Sanhati, 7 May 2008
14 May 2008 will mark one year of imprisonment for Dr Binayak Sen, the well-known public health and civil rights activist, arrested on false charges of ‘assisting’ the Maoist insurgency in Chattisgarh.
In a nation where increasingly the medical profession is becoming synonymous with unbridled commercial greed Dr Sen dedicated his entire professional life to the free service of people in the remotest villages.
In a country, which has health indicators worse than that of sub-Saharan Africa, Dr Sen passionately worked for setting up low cost models of healthcare accessible to the poor.
And in a land where the problems of public health are deeply intertwined with the gross violations of the Indian Constitution by state agencies themselves Dr Sen fought for ensuring democratic rights of ordinary people.
Dr Sen’s detention as a ‘threat to national security’ stands therefore as a challenge to every Indian who aspires for a humane, democratic and civilized India.
To mark the first anniversary of the arrest of Dr Sen, on 14 May 2008 and to call for his immediate release the Free Binayak Sen Film Festival is being organised by concerned citizens and groups around the country. The package of 10 documentaries, presented in this Festival, highlight the issues of human rights and public health and deal with themes ranging from nutrition, greed of drug companies, environmental pollution and state atrocities.
They are meant to make all those who watch them wake up and more importantly resist the Silent Emergency that is creeping upon us in front of our very eyes.
Given along with this letter is a list of the 10 films along with a brief synopsis. All groups interested in receiving the package of films for organizing the Free Binayak Sen Film Festival in their areas of work are requested to send the name of their organization, postal address and tentative date of screening to – Wilfred D’Souza, INSAF, New Delhi, firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph: 09825171919. The package is meant to be screened mostly in the month of May, particularly around 14 May, the first anniversary of Dr Sen’s arrest.
1. In the Name of Medicine
On the hazardous and banned pharmaceutical drugs in India.
2. Antibiotic Resistance for Idiots
A look at antibiotics from the microbe’s point of view and calling for an ecological approach to medicine.
3. It’s a Boy, its going to be a boy
On sex determination tests and female foeticide
Investigates the American health care system, focusing on its for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industry. The film compares the private-sector U.S. system with the socialized systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Cuba.
5. Secrets and Lies
This Greek documentary explores how the Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984, which claimed as many as 20,000 lives, continues to affect people today. Points an accusing finger mostly at Union Carbide, the multinational pesticide manufacturer that owned the Bhopal plant. The company is currently part of Dow Chemical (makers of Agent Orange) which now denies all legal responsibility for the disaster.
6. The Bitter Drink
P. Baburaj & C. Saratchandran
Chronicles the struggle of the most marginalised section of the Indian society, the tribal community, against the mighty global giant Coca Cola. It also discusses the issue of the ownership of natural resources, mainly water.
7. Development Flows fromthe Barrel of the Gun
Biju Toppo & Meghnath
Documenting the state violence on people affected by development projects in the country, the film explores the relationship between this violence and the new economic policy and globalisation. It puts forward the people’s viewpoint on development, which is diametrically opposed to that of the state.
8. Tales from the Margins
‘Tales from the Margins’ travels to this remote, strife-torn corner of India to document the extraordinary protests of Manipuri women for justice. And through their lives, to focus on a vast human tragedy.
9. Death of a River
A documentary about the Manjolai massacre, which took place when Tamil Nadu police attacked a procession of striking tea estate workers, their families and supporters on July 23, 1999. Seventeen people, including two women and a two-year-old boy, were killed and 500 injured in the police attack.
10. Resilient Rhythms
India’s caste system places nearly 160 million people, the dalits, at the outskirts of society. It exploits their services, especially to perform ”polluting” tasks, such as cutting the umbilical cord, disposing of night-soil, tending cremation grounds, but at the same time denies them acceptance as human beings. Resilient Rhythms deals with a range of dalit responses to their marginalization, from armed struggle to electoral politics.
For further information contact:
Sarat Chandran, Eranakulam