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Dr. Binayak Sen has won the 2008 Mann Award

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DR. BINAYAK SEN WINS PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

The Global Health Council today announced that Dr. Binayak Sen of

Chhattisgarh has won the *2008 Mann Award for Global Health and Human

Rights.

The Global Health Council www.globalhealth.org is the world's largest

membership alliance of public health organizations and professionals working to

improve health and save lives among the poor. The Mann Award was

established by the Global Health Council in 1999 to honor Dr. Mann and

to highlight the vital link between health and human rights.

Sponsored in 2007 by four organizations, Association Fran├žois-Xavier

Bagnoud<http://www.fxb.org/>, Doctors of the World

<http://www.doctorsoftheworld.org/>, Snow,Inc.<http://www.jsi.com/>and the

Global

Health Council <http://www.globalhealth.org/>, the Award is bestowed

annually to a leading practitioner in health and human rights.

Despite his untimely death in a 1998 plane crash, Mann is

considered by many to be one of the most important figures in the 20th

century fight against global poverty, illness and social injustice.

As the first director of the World Health Organization's Special Program on AIDS

from 1986-1990, Dr. Mann pioneered the approach to AIDS that continues to shape

public health policy today. As Professor of Health and Human Rights at Harvard

University from 1990-1997, Dr. Mann began to articulate the ways in which the

health of individuals and populations reflects access to basic human rights,

using as his warrant his years as a public health practitioner and strategist

and as his text the Universal Declaration of HumanRights.

History will especially remember Dr. Mann for bringing to the world's attention

the basic notion that improved health cannot be achieved without basic human

rights, and that these rights are meaningless without adequate health.

A list of the 57 individuals worldwide who were nominated for the 2008 Mann

Award can be viewed at

http://www.globalhealth.org/conference/view_top.php3?id=850.

*Of note, and a matter of pride for India, nine of the 2008 nominees are

Indian:* *Dr. Swami Hardas of Pune, Mr. Surya Makaria of Hyderabad, Mr. Deelip

Mhaske of Mumbai, Dr. Ugrasen Pandey of Firozabad, Dr. Prameelamma Pedamali of

Srikalahasti, Dr. Kamalesh Sarkar of Kolkata, Dr. Mukesh Shukla of

Surendranagar, Dr. Diwakar Tejaswi of Patna, and Dr. Binayak Sen of Raipur*.

In reviewing these distinguished nominees, the international jury of public

health experts considered and evaluated several criteria including: practical

work in the field and in difficult circumstances; actual relevance to the

linkage of health with human rights; predominant activities in a developing

country and with marginalized people; evidence of serious and long-term

commitment; and potential for the Award to strengthen the nominee's work.

The Mann Award along with three other awards (the Gates Award for

Global Health, the Best Practices in Global Health Award, and the Exellence in

Media Award for Global Health) will be presented to the winner at a formal

ceremony during the annual meeting of the Global Health Council, which this

year takes place in Washington, DC, USA.

Dr Binayak Sen, alumnus of the Christian Medical College ,Vellore, has

devoted a lifetime to the healthcare of the tribal population of

Chhattisgarh. Along with the legendary trade union leader Shankar Guha

Niyogi, he founded the Shaheed Hospital in the mining town of Dalli Rajhara, an

institution that till today continues the tradition of providing accessible

and rational health care to the people.

For the last fifteen years, Dr Sen has worked in a remote tribal area treating

those afflicted with chronic malnutrition, endemic malaria and other infectious

diseases.

He has also worked on issues of food and livelihood security, and has been the

general Secretary of the State Unit of the Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties

(PUCL), as well as the National Vice Resident of the organization.

In this latter capacity he has been a vociferous critic of police excesses

carried out by an unaccountable state , and of the state sponsored vigilante

Salwa Judum movement in Chhattisgarh that has led to near civil war conditions

in large parts of southern Chhattisgarh.

Dr Sen has earlier received the on Award from his alma mater for his

contributions to 'redefining health care in a broken society', and the RR

an Gold Medal from the Indian Academy of Social Sciences for .. 'a fresh

and radical interpretation of Gandhiji's core concerns..'

