Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Irom Chanu Sharmila, a Manipuri poet, moved by the plight of her people and after the Indian Army massacred 10 civilians in Malom, Manipur, went on a hunger strike on 2 November, 2000 to force the government to repeal the AFSPA. She was arrested on 6th November and has been fed by a plastic tube forcefully inserted through her nose from 21st Nov 2000 (exactly 9 years ago today). She has been thus ever since and on 2ndNovember 2009, she entered the 10th year of her hunger strike. This unique protest which has moved the conscience of the world (but not enough i guess), apparently has also made her enter the Guinness Book of Records as the longest fasting person in the world.

The reason for this protest is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which is enforced in the state of Manipur. Under this, any person in the army or paramilitary forces, even a non-commissioned officer can:
  • Arrest citizens and enter their property without warrant, 
  • Shoot and kill anyone on mere ‘suspicion’.
 The AFSPA has been enforced in Manipur almost continuously since 1980 purportedly to crush insurgency. However the AFSPA has become a tool for state abuse, oppression and discrimination. In such a situation death, rape, fake encounters, abduction, arbitrary detention, torture and sexual assault as well as destruction and looting of property has become common in the state. 

Why should you be worried about it?
This draconian law can be introduced in any part of India declared by the Union as ‘disturbed’ and be enforced upon its citizens. The Act gives tremendous and arbitrary powers to the army without any safeguard for citizens’ rights. Also no legal proceeding can be carried out against the army’s abuse of power without the permission of the Central government. 

Imagine the government enforcing the act in Mumbai in the wake of the terrorist attack of 26/11 in the name of flushing out terrorists? Would you have allowed it?

The innumerable hunger strikes, nude protests, civil disobedience, dharnas, petitions, cases filed, marches etc. across the nation not had much effect on the government. Yet, we must continue on the path of resistance.

On 21st of Nov i.e. this Saturday, we are holding a demonstration in support of IROM SHARMILA between 4 to 6 p.m., at the Marine Drive pavement, opp Jazz by the Bay at Churchgate. If you can make it, do be there.

Here's a PUBLIC MESSAGE from Irom Sharmila, recorded on the 6th of November at her hospital bed in Imphal, Manipur.

Our government keeps telling the insurgents to give up arms and move forward to non-violence. But in order to tell others to take the path of non-violence one has to first of all adopt the path of non-violence. I myself who is an embodiment of non-violence am being guarded by using the various arms that can lead to violence. There is a constant order by the government to kill anyone who is suspected of being an insurgent. Seeing the everyday killings I feel the doubt in my mind about who will ultimately be our ruler. I don’t know what is happening in this land? As the class boycott is going on for so many months we must know that that the cost of loss of even one hour-class cannot be compensated. In truth the right to education also grew out of the right to life and right to livelihood. We know we cannot go for education with empty stomach. What will we do with education without our right to live? Why the prolonged class boycott by the students has proved to be not effective at all? Had the boycott erupted from the authentic concern and acknowledging the true cause of the action, it would have succeeded in its cause within a month or so. The government’s indifference towards the class boycott shows it has no concern for the students’ welfare.

We cannot think only of the present. The concern for students today is for the future. Who knows Sharmila’s fast for nine years; what changes could be brought by the upheaval caused after the Manorama’s incident in 2004. When will we get the human rights? The government says why we are making a hue and cry over the death of one or few. But we need to ponder how the deaths occurred- by a disease or by the pangs of separation of beloved…..we need to think. Is our government who claims to be our protector going to still cover the deaths as natural? Are we to just simply educated ourselves, get a good job and end our life? We need to ask a question why we are born. Do we have anything to feel proud of while surviving in this land? Everywhere you see the emptiness and hollowness and subjugation. Are we made so differently by god that we as human do not deserve justice? My heart pains as a human.

Others societies have advanced a lot. Bible and Koran are not left written by god before human exist; these are written by the thoughts of man. What is that we are lacking because of which we cannot strive toward achieving to that level? Even though we are lagging behind in many aspects we must put the best effort to progress. In this nuclear age and when men have gone to moon forty years ago, how can we still be dependent on others to move ahead? All these achievements are by human endeavors. Even though we are slow and late but we must move ahead. When will the idea of self-nurture, self-respect and self-sustenance will come to the minds of our rulers and student bodies? All these material constructions will vanish over night and what is more important is justice and love for humanity. Government’s mismanagement should be pointed out. They all belittle what I am doing…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Every day I carry a flower in my pocket, I am very fond of flowers. …………..Our ruler is so timid.

Recorded by Ranjeeta Sadokpam and Doren Oinam
Translated by Shreema Ningombam


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