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Sharmila campaign moves on

Imphal, Oct. 29: The India chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom will take up Manipur’s rights crusader Irom Sharmila’s issue and build international pressure on New Delhi so that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 is repealed.

“We will tell the international community about the injustice being done to Sharmila and people living under this act in India by the government and build international opinion on the issue of the army act,” Ila Pathak, vice-president of the international women’s body, said here today.

Pathak came here as a part of the 25-member team that marched from Srinagar to Imphal from October 16 to 27 to express solidarity with Sharmila and those campaigning for repealing the act.

This international body is close to the United Nations and has the status of a consultant of the UN.

Pathak, along with the rest of the marchers from different parts of the country, was detained at the Porompat police station in Imphal East yesterday, after they staged a slogan-shouting demonstration on the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medial Sciences to protest against the Okram Ibobi Singh government’s refusal to give them permission to meet Sharmila.

They were freed last evening and some of the team members left Imphal today.

Pathak said her organisation would closely work with the Imphal-based Just Peace Foundation.

“Irom Sharmila’s fast against the presence of the army indicates the enormity of the crime committed in the name of maintenance of law and order in the state,” Pathak, who hails from Gujarat, said.

She said her organisation would hold a demonstration in Gujarat on International Human Rights Day (December 10) on the theme Save Democracy, Repeal AFSPA.

To mark the completion of 11 years of Sharmila’s hunger strike, a nationwide one-day hunger strike and demonstration would be observed on November 5. The programme is being co-ordinated by a campaign group named Save Democracy, Repeal AFSPA, based in Delhi.

Seram Rojesh, a co-ordinator of the campaign group, today said rights activists from 12 states had confirmed their participation.

The Rural Welfare Society, Nagaon, and Tripura Manipuri Students Youth will also organise a one-day fast and demonstrations.

Sharmila began her hunger strike in November 2000, demanding repeal of the army act after Assam Rifles personnel shot dead 10 civilians at Malom in Imphal West in retaliation to a militant attack.

Sharmila has been surviving on nasal feed at the medical institute for the past 11 years.

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