TODAY -
Sharmila stands for humanity: Rights activists
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, November 03 2010: Human right activists from various parts of the country attending a seminar held at the banquet hall of Hotel Classic, North AOC today discoursed on the demand for removal of Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 terming it as a "terror act" .

They also termed Sharmila's lone 10-year of fasting as a "spiritual challenge' against terror acts while acknowledging her unique struggle.

Rajya Sabha MP and former Chief Minister, Rishang Keishing presided the opening function of the seminar in which Prof Dr Bimol Akoijam of Jawaharlal Nehru University delivered the key note address.

Rishang Keishing, in his speech as president, stressed on the need for a united struggle for rights, at the seminar held at the banquet hall of Hotel Classic, North AOC today as a part of a five-day Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace.



A scene of Meerel Mashingkha, a mime play presented by Kanglei Mime Theatre Repertory at Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy hall; the scene is close to depicting the gang-rape and cold blooded murder of Th Manorama by personnel of SF some years back


Rishang said that Sharmila is fighting against AFSPA for the cause of the people reminding that people of this land are confronting with difficulties of different forms being a backward state.

In this situation, there is the need of building up a united strength for protecting our rights.

He also expressed concern over the increasing number of underground groups in this tiny state of Manipur.

The pre-lunch session of the seminar was moderated by former chairman of the Manipur Human Rights Commission Justice (retired) WA Sishak.

Advocate Khaidem Mani, Human Right Alerts' director, Bablu Loitangbam, former MHRC member Yambem Laba talked as resource persons.

Kaka D Irallu, noted human rights activist from Nagaland recalled the life of the people of his state at the initial stage of the enactment of the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act.

Recalling the ordeal of his early life under AFSPA , he said that he was among the victims of the act in his early as a 12-year old.

"My parents were tortured repeatedly by the security forces in the name of counter insurgency.

I hid with my parents in the jungle unable to bear the atrocities.

I was in jail at the age of 12 where my parents were also lodged" .

People of Nagaland were the first victims of the draconian law which gives extra power to the security forces.

Thousands of villagers from hundreds of villages were victims when "India first imposed the act in my state" .

While saluting Sharmila for her undeterred struggle for removal of the draconian act, he said "I salute Sharmila.

She is not struggling for Manipur only but also for the whole North East people´┐Ż..

and of course for humanity." Her struggle is unique in the globe.

There is none in this world who has fasted for 10-years for justice and peace of the people.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), was passed on September 11, 1958 by the Parliament of India.

It conferred special powers upon armed forces in what the language of the act calls "disturbed areas" in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

It was enacted to curb rebels in Nagaland demanding sovereignty of the Naga people.

It was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as the The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990 .

Irallu said that Nagas are trying to defend their independence while India is imposing their independence.

This is what the conflict is going on in the state.

He also said that he wrote a book on his experience under AFSPA recollecting the ordeal of his life under the atrocities meted out by the security forces under the act and tried to publish it in New Delhi.

But no publishers were ready to publish the book.

Later, "with my own effort, it was published in Assam," he recalled.

Saying that the act is still a problem in the North Eastern region, he made an appeal to the people of the region not to remain silent but to join hands together and fight for justice and peace of the people.

Bablu Loitongbam, human right activist asserted that none of the prominent leaders of India was ever targeted by the insurgents in the North East.

He reminded that Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Tamil Nadu and many top leaders of the Centre were killed in Punjab.

"But no such terror act (AFSPA) was imposed in these states.

Top Army officers have always said "We should not be use force on to our own people", Bablu recalled and asked if this "our own people" ended at West Bengal.

Are not the NE people their people, he asked.

Sharmila's struggle is not a normal fight for justice for the down trodden people but a spiritual challenge.

India government should not that even the UN Human Right Commission has condemned the act, he observed.

The seminar on AFSPA was held at the Banquet Hall of Classic Hotel, Imphal.

In the morning session many resource persons talked on "Illegitimacy of the AFSPA: From the Supreme Court to the Jeevan Reddy Committee Enabling Laws and Practices: Institutional and Normative Implications" .

The afternoon session was mainly concentrated on "Repressive or Progressive?: Reflections of 1997 Supreme Court Judgment, Jeevan Reddy Committee: Report Reflections on Government of India's response, AFSPA and Criminal Jurisprudence: Reflections on Principles & Practices, Implications on Institutions: Reflections on practices & implications for Justice.


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