Irom Sharmila completes 12 yrs of fasting

Wants withdrawal of AFSPA

AGENCIES

Imphal, Nov 4: A woman has been on hunger strike for the last 12—repeat 12—years in an effort to  have the Government of India withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from Manipur and other parts of India. On the world's longest hunger strike, she has completed twelve years of fasting over human rights abuses in Manipur and promises to continue.
 Silently but forcefully, she is highlighting the rarely reported decade-long insurgency in Manipur and the government's response to it with Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), something she opposes.
 Irom Sharmila Chanu, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, went on a hunger strike on November 4, 2000 after soldiers gunned down 10 civilians at a bus station in Malom.
 “I was shocked to see the dead bodies. There was no means to stop further violations by the armed forces…. It (fast) is the most effective way because it is based on a spiritual fight… My fast is on behalf of the people of Manipur. This is not a personal battle, it is symbolic. It is a symbol of truth, love and peace”, Irom Sharmila Chanu said.
 After just three days of fasting, the police arrested her for attempted suicide, which is punishable according to Indian Penal Code. The administration started force-feeding her via nasal tubes and confined her to the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal. Because the maximum sentence for an ‘attempt to suicide’ cannot exceed one year, Irom Sharmila Chanu is released on completion of one year, and re-arrested after 2-3 days, on the same charges. This has been going on for the last 12 years.
 The Parliament had passed this Act on September 11, 1958. It gives the armed forces special powers in the ‘disturbed areas’ in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. It was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990.
 On October 27 at a function organised in Kolkata, a trust had decided to confer the first Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award in memory of Malayalam poet AA Ayyappan upon Sharmila. However, Sharmila, who is also a poet, refused to accept the award.
 "Sharmila will not accept any awards until she has succeeded in her mission," said her brother Irom Singhajit. However, Singhajit, who attended the function, returned the award and asked the organisers "to keep it in their custody and present it to Irom Sharmila when she has achieved her goal."
 The decision not to accept any awards was taken by Sharmila.
 "We appreciate the award and have asked them to keep it in their custody," he said.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 5 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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