India: Growing concerns for Bangladeshi writer

***UPDATE: It is reported that Taslima Nasrin left India for Europe on 19 March 2008 in order to receive medical treatment.***

 

English PEN is increasingly concerned for the safety and well being of Bangladeshi feminist writer, Taslima Nasrin.

 

Nasrin was placed under protection in a safe house in Delhi on 21 November 2007 following violent protests in her home town of Kolkata, West Bengal, by activists who accused her of ‘offending Muslim sentiments’ in her writings.



PEN is alarmed at Taslima Nasrin’s recent account of her deteriorating health and lack of access to medical care since her confinement in Delhi. In an e-mail sent to her supporters, Nasrin reports that, as a result of the stress caused by her confinement, she is suffering from high blood pressure, and has developed heart disease and other associated health problems. She is concerned that these could lead to major organ failure and blindness if left untreated. She claims to have been rushed to a hospital in Delhi last month after her blood pressure dropped dramatically following inappropriate medication, but to have since received inadequate care.

 

She is reportedly planning to leave India as a result of Government pressure in denying her all necessary medical treatment. 



Background:



Novelist, poet and journalist Taslima Nasrin is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning writer. She was publicly condemned to death in Bangladesh for ‘blasphemy’ and a reward offered for her execution on 16 September 1993 by members of an armed militant Muslim group, due to her novel Lajja (Shame). Instead of condemning the calls for Nasrin’s murder, the Bangladeshi authorities charged Nasrin, on 4 June 1994, with ‘deliberate and malicious intention of hurting the religious sentiments’ for an interview given to an Indian newspaper. On 10 August 1994, Nasrin fled to Europe and was subsequently given asylum in Sweden.



More than ten years since she fled Bangladesh, Nasrin still cannot return to her homeland without fear for her security. For the past three years, she has lived in Kolkata, West Bengal, and has applied for Indian citizenship. Her current visa was recently renewed for another six months.



Whilst her writings are undoubtedly controversial, she is an active supporter of human rights, and according to the Indian constitution should have the right to express her views freely and without fear of attack.


 
Please send appeals:

 



  • Expressing increasing concern for the health and safety of Taslima Nasrin, and demanding that she be treated humanely and given full access to all necessary medical care whilst living under Government protection;


  • Expressing serious concern about the apparent impunity of the attacks against Taslima Nasrin, and urging the Indian authorities to publicly condemn the violence and death threats against her;


  • Urging the Indian Government to ensure her safe passage and return to her home in Kolkata, West Bengal, at the earliest opportunity.



Appeals to:



Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India


Prime Minister’s Office


South Block, Raisina Hill,


New Delhi,


India  110 011.


Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857


 


Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee


Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal


Writers Building


Kolkata


India


Fax: 91-33-22145480



It may be more effective, however, to send appeal letters via the diplomatic representative for India:



Mr Asoke Mukerji (Acting High Commissioner)


India House


Aldwych


London WC2B

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/indiagrowingconcernsforbangladeshiwriter/

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