Saturday marked International Women’s Day. Here’s a woman worth mentioning and reading about: Irom Sharmimla.
Now referred to as the Iron Lady, Irom Sharmimla has been fasting for almost 13 years now. Once strong and young, she is now 41 years old, frail, and barely audible. Yet she refuses to back down from her hunger strike which she will continue until death.
- She is fasting until the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is withdrawn from all of Manipur and parts of north-east India.
- Manipur is a former independent kingdom on the border of Burma, and for almost 50 years has seen violence from independent militant groups and state security forces in a struggle to win independence from India.
- About 40 army groups carry out attacks on police, soldiers, and civilians and routinely extort money from the population.
- Every month all businesses, shop keepers, and even government workers pay a certain percentage of their earnings to the militants.
- AFSPA is a piece of legislation which federal authorities started applying to “disturbed” parts of north-eastern states, including Manipur, in 1958.
- This act gives armed forces the right to arrest people and enter any building without a warrant and “Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law.” Worrisome right?
- AFSPA is a response by the state to end the violence from the militant group but over the years have been abused and misused, and accused of human rights abuses.
- Sharmimla claims the state’s Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, has done nothing to improve the situation and that “everything in Manipur is upside down.”
- She stopped eating after 10 people who were waiting for a bus had been shot dead by a unit of paramilitaries. There was nothing to suggest that these 10 people, aged 18-60, were linked to insurgents
Read more about her here.
Who do you think is an influential women in the international community and why?