports on what happened in the first few days of the trial, when all the prosecution witnesses collapsed under the defence lawyers' interrogation? My saying so has little credibility, since I am not regarded as an unbiased source of information. But the sole report on the trial itself that I could find on the internet (I have no ready access to the Indian print media from here) failed to report on what happened to the witnesses under interrogation. If readers can find reports of the trial, I would urge them to publicize these reports.
It's more than a little rich for someone who has probably never even ventured into [CORRECTION dated 4 June: just flitted through] the territory that he writes about with such "passionate intensity", to describe as "tendentious" a report written by people who have lived and worked among the tribals of the region for decades.
Mr. Dasgupta has not a word to say about the starvation and hunger deaths, the violent alienation of land, and other examples of rampant misgovernance and corruption by a predatory state, that have contributed to the maoist insurrection. All these are described in excruciating detail in the reports that he cites so disparagingly, but he prefers to ignore such trifles.
Like his comrade-in-arms Chandan Mitra and other typical laptop warriors who ever swear to defend their country till the last drop of other people's blood, his only solution is a "full-scale military operation" . He cannot imagine how this will only exacerbate a problem that has been allowed to fester for decades. Let him volunteer his services to Salwa Judum, let him live in the fetid and death-ridden camps, and defend his motherland by taking up arms against those he refuses to regard as his fellow citizens.
Shame on these cowardly patriots of shining India!
See the Times of India and Economic Times pieces attacking the government for continuing to hold Binayak Sen, despite increasing protest at his incarceration. This is after The Hindu, The Hindustan Times and The Statesman have all editorialized in favour of his release. On the other hand, The Daily Pioneer has chosen to smear him and called for thought crime legislation to criminalize the "mindset" of people like Dr. Sen and their supporters.
The case against Dr. Sen has been built on a patchwork of ill-disguisedfabrications, and a set of draconian laws like the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act according to which even the Chief Justice of India can be arrested for his recently expressed opinions of Salwa Judum. By keeping Binayak Sen in jail, the government of India and Chhattisgarh are destroying their own credibility, and showing the world that it is scared of a doctor who has spent his life in the service of the poor. Right now, Dr. Sen's credibility before the world is much greater than that of the government that is holding him prisoner.
None of this is going to make a difference to the desiGIYUS (Give India Your United Support) brigade, now out in full force, trolling through various forums attacking with abuse anyone who dares suggest that Dr. Sen is innocent and should be released. Don't bother answering them: they are immune to reason. The likes of Chandan Mitra have inoculated them against the risk of using whatever they have in their heads that could remotely resemble a brain.
Someone under the moniker y3 has written a response to the comments on this posting at Offstumped, that in my view sums up with admirable clarity the entire strategy of the jackals, and gently admonishes Dr. Sen's defenders for engaging with them, beyond telling them the obvious: that it's a waste of time. Y3's comment makes me wish I had said it myself.
This is a very amusing discussion, and I would be laughing if it didn’t concern issues this grave. Some people here paint Binayak Sen as the demon, published facts be damned, and then besmirch this image of their own creation. Set up the effigy so it can be demolished… a pretty basic rhetoric that is all too transparent.
Blade_runner and Y2: have you ever played a game with a bully who changes the rules to suit his or her purpose? If so, you'll know that this 'discussion' is fruitless.
What is Hindu vs Christian about Binayak's work? Gee, I thought helping distressed humans was good in all religions, but now I am hearing that it is necessary to be not just Hindu, but just the right tint and texture of Hindu to be acceptable — even if one talks in terms of "bullet between the eyes". How insecure must one be to have to denounce someone who has helped the less fortunate? Why are these people running so scared that they want to bring in the army to “enter and wipe out this vermin”?
Blade_runner and Y2: you cannot prevail in this 'discussion', simply because it is being conducted at a level that your detractors have proven themselves incapable of surmounting. Until they accept the possibility that the conditions of human beings might precede that of religious doctrine, or that helping others constitutes God’s work in all acceptable religions, you are wasting your time.
Would you play a game of chess against an opponent who insists that all his pieces function as queens, whereas your pieces are all pawns?
...even though the weapons of war have not perished.
When you try and find the website of the Project for the New American Century (remember, the ones who were Rebuilding America's Defences?), you search for https://www.newamericancentury.org. But you reach another address, and this is what you see:
(DOUBLE CLICK ON IMAGE)
Hope should spring eternal in the human breast, but one should not read anything significant into such matters. The neocons in the PNAC are quite happy with the way things are going, thank you very much. Donald Rumsfeld even looks forward to another attack similar to 911, for the bracing effect it might have on uniting people behind the fascist government. another war may well be in the offing - a parting gift from the Great Missionaries of Civilization.
Where has all their tough talk led? After "Mission Accomplished" and "Bring them on", we have more than a million people killed in Iraq, four million displaced, several hundred thousands more killed and maimed in Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Sudan...not even counting those among the Americans and British and allied troops who have been killed and wounded, or rendered incapable of being whole human beings anymore. Let's not even begin to count the thousands of children who will spend the rest of their lives irrecoverably traumatized. But none of this suffering counts in the minds of these inveterate war pornographers.
