Friday, March 19, 2010

Protest rally at Hong Kong as a part of "From Gandhi to Sharmila" campaign

INDIA: HRA and the AHRC urge the government to take affirmative steps to end impunity in Manipur

(Hong Kong, March 15, 2010)
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Human Rights Alert (HRA) organised a protest rally today in Hong Kong calling upon the Government of India to initiate steps to end the culture of impunity in Manipur.

Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, speaking on behalf of the AHRC in the meeting said: "The ongoing violence in Manipur can end only if the culture of impunity ends in that state."

"The region, and Manipur in particular, is marred with violence committed by both state and non-state actors ... the issues in Manipur are intense and long-pending, that for several reasons Manipur could be said as the Tibet of India..." Ashrafuzzaman added.

The protesters gathered at Charter Garden at 11am today and marched to the Indian consulate. At the consulate, the protesters submitted a petition addressed to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to the Consul General of India. The petition urges the government to initiate steps to end impunity in Manipur. Several persons participated in the rally. The Consul General accepted the petition and promised that he would transmit the petition to the prime minister's office in New Delhi immediately.

Contrary to the practice of their counterparts in India, and to the surprise of the participants of the rally, the Hong Kong Police department ensured that the rally does not interrupt the traffic and further informed the Indian consulate about the rally and the intension of the rally organisers to submit a petition to the Consul General.

The petition submitted to the Prime Minister of India by the AHRC and the HRA has been part of an online campaign marking the birthday of Ms. Irom Sharmila, the iron lady of Manipur. The HRA has also organised a similar campaign in India.

Speaking to the media, Ashrafuzzaman said: "Sharmila represents the voice of the voiceless in India, and in particular, the people of Manipur. Her fast is not just to pressure the government to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from the state, though the Act in itself is one of the major reasons for perpetual violence in the state…The protest today is a call to the government to withdraw this draconian law from Manipur."

"Sharmila's struggle is a strong call to end impunity in Manipur, for which both the state as well as non-state actors have a role to play. Unless the state ends its acts of violence, it has no morale to expect the militant groups operating in the state to stop committing violence. The atrocious acts of violence committed by the state and its agencies with impunity have only worsened the situation in the state." "Counter militancy operations must be conducted within the framework of the Indian Constitution, and the domestic and international law that binds India. AFSPA negates all these legal premises, which unfortunately has been receiving legal and moral support even from the Supreme Court of the country." Ashrafuzzaman added.

354 persons have signed the petition. The petition filed by the AHRC and the HRA is reproduced below.


Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Honourable Prime Minister
Government of India
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi - 110 011

Through the Honourable Consulate General of India
Hong Kong

Asian Human Rights Commission is writing to express solidarity to the ten-year-long fast of Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu, the Iron Lady of Manipur and her cause.

We are informed that Sharmila has started the fast on 4 November 2000, protesting against the violence committed by state and non-state actors in Manipur. We are aware that the protest also demands an immediate end of impunity in the state, for which the withdrawal of the martial law, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), from Manipur is a prerequisite.

We are worried about the sufferings of the ordinary people of Manipur at the hands of the underground militant organisations as well as the state agencies.

We are aware that the AFSPA is enforced in Manipur to support government actions in the state in countering secessionist activities and underground militant acts. Yet, it is now certain that the AFSPA has not helped in countering militancy in Manipur, but in fact has enraged it.
We are informed that the climate of impunity is one of the reasons why conflict continues in Manipur.

The AFSPA, as far we understand is an addition to the overall impunity framework that has contributed to the deterioration of the state of rule of law in Manipur. Our opinion is also shared by national bodies including Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee; the Second Administrative Reforms Commission; and the Prime Minister's Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir. We are informed that these eminent bodies have recommended the government to withdraw AFSPA from operation since they are of the informed opinion that a law like the AFSPA will only facilitate violence and not prevent it.

We are convinced that under the current circumstances in Manipur the withdrawal of AFSPA will not in itself solve the Manipur crisis.

Yet, it could be a bold and open step by the government to show that it is determined to find solution to an armed conflict that has haunted an entire generation in the state. The withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur will be recognition to the sufferings of the state's people and an expression of respect and acknowledgment of their rights.

