Statement of Support to Free Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba

We at the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) Commission 3 stand in solidarity with the calls to free political prisoner Gokarakonda Naga “GN” Saibaba as we strongly demand the Indian government to put an end to his inhumane and unjust detention.

We express grave concern over several reports we have received regarding Saibaba’s degrading treatment in prison ever since he was illegally arrested in 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment after he was wrongfully convicted in 2017 under false and baseless accusations of terrorism.

Recently, prison authorities have reportedly set up a 24-hour CCTV camera in front of Saibaba’s cell in the Nagpur Central Jail. This gravely violates his right to privacy and to dignity. Moreover, his detention in isolation already constitutes psychological torture: there is no other motive for such cruelty but to humiliate, intimidate and harass him.

Saibaba is already suffering from post-polio syndrome — which has rendered him nearly paralyzed and physically disabled — along with numerous life-threatening diseases and complications from contracting COVID-19 in prison. Despite his conditions, he has been repeatedly denied access to medication, proper medical treatment, and appropriate accessibility standards for persons with disabilities in prison.

The Indian government should be reminded that it is signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as to the UN Resolution 70/175 on the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners or the Nelson Mandela Rules; India has also ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007. 

As a State party to these international conventions, the Indian government has an obligation not only to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners: above all, it has a duty to protect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression and against unlawful detention. Saibaba’s life imprisonment sentence is a clear breach of these conventions, and we stand firm with Saibaba and political prisoners in asserting of their rights under international rules and laws.

Above all, we assert that Saibaba is not a criminal: he is a renowned scholar and human rights activist who has worked tirelessly — and defending people’s rights is not a crime. The presence of political prisoners in any part of the world continues to be a testament that there exists no genuine democracy in a society where one’s beliefs and aspirations for a free, just, and humane society, are silenced by throwing them behind bars under fabricated charges.

We at the ILPS Commission 3 express our support for his hunger strike as we reiterate and assert our call for Saibaba’s release on just and humanitarian grounds, the junking of the trumped-up charges against him, and for the Indian government to stop its campaign of political repression against activists and human rights defenders.

Free GN Saibaba!
Free all political prisoners!
Release Saibaba on just and humanitarian grounds! ###

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