Curiously, despite the criminal mendacity and rapacious fervour with which these wars have been conducted (or perhaps because of them) these warmongers of the New American Century still have a globe-spanning fan club. Some of them have been responding to a rather accurate and hard-hitting posting on the incompetence of the security services and of the politicians over at Offstumped.
Below is a sampling of responses from our own desi neocon Likudniks:
Here's Aryan (May 13, 2008, 11:50 pm)
There is a very simple brutal solution to this problem. I know it sound like a ‘dumb bushism’, but it’s true when it comes to India’s jihadi enemies, we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.
There is only so much pain a speck of nearly drowned land, like Bangladesh can take, bomb the little infrastructure that there is, make them feel the pain, bomb the jihadi camps, believe me the Indian intelligence know where they are, even have them orchestrated like ‘terrorist attacks, all one need is political will.
As for the pakis are concerned, there are so many opportunities one would not know where to start, which disaffected group do we arm first ? the baluchis, MQM, pathans, or the sunnis ? If there are a few bloody bomb blasts in karachi, islamabad, lahore, pakis will get the message, they’ll back off.
This is a zero sum game, russians made the americans bleed in vietnam, the americans returned the favor in afghanistan. The pakis have had a unchallenged reign over terror in India, India needs to get it’s hands bloody.
So where does this end? For the Aryans of the world, the war on terror should be a never-ending orgasm of mayhem, inflicted on others, not on those who, like Aryan, prefer fighting these wars from behind a laptop.
Bhanu May 14, 2008 3:44 am (the Desi GIYUS Gang never sleeps)
As Aryan said India now seriously needs to show what its capable of militarily. It was a mistake giving the Banglas their freedom in 1971.They deserved what the Paki Army was dishing out to them.
MAKE THEM FEEL THE PAIN
Anonymous, May 14, 2008 5:23 am
Things that should to be done but need not be spoken about should include taking terror ball back in the court of its parents – Pakistan and to an extent Bangladesh. This should include support to any & every outfit that supports secessionist movements within Pakistan, spreading fake Pak currency in Pakistan, feeding arsenic / poison to terrorist that are under arrest or even better killing them in “encounters” so that another Azhar Masood never has to be released, For every 1 explosion in India there need to be 3 “firecrackers” in Pakistan. Remember that Israel announcing that it will demolish the houses of suicide bombers’ parents etc. had in impact on the # of suicide bombers in Israel blowing themselves up. In a nutshell, India needs to talk the language that terrorists and their financiers understand. We need to stop claiming that “Kutil Neeti” was written by an Indian and start practicing it.
So let me see...despite the lessons of the entire period of occupation of Palestine since 1967, the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon, the dreadful disasters of the Iraqi and Afghan occupations, these laptop warriors are ever willing to fight for their ideals at the cost of other people's lives. Their answer to the ongoing Indian tragedy of one blast after another is...what? Not smarter police work, nor building up a fund of goodwill among Muslims so that they are disposed to co-operate with the police rather than shelter terrorists. No, instead spend more on the same incompetent policework, catching innocent activists and journalists and lock them away without evidence, while the real terrorists get away. Bomb other countries to destroy their societies and infrastructure. "Make them feel the pain". These great Hindu jihadis, like their Muslim, Christian and Zionist counterparts, do not have the capacity to imagine - and apparently do not care - who "they" who will feel the pain will very likely be: innocent people unconnected with terrorism, going about their daily lives. Or perhaps they relish the thought of killing innocent people just because they happen to be of the same religion, culture, nationality or ethnicity as the terrorists. Like the terrorists they claim to hate, but apparently wish to imitate, their thirst for the blood of innocent others can apparently never be slaked. How does that solve the problem of terrorism, or address its causes?
In the real world, tough policing of suspected terrorists does involve occasional bloodshed, but smart policing tries keeping it to the minimum. But these bloodthirsty Indian al Zawahiris seem to be fairly drooling in anticipation of all the mayhem and suffering they would like to cause the people of the countries from where these terrorists attacking Indian cities originate.
Does all this bloodshed ever end? And what kind of sick self-loathing induces these Anonymous Aryans and Bhanus to want to emulate the terrorists they so despise?
This indeed very good news, received through an announcement from PUCL itself.
The challenge petition has been drafted by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Rajinder Sachar, and Advocates Sanjay Parikh and Anita Shenoy.
After reading an analysis of the law, my questions are threefold:
1) What difference will this challenge make to Binayak Sen's case, given that he is also charged under various other provisions apart from the CSPSA?
2) Why could it not have been done sooner?
3) How do such bad laws get passed, and how can ordinary citizens prevent the passage of such laws?
Just a few days ago, I noted the eerie silence of the internet jackals. Well, that silence has now been broken comprehensively by their howling in the comments sections of this article by Apoorvanand and a blog posting on Offstumped. No doubt they will soon be yelping all over the internet. The manner of their mobilization, and their tactics of smear and abuse, is strongly reminiscent of GIYUS, the Zionist media mobilisation effort against critics of the Israeli state policies towards Palestinians.
