Dr. G.N. Saibaba, a former English professor from Delhi University, was arrested in 2014 and convicted in 2017 for being a member of a terrorist gang/organization with no credible evidence. He was sentenced to life in jail. There is no credible evidence proving this charge. Dr. Saibaba, a post—polio sufferer is having serious health problems while confined – 19 serious issues as reported by a physician – but he has been denied release to obtain medical care. Human Rights groups, including the Committee of Concerned Scientists, have written the President requesting his involvement to assist in Dr. Saibaba’s release.
June 16, 2020
Shri Ram Nath Kovind
c/o Shri Kumar Samresh
Public Relations Officer, Museum
New Delhi 110004 India
Phone: 91 11 2301 5321
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We are writing in regard to Dr. Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba, an English professor from Delhi University, who has been sentenced to life in prison for his human rights advocacy and who has profound health issues.
We initially wrote you about Dr. Saibaba in September 2018, calling then for his release. We reiterate this call today, on the grounds that his conviction was unjust, and on humanitarian grounds.
Arrested in May 2014, Dr. Saibaba was convicted three years later, in March 2017, and sentenced to life in prison for “being a member of a terrorist gang or organization.” This conviction was obtained despite a lack of credible evidence indicating his membership in the Communist Party of India (CPI). Instead, it appears he is being punished for his academic and human rights work on behalf of vulnerable populations caught up in the conflict between the CPI and your government.
Dr. Saibaba suffers from post-polio syndrome, and his health has deteriorated dramatically since his 2014 arrest. Today, he suffers from fevers, severe urinary pain, shooting pains in his left hand and leg, cardiac complications, hypertension, and life-threatening acute pancreatitis and impacted gallbladder stones, both of which require immediate surgery. In January 2019, a doctor reported 19 serious health issues, but in March of that year, Dr. Saibaba was denied release on bail.
Instead he remains locked up in solitary confinement.
The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, revised and adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 as the Nelson Mandela Rules, states clearly that:
“The provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.”
The rules also require that: “Prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.”
Your government is in gross violation of the Nelson Mandela Rules; it has not only failed to provide adequate medical care to Dr. Saibaba, but it is denying necessary treatments in a way that will cause him serious harm.
Dr. Saibaba’s conviction for his peaceful human rights activity, and the abuse he is receiving in prison, are unacceptable.
We write to urge your government to release Dr. Saibaba without delay so that he may be able to receive the medical treatment necessary to restore his health.
Thank you for your attention to these serious issues and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu
Embassy of India
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202-939-7000/Fax: 202-265-4351
US Ambassador to India
U.S. Embassy – New Delhi
New Delhi 110021 India
Phone: 011 91 11 2419 0017