Support to Irom Sharmila whose fast enters 12th year

Published 02 November 2011  |  
A Christian student body today expressed solidarity with Manipuri rights activist Irom Sharmila who is entering her 12th year of fast on November 2, 2011.

Sharmila has been on a fast-unto-death, demanding the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 (AFSPA). She began her fast following the killing of 10 civilians by Assam Rifles personnel in Imphal West in November, 2000.

Calling for support to Sharmila's fight, the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) said "justice was at the crossroads, as despite 11 years of fasting, the plea has gone unheard, and the struggle uncovered".

"It is high time that we as student communities and responsible citizens of our country rededicate to express our solidarity with Sharmila and join her in demanding to repeal the inhuman AFSPA," the ecumenical student group declared on Wednesday.

"The draconian AFSPA law has taken the lives of several common and innocent people over the years, and has become a threat to the very fabric of democracy in India and to the commitment for human rights which has been at stake."

The organisation's chief Rev Raj Bharat Patta said SCMI had organised several documentaries on the struggle of Sharmila; led a signature campaign in support; and have been partaking in bringing in awareness to the student communities.

"We call on all our friends to extend whole hearted support to Sharmila and demand along with her the repeal of AFSPA," urged Raj, who expressed shock at the 'no coverage' attitudes by the media in the activist's struggle for justice.

"Coincidentally today happens to be the 'All Soul's Day' and several friends remember the life of their dear ones at their tombs and graves, but the challenge for us is to remember and accompany the lonely soul Irom Sharmila, who is fighting on behalf of several innocent people who are sent to their graves unjustly," observed Raj.

Sharmila, also known as the iron lady, is forcibly fed through a feeding tube much against her wishes.

The AFSPA, against which Sharmila has been on a long fast, gives armed forces wide ranging powers to shoot, arrest and search civilians upon mere suspicion of insurgency.

Local and international human rights groups such as Amnesty International have registered several protests against the act which they say provides impunity for perpetrators of serious human rights violations.

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