India: Free Irom Sharmila!
November 1, 2015, 5:05 pm
On 2 November 2000, ten people waiting at a bus stop in Malom of Imphal, Manipur, India were brutally gunned down by security forces. The cold blooded murder of the 10 civilians shook Manipur but their families were denied justice because the accused soldiers were operating under the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which gives security forces sweeping powers including the power to shoot to kill in certain situations and to arrest people without warrants.
A young human rights defender then, Irom Chanu Sharmila was disturbed by the impunity and injustice facilitated by AFSPA in the world’s largest democracy. Being a non-violent person she turned to one of India’s oldest and toughest forms of socio-political protest – hunger strike. Her demand was simple: Repeal AFSPA!
It’s been 15 years to the day Sharmila started her struggle to demand justice and dignity for people who have suffered under AFSPA. She is as determined and hopeful as she was 15 years ago.
But the authorities have tried to demean her struggle by trying to portray her hunger strike as an attempt to commit suicide, a crime under Indian law. In these 15 years she has been released and rearrested annually but never been convicted in a court of law. In fact, on two separate occasions courts in Manipur have categorically stated that hers is a political protest by lawful means.
As she completes 15 years of her brave and unparalleled protest let’s come together to lend support to her cause.
Irom Sharmila is released immediately and unconditionally.
All charges against her are dropped.