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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Irom Chanu Sharmila (Menghaobi) - world's longest hunger striker

Irom Chanu Sharmila also known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur" or "Menghoubi" ("the fair one")(born March 14, 1972) is a civil activist, journalist, political activist and poet.


Incident Leading To Fast 

On November 1, 2000, in Malom, Imphal West 10 civilians including a 62 year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi and a child bravery award winner were shot and killed by Assam Riles at a bus stop. The incident is also known as Malom Massacre. The next day Sharmila went to attend a meeting at Malom. The meeting was towards planning a peace rally that would be held in a few days. She was shocked to see the dead bodies on the front pages of the newspapers. Sharmila then 28-year-old daughter began to fast in protest of the killings, taking neither food nor water.Since then Sharmila has been fasting for the last 11 years. She has been protesting against the killing of innocent people by security forces in Manipur. She is opposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law enacted by the Government of India in 1958 to quell the problem of insurgency in the state.

When she began her fast on 4th November 2000, most people did not take her seriously. Some even mocked her action. Two days later, the government arrested her under IPC 309 (attempt to commit suicide). She was later transferred to judicial custody. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and the police then forcibly had to use nasogastric intubation in order to keep her alive while under arrest.

In February 2004, Sharmila filed a Writ Petition to the Supreme Court of India challenging her detention. The apex court asked her to file the petition in the High Court, which disposed of the Writ Petition post-haste, releasing her. Two days later, though, the government rearrested her on fresh charges.

 Government Response
Despite her long struggle she has endured a numb and silent state's and center's response.

International Response

  • awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which is given for "an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights"

  • On 28 November 2010, UK Green Party leader and European Parliament member Keith Taylor wrote to the Indian government seeking the release of Sharmila and the repeal of the AFSPA

 Protesters show their support for Irom Sharmila and her decade long hunger strike against Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Srinagar. They linked Sharmila's call in Manipur with a similar demand in the Valley.


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