Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sharmila has been released and her protest continues

We received an email from Mr. Kshetrimayum Onil, Coordinator of Reachout about this great news of the release of Ms. Irom Sharmila, 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights awardee.

The struggle continue...

Repeal The Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958!

Read our statement here:

From the email:

Today on the 7th March 2008 Irom Chanu Sharmila has been released from the security ward of J N Hospital, Imphal after she was produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal.

She has been in judicial custody since 6th March 2007 as she failed to furnish necessary bail bonds in spite of granting her bail. She has been accused under the sector 309 Indian Penal Code (IPC) charging her of attempting to commit suicide. Under 309 IPC the punishment is one year imprisonment. She has been release on completion of one year term by the government of Manipur. There is no ground for further detention under Section 436-A of Cr.P.C. accordingly she was released by the Court.

In may be noted that Irom Chanu Sharmila has been fasting since November 2000 in demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 which has been imposing in North East for the last 50 years -- arguably the longest ever draconian act imposed in any country in the world. Under this act the armed forces are given sweeping powers including the power to shoot to kill on mere suspicion and practically the perpetrator enjoy complete impunity for any act under the special Act. Understandably, not a single armed forces personal has indicted under the civilian law despite several proven cases. Notably in 2004 the chief minister of Manipur had admitted over 20,000 people had killed since 1972.

The Committee to Review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act set up by the Union Home Ministry of the Government of India have recommended repeal of the AFSPA, in its report submitted to the Government on June 2005.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission set up by the President of India in its 5th report submitted to the Government of India on June 2007 has also recommended the repeal of the Act in its recommendation no. 8.4.17

UN Human Rights Committee, while discussing GOI's third periodic report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) have described the imposition of AFSPA as using emergency power without resorting to the procedures prescribed in the Covenant.

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have urged the GoI in February 2007, to repeal the AFSPA with one year.

Similarly the UN Committee on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee on the Right of the Child have also condemned AFSPA.

When will GoI listen to the voice of sanity and repeal AFSPA. When will GoI allow the citizens of the Northeast to live like any other citizen of this great democracy? When will GoI learn to respect Gandhian principles in practice? When will we let Sharmila live a normal life?

From the desk of

Kshetrimayum Onil, Coordinator, Reachout
Basanta Kumar Wareppa, Program Executive, Human Rights Alert

Last Call


Accepting Nominations for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2008

Now, on its 8th year, the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is now open for nomination. Since its inception, this prestigious award has been given to 9 individuals and a Korean organization. In 2006 and 2007 saw co-winners receiving the award. Among the winners include Xanana Gusmao (Timor Leste), Daw Aung San Suu Kyii ( Burma), Wardah Hafidz ( Indonesia), Malalai Joya (Afghanistan ) and Irom Sharmila (India).

For 2008, the prize at stake is US$ 50,000.00 , a gold medal and a certificate. The winner will be invited to grace the 2008 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award Night on 18 May 2008 , in Gwangju, Republic of Korea. This yearly award is sponsored by the May 18 Memorial Foundation.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights was established to celebrate the spirit of May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising by recognizing both individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work. The prize is awarded by the citizens of Gwangju in the spirit of solidarity and gratitude from those whom they have received help in their struggle for democratization. It is hoped that through this award the spirit and message of May 18 will be immortalized in the hearts and mind of humankind.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights which is given yearly has the following aims:
1). To enhance the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising by awarding individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad on their contribution to improving human rights and peace throughout the world.
2). To reward individuals, groups and institutions in Korea and/or abroad for promoting the goals of the May 18 Democratic Uprising as a movement toward unification and cooperation.

Deadline for submission of application form is 30 March 2008. Please visit our website ( ) and blogsites( and )for other related information.

Please download the form from these links:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

MAINS Pioneer Graduates

After a long year of study, they are now our new Masters! Please congratulate the MAINS graduates!

Some of the graduates were participants of the 2006 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School. They were given scholarship by The May 18 Memorial Foundation based on their performance during the folk school. Now they are the pioneers, the first batch of the MAINS program.

Congratulations to Nilani, Pinpaka, Mamun and the rest of the graduates.

Master of Arts in Inter-Asia NGO Studies (MAINS)

MAINS is jointly offered by the Inter-Asia Graduate School of NGO Studies at SungKongHoe University and the Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives.

Its multidisciplinary curriculum, integrating academic and practitioners' training with dynamic changes occurring in Asia and the globe, is unique in the field of studies on social changes, non-governmental organizations and civil society. The curriculum covers a wide range of current issues of international relations from both regional and global perspectives as a major field of studies, placing a special focus on the development of solidarity among civil society constituents.

MAINS is intended for the people who have been contributing or have the potential to contribute to a better understanding of or leading social changes in Asia. Benefiting from both academic and practical resources offered by two distinct host institutions, MAINS offers both intense and flexible preparation for either those seeking leadership and skills for more just and equitable social changes in Asia, or those seeking further studies in the field.

The graduates posing in front of the Auditorium

Mamun, Pinpaka, Nay Thun

Nay Thun with Burmese comrades

Nay Thun and Chris

Pinpaka, Chris, and Nilani
the graduates and me
MAINS graduate being acknowledge - a screen shot from another auditorium
Proud, happy graduates in front of the stage

A video message of thanks by Nilani

Irom Sharmila Video

Irom Sharmila is a young woman of Manipur who has been on a fast-to-death for nearly 7 years now. She has been demanding the removal of a brutal law from her land. Manipur is a north-east Indian state (bordering Myanmar), riven for decades by insurgency and armed separatist movements. The Government of India has attempted to control the situation militarily, granting drastic powers to the security forces. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enforced in the region lets people be arrested, shot and even killed - on suspicion alone. But Sharmila is willing to stake everything -- even her life -- to restore justice and dignity to her people.