Additionally, withdrawing AFSPA from Manipur will be a catalyst to end the climate of impunity in the state.


Md. Ashrafuzzaman Zaman
for Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission
19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building
998 Canton Road, Kowloon
Hong Kong, China

For the complete list of signatures sent to the Indian authorities, please visit this website or download the list in PDF format here.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Gandhi to Sharmila campaign concludes

“From Gandhi to Sharmila” campaign is a campaign initiated by Just Peace Foundation. It was launched on the 62nd death anniversary, 28th February 2010 of Mahatma Gandhi till the 38th birth centenary, 14th March 2010 of Irom Sharmila. The campaign aims to garner support for Irom Sharmila’s arduous struggle to foster peace in the conflict regions of India. This campaign has been across within and outside India drawing a support from civil societies, youth, women’s group and common citizens.

The campaign concluded with a formal meeting and a group discussion at the PRESS CLUB Imphal on 14th march 2010. RK Anand and O.Joy; members of Manipur legislative assembly, Yambem Laba former journalist and human rights activist, activist from northeast states, meira paibis, women members of various civil organisations and media people attended the function.

While the two members of Manipur legislative assembly asserted their stand against AFSPA and their support for Sharmila, Yambem Laba gave a brief history of human rights movement in Manipur. Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert and trustee member, Just Peace foundation enlightened the august gathering with the various subordinate campaigns that are being taken up in Kerala, Hong kong, New Delhi, Benares and Korea.

Just Peace foundation’s blog was also formally launched to the public by MLA O. Joy. Freelance writer and filmmaker Oinam Doren who had designed & edited the blog gave a pep talk on how the blog would further the cause of the campaign worldwide.
The meeting concluded with an informal discussion on the future course of action.

From Gandhi to Sharmila Campaign
Civic Meeting on Anti AFSPA movement
Sunday, 14th March 2010
Press club, Imphal

RK Anand
Member of Manipur Legislative assembly

O Joy
Member of Manipur Legislative assembly

Yambem Laba
Former journalist and human rights activist
are the panel members of the function.

Taring Mama, Mukul Phukon, Alexander Marak
activist from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya respectively are the special guest.

11:30 Folk Song on Irom Sharmila by Ganga Tombi
11:40 Welcome and Key note address by Irom Singhjit
11:55 launched of Just Peace Foundation blog by O. Joy to the public
12.00 Blog presentation by Oinam Doren
12:10 Speech by Babloo Loitongbam on International Mechanism including
UN on AFSPA and Arms Conflict situation
12:35 Speech by O.Joy
13:10 Speech by RK Anand
13:35 Speech by Yambem Laba on History of AFSPA Struggle
13:50 Speech by Taring Mama on behalf of the special guest
14:15 Vote of Thanks by Onil Khetrimayum
14:30 High Tea
15.00 informal discussions

Program conductor: Basantakumar Wareppa

Thursday, March 18, 2010

INDIA: HRA and the AHRC urge the government to take affirmative steps to end impunity in Manipur

(Hong Kong, March 15, 2010) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Human Rights Alert (HRA) organised a protest rally today in Hong Kong calling upon the Government of India to initiate steps to end the culture of impunity in Manipur.

Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, speaking on behalf of the AHRC in the meeting said: "The ongoing violence in Manipur can end only if the culture of impunity ends in that state."

for more details, click

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

film on Irom Sharmila by DRIK INDIA

Drik India as a part of the campaign to defend human rights situation in Manipur, a north eastern state of India and in solidarity with iron lady Irom Chanu Sharmila’s peaceful movement has made a film ‘While Gods took to Dancing’ of duration 16 mins.

The links to the film in two parts 'While Gods took to Dancing’:

Drik India

Monday, March 15, 2010

Protest against AFSPA in Seoul, South Korea

Friday, March 12, 2010

Re: India – Re-arrest of human rights defender Ms Irom Chanu Sharmila - courtesy FRONTLINE

Human rights defender Ms Irom Chanu Sharmila was re-arrested on 10 March 2010 and charged with attempting to commit suicide. Irom Chanu Sharmila had just been released from the security ward of Jawaharlal Nehru (JN) Hospital two days previously, 8 March 2010. She has been on hunger strike since 2 November 2000 in protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) which gives power to officers of the Indian Armed Forces to shoot anyone suspected of being an insurgent in so-called “disturbed areas”. The Act also stipulates that the central government must give its permission to prosecute any officer of the armed forces, which in effect grants them almost complete impunity. Irom Chanu Sharmila began her hunger strike on the same day that the Indian Armed Force known as the Assam Rifles killed ten innocent people in Malom, Manipur. At the time the army refused to initiate an inquiry into the massacre claiming that the officers had acted with the authority given to them under AFSPA.

