‘Court kutcheri’ Rap for Irom Sharmila #Raptivism #Protest #AFSPA


NEW DELHI, May 23, 2013

 

Sowmiya Ashok

Activists in support of Irom Sharmila hold a music satyagraha outside the Patiala house court complex in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: V.V.Krishnan
Activists in support of Irom Sharmila hold a music satyagraha outside the Patiala house court complex in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: V.V.Krishnan
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Failure of democracy in Manipur could spell doom for entire country: activist

A Mumbai-based rapper and an alternative jazz duo, wearing garlands, carrying guitars, and accompanied by students and trade unionists — this motley group, which gathered on the lawns of the Patiala House Courts Complex early on Wednesday, attracted questions from the Intelligence Bureau, warranted notes in a police diary and brought in curious bystanders.

The usually laidback morning hours at the court complex were replaced by a “peaceful, non-violent open air jam” to support Irom Sharmila Chanu at her next Delhi trial. It was another matter that, a few hours later, Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain postponed the recording of prosecution evidence in a case against the rights activist to August 30, after Ms. Sharmila could not appear in court.

The piercing sounds of the trumpet in Aditi Veena’s hands announced the beginning of the ‘Musical Jam’ for which invites went out on social networking sites as early as mid-April. With 700 confirmed attendees on Tuesday night, the musicians were slightly taken aback at the initial sparse turnout — 15 persons — at half-past-eight. “We don’t know why we don’t have more people here but we are in need of some enlightenment, some illumination….,” said Mark Aranha, who, along with Aditi, forms the jazz duo Ditty & Mark.

A few songs later and the venue shifted from the garden inside the court complex to the footpath outside the main gate — so the media could take part as well. The venue change also prompted freelance rapper Ashwini Mishra aka ‘A-List’ to render Iron Lady, which he said had been a ‘work-in-progress’ for over a year. “That is right. It is the Armed Forces Special Powers Act… it is time for the people to take the power back…” he rapped, a year after he got back to the art-form after a sabbatical. “My second innings, so to speak, has been much more political,” he said.

The intent was a peaceful satyagraha which was in “no way anti-Army, anti-India or anti-security forces” but one which believed that “human rights is sacred.” But on the footpath outside the courts, the clash of class and language were palpable. “Everything is in English from the lyrics to the placards. How will anyone who walks past know what is going on?” commented a bystander.

It was trade union activist Alok Kumar’s first ‘musical protest,’ which he admitted made him uncomfortable but at the same time opened up new ways of doing things. “We are, in a way, positive about the gathering but this kind of performance has the potential to alienate people,” he observed. “We should be looking at a new form of art which can create a dialogue among people.”

A member of the North-East Forum for International Solidarity, Mr. Kumar felt it was important to understand the art form being presented and make it more context-specific.

“More and more people should know and relate to the issue. Failure of democracy in Manipur could create a condition where democracy can be killed in India.”

 

Recording of evidence in case against Irom Sharmila pushed to 30 Aug #AFSPA #Vaw


May 22, 2013New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday fixed 30 August for recording of prosecution evidence in a case against rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu for allegedly attempting suicide during her fast-unto-death in New Delhi in 2006.

The Manipuri activist has been on a fast for over 12 years demanding repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in her home state.

Irom Sharmila. ReutersIrom Sharmila. Reuters

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain, who had earlier scheduled the matter for Wednesday for recording testimony of prosecution evidence, fixed the matter for 30 August after 40-year-old Sharmila could not appear in the court.

The court allowed the plea of Sharmila’s counsel who sought her exemption from personal appearance for today.

Earlier on March 4, the court had put the rights activist on trial after she had refused to plead guilty for the offence of attempting to commit suicide (Section 309 of IPC).

If convicted, Sharmila, who is out on bail in this case, faces a maximum jail term of one year.

Popularly known as the “Iron Lady”, Sharmila had earlier said her’s was a non-violent protest. She has been on fast since 2000.

She had rejected the charge that she had attempted suicide in 2006 and had told the court, “I do not want to commit suicide. Mine is only a non-violent protest. 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.”

