Hundreds of women activists from across the country are gathering in a solidarity fast at Rajghat, New Delhi, on December 10, International Human Rights Day, from 9 am to demonstrate solidarity with Irom Sharmila and lend support to her demand for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
The National Alliance of People’s Movements has called upon all to join the campaign.
The following is a statement issued by NAPL in this connection:
Who is Irom Sharmila?
Irom Sharmila Chanu also known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur" is a civil rights activist from the state of Manipur. She has been fasting for more than 10 years now. This is believed to be the world's longest hunger-strike.
Irom started her fast unto death on November 2, 2000, after the Malom massacre. Her primary demand to the Indian government is repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which allows soldiers to indefinitely detain any citizen on suspicion of being a rebel. The Act has been the reason for permitting torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions.
Sharmila has been regularly arrested, released and re-arrested every year since 2000, because, under Section 309 IPC, a person who "attempts to commit suicide" is punishable with imprisonment up to one year. She has been imprisoned for many years now in a government Hospital in Imphal, Manipur, where very few people can meet her.
Sharmila has held various protests and demonstrations with students, human rights activists and other concerned citizens in places like Jantar Mantar, Rajghat and so on. Sharmila has won many awards for her brave and selfless act for humanity and she was even nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Her struggle has received considerable international support and attention too.
When asked about fulfilling her personal dreams like marriage while fasting, she said tests needed to be passed for every upgrade. “For any promotion, we have to pass an experiment. In my case, I am experimenting to get success for making a difference for the whole society,” she said.
What can we do?
Over the years many civil society groups and volunteers have campaigned in support of her cause. Recently ‘Save Sharmila Campaign’ was launched by the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements along with many other groups, student bodies and civil society organization.
The ‘National Signature Campaign’ planned by NAPM is submitting the signatures of all supporters to the President of India, Smt Pratibha Patil on December 10, 2011, the International Human Rights Day.
Let us join the struggle of Irom Sharmila and thousands of others fighting against AFSPA. Sharmila has become the face of the struggle. By punishing her body she has been selflessly fighting for more than a decade for the human rights, dignity and peace of millions. Let us show our support to our north-eastern fellow citizens who also have the right to life, peace and justice.
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai - 400 014;
Delhi office: 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org
Facebook : www.facebook.com/NAPMindia
Twitter : @napmindia