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Sharmila completes 15 years of hunger strike

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Nov 1 - Forty-two year-old human rights defender from Manipur, Irom Sharmila, today completed 15 years of protest with several human rights organisations including Amnesty International India, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), and Naga People�s Movement for Human Rights urging Indian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Sharmila and repeal AFSPA.

�A hunger strike is not an attempt at suicide. Sharmila is being detained by the government only for her inconvenient activism,� said Executive Director of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel. �She is a prisoner of conscience, using her freedom of expression to protest against an unjust law. And her shameful detention leaves a stain on India�s commitment to human rights which grows harder to remove with every passing year.�

�Sharmila�s 15-year hunger strike is a symbol of a brave struggle against injustice. The AFSPA has caused widespread human rights violations like enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, torture and sexual violence,� said Henri Tiphagne, chairperson of FORUM-ASIA. In particular, �AFSPA has been used to justify killings on mere suspicion as well as granted virtual immunity through a clause prohibiting legal proceedings without sanction from the federal government, which is virtually never granted.�

Sharmila started her hunger strike on November 2, 2000 demanding repeal of AFSPA. However, she was arrested four days later and charged with attempted suicide, a crime under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code. Since then Sharmila has been arrested, released and re-arrested to be released after a year of judicial custody where she is force- fed through a nasogastric tube,� said Director of Human Rights Alert Manipur Babloo Loitongbam.

On August 19, 2014, a Manipur court ordered Sharmila to be released stating that her hunger strike was a �political demand through lawful means.� On December 10, 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the Centre had decided to repeal section 309 which would decriminalise attempted suicide.

Most recently, on January 23, 2015, a district court in Imphal rejected the charges of attempted suicide and ordered to Sharmila�s release from custody. However, she was re-arrested on the very same charges a day later. Sharmila has been facing this farcical cycle of arrests and re-arrest and has been subjected to force feeding since she began her hunger strike.

The criminalisation of Sharmila�s peaceful protest also goes against the spirit of Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which guarantees the right of human rights defenders to promote and protect the realisation of human rights, the human rights organisations said.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)

Sharmila completes 15 years of hunger strike

NEW DELHI, Nov 1 - Forty-two year-old human rights defender from Manipur, Irom Sharmila, today completed 15 years of protest with several human rights organisations including Amnesty International India, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), and Naga People�s Movement for Human Rights urging Indian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Sharmila and repeal AFSPA.

�A hunger strike is not an attempt at suicide. Sharmila is being detained by the government only for her inconvenient activism,� said Executive Director of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel. �She is a prisoner of conscience, using her freedom of expression to protest against an unjust law. And her shameful detention leaves a stain on India�s commitment to human rights which grows harder to remove with every passing year.�

�Sharmila�s 15-year hunger strike is a symbol of a brave struggle against injustice. The AFSPA has caused widespread human rights violations like enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, torture and sexual violence,� said Henri Tiphagne, chairperson of FORUM-ASIA. In particular, �AFSPA has been used to justify killings on mere suspicion as well as granted virtual immunity through a clause prohibiting legal proceedings without sanction from the federal government, which is virtually never granted.�

Sharmila started her hunger strike on November 2, 2000 demanding repeal of AFSPA. However, she was arrested four days later and charged with attempted suicide, a crime under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code. Since then Sharmila has been arrested, released and re-arrested to be released after a year of judicial custody where she is force- fed through a nasogastric tube,� said Director of Human Rights Alert Manipur Babloo Loitongbam.

On August 19, 2014, a Manipur court ordered Sharmila to be released stating that her hunger strike was a �political demand through lawful means.� On December 10, 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the Centre had decided to repeal section 309 which would decriminalise attempted suicide.

Most recently, on January 23, 2015, a district court in Imphal rejected the charges of attempted suicide and ordered to Sharmila�s release from custody. However, she was re-arrested on the very same charges a day later. Sharmila has been facing this farcical cycle of arrests and re-arrest and has been subjected to force feeding since she began her hunger strike.

The criminalisation of Sharmila�s peaceful protest also goes against the spirit of Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which guarantees the right of human rights defenders to promote and protect the realisation of human rights, the human rights organisations said.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)