TODAY -
Festival of Hope to mark 10 yrs of Sharmila's fasting begins
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, November 02 2010: 'Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace'- a five day event - organized by Just Peace Foundation to mark the completion of 10-years of Irom Sharmila's fasting stir and to show solidarity to her demand for removal of Armed Forces (Special) Power Act-1959 kicked-off at JN Manipur Dance Academy today.

Taking part in the opening session of the festival, commissioner of Right to Food, Government of India, Harash Manthar said the history of human civilization is nothing but a struggle for peace and justice.

To safeguard these for the down trodden weaker sections of the society, people have used different means.

Among them Irom Sharmila's is one.

She, armed only the with non-violence to means of fasting, is struggling for the down trodden people of the state.

She is struggling for people's justice and peace for the last 10 years.

Ten years is not a short period in a man's life.

But Sharmila has sacrificed a whole 10-years.Her 10-year fast is the greatest sacrifice made in the history of human civilization, he said.



SV Oja depicting Sharmila's lone crusade against AFSPA in a solo theatre play


Observing that without justice, peace can not be brought about, Manthar went on to say that India, the biggest democratic country in the world, is not delivering to the people of Manipur justice and rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.

He also assured that he will extend his full support to the cause of the people of the state till justice is delivered.

Irom Singhajit, Managing Trustee of the Just Peace Foundation, recalled the day on which Irom Sharmila had taken the harsh decision to go on an indefinite fast demanding removal of Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 .

On this day in 2000, Assam Riffles had unleased a reign of terror by mindlessly gunning down 10 civilians at Malom along the Tidim road.

The incident came to be known as the 'Malom Massacre' .

Shocked by the merciless massacre of civilians, Sharmila took the harsh decision to go on an indefinite fast demanding the repeal of AFSFA, the draconian law which gives extra judicial powers to security forces in countering insurgents in Manipur.

She started her lone struggle on November 4, 2000, he added.

Many killings of innocent civilians by security forces have occurred and people of the state are crying out for repeal of the Act.

But the government remains deaf.

It has not given any response nor has it take any positive action to repeal the Act, Singhajit said.

Various programmes were held on the first day of the festival.

Among them were a painting competition organized under the theme "The Security of Sharmila", a traditional drama staged by artistes of the People's Museum, Kakching, a folk song on Sharmila presented by Naorem Gangtombi and a Tangkhul folk song presented by Riuvel Masangba and a drama dedicated to Sharmila staged by a group of artistes from Kerala led by Chandranath.

The Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace is being organized as a mark of respect to the 10 year lone struggle of one woman, Sharmila, calling for repeal of the AFSPA, 1958 which provides draconian powers to arrest, detain and even kill civilians on suspicion.

The five day festival is part of a series of cultural programmes, concerts, painting competitions, exhibitions, press meets, seminars, literary and artistic activities, public meetings, poets' meets, public rallies, poster campaigns, book releases etc to mark the 100 day countdown to the decade long hunger strike.

The countdown began on 25 July 2010 .

Artistes of various art forms of the state as well as from outside the state staged a one-day fast today to show solidarity to the struggle of Sharmila under the aegis of Thangmeiband United Arts and Cultural Organisation (TUACO).

The fasting stir of the artistes was to show solidarity to Sharmila's cause demanding the repeal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 .

The Sharmila Kanba Lup, a women's body to support Sharmila's struggle also staged a fast near the JNIMS campus today.

They are also planning to hold a mass rally on November 5, convener, Janaki informed.

The rally will start from Ayangpali road where the relay hunger strike of the Sharmila Kanba Lup has been undergoing and end at BOAT where a public meeting will be held, she said.


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