IMPHAL, Sept 11: As the world commemorated the 10th anniversary of Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, the people of Manipur today commemorated the 53rd anniversary of the President of India giving his assent to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
Shielding off the armed forces of the union operating the `disturbed area` from any legal action, AFSPA has institutionalized impunity and facilitated gross human rights violations including enforced disappearances, rape, extra-judicial execution, torture and arbitrary detention.
Over two hundred people took out a silent march by tying a black band on their mouth. The protestors belonging to all communities of Manipur including the Meitei, Naga and Kuki; and representing various organisations including Sharmila Kangba Lup (SAKAL), Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR), Wide Angle, HERICON, People`s Dialogue Initiative, Naga Leader`s Forum, Manipur, United NGO Mission Manipur (UNM-M), Centre for Social Development (CSD), Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM), Chanura Lamjinglen Kangkleika (CLK), International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA), Widow Welfare Society, Weaker Section Development Council, Centre for Women and Girl etc. hold the day long protest under the banner of Just-Peace Foundation (JPF).
The marchers gathered at JNIMS hospital where Sharmila has been held in isolation on charges of attempting to commit suicide for her hunger strike demanding the repeal of the AFSPA since November 2000. The silent march started from JNIMS in an expression of people`s solidarity to Sharmila`s historic struggle against the Act and to symbolically infuse her spirit into the people`s movement.
The marcher carried play cards and banner with a clarion call for REPEAL AFSPA. The silent marcher arrived at Iboyaima Sanglen, Palace Compound – the pre-planned venue for a day-long-hunger strike and public meeting.
Sharing the painful memories of people living in isolated hill districts where the civil space is highly militarized, one of the women leaders narrated the personal experiences of having violated women`s chastity, dignity and privacy and also the traumatic experiences of a large number of youth and children. She called upon the Central as well as the State government of to give people a chance for and a sense of being cared and heard by repealing AFSPA.
During the meeting the four member delegation of JPF, who visited New Delhi on the invitation of the Union Law Minister reported of their meeting on 7 September 2011 and appraised the gathering of the negotiations with the central government on the issue of the repeal of AFSPA.
Elsewhere in Manipur, around fifty persons organised a special prayer in a local mosque at Lilong in Thoubal district and organised a day long sit-in-protest echoing the same demand – REPEAL AFSPA.
People`s voice to repeal the Act has also been reverberated in various corner of the country. In Delhi University more than two hundred student and activist from all over India gather at the Arts Faculty gate to register their protest against AFSPA. Representatives of the National Alliance of People`s Movement (NAPM), People`s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), All India Student`s Alliance (AISA), JNU Student`s Union etc. spoke during the meeting. It is resolved that a solidarity peace rally will be brought out on 2 October 2011 under the banner of Right to Life campaign. A torch rally is also being organized in JNU campus to-night.
Internationally, the Solidarity for Democratization Movement in Asia and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development in a press release dated today also call upon the government of India to demilitarize Kashmir and the North East and also to repeal AFSPA. Today the New York Time carried an article In India, 11-Year Hunger Striker Military Violence Is Waged in Shadows.