Bangalore In Solidarity With Irom Sharmila

IMPHAL, Feb 2: A six-day campaign in solidarity with Irom Chanu Sharmila is underway at Bangalore.

Initiated by different civil organizations in the context of completion of 10 years of her fast over the demand to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, the campaign would conclude tomorrow.

Human rights activists from different parts of the country attended and spoke at the occasion.

Executive director of Human Rights Alert, Imphal Babloo Loitongbam pointed out that many significant bodies including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission, Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures as well as the Second Administrative Commission have demanded the repeal of AFSPA.

“What we are asking is entirely within the framework of the Indian Constitution, through non-violent means. There is no reason why this demand is not met in spite of recommendations by official bodies nationally and internationally,” he said.

Ojas VS, a well-known theatre activist from Pune, said that the fast of Irom Sharmila is a unique non-violent struggle, moving millions of hearts all over the world.

“No activist in the history of social movements in any part of the world would ever dream of committing oneself on hunger fast for 10 years,” Ojas, whose one woman play on Irom Chanu Sharmila is also being performed in several colleges of Bangalore from January 29 onwards, observed.

Co-ordinator of People’s Solidarity Concerns Jag-dish Chandra said that it is a shame that the Indian Government has not moved on the issue where people’s hearts all over the world has moved. “We believe that civil society in Bangalore must ask a serious question about why we are paying taxes to maintain the second largest Army in the World, which is responsible for shooting, torture, rape and murder of innocent people in Manipur as well as in other parts of North East”, he posed.

Chandam Netraj, director of documentary films, whose film ‘˜Apri 6’ based on the widows of Manipur, was also screened as part of the campaign, informed the his film was banned by the Permanent Mission of India in New York, when it was about to be screened at the United Nations Head Quarters. ‘˜You can ban a film, but you cannot ban viewers who seek justice”, he said.

According to him, around 500 people in Manipur are shot every year creating at least 300 widows. Echoing the same sentiments, Nitan, a member of the Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association, Manipur (EEFAM), said, ‘˜’˜what we need is peace, but we are fed with bullets’. Nitan’s husband was reportedly shot dead by Armed Forces in 2008. She is a mother of 4-year old child.

Mathews Philip of the Bangalore based human rights group, SICHREM, said that gross human rights violations due to AFSPA is a threat to Indian democracy. The campaign would conclude along with seminar on ‘˜Irom Sharmila and AFSPA’ at SCM House, Mission Road tomorrow starting from 9.30 am onwards.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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