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

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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.