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Bail denied for activist jailed over Maoist claim

Christians dismayed but doctor vows to keep up his fight for freedom

Bail denied for activist jailed over Maoist claim
A screenshot of an Indian TV news report on Binayak Sen
Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

February 11, 2011

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Christian leaders expressed dismay yesterday at a Chhattisgarh High Court decision not to grant bail to rights activist Binayak Sen. Sen, who is a doctor, was convicted of sedition for aiding Maoists in the western Indian state and sentenced to life on December 24, 2010. Additional Advocate General Kishore Bhaduri, representing the state government, told the three-judge tribunal yesterday that Sen had strong links with the Maoists. He said seized documents and other evidence were sufficient for “not suspending the sentence handed to him by the trial court.” “This is unfortunate,” said Anjana Masih of National Council of Churches in India. She said that they had expected justice from a court of law. Father Charles Irudayam, secretary of the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said anyone who favors those working for the welfare of the poor and downtrodden will condemn the judgment. He said the judgment will give the wrong impression to the state government that it can do anything it likes. Meanwhile, Sen’s wife Ilena said that they would challenge the decision and appeal to the Supreme Court. Earlier, on February 9, 40 Nobel laureates issued a statement calling for Sen’s immediate release. “Sen is an exceptional, courageous, and selfless colleague, dedicated to helping those in India who are least able to help themselves,” they said in the statement, posted on a website campaigning for Sen’s release. Sen studied medicine at a Protestant-run school in Tamil Nadu and then worked for more than 30 years to bring healthcare to the state’s tribal people. 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. Related reports Activist’s life sentence widely condemned Christians demand release of rights activist IC13242.1640
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