Return Taslima to Kolkata: global writers group

March 19th, 2008 - 11:23 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Taslima Nasreen
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 19 (IANS) International PEN, the global writers’ body, has said it is increasingly concerned about the safety and well-being of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen and asked New Delhi to grant her immediate access to full medical care. Responding to a first person account of her condition published by IANS Tuesday, International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee also urged the government to uphold her human rights and return her to Kolkata - her adopted home - as soon as possible.

“PEN is alarmed at reports of Taslima’s deteriorating health, and demands that she is given full access to all medical care as a matter of urgency,” the London-based organisation said in a statement released to IANS late Tuesday.

Nasreen, who has been under government protection in a Delhi safe house since Nov 21, 2007, said in her account that she is suffering from high blood pressure, and has developed heart disease and other associated health problems as a result of the stress caused by her confinement.

Concerned that her health problems could lead to major organ failure and blindness if left untreated, Nasreen said she is being forced to leave India.

International PEN said while Nasreen’s writings have been “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.

“International PEN welcomes the efforts by the Indian authorities to provide Taslima Nasreen protection, but is seriously concerned that the protesters have acted with apparent impunity,” the organisation said.

It urged the authorities in India to publicly condemn the violence and death threats against the Bangladeshi writer who wants to make India her home but was bundled out of Kolkata after violent protests against her by a group of Muslims.

International PEN urged Indian authorities “in the strongest possible terms to uphold their constitution and the international treaties to which they are a signatory by ensuring her safe passage and return to her home in Kolkata, West Bengal, at the earliest opportunity.”

The organisation has sent its response to its Rapid Action Network and asked members to write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Indian diplomatic missions in their countries expressing their concern.

In her first-person account, Nasreen said she was living in Delhi in “virtual house arrest” and in “a prison without any facilities”.

“I have been asked continuously by the government to leave this country. Naturally, this has upset me a great deal as I left Europe to relocate to India; to make India my permanent home. I settled in Kolkata where I was living peacefully in a Bengali milieu.

“I was very active helping oppressed women and writing feminist and humanist literature. Just because a few Muslim fundamentalists objected to my being in this country, I was first imprisoned in Kolkata and then moved to Delhi. In order for the politicians to secure their Muslim vote bank, I had to be locked up and, as a consequence, my health was irreparably destroyed,” she said.

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