On 10 March 2010, at approximately 4.20 pm, Irom Chanu Sharmila was re-arrested by a team of Porompat Police at the shed of Sharmila Kanba Lup, a voluntary body based in Porompat which forms part of the Save Sharmila Campaign. Irom Chanu Sharmila was continuing her hunger strike at the time of her arrest. She has been charged with “attempting to commit suicide” under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code which carries a sentence of “simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year” and/or a fine. On the evening of 10 March 2010, she appeared before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Imphal and was remanded in custody until 24 March 2010.

The authorities have released Irom Chanu Sharmila every year since 2000 only to arrest her shortly afterwards again on the same charge. Over the decade long period during which Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on hunger strike she has been detained in the security ward of JN Hospital under the judicial custody of Sajiwa Central Jail. The authorities have conducted enforced nasal feeding in order to keep her alive.

Front Line believes that the repeated arrest and detention of Irom Chanu Sharmila are directly related to her human rights activities, in particular her peaceful protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958. Front Line fears for the physical and psychological integrity of Irom Chanu Sharmila.

Front Line urges the authorities in India to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release Irom Chanu Sharmila and drop all charges against her, as Front Line believes that she is being held solely as a result of her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Irom Chanu Sharmila, while in detention, adheres to all those conditions set out in the ‘Basic Principles for Treatment of Prisoners', adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Front Line respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 1: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and to Article12 (1): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Lawlor

FRONTLINE (Protection of human rights defenders)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace celebrated from the 2nd to 6th November 2009

The opening day launched the photographs on Sharmila by Drik India Kolkatta and Peace Counts. Ma Maheswata Devi also released a book on Sharmila ‘BURNING BRIGHT’ written by Deepti Priya Mehrotra, published by Penguin. Ma encouragingly assured the audience that an alternative Bengali version of the book would be made available in the next year and in all the Indian languages in succession. The President of the function Mangol Devi, a veteran Meira Paibi leader reminisce the audience with her wily adventures with the security forces of Manipur putting the audience to fits of laughter. A Manipuri adaptation of the novel HAZAR CHOURASIKI MAA written by ma Maheswata Devi staged by the Aryan Theatre group folded the day.

The following day, a brigade of the popular artists of Manipur treated the audience to an anthology of songs titled “keishumshangee rani” (the queen of the jail) with the lyrics written by Irom Sharmila.

The 4th November, all were assembled in the PDA complex, Porompat where a relay hunger strike has been going on since December 10 2008 by the Sharmila kanba lup. The JN hospital where Sharmila is securely confined is about 10 mins walking distance from this place. A mob of women of varied age groups from the Moreh town bordering Myanmar also thronged the place to participate in the dharna. Two significant incidents happened that day. First, it was the arrival of Dayabai (a woman activist) from Thinduara Madhya Pradesh who resembles any ordinary village woman but had the eloquence of a savvy tigress. She lives in a village where there are no newspapers, television but she read about Sharmila during one of her tours in the town.

Ma Maheswata Devi had expressed her desire to meet Sharmila and her brother Irom Singhjit had already filed an application on the 26th October but it was disgustingly not processed. So on that day, she hopped on to a jeep and made way for the Chief Secretary’s office. In the office premises. she broodingly waited for about 50 minutes but the Chief Secretary refused to meet ma Maheswata reluctant to recognize her.

The next day, the 5th November in the Manipur University campus, Canchipur ma inaugurated the Human Rights Film Festival organized by Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and spoke to the media.
She condemned the Manipur Chief Secretary and propounded the need to start his education all over again from the basics. And she bade farewell for the airport.
Early morning the next day, a crowd was assembled in the historic Nupilal Complex where an all community prayer meeting was organized. A collective feast at the Narasingh temple wrapped up the 5 days long festival. .

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