18 March 2008
URGENT APPEAL: [UA-IN-18.03.2008].
Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) would like to express its sincere sympathy concerning the continuous sufferings of human rights activist Taslima Nasrin.
Ms. Nasrin, whose Indian visa recently was renewed for another six months, has sent GHRD a letter telling us that she is currently suffering from severe health problems due to denied medical attention. The author writes that; “It has been nearly eight months that I have been living under virtual house arrest, in a prison without any facilities. I have been asked continuously by the government to leave this country. When they saw it was pointless trying to destroy my mind, they attempted to destroy my body.”
According to her letter, even though it was clear that she was in need of a cardiologist, her condition was still ignored at the hospital in Delhi. Only a few days later, when her condition was considered so severe that she was likely to have a heart attack, she was allowed to see a doctor who prescribed her some medicine. After taking this medicine her condition worsened and she fainted. That same night she was admitted to the hospital where she was told that she needed to spend two to three weeks under intensive care. However, disregarding the doctor’s suggestion, after three days of being in the Cardiac Care Unit she was taken by officials to the Minister of External Affairs who asked her to leave the country immediately. The shock of the news made her blood pressure rise to 220/120 and she was rushed again to the hospital, but the doctors had been instructed not to admit her. She said: ‘I had no help at all’.
Taslima Nasrin has suffered tremendously both physically and mentally. Her blood pressure is now impossible to control, and the doctors say it is due to stress which she must avoid at all costs. “How can I not be stressed? I received the extension of my resident’s permit, but the status quo continues.” Due to the lack of medical care, Taslima has now developed a heart disease called hypertrophy, and hypertensive retinopathy. The hypertensive retinopathy will eventually cause her to go blind. The blood pressure, if uncontrolled for even two months, can destroy the heart, kidneys and eyes. “I used to call this the torture chamber. I gradually came to realize that it was the chamber of death instead.”
Taslima Nasrin wishes to leave the country as soon as possible in the hope that she will be free from stress if she is to have any chance at recovery. She requested a visit to her apartment in Kolkata to collect a few important documents she would need; that, too, has been denied.
The suspicion that she has deliberately been denied health care is repulsive. Taking her health condition into account, GHRD strongly urges this matter to be dealt with immediately. It is up to the Indian Government to guarantee Taslima a healthy and safe life while she is a resident in their country. In addition, we would like to encourage international organisations, governments and other NGOs to highlight the plight of Ms Nasrin, and ultimately to pressurise the government of India to take action.
*GHRD is an International, non-governmental organisation which strives for the protection of basic human rights throughout the world, as well as encouraging international awareness towards disregarded human rights violations.