On Thursday 23rd July 2020, Scottish PEN sent the following letter to Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and the High Commission of India, in support of imprisoned writer, Varavara Rao.July 28, 2020
The following letter was sent to Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and the High Commission of India on Thursday 23rd July 2020, in support of imprisoned writer, Varavara Rao. Scottish PEN will alert members upon receipt of a response.
We are gravely concerned by the ongoing incarceration of the internationally renowned poet and intellectual Varavara Rao.
Rao has dedicated his life to the protection of human rights and is widely respected for upholding the ideals of truth and compassion. It grieves us to know that he has been imprisoned since 2018 with 10 other humanist scholar activists in India of the Elgar Parishad, who have been charged in the controversial Bhima Koregaon case.
The conditions in the notorious Tiloja Jail in New Mumbai, where Varavara Rao has been detained, have led to grave concerns for his safety and wellbeing. The fact that Varavara Rao is over 80 and in frail health should be of major concern to the authorities.
All appeals to release him and his fellow detainees, issued by various groups including Amnesty International and numerous concerned individuals, have so far failed.
Rao’s failing health recently prompted his move to JJ Hospital where he has tested positive for COVID-19. His visiting relatives reportedly found him unattended and delirious on a urine-soaked bed. This is a horrific situation, especially for someone of Varavara Rao’s reputation and standing.
We appeal for the immediate release of Varavara Rao along with the Elgar Parishad activists and for the urgent treatment of Varavara Rao. This humanitarian gesture will be appropriate to a true and functioning democracy.