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19 October, 2010

Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace in honour of Irom Sharmila

Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu has been on indefinite hunger strike since November 2000 demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA). An extraordinary struggle of an extraordinary woman!

Sharmila began her non-violent protest after the Malom massacre where 10 civilians were gunned down by the Indian security forces on 2 November 2000.

AFSPA provides special powers to arrest, detain and even kill civilians on suspicion. The power to search and destroy properties on mere suspicion is granted to the Armed Forces of the Union in the 'disturbed areas' of the North East (and subsequently in Kashmir). Wherever AFSPA is in operation, enforced 'disappearances', extra-judicial killings, tortures, rapes and arbitrary detentions have been the routine.

Even though when the Union Home Minster introduced the law in Parliament in 1958 he assured that the Act will be only a temporary measure, it has dragged on for more than 52 years now! The people of Manipur have done whatever is humanly possible to register their protests against AFSPA -- naked protest by mothers, self-immolation by student leaders, mass demonstrations, petition to the Supreme Court, complaints to the United Nations etc. But the Government of India remains completely indifferent on issues of right to life and dignity.

Today, Sharmila’s persistent protest has become unprecedented in the history of resilience! Her struggle lies not only in defending the most basic and fundamental human rights of her people, but also in questioning the very foundations of Indian democracy which venerates Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of ahimsa
or non-violence.

The Just Peace Foundation (JPF), in collaboration with the civil society in Manipur, is celebrating Sharmila’s indomitable spirit, her audacity to hope in the midst of adversities, her unwavering stand for justice and her deep yearning for peace.

Since 25 July 2010, JPF has been organizing a series of cultural programmes, concerts, painting competitions, exhibitions, press meets, seminars, literary and artistic activities, public meetings, poet’s meet, public rallies, poster campaigns, t-shirt release, book release etc to mark the 100 Days Countdown towards the decade long hunger strike which will culminate in a Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace
from 2 to 6 November 2010.

Justice H. Suresh, former Judge of Bombay High Court, has kindly agreed to inaugurate the festival.

The Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace will be a celebration of the indefatigable spirit of humanity. JPF humbly requests you to use this historic occasion to take whatever action possible to collectively engage again with age-old concepts of Justice and Peace and to reach out to the ongoing struggles of all the oppressed peoples across the world.

Kongpal Kongkham Leikai, Imphal East – 795010, Manipur, India
Email: -
Telephone - +91-9862696184

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