Unfortunately, as is well known within India, Dr. Binayak Sen has been

incarcerated in the Raipur Central Jail in Chhattisgarh on charges of being a

supporter of the banned Maoist party for almost one year, and is soon to stand

trial on charges under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

In a letter to the President of India, the Prime Minister of India, and the

Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Dr. Nils Dulaire (president and chief executive

officer of the Global Health Council), has written:

Dr. Sen was selected for this honor by an international jury of public

health experts on the basis of his years of service in poor and tribal

communities in India, his effective leadership in establishing

self-sustaining health care services where none existed, and his unwavering

commitment to civil liberties and human rights. His long history of selfless

service and this Award's recognition are commendations that we hope will be

celebrated by India's leaders and citizens.

*The irony of course is that Dr. Sen is now in his twelfth month of

imprisonment without trial in Raipur. This is of deep concern to the global

health community. Therefore those signing on to the statement attached here

felt it important to bring this matter to your attention and to kindly request

that you consider how means could be found to allow Dr. Sen to attend the

award's ceremony in Washington, DC, on May 29th, 2008.*

*We wish to be clear: it is not our intent to interfere with the judicial

process. We simply request that this doctor's good works and highly regarded

reputation as a man of science and service, and his international following,

serve as guarantee of his obligation to return to India to participate in a just

and fair judicial process after the awards ceremony, if his case is not resolved

sooner.*

*The world is watching this case. Some have expressed concern that it might

represent a dwindling respect for civil liberties in India. We believe, however,

that allowing Dr. Sen to attend the award's ceremony would send a strong signal

internationally that would help to restore faith that India and its states are

indeed committed to fairly addressing this and other cases related to civil

conflicts and civil liberties. Dr. Binayak Sen's travel to the United States

for this purpose would pose no threat to the security of Chhattisgarh or the

integrity of the Indian judicial system. *

*Please consider finding the means to allow him to receive his award in person.

***

As the 2008 Mann Award winner, Dr. Binayak is the tenth individual and

the *first South Asian* to be thus honored by the Global Health Council.

Previous winners include the following. Dr. Bogaletch Gabre, a champion of

women's rights who is a pioneer in eradicating the practice of female genital

excision in Ethiopia (2007); Dr. Canales, who helped marginalized peasants

and indigenous communities in conflict-ridden areas of El Salvador and Mexico

gain their human right to health care by establishing community medicine and

public health programmes (2006); Prof. Abdel Mohammad Gerais who advocated for

and established reproductive health services to those most

in need in Egypt (2005); Dr. Sima Sahar who led innovative programs in

health, education, construction, relief, and income generation to improve the

lives of women and girls in Afghanistan (2004); Mr. Zackie Achmat and Dr. Frenk

Guni, who have worked to raise awareness and advocate for equit of people with

HIV/AIDS in South Africa and Zimbabwe (2003); Dr. Ruchama Marton and Mr. Salah

Haj Yehya, associated with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, providing

volunteer health care in the occupied territories of the Wset Bank (2002); Dr.

Gao Yaojie, a gynaecologist involved in HIV/AIDS care and prevention work in

China (2002); Dr. Flora Brovina and Dr. Vjosa Dobruna who worked with refugees

in the Kosovo conflict and now with

women and children victims of war crimes, in Kosovo (2000); and Dr.

Maung who committed her life to healing victims of human rights abuses in Burma

(1999).

An interesting parallel is that one of the Mann Award winners in the year

2000 was also in prison at the time she was selected for the award. Dr. Flora

Brovina is the founder and director of the League of Albanian women in Kosovo,

and at the time the award was presented, Dr. Brovina was imprisoned in Serbia.

The world community dedicated to health and human rights celebrated her release

on November 1, 2000 after 18 months of imprisonment on charges that she

committed terrorist acts by helping refugees in the conflict in Kosovo.

Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen

C/O Janaarogya Andolana Karnataka,

359, Ist Main, Ist Block, Koramangala,

Bangalore - 560034.

Ph: 080-25531518

Community Health Cell

e-mail: <chc@...>

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