The state of Manipur in the north east of India has witnessed 15 years of armed conflict. Today, the people of the state want the government to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives army personnel special privileges that could easily be mis-used.
Produced by WAVE: Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment. Visit www.waveindia.org
For people who don’t have the time to watch this short video clip. It shows various abuses committed by paramilitaries under the protection of AF(SP)A and some of the protests over the years from the self-immolation of Pebam Chittaranjan a 28 yr old student leader in 2004 to the on-going fast and internment without trial of Irom Sharmila Chanu and many other protests. It ends with a plea to respect the rights and dignity of women and children.
The clip speaks for itself so I reserve comment to the mechanics of self-immolation. Some people believe that the heat of self-immolation must incinerate the lungs resulting in death fairly quickly. But the video shows this to be false. There are two main obstacles as I see it to self-immolation. First is the survival instinct. Once you have covered yourself with an accelerant your ego ordinarily will not allow you to end life. For those who boast they are fearless gandhians this is a visceral instinctive fear that must first be overcome. The second problem is the pain when all your nerve endings start to burn.
Medics divide the body into roughly ten sections so the arms are one each the torso counts double for both front and back. So when they talk of 80 per cent or ninety percent burns it usually means you missed a bit. Degrees of burns start from the epidermis at first degree burns which are more cosmetic. Second degree burns will scar. Third means the muscle and soft tissue was burnt away resulting in failure of the immune system if you survive. Fourth degree burns refer to bone marrow and gristle.
The three to four minutes needed to die via self-immolation are a test then of how you manage pain. The suffering of suffering. Even if you are able to overcome the survival instinct, another test is the ability to remain still, to experience each moment.
Why then does a young man self-immolate or a young woman decide to spend her adult life in quasi solitary confinement force fed. Politicians misquote Gandhi or rather have never read his teachings. He never argued for cowardice. There is a fearlessness to his satyagraha. There isn’t a current Indian or Manipuri politician worthy of his heritage. The only reason their hypocrisy doesn’t sicken ordinary Indians or Manipuris is that few of you have read the works of Gandhi either. WAVE are a group of Gandhian women activists so I doubt many Indians or Manipuris will watch this video clip either.