The Irom lady worlds longest hunger striker
On 2 November 2000, ten people waiting for a bus in a village in the Indian province of Manipur were shot dead by a group of paramilitaries.
The next day, deeply upset by the bus stop killings, Sharmila Irom began her hunger strike. Ten years on, and Sharmila’s strike – and quest for justice – continues.
As the Independent reports today, for most of the last decade, Sharmila Irom has been kept in custody – held on charges of ‘attempted suicide’. She is currently being forcibly nose-fed liquid through a tube. Amnesty has criticised the detention of Sharmila and has called for her release.
Manipur is an Indian state which has been beset by violence carried out by both insurgents and security forces alike.
Over the last decade Sharmila has chosen not to eat because she seeks to campaign for an end to the unscrupulous and unchecked killings carried out by both government forces and insurgents which afflict her home state.
Government forces have been allowed to persist with dreadful rights abuses primarily because of Manipur’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This legislation allows security forces to search premises without a warrant, arrest people arbitrarily and to shoot anyone to ‘maintain public order’.
Described as the ‘world’s longest hunger striker’, Sharmila is defiant in her quest for change and an end to the turbulence in her state.
Sharmila describes herself as one who is ‘very simple’ but who ‘wants justice’. She has not won her fight yet, but something tells me she is not about to give up anytime soon.
Amnesty will continue to urge the Indian state to scrap the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and continues to call for the release of Sharmila Irom.
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