Indian rights activist ends 16-year hunger strike

Irom Sharmila brings protest to end to enter politics, continue fight against human rights abuses

Indian rights activist ends 16-year hunger strike

World Bulletin / News Desk

An Indian human rights activist on Tuesday announced the end of her 16-year hunger strike to stand for election next year.

Irom Sharmila -- known as the Iron Lady of Manipur -- has been fed by a plastic tube since launching her protest against security forces’ human rights violations and the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) in November 2000.

Following a court appearance in Imphal, the capital of Manipur state near the Myanmar border, Sharmila said she would contest a state election likely to take place early 2017.

She said she no longer believed her fast would lead to the repeal of the act, which gives the security forces supreme power in “disturbed” areas of India such as the northeast region and Kashmir.

“I will end my fast on Aug. 9 and contest elections,” the 44-year-old rights activist was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Sharmila is currently being forced-fed through nose at the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. She was arrested four days after she started her hunger strike and charged with attempted suicide. She has repeatedly been rearrested as the maximum prison term for the offense is one year.

Journalist Subir Bhaumik said Sharmila’s decision may have been motivated by her physical condition.

“She perhaps realizes discretion is the better part of valor,” he said. “Also perhaps that you can’t influence policy unless you are in politics.”

Anjuman Ara Begum, a human rights activist and researcher, said:  “She has given 16 years of her life for a cause and has set an iconic example of sacrifice. The AFSPA movement was always based on human rights norms and standards. That movement will continue. Her iconic protest was an inspiration and will always be.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2016, 11:30