PUCL demands Binakay Sen's unconditional release

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New Delhi, May 13 (UNI) A day after Nobel laureates appealed that jailed physician Binayak Sen be set free, Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) today urged the Centre to ensure his unconditional release to enable him to receive the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award in Washington later this month.

PUCL also announced that a series of protest rallies will be held tomorrow in India and abroad against the activists' ''illegal'' arrest to mark one year of his detention.

''We demand that he be set free... Dr Sen will not apply for bail. He is the first South Asian to be selected for this award.

He should be allowed to travel to the US and accept this award,'' said Dr Ilina Sen, Chhattisgarh Executive member of PUCL and wife of Dr Binayak Sen.

The Chhattisgarh police picked up Sen, a pediatrician by profession and vice president of the rights group People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), on May 14, 2007 from Bilaspur town for his alleged links with Maoists.

Sen is being held under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

He was chosen for the Jonathan Mann Award by the US-based Global Health Council in April. The award ceremony is scheduled for May 29 in Washington.

Asserting that her husband's arrest was a failure on part of the Chhattisgarh police, she said Centre has to protect the human rights of the citizens.

''My husband has been languishing in jail for the past one year on trumped up charges. He just needs a fair trial under the Criminal Procedure Code, not under CSPSA, to be cleared of the charges,'' she added.

Giving details about the demonstrations, PUCL National Secretary Kavita Srivastava said rallies will be held in London, Paris, New York, Toronto and Stockholm besides New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai.

''We hope that the global outrage against Dr Sen's arrest will inspire the Centre to take some action.... The state Government must protect the human rights of its people,'' she added.

''His arrest is in contravention of rights to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of association enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a signatory,''she said.

Ms Srivastava said the Supreme Court order on ''Salwa Judum'' in Chhattisgarh which Dr Sen opposed vindicated his stand and should be released soon.

Yesterday 22 Nobel laureates sought the intervention of President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allow him to travel.

Among the Nobel laureates were Peter Agre (chemistry), Kenneth J Arrow (economics), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (physics), Paul Greencard (medicine), Charles Townes (physics), John E Walker (chemistry) and Craig C Mello (medicine).

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