Sunday, 20 May 2012

Indian woman on hunger strike for 12 years against Indian army atrocities

An ordinary Indian 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. Irom Sharmila Chanu, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, went on a hunger strike on November 4, 200 after Indian military soldiers gunned down 10 civilians at a bus station in Malom. She said
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.
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 Indian Parliament passed this draconian act September 11, 1958. It gives the country’s armed forces the power to do what they want to do 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.

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