Action update against AFSPA
ACTION UPDATE AGAINST AFSPA
Newsletter Dec 2006
In Kashmir and the north east region of the country, the implementation of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) has resulted in countless encounter deaths, extra judicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, rape and torture by the security forces. All carried out with impunity in the name of national security. In the recent past, especially after the brutal rape and killing of Thangjam Manorama in Imphal, protests against the AFSPA have been gaining ground. (See Saheli newsletters).
In November 2000, a strong and silent voice of protest rose from the Manipur valley when the security forces went on a rampage killing nine innocent villagers in Malom. 29 year old Irom Chanu Sharmila of Imphal, a young poet went on a hunger strike demanding the repeal of the law, and six years later, she still continues the strike – and all that the government has done in response is repeatedly arrest her for ‘attempt to suicide’ and nasal feed her by force.
In early October this year, when Sharmila was released from judicial custody she decided to centrestage her struggle in the capital by continuing her fast at Jantar Mantar. In a matter of days, the campaign against the AFSPA found new energy. As activists gathered around in solidarity, groups like the Human Rights Alert, Apunba Lup and the Manipur Students’ Association of Delhi brought atrocities in Manipur into focus, the media, political parties, and the government were forced to take notice.
But in just a few days, the government, not surprisingly, disrupted the protests. At midnight on Day 4 of Sharmila’s fast, she was forcibly carried to the hospital and force fed nasally. Two months later, she is still being held in custody – supposedly under arrest for ‘attempt to suicide’ but she is yet to be produced in front of a magistrate in court! Yet, Sharmila continues her protest, and has refused to allow a single drop of water or food to pass her lips.
And the struggle lives on. Saheli, along with students groups, democratic rights’ groups, women’s groups and concerned individuals in Delhi has held demonstrations and meetings against this draconian law, and even released the report of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee which the government had refused to make public for almost a year. The report recommends the repeal of the AFSPA, even while recommending that some of its problematic provisions be incorporated in the ULPA! Some political parties like the Nationalist Congress Party, the CPI, the BJP, the RJD. have reaffirmed their demand for repeal of the AFSPA.
And as we go to press, the Prime Minister on his visit to Manipur announced that the government intended to remove the most draconian provision of the law which gives the authority to ‘shoot to kill’; as well as amend the law to incorporate safeguards in the form of ‘dos and don’ts’ stipulated by the Supreme Court in 1997. Sharmila has refused to call off her fast, stating that nothing short of repealing the draconian law will pave the way for restoring civil rights in the north east.
SCRAP THE LAW THAT GIVES THE ARMED FORCES IMPUNITY FOR RAPE, MURDER, TORTURE AND OTHER HEINOUS CRIMES.
SCRAP THE ARMED FORCES (SPECIAL POWERS) ACT 1958