IMPHAL, December 2: More than hundred activists and journalists participated in the State Level Seminar on Armed Forces Special Powers Act” Nation`s People`s and Women`s Security” at the Tamil Sangam Hall in Puducherry today.
The seminar is being organised by the India Social Action Forum (INSAF).
Prof A Marx of the People`s Union for Human Rights chaired the seminar and gave a detailed background on the genesis of AFSPA and the people`s struggle demanding repealing the Act.
RN Ravi, retd Director of IB for the North East while elaborating on why AFSPA is an Act of war said when applied in the “disturbed areas”, it in fact treats the entire population as suspects.
Strongly advocating that the Act has no place in a democracy, he said it is a national shame that after 60 years of independence we are still struggling for its repeal.
He asserted that in 25 years serving as a part of the government he could not change the system.
Heri Tiphagne, chairman of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM ASIA) narrated his experiences of participating in the festival of Hope, Justice and Peace on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Irom Sharmila’s hunger strike in 2010.
He also pointed out how the various UN human rights bodies have consistently recommend the repeal of AFSPA and asserted that if India wants to claim for its rightful place in the world as the champion of human rights and democracy it has to get rid of AFSPA.
Sugumaran convenor of the Federation for People`s Rights Punducheery narrated his experience of being a part of national fact finding mission in the aftermath of the rape and murder of Thangjam Manoram in 2004.
Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert asserted that the struggle for the repeal of AFSPA is not an individual struggle of Shramila or for that matter Manipuri people or the people of the North East and J&K.
But it is a struggle for anyone and everyone who cherish the democratic values and oppose militarism, he said. What started as a state of exception in the Naga Hills in the 1950s, has engulfed the whole North East and Jammu and Kashmir over the years, he lamented.
There is already a proxy AFSPA in the naxalite affected red corridor, he said before observing that if we do not reverse this process, the exception will eventually become the rule for the whole country and India will be no different from Pakistan.