Artists speak up!

IN Media Practice | 07/04/2011
The Sedition Law directly attacks the freedom of expression, and is therefore impossible to reconcile with conditions necessary for a healthy atmosphere for culture, art and intellectual life,
says a statement by artists who participated in JUSTICE ON TRIAL, a three-day gathering of artists in Delhi from April 4, 2011.
We the undersigned artists have gathered our works and our forces, and over the next three days stand in solidarity with the demand for justice for Dr. Binayak Sen, and with the many other lesser known detenus and prisoners who are being held in confinement by unjust and utterly wrong laws, like the Sedition Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in different parts of India. We hold that the law on sedition is a shameful residue of the colonial legacy, and that it can have no place in a free society. We demand that it be scrapped.
We know of Dr. Sen as person committed to the care and sustenance of justice and liberty. We are aware that the case against him hs been made out on the flimsiest of grounds. We unequivocally state that the treatment given to him by the courts and the government of the State of Chhattisgarh is unacceptable to us. We demand that he receive a free and fair trial, and not the sham masquerade of judicial process that was carried out prior to his sentencing in Chhattisgarh, and that he is released on bail immediately.
The Sedition Law directly attacks the freedom of expression, and is therefore impossible to reconcile with conditions necessary for a healthy atmosphere for culture, art and intellectual life. As artists, we understand that we are directly affected by an attack on freedom of expression and conscience. We understand the value of liberty, because without it, we cannot work.
It is for this reason that we cannot be indifferent when we witness attacks on liberty. No civilized society sends an individual like Dr. Binayak Sen to prison for doing what can only be regarded as his duty as a medical professional and as a civil rights activist. Our liberty is devalued when an individual like Dr. Sen, and many other innocent men and women like him are denied their freedom. If it can happen to Binayak Sen today, it can happen to anyone tomorrow.
We urge all sections of society, and all men and women committed to freedom and democratic values to stand by us, in demanding justice for Dr. Binayak Sen and for the many other prisoners, under-trials and detenus who are victims of unjust and oppressive laws in India today.
Anandajit Roy, Arun Kumar H.G., Bharti Kher, Gigi Scaria, Mithu Sen, Pablo Bartholomew, Parthiv Shah, Prashant Panjiar, Probir Gupta, Ram Rahman, Sharmila Samant, Shreeyas Karle, Subodh Gupta, Susanta Mondal, T.V. Santosh
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