A Vancouver-based online magazine has started another campaign for the jailed Indian scholar.
Radical Desi had previously initiated a petition for the release of Prof. G.N. Saibaba, who is being incarcerated under brutal conditions in spite of being disabled below the waist. Now it has begun an online petition ( https://www.change.org/p/nobel-prize-for-gn-saibaba) asking for the Nobel prize in recognition of his advocacy for the poor and marginalized. Wheelchair-bound Saibaba, who is suffering with multiple ailments, was first arrested in May 2014 and thrown into the jail after being slapped with trumped up charges for defending the rights of the Adivasis – the indigenous peoples of India who are being evicted from their traditional lands by the extraction industry with the backing of the Indian state. In 2017, he was convicted for life by the courts after being labelled as a Maoist sympathizer.
Since then Saibaba has been repeatedly denied bail or parole on medical and compassionate grounds, even as his health continued to worsen during the pandemic. He was not even allowed to see his mother on her death bed or attend her funeral. The Indian government remains adamant, even after thousands of people in Canada signed a petition seeking his release. The matter has also been raised in the United Nations.
His situation is no different than the late Nelson Mandela, a towering leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, who was also denied an opportunity to attend the funerals of his mother and a son during his long detention. Mandela received the Nobel Prize in 1993, after his release, for standing up for the underdog. Following in Mandela’s footsteps by constantly raising his voice against repression and injustice in the world’s so called largest democracy, Saibaba deserves similar honour by the international community.