by Aiyanas Ormond
“GN Saibaba is being targeted for opposing the Government’s anti-Naxal war.” – Arundhati Roy
Members of Vancouver’s South Asian community, human rights activists and health workers gathered outside the Consul General of India in Vancouver on June 20 to protest the continued detention of Revolutionary Democratic Front leader and Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.
Dr. Saibaba was arrested by Indian security forces on May 9, 2014 through the application of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which makes a criminal offence of any action ‘which causes or is intended to cause disaffection against India.’ Specifically, he is accused of being a member or associate of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The CPI (Maoist) – referred to by many in India as the “Naxalites” – leads a people’s war in India centred in the eastern-central regions.
Saibaba’s visible political activities with the Revolutionary Democratic Front include the defence of the rights of women, Dalit people and the Adivasi communities who are resisting development aggression by multinational corporations, in some cases as part of an explicitly revolutionary communist armed struggle. Saibaba has been vocal in his stance against the Indian state’s brutal counter insurgency program. Known as ‘Operation Green Hunt,’ the Indian state’s offensive against the people’s war has mobilized more than 200,000 troops in recent years, and Saibaba’s principled stance against it has earned him harassment, interrogation and now imprisonment by the Indian State.
Dr. Saibaba, who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, is currently being held in deplorable conditions, where he has reported “excruciating pains in the joints, legs and vertebra.” Saibaba is being denied access to medications prescribed by his doctor and lacks access to a toilet that he can use without considerable assistance.
Representatives from the participating organizations in Vancouver delivered a letter to the Consul General calling on the Indian government to: “Immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Saibaba and all political prisoners”; “Scrap the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other pieces of legislation aimed at targeting, criminalizing and silencing political dissent;” and to “End Operation Green Hunt which is in fact a war against the people aimed at suppressing their legitimate struggles in order to pave the way for destructive and exploitative resource extraction.”
The protest was organized by member organizations of the International League of People’s Struggle – South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Alliance for Peoples Health, and Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights – and was joined by Red Sparks Union, East Indian Defence Committee and Revolutionary Student Movement.