EU leader seeks Sharmila release

K Sarojkumar Sharma | TNN

Irom Sharmila Chanu in a 2007 photo

Imphal: Keith Taylor, a Green Party member of the European Parliament, South East England, has written to Indian authorities, seeking the release of Irom Sharmila Chanu, who is on a decade-old hunger strike, and repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Demanding repeal of the controversial Act, Sharmila has been fasting since November 5, 2000 — three days after Assam Rifles gunned down 10 civilians at Malom village in Imphal West. She is being forced-fed through her nose by security personnel at the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital near her Kongpal Kongpal Leikai residence in Imphal East.

“She (Sharmila) was charged with attempting to commit suicide despite the fact that hunger strike, according to the World Medical Association, is not equivalent to suicide as those who embark on hunger strike generally hope and intend to survive,” Keith said.

His letters (dated November 8 ) to P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh said Sharmila had never been brought to trial but had been detained, forced fed and re-arrested many times.

“I urge the government of Manipur to release Sharmila and withdraw the criminal proceedings of attempting to commit suicide,” Keith said in his letters, copies of which are made available by Imphal-based Human Rights Alert.

The hunger strike is in protest against AFSPA, which Amnesty International says provides impunity to perpetrators of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, rape and torture.

Keith said the statute also violates human rights law, including the right to life, right to remedy and the right to be free from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, all of which “India has signed”. “I, therefore, request the government to repeal AFSPA in line with its commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said the Green Party member of European Parliament.

On November 9, Sharmila had ridiculed politicians on their failure to scrap the Army Act, saying they should understand they are people’s representatives. “They (politicians) have not taken my 10-year struggle and the people’s movement seriously. It’s quite shameful on their part,” she said, adding that though the Army was aiding civil administration in Manipur, they held the upper hand by using excessive powers.

Courtesy: The Times of India


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