The following is a statement issued by a group of civil society organizations, calling for a protest in Delhi on July 11 against the impunity granted to armed forces personnel in conflict zones:
One cannot forget the image of women protesting naked in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters in Imphal in Manipur holding banners titled: "Indian Army Rape us". The protest was in response to an incident that took place on the night of 10-11 July, 2004 when Ms. Thangjam Manorama Devi was arrested by soldiers of Assam Rifles for interrogation. In the morning her dead body was found in mutilated condition. She had been sexually assaulted, tortured in custody, and ultimately killed. Today, even after ten years of the incident, we have witnessed no prosecution in this regard. The contents of the commission of inquiry report ordered by the state government have not been made public as the Army had gone in appeal against the State of Manipur questioning its powers to order such an inquiry.
A simple listing of such incidents as those of Manorama Devi reveals that the armed forces of the country enjoy such impunity in the Armed Conflict Areas that absolve them of any culpability. The impunity works as a shield which allows them to escape any prosecution or punishment. This is resulting in unabated violations of democratic rights in these areas.
Traditionally, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been considered the source of all impunity to the armed forces. But as we observe the pattern underlying the increasing number of cases of violations, it is established that there are various sources guaranteeing impunity to armed forces. These sources are in form of various legislations, executive actions (or lack thereof), and even judicial pronouncements.
It is in this context of persistent abuses of people’s rights that a protest and dharna is being organized to demand an end to impunity given to armed forces in Armed Conflict Areas.
Date: 11 July 2014 Time: 11am to 4pm Venue: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
We demand the following:
1. Bring armed personnel to justice who are guilty of torture, rape and killing of Manorama Devi and are perpetrators of all other incidents of atrocities by armed forces.
2. End military oppression and seek democratic solutions in Armed Conflict Areas.
4. No separate laws for armed forces. Criminal laws applicable to civilians should apply to armed forces in the same nature.
The folowing are the signatories to the statement: Aatish, AISA, All India Federation of Trade Unions (New), Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, DSU, Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra, Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association, Jan Hastkshep, Janrang, JNUSU, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Manipur Students' Association Delhi, Mazdoor Ekta Kendra, Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, Morcha, New Socialist Initiative, North East Forum for International Solidarity, People's Democratic Front of India, People's Union for Democratic Rights, Pratidhwani, Saheli, Stree Mukti Sangthan, Viplav Sanskritik Manch, Women against Sexual violence and State repression