A Brave Stand For Human Rights by Irom Sharmila Chanu
Sometimes it’s important to use my position to draw attention to important things that go on in the world that are sometimes left unheralded. I cam across the story of a hunger striker in India that captured my attention and I want to introduce you to her. Irom Sharmila Chanu of Manipur, India, has been on a hunger strike for 10 straight years in India in protest to the “indefensible” martial law in Manipur state. This martial law, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, also otherwise known as AFSPA, states that any one in the Indian Army may shoot anyone at the mere suspicion of a crime and so thousands of people have been killed.
This singular protest was launched when, at a bus stop on November 1, 2000, in Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley of Manipur, ten innocent people were gunned down by the Assam Rifles, one of the Indian Paramilitary forces operating in the state. The incident, which later came to be known as the Malom Massacre, affirmed the continuation of the endless killing spree by the Indian armed forces in Manipur since 1958. An inquiry into the affair was disallowed by the local officials and nothing was done to prevent future incidents. Iron Sharmila put her foot down to draw attention to this national travesty and has garnered little media attention though she is still on her hunger strike, even after 10 years of being forced fed through a feeding tube. She continues to be regularly arrested for her public appearances of protest but again these events are not followed much by the local, national or international media. For this reason, I wanted to introduce you to Irom Sharmila, a civil rights activist, political activist, journalist, and poet, called the Iron Lady of Manipur. She is a powerful woman of resolve who has sacrificed her life to a noble cause, securing some basic human rights for all her countrymen.
I know this isn’t my usual topic but sometimes it’s important to step outside the norm, like Sharmila.
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