It seems I was a bit uminaginative in anticipating the range of responses of the jackals. Apart from those that I already listed, they have accused Binayak Sen of being a naxal terrorist, a christian missionary, and an agent for foreign missionary organizations. They have also expressed the desire to kill Binayak and his entire family. These commenters speak in the name of a resurgent Hindu nationalism. These are the people with whose mindset Indians are supposed to proudly identify. So what or who inspires them?
Two circumstances have coincided to provide the occasion for the mobilisation of the jackals. They are firstly the tragic and dastardly outrage perpetrated in Jaipur recently by what has been identified as an Islamic terrorist group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen, possibly
an associate of the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI); and secondly the increasing embarrassment caused to the state by the public appeal of 22 Nobel laureates to the government for the release of Dr. Binayak Sen, following soon after the Global Health Council bestowed the Jonathan Mann Award on him.
These circumstances provides the background in which "respectable" right-wing ideologues have now found
a new way of smearing Binayak by association (the old ones perhaps having been exhausted). Chandan Mitra's column provides an instance of the method, and noting how many of his arguments have been parroted by the Bharatiya GIYUS jackal gangs, perhaps also their inspiration. Or perhaps they simply share the same Manichaean paranoia.
Mr. Mitra exploits the tragedy and agony of the criminal Jaipur blasts for his own ideological ends as follows: 1) Set up similarities between Islamic terrorism and Naxal terrorism.
2) Then suggest in a slyly misleading manner that they both depend on the same sources of support among the intellectuals and foreign-based organizations.
3) Repeat once again the stale but Big Lie that Binayak is a Naxalite intellectual.
4) Suggest that Dr. Sen was a nobody whom no one had ever heard of before his arrest.
5) Then cast doubt on the credentials of the Jonathan Mann Award, the Global Health Council.
6) Mention "separatist outfits, Christian missionary groups and busybody NGOs" in the same sentence with "Indian subversives have huge international networks", relying on the reader to make the connection with the well-known fact that Dr. Sen is an alumnus of the Christian Medical College, as are his supporters around the world.
7) This makes it possible to suggest a conspiracy...with "unknown" organizations hand in glove with Christian subversives giving "unknown" awards to "unknown" individuals who are "destabilising" India from within with "Goebbelsian propaganda" that Salwa Judum is a vigilante group armed by the state instead of being an unarmed and peaceful movement against Naxalites.
8) And finally the punch line:
"...the siege within is much more pervasive than it appears at first sight. While the country needs more stringent anti-terror laws, better intelligence, superior equipment for security forces and other paraphernalia for combating jihadi, Maoist and separatist terror, apart from draconian measures to stop infiltration from Bangladesh, the war against the enemy within cannot be won by laws alone.
Till such time as we agree that "terrorism in all its manifestations" includes mindset that in effect protect and promote the cause of the perpetrators of terror rather than those of its victims, I am afraid the war can never be decisively won."
Hey Presto! We are in 1984 territory: Airstrip One, complete with Big Brother surveillance and thought crime laws against "mindsets". Garv se kaho, hum Bharatiya (oops! Oceanians) hain! Death to activists, their relatives, Chief Justices, police chiefs, journalists and intellectuals - any Unperson who claims that the Salwa Judum is anything but a spontaneous, peaceful movement against the Naxalites, or anyone who might ask for the rule of law to be upheld while fighting terrorism!
We already have pretty draconian anti-terror laws, and have had them all the years since the 1970's when Mitra was a stripling marxist radical. Yet the laws have failed utterly to curb extremism, while the radicals seem to have garnered yet more support. Mr. Mitra's explanation for this would doubtless invoke sinister destabilizing forces from outside - Islamic radicals, Christian missionaries and organizations, Maoists in Nepal, NGO's, activists, media persons - almost everyone and everything but the failure of governance by predatory states that wish to grab land from tribals and dalits for the sake of "development", with not even the most basic economic security or recourse to elementary justice. Mr. Mitra must be an advocate of such predatory governance if he advocates that critics of such policies are arrested and imprisoned without trial for long periods on false charges of supporting terrorism. In any case, what is the analytical or strategic value of treating all forms of terrorism as if they were the same, and treating critics and enemies as if they were indistinguishable? What is the point of proliferating security legislation and then using it to victimize the peaceful and law-abiding critics of the state like Binayak Sen and Ajay T G, when the real terrorists are able to go scot free?
Chandan Mitra seems to derive his inspiration for his implacable war on terrorism from his gurus in the US - those neocon Warriors on Terror, whose rhetoric he shamelessly appropriates. Like them, his proximity to power seems to have caused him to develop a cognitive delusion that prevents him from seeing the truth - that the war on terror is failing in its own terms everywhere. With the methods that he advocates, we can expect to see more people victimized for "mindset crimes" defined in ever more ill-defined and catch-all legislation. What is the meaning of terrorism when its definition expands to cover almost every public act, and renders every person subject to arbitrary arrest? If the state has to resort to such laws as these, the terrorists have already won.