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November 10, 2000 VNN6411 Related VNN StoriesComment on this story
William G. Benedict's Human Rights
BY LEE ELSTON
INDIA, Nov 10 (VNN) Dear Members of the Human Rights Commission in India: I expect that the usual cases of people being denied their human rights and being brought to your attention are from children, women and the poor. But this is not always the case.
My American-born, fifty-one year old son who joined the International Krishna movement when he was 18 years old and has been a very dedicated sincere devotee; a successful business man, and is father of six childrten, two of whom are still very young, was arbitrarily arrested in Puri, Orissa India in August of this year.
In May he had moved there with his wife and 3 children, intending to make it his permanent home. However, in August, disaster struck. He and 3 others were accused of "gang-raping" an Austrian woman's 6 year old daughter! Anyone knowing my son knows how totally out of character such a charge was. As a matter of fact, he was not even present at the time the alleged rape took place as several people can witness, and did not even know the woman or her child. Since the time of her accusations we understand that she and her child have returned to Austria. We also understand that there was absolutel NO MEDICAL evidence that any such rape ever took place by anyone- never mind my son!
Nevertheless, he was arrested and put in the Puri jail. He remained there for several weeks and was always denied bail - once being told the reason was "no power." ???
His health was deteriorating the the U.S. consul saw to it that he was allowed into the hospital and his life there has been relatively better.
Howwever, he is still not FREE. Apparently there has been a great deal of adverse publicity in the Indian papers. His local reputation has definitely been damaged, and to paraphrase Shakespeare, "who steals my purse steals trash, but he who steals from me my good name, steals that which not enriches him, but leaves me poor indeed." I have read the Declaration of Human Rights and feel that Articles 3,5,6,7 and ESPECIALLY No. 9 "no one shall be subjected to arbitary arrest, detention...or exile are particularly pertinent in my son's case.
What can you and your government do to see that the human rights of a foreign national are not abused and that India can retain its position as a moral leader in Asia?
One more fact that might be of interest: His name was NOT mentioned in the first FIR report and last July he REFUSED to give money to the Crime Branch of Orissa.
Lee Elston, mother of accused William George Benedict (AKA Bhakta-das)
Polruan by Fowey, Cornwall PL23 1PG
Tel & FAX (44) 726870653.
We realise that lots of money will be needed in order to get him freed. If any VNN readers would like to contribute to a fund we have started entitled Save Bill Benedict (that was his name before he joined the Krisha movement, you may send your contribution to his dear friend Cliff Bressler, 3237 Jasmine Ave. Clovis, Calif. 93267. Make any check out to "Save Bill Benedict". We his family, his mother, brother and sisters, children, wife and friends thank you. Lee Elston at florizel4lee@ dial.pipex.com
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