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Christians demand release of rights activist
Government in India accused of targeting civil liberties defendersChristian protestors hold a candlelight vigil at India Gate in New Delhi
- Ritu Sharma, New Delhi
- January 5, 2011
Binayak Sen, who is also a doctor, was convicted of aiding Maoists in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh and sentenced to life on Dec. 24, 2010.
The â€śFree Binayak Senâ€ť campaign demanded the immediate release of Sen and launched a month-long initiative to distribute blankets and feed the homeless in Indiaâ€™s capital.
Braving the biting cold, the protesters staged a candlelight vigil at the India Gate in support of Sen and another activist Teesta Setalvad, who has arrest warrants Â issued against her.Â *
The protest was led by Delhi Archdiocese, the All India Christian Council, the National Council of Churches in India and other groups.
In a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Christian groups expressed their concerns over the treatment meted out to Sen.
â€śIt is with deep distress and anguish that we point out to you that human rights defenders are being targeted, and silenced, by all sorts of forces,â€ť the letter stated.
â€śWe cannot remain silent spectators to such erosion of truth and injustice,â€ť it added.
Sen, who is vice-president of the Peopleâ€™s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), worked as a doctor, treating poor people in the rural-tribal areas of Chhattisgarh.
As a human rights activist, Sen strongly criticized the state government for human rights violations during anti-Maoist operations, while advocating non-violent political engagement.
He was arrested in May 2007 for allegedly supporting the Maoists.
Meanwhile, 250 physicians, medical professionals and students in Kolkata, eastern India, also held a demonstration demanding his immediate and unconditional release.
Activistâ€™s life sentence widely condemned
Church welcomes bail for jailed human rights doctor
*This paragraph has been corrected.Â The earlier version had erroneously reported that Teesta Setalvad had been jailed.