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Irom Sharmila in court in Delhi

Yearly, Irom Sharmila is called before the court in Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in northeastern India. Today is different, however: today she is in court in Delhi--again for the spurious charge of attempting suicide, when really what she's doing is protesting, through hunger strike, a deeply unjust law, the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA), which gives the Indian military (and before that, the British colonial military--that's how old the law is) the right to act with virtual impunity in areas deemed "troubled"--such as Manipur.

This is an important moment both for Sharmila: because this court date is in Delhi rather than distant Manipur, there's a chance for more widespread media coverage and, therefore, for more conversation among the general Indian public about the issue of AFSPA.

Sharmila leaving for Delhi (photo from "Irom Sharmila Leaves for Delhi on Court's Order", E-Pao, October 30, 2014.)

Sharmila is very charismatic, and it's easy to get caught up in the drama of her story--more than a decade without food passing her lips, imprisoned, often in isolation, in a hospital. "Save Sharmila," many campaigns say, and absolutely, yes, I want her to be saved, and to have a life of happiness. But she wants to end AFSPA, and that's an important and righteous goal. So I very much pray that this moment in the spotlight will help move India closer in that direction. Though, alas, the national news seems pessimistic on that point (see Imboyaima Laithangbam, Irom Sharmila to Be Produced before Delhi Court on Thursday," Hindu, October 28, 2014.)

ETA: A friend on the ground there says that cops in armored trucks are about, preventing press access :-(


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 30th, 2014 11:13 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this! I've followed Irom Sharmila's story since you first posted about her (in March?) and admire her tremendously.

The abuses of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, are clear, documented and almost built into the Act. (If you tell an armed man he will not be liable to prosecution for anything he does... )
The Indian Government is wrong - disingenuous! - to claim that it cannot be repealed because that "would give carte blanche to militants". In fact, it is giving carte blanche right now to military in the designated areas! What the Government means is that there is simply no will in the Government to protect Indian women and minorities from the abuses which occur under the Act.

And I don't know why I'm saying that here, when I should maybe turn to and write again to the Indian High Commissioner in Canberra. Thanks again, and I will take that action in the next 24 hours.

Edited at 2014-10-30 11:31 am (UTC)
Oct. 30th, 2014 11:52 am (UTC)
But can I add your words to this post? Because you're so right!
Oct. 30th, 2014 12:19 pm (UTC)
Help yourself to any words at all! :) I would love them to be useful.

And very interesting re: the news from the friend on the spot. Yes, bad that the press is being hindered, but it shows how strong the interest is, and many journos would only be stirred to push further, rather than be discouraged.
Oct. 30th, 2014 12:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

And yes, good point about the interest. There'd be no need if there were no interest.
Oct. 30th, 2014 12:08 pm (UTC)
Her courage is so amazing. I hope she can stir hearts, which then stir minds . . .
Oct. 30th, 2014 12:09 pm (UTC)
I hope so too.
Oct. 30th, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
Sending good thoughts Sharmila's way and pricks huge, burning stabs of conscience to her judges.
Oct. 31st, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
Thank you ♥
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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