Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) salutes Ms. Irom Chanu Sharmila’s untiring courage for demanding repeal of the Armed Forced Special Powers Act of 1958 (AFSPA). Her 10-year fasting is an example of struggle for genuine peace and freedom from violence at north- eastern part of the country.
Ms. Irom Sharmila started her fasting against the Malom massacre in 2 November 2000 which had claimed 10 civilian lives, including women and children by the Indian security forces. Ms. Irom Sharmila took a strong stand that she will only end her fast when the Government of India repeals the AFSPA. The Government of India only responded to this act of peaceful protest by arresting her several times on charges of attempted suicide under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. The series of arrests of Ms. Irom Sharmila has continued for the past 10 years.
Despite the international community’s recognition of Ms. Irom Sharmila’s work, the Indian government insists on keeping her under judicial custody in the Security Ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal, Manipur, and forcibly feeding her through intubations which is against Tokyo Declaration of World Medical Association (1975 October) as “Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the doctor as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgement concerning the consequences of such voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially” .
AFSPA was initially introduced in 1958 and was enforced in Manipur in 1980, initially intended to be in effect for only 6 months in order to maintain public order in areas deemed to be “disturbed” by the Indian government. However, the AFSPA is still being implemented in Manipur. The Act allows discretionary power to the personnel of Indian armed forces to arrest without a warrant, and with the use of necessary force, anyone who has committed certain offences or is suspected of having done so.
Human rights defenders in India and all over the world demanding for repealing the Draconian act. In 2009, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, during her visit to India in March remarked that the Act breached "contemporary international human rights standards."
The subjugation of Ms. Irom Sharmila’s peaceful protest against the AFSPA violates Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which guarantees the right of human rights defenders and women human rights defenders to promote and protect the realisation of human rights. Restriction imposed on Ms. Sharmila and depriving her to access with media, human rights defenders and other people is in violation of Art. 5 of the said declaration and the right to access and disseminate human rights information and to draw public attention to human rights issues is again a violation of Art. 6.
On 2 November 2010, Irom Sharmila marks a decade of the hunger for fundamental human rights and championing democratic rights for her fellow citizenry of north east India. MASUM in this juncture is reinsuring solidarity to Irom Sharmila and her fight against Armed Forces Special Power Act.
MASUM strongly demands immediate repeal of Armed Forces of Special Power Act. MASUM also strongly feel that Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code of India & Section 19 of The Human Rights Protection Act are contravening the basic tenets of human rights as well as functional democracy.
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha