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Indian academics demand Dr Binayak Sen's release
Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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April 03, 2009 10:06 IST

Prominent Indian-origin academics in the United Kingdom have asked for immediate release of renowned human rights activist Binayak Sen, who has been imprisoned in Chhattisgarh since May 2007 for alleged links with Naxalites [Images]. Sen is the first Indian recipient of the 2008 Jonathan Mann award for Global Health and Human Rights.

"As the world's economic powers gather in London [Images] this week, with India among them, we hope they will take the time to consider human rights as well as the credit crunch. In particular, we call attention to the continuing imprisonment of Dr Binayak Sen," the academics, including Lord Meghnad Desai of London School of Economics and Bhikhu Parekh from University of Westminster, said.

According to the signatories, no credible charges had been brought against Dr Sen and anti-terror legislation had allegedly been used to extend his detention.

"The government of India must act immediately to withdraw the charges against one of the strongest champions of social justice. We urge that Dr Sen be released, and be treated in the spirit of India's own constitution. Dr Sen has worked for decades on issues of basic livelihood, health services and social justice. He has been a political prisoner since May 14, 2007 in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, denied bail and appropriate medical treatment," they were quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Upendra Baxi of University of Warwick, Priyamvada Gopal from University of Cambridge and several others asked the Indian government to withdraw charges against Dr Sen immediately.

"At a time when the global economic situation has made the poor even more vulnerable, governments must support and work with, not incarcerate and abuse, those like Dr Sen who work for positive change," they said.

The signatories included Roger Jeffery of University of Edinburgh, Jonathan P Parry from LSE, Sally R Munt of University of Sussex and David Hardiman of University of Warwick.

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