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Youth In Bangalore Undertake Hunger Fast
In Solidarity With Sharmila

11 December, 2010

Hundreds of youth in Bangalore expressed support by undertaking a one day
hunger fast, in support of the cause of Irom Sharmila. Poet Irom Sharmila
has been fasting for more than 10 years, protesting against the abuse of
power of the Indian Army. Her main demand is to repeal Armed Forces Special
Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA).

`This draconian law is responsible for the rape, torture and murder of
thousands of people in the north east’, said the participants of the
protest. Many groups and celebrities have already expressed support to Irom

`The AFSPA violates the basic principles of justice defined by the Indian
Constitution. When it was introduced, there was only one insurgent group in
Manipur and now there are more than 40. Therefore, it is clear that AFSPA
has only increased insurgency instead of controlling it’, said Trichao
Thomas from ANTS, an organisation which brings in positive stories from the
North East.

Repeal of the AFSPA is not just the demand of activists from all over the
world but also by the international Community. In 2007, the UN Committee on
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Indian Government to
repeal AFSPA and replace it with a more humane Act within one year. The
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also asked the
Indian Government to do the same. In 2009, the High Commissioner for Human
Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay said that the Act breached `contemporary
international human rights standards'. Later, on June 14, 2010, the European
Parliament raised the demand for the repeal of AFSPA. Many human rights
bodies like Amnesty International have demanded the repeal of the Act.
Repeal of AFSPA was also recommended by the Second Administrative Reforms
Commission. `The Act, for whatever reasons, has become a symbol of
oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high
handedness,' stated Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission appointed by the Prime
Minister to look review AFSPA. Jeevan Reddy Committee also recommended the
removal of AFSPA.` However, all these never reached the dead ears of the
Indian Government so far’, said the activists.

`It is shocking how the government has ignored a 10 year old fast of poet
Irom Sharmila, an incident which has never happened anywhere in the world.
Even nationally renowned writer Maheshwata Devi was not allowed to meet her.
We can understand the depth of the violations of human rights from this,’
said Manohar from SICHREM.

The protest started from 8.30 am today from the students of St. Joseph’s
college, Mount Caramel College and other institutions. Around 200 youth
gathered at the Gandhi statue, M.G. Road, Bangalore sitting in support of
Irom Sharmila. The students sat in front of the Gandhi statue with placards
which said `One Manipuri Poet’s Peaceful Protest is Shaking the Conscience
of the World’, `No Draconian Law’, `Down with AFSPA’ and many other posters
against the human rights violations in Manipur. SICHREM, St. Joseph’s
College, Mount Caramel College, National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy,
Global College, ANTS, Christu Jayanthi and North East and Tibetian Forum
took the initiative in this solidarity action in support of Irom Sharmila