5 Mar 2013

World's longest running hunger striker charged with trying to commit suicide

Activist Irom Sharmila, a woman from India’s north-east who has been force-fed for the past 12 years, was flown to Delhi so that a judge could charge her with trying to commit suicide. The 40-year-old declined to play along. “I do not want to commit suicide. Mine is only a non-violent protest,” the activist told the judge, according to the Press Trust of India. “It is my demand to live as a human being. I love life. I do not want to take my life but I want justice and peace.”


The activist known as the Iron Lady of Manipur launched her fast in November 2000 to protest over the killing of a group of civilians by paramilitary forces and to demand the repeal of legislation that provides effective immunity to soldiers. Since then she has refused to eat, drink or even brush her teeth with water.

Refusing to end her fast until the so-called Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is withdrawn from all of Manipur, she has been repeatedly detained and fed twice a day by a tube attached to her nose. In 2006, she brought her protest to Delhi where she was arrested by police and charged under section 309 of the Indian penal code; the slow nature of the system means her case is only now reaching court.

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