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Sharmila’s fast enters 15th year

An activist displaying a banner in support of Irom Chanu Sharmila in Imphal on Wednesday. - UB Photos
 IMPHAL, Nov 5 – Several social organisations today staged sit-in demonstrations in Manipur supporting human rights defender Irom Chanu Sharmila’s struggle to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958.

Demanding repeal of AFSPA, ‘Iron lady of Manipur’ Sharmila launched her fast in protest against the killing of ten persons at Malom on November 2, 2000. Three days later, she was arrested by police and charged with “attempt to commit suicide” and transferred to judicial custody.

The sit-in at Palace Gate here was organised by Asian Solidarity and Manipur People’s Struggle for Democracy. Maira paibis, students, activists and well-wishers along with Binayak Sen, Vice President of People’s Union for Civil Liberties and noted activist Lenin Raghuvanshi also attended the sit-in.

Raghuvanshi, who won Gwangju human rights award along with Sharmila in 2007, said “Peace and development will come once the AFSPA is removed as imposition of the Act helps in increasing number of armed groups.”

AFSPA gives security forces sweeping powers to search, enter property and shoot-at-sight and is seen by critics as cover for human rights abuses.

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