Newsletter Sep 2009 – April 2010 Delhi Campaign Meeting for Repeal of AFSPA
DELHI CAMPAIGN MEETING FOR REPEAL OF AFSPA
Newsletter Sep 2009 – April 2010
Many committees of the Union government have, over the years, recommended the repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, yet the Home Minister P Chidambaram is only talking of ‘amending’ it. Despite the Supreme Court asking for a six monthly review of AFSPA, it has been in force for more than 50 years in some parts of the country. While military offensive continues unchecked in the North East and Kashmir, there is no effort to proceed with prosecution of pending cases against Armed Forces personnel who have engaged in gross violation of human rights including mass rape and other sexual crimes.
Against the backdrop of the explosive situation in Manipur at the time, a meeting was organised* from Nov 12-14, 2009 in Delhi to renew our struggle for repeal of the AFSPA. Among other participants, women from the North East covering Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Tripura were also present. We used this opportunity to raise the question of sexual violence by Armed Forces and the representatives came up with hair raising accounts of rape of women and minor girls, non-registration of cases, prosecution in absentia of the victim, harassment of families, rape as ‘punishment’ for sympathy for activists, and rape justified because “the poor army fellows are staying away from their families”. Women from Kashmir felt so unsupported in their suffering that they were unwilling to talk about these matters even at this meeting.
It is also worth noting that participants from Manipur spoke about how in areas where the AFSPA has been lifted, private armies like the Salwa Judum have been created by the state – mercenaries who are replacing the armed forces, engaging in robbery and loot and yet, being able to operate outside the ambit of the law and accountability. Discussing these and other disturbing trends in regions of conflict, the meeting demanded the immediate repeal of The Armed Forces (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) Special Powers Act, 1958 (as amended in 1972), and The Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990 and asserted that the government must not include any part of these Acts into any other legislation granting unbridled powers to the armed forces of the union or the State police.
The meeting was called by the Other Media, along with Saheli, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (Kashmir), All Tripura Indigenous and Minority Association (ATIMA), Boro Women Justice Forum (BWJF), Campaign For Peace & Democracy (Manipur) (CPDM), Centre for Law Development (CLD), Srinagar, Human Rights Alert (HRA), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Centre (JKTUC), Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asong (KNCA), Manipur Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD), Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM) Kashmir, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) Naga Women’s Union, Manipur (NWUM), and New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI).