IMPHAL, November 5: Irom Chanu Sharmila entering her 15th year of fasting demanding repeal of the (Armed Forces Special Powers) Act, 1958 received wide solidarity with supporters including schools students staging mass hunger strikes in different part of the State.
Four Gwangju Award recipients also participated in a hunger strike at Lamyanba Shanglen and later called a press conference in the evening today.
The Just Peace Foundation in partnership with the Forum Asia, Thailand, May 18 Memorial Foundation, Korea and Human Rights Alert, Manipur organised a one day hunger strike as part of the Asian solidarity and Manipur People’s Struggle for Democracy program showing solidarity to the Iron lady of Manipur.
Students also staged mass hunger strikes in front of their respective schools of CC Higher Secondary School, Ibotosana Higher Secondary School, Johnstone higher Secondary School, Manipur University, Ram Lal Paul Higher Secondary School and Ananda Singh Higher Secondary School.
Members of the Film Forum, Manipur and Sharmila Kanba Lup also staged hunger strikes in front of their offices.
Four Gwangju laureates Dr Binayak Sen from Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Public Health Physician (India), People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights PVCHR (India) secretary general and executive director Lenin Raghuvanshi, Informal Sector Service Center INSEC (Nepal) founder and chairperson Sushil Raj Pyakurel and coordinator of Urban Poor Consortium (Indonesia) Wardah Hafidz also called a press conference at Lamyanba Shanglen.
Speaking on behalf of the present laureates, Dr Binayak said the fellow awardees of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and other civil societies as well as other individuals both from India as well as abroad have expressed solidarity to Sharmila’s movement.
They have also expressed admiration and love for the brave lady, he said.
Dr Binayak continued that they join her supporting her cause for the repeal of AFSPA, 1958. He said the Act destroys the very essence of democracy and obstructs the progress of justice.
More than two generations of Manipuris have grown up without knowing the meaning the freedom, he observed before demanding that the findings of the Jeevan Reddy Committee be released before the public and demanded the implement its recommendations forthwith.
He further demanded the Supreme Court of India to expedite the adjudication and investigation in the 1528 reported fake encounters.
Sushil Raj Pyakurel said credit should be given to the Human Rights Defenders for supporting and promoting the movement of Sharmila.
Lien from Gwanju, Korea said that with support from the public, Korea finally achieved democracy after 34 years of struggle.
She expressed that the people of the State must support Sharmila’s movement and voice ‘No to AFSPA-1958’ collectively.
She said that people of Gwangju will keep supporting and will show solidarity to Sharmila till her goal is achieved.
The conference was also attended by Mukul from Forum Asia, Ravi Nitish from Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign and Managing Trustee, Just Peace Foundation Kh Anandi.
Meanwhile, the Thoubal District United Women’s Development Organisation also organised hunger strikes at five different locations of Thoubal district showing solidarity to Sharmila.
The hunger strikes were staged at Khongjom Keithel, Tentha Thongkhong Keithel, Charangpat Mamang Leikai Keithel macha, waiting shed of Yairipok Khoirom Makha Leikai and Wabagai-Lamkhai Keithel.
The demonstration at Khongjom Keithel was attended by womenfolk of Langathel, Sapam, Papal, Tekcham, Chingtham, etc.
Bishnupur correspondent adds: The Apunba Nupi Lup, Bishnupur also staged hunger strikes at five places of the district showing solidarity to Sharmila and her movement.
Hunger strikes were held at the bazaars of Nambol, Bishnupur, Ningthoukhong, Moirang, Kumbi, under the banner “Save Sharmila, Repeal AFSPA” which were attended by womenfolk and members of ANUL.
Meanwhile, the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign has also issued a press release stating that AFSPA does not have the mandate of the people.
It has further demanded immediate steps to repeal AFSPA from Manipur on the basis of ‘promise of BJP that is presently in power at the Centre but the more than that on the consideration of universal justice and humanity.
It also called for the immediate repeal AFSPA from other regions of North East and Jammu and Kashmir.
It said the SSSC also demanded the government to immediately take back the charge of attempt to commit suicide slapped against Sharmila and set her free.
The Government of India must set up a parliamentary panel immediately to start talk with Irom Sharmila and to study human rights violations in AFSPA imposed areas, it said before adding that recommendations of the Justice Verma committee regarding the sexual violence cases under AFSPA should be implemented.
It further said that it is also submitting letters to MPs to raise the issue within their party as well as before the government and that it is staging a one-day solidarity fast and gathering in support of Irom Sharmila at Jantar Mantar (Delhi) from 11 am onwards November 6.