IMPHAL, December 10: The Save Sharmila Campaign Committee organized a daylong event at New Delhi to coincide with the 63rd International Human Rights Day today at Raj Ghat.
The day long event was attended by activists and supporters of Sharmila from Manipur as well as from the length and breadth of India – Assam, A.P., Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, M.P., Punjab, U.P.
The event which was supposed to be a day of fast was denied permission, however not to be deterred, the activists gathered for the day beginning with a prayer meeting of more than two hundred people, stated the Just Peace Foundation in a statement.
“The spirit of Gandhi is being kept alive by Irom Chanu Sharmila” affirmed eminent activist Medha Padkar at the Save Sharmila Campaign. She added that it was indeed a national embarrassment that the organising of one day of fast in solidarity with Irom Sharmila’s twelfth years` of fast was being denied permission at the capital.
Swami Agnivesh stated that it is not for herself that Sharmila is fasting, neither is it for Manipur or India alone but for the cause of the entire humanity. “We should understand and rally behind her cause”, the statement quoted him further.
At the end of the day of fast the activists assembled again at the Press Club of India and interacted with the media, the statement added.
“It is a matter of shame, a matter of embarrassment that we were denied permission to hold a fast on this very day declared as the International Human Rights Day” stated Aruna Roy an eminent activist who is also member of the National Advisory Council. Anandi Khangembam, managing trustee of Just Peace Foundation, Manipur expressed that “One should not look at Irom Sharmila alone to resist the repressive laws which oppresses women; women all over India and the world should begin to voice their protest against all repressive laws”, the release added.
Noted academician and activist Prof. Nandini Sundar, Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad also addressed the media asking for the repeal of AFSPA and expressed their solidarity with Irom Sharmila. Human rights activist, Babloo Loitongbam expressed immense grief over the state of affairs.
He stated “The twelfth year of Irom Sharmila’s fast which fails to move the state speaks a lot of the lack of maturity of the Indian State”.
He added that 60,000 soldiers terrorising citizens in Manipur is not a sign of a mature, democratic nation that India claims to be, rather fostering solidarity amongst people, like this event organised by NAPM and others will herald the birth of a new democracy in India, the release quoted the speakers.
Meanwhile, after getting denied of permission to observe a day long fast at Raj Ghat, campaign members organized a peace prayer inside Rajghat and call for a nation-wide fast to register the protest, stated a separate release of the Save Sharmila Campaign.
“For some months now, Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC) has been spreading the word about Irom Sharmila and her cause across the nation and beyond. Started only by few organizations, the campaign has now received support from over more than 80 organizations and movements and thousands of supporters. The campaign has reached almost every state of India and even outside” the release further added.
On December 10 which is also the International Human Rights Day, the signature campaign was to be culminated with a day-long hunger strike by social activists, mainly women activists and students and submission of the signatures (in the form of memorandum) to the President of India. However, the Delhi Police denied permission for the fast on flimsy grounds of “law and order” which is unacceptable in a democratic state, the release added.
“It is clear that the government fears the growing public support for Irom Sharmila and her cause and is now intent on suppressing our voices. Therefore, the campaign has decided to protest against this unconstitutional and authoritative attitude of the government. It has called for a nation-wide opposition to Government’s refusal to the peaceful fast. People across the country were asked to observe a day-long fast.In Delhi, a prayer meeting was organized at Rajghat, at 9 AM.
Medha Patkar remarked, “This refusal reveals the fear of the Government. This is a masked dictatorship rather than democracy. Laws like AFSPA are weakening the democracy and thus it must be repealed. However first there should be a debate and communication on the higher political level and sacrifice and non violent fast of Irom should not be ignored.”.
Shabnam Hashmi raised her concerns to save our right to freedom of speech and issue of Irom Sharmila.
Aruna Roy added, “First, they suppressed Irom Sharmila and now they are suppressing us. This is not a democracy. We will raise every voice to tell the government that it is violating the democratic values. I convey my wishes to campaign and I am always here to support save sharmila campaign to express my solidarity with Irom”.
Prof Nandini Sunder told that in the democracy, we have every right to express our concern and problems. If irom is fasting to repeal a law, it doesn`t mean that government will treat Irom like a criminal.
“ After denying the permission for our proposed one day fast at Rajghat, we did all possible efforts to get the permission but even after contacting at various levels of administrations, they didn`t allowed us” said Devika, a PG student in SAARC university.
Documentry maker Shaheen told “The government has suppressed our call for saving human rights on the human rights day. What else is there to say? And we tied black ribbons on our arms to register our protest”
Anandi from JPF spoke to people in Manipuri which was later translated in English.
The Campaign plans to strengthen its mass support with more events in the public spaces in coming days.Members of the campaign expressed their concern on this issue and told that non violence should not be ignored. They demanded that jeevan reddy committee report, Moily report and recent kashmir interlocuters reports should be made public.
The release has further added that the campaign will
Campaign is demanding to start steps to resolve the issue of human rights violation through steps of talk including talks with Sharmila and sending all party representatives, right activists, members of NWC and NHRC to examine the cases of human rights violation in the state.
Members of the committee agreed that such laws are making the country weak and there is no place for such laws in democracy.
Other people who attended the meeting were Nikhil Dey, Faisal Khan, Aditya Dubey, Ritika Chawla, Shekhar, Madhuresh, Shaktiman Ghosh, Mona Jha, Tanaya, Vimal Bhai, Jugal Kishor Shastree, MH Gandhi, Shahehnaz Malik and others.
People from all walks of life participated in the campaign`s today`s program. All volunteers of campaign registered their protest through observing fast. Government can deny to give place for fast, but cannot stop the fast.