Irom Sharmila
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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 12, 2007
Irom Sharmila to fast till govt. repeals Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act
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Irom Sharmila to fast till govt. repeals Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

Irom Sharmila, the Manipuri woman who has been on hunger strike for the last six years over alleged human rights abuses in Manipur, has said that she will continue her fast until the government repeals the draconian and controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which gives army soldiers sweeping powers to detain and kill suspected rebels, without fear of prosecution.

New Delhi, May 12 : Irom Sharmila, the Manipuri woman who has been on hunger strike for the last six years over alleged human rights abuses in Manipur, has said that she will continue her fast until the government repeals the draconian and controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which gives army soldiers sweeping powers to detain and kill suspected rebels, without fear of prosecution.

"They are not concerned about my health. I shall never move from my stand without fulfilling my demand," she said after a Patiala House court had granted bail to her on a personal bond of 10,000 rupees.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act only applies to Kashmir and insurgency-affected northeastern India.

Human rights groups say it has given the army a licence to kill, torture and rape with impunity.

Sharmila was summoned by a court in connection with a case of attempted suicide.

Sharmila's counsel protested the treatment meted out to her client.

"Even when you summon a person, if a person is at hospital, you do not bring a person 2,000 kilometers to Delhi. The Manipur Police did not inform that she is in hospital. When I filed in Delhi, the Delhi High Court said to go for two hours, she is weak. She can't go for a meeting for two hours, and these people are bringing her here from Manipur," said Colin Gonsalves, her counsel.

The next hearing will be held on September 28.

Thirty-four-year-old Sharmila is an iconic figure for Manipur's. She launched her hunger strike in late 2000 after soldiers shot and killed ten young men at a bus stop in a small town in Manipur.

Shortly after commencing her fast, Sharmila was arrested and charged with attempted suicide. Since then, the authorities have been force-feeding her through a nasal tube at a government-run hospital in Imphal.

The maximum term for her offence is a year, and police have habitually released her every year, only to re-arrest her the following day.

This year, a small group of supporters and human rights activists took advantage of her one day of freedom to smuggle her through Imphal's high security airport and onto a plane to New Delhi, only to return.

Sharmila is one of two Indians, who were recently chosen for a prestigious South Korean human rights prize - the Gwanzu Award in recognition for their efforts to improve human rights in India.

ANI

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