A broad coalition of 55 civil society groups from the US, Britain and Canada are coming together to demand the immediate release of jailed Indian rights activist Binayak Sen, who was recently given a life sentence by a Chhattisgarh court.
In a statement, the coalition yesterday demanded the repeal of alleged "draconian laws" giving arbitrary power to the State that infringe on the fundamental rights of free speech, and the disbanding of state-backed vigilante groups in Chhattisgarh.
The US-wing of the 'Free Binayak Sen Coalition' has announced to hold a series of meetings in American cities this week.
The coalition consists of civil rights groups such as the Asian Law Alliance, health rights groups such as the People's Health Movement, anti-war groups such as the ANSWER Coalition and the Boston Mobilisation, student groups from Harvard and Berkeley, women's rights groups such as the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, local peace and justice groups from a number of cities.
A large number of South Asian immigrant groups based in the San Francisco Bay area and across the US, Britain and Canada are also part of the coalition.
Over 10,000 signatures around the world have been collected on petitions asking for the release of Dr Sen, the coalition said in a statement. Several groups across North America and Europe are holding solidarity actions around January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, including vigils, public demonstrations and panel discussions to voice their opposition to the brutal suppression of peaceful democratic dissent, it said.
Coordinated actions are planned in 12 cities including Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Boston, Amherst and Seattle in the US; Vancouver in Canada; and London in the UK, the statement added.