While framing charges, the court had said, “It is alleged against you (Sharmila)…that you on October 4, 2006 at about 8 PM sat at Jantar Mantar on fast unto death uptil 11.30 pm on 6 October, 2006 and refused to get your medical check up and thereby, committed an act with an intention or knowledge that under such circumstances that death may be caused and thereby, committed an offence under Sec 309 of IPC.”

PTI

 

Fixing accountability for unlawful killings in India #AFSPA


DIVYA TRIVEDI, The Hindu

Students demand withdrawal of the Act. Photo: S. Subramanium
The HinduStudents demand withdrawal of the Act. Photo: S. Subramanium

Hundred and nine civilian deaths occurred due to police firing in 2011, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Disproportionate use of force during demonstrations caused many deaths and at least 100 deaths were caused due to excessive use of force against demonstrators in Jammu and Kashmir in 2010. According to the NHRC, 2,560 deaths during encounters with police were reported between 1993 and 2008. Of this, 1,224 cases were regarded by the NHRC as “fake encounters”. The police, the central armed police forces and the armed forces have been accused of “fake encounters”. Complaints have been lodged, particularly against the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Forces, and the armed forces acting under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

In the face of such alarming statistics, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, was invited to the country and he toured extensively between March 19 to 30 this year meeting several State and non-State actors. The main findings of his report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in June 2013.

It recommends a series of legal reforms and policy measures aimed at fighting impunity and decreasing the level of unlawful killings in India.

While deaths resulting from excessive use of force by security officers, and legislation that is permissive of such use of force hampers accountability, impunity is a central problem and represents a major challenge, according to the report.

His report states that India should repeal, or at least radically amend, AFSPA and the Jammu and Kashmir AFSPA, with the aim of ensuring that the legislation regarding the use of force by the armed forces provides for the respect of the principles of proportionality and necessity in all instances, as stipulated under international human rights law. It should also remove all legal barriers for the criminal prosecution of members of the armed forces.

“While waiting for the necessary amendment or repeal of AFSPA, it should be ensured that the status of a “disturbed area” under AFSPA is subject to regular review – for example, every six months – and a justified decision is made on its further extension,” states the report.

The report also recommends the immediate ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

It recommends India to swiftly enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and ensure its compliance with CAT.

All vigilante groups and civilians recruited to perform military or law enforcement tasks, and who are not part of the regular security forces, should be dissolved and prohibited with immediate effect, states the report.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act should be reviewed with the aim of extending its scope to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians. The criminal legislation should be reviewed to ensure that all gender-based killings, as well as killings of any member of a tribe or lower caste receive high sentences, possibly under the form of life imprisonment. The Indian legislation regarding the imposition of the death penalty should be reviewed to provide that the death penalty may be imposed for the most serious crimes only, namely only for those crimes that involve intentional killing. India should consider placing a moratorium on the death penalty in accordance with General Assembly resolutions with a view to abolishing it, according to the report. A mechanism should be put in place to regularly review and monitor the status of implementation of the directives of the Supreme Court and the NHRC guidelines on arrest, encounter killings, and custodial violence and death.

The establishment and effective functioning of the independent Police Complaints Authorities should be made a priority in all states. It should be ensured that FIR registration is prompt and made mandatory in all cases of unlawful killings and death threats. The authorities should put in place an independent mechanism to monitor FIR registration following any request to do so, as well as of punishment of those law enforcement officials who refuse to register a FIR.

To a large extent, the required structures to decrease extrajudicial executions are already in place but a concerted and systematic effort is required by the State, civil society and others to eradicate unlawful killings, states the report.

 

 

A Statement of Two National Seminars on #AFSPA in Bangalore and Delhi


The Indian Parliament enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in 1958 as an interim measure with the hope of suppressing the Naga Nationalist Struggle, the only such movement in the North East at that time. It was gradually extended to other North Eastern States and then in 1990 to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is to-date the single most direct instrument violating the democratic rights of the people of the North East and of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is implemented when an area is declared ‘disturbed’ by either the Central or the State Government.

The Act is under much debate today on several grounds, not only in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East, but also in the rest of India. One, it enables the security forces to “fire upon or otherwise use force even to the causing of death”. Two, according to Section 6, no criminal prosecution can be initiated against the security personnel who take action under this Act. Three, till now, but for a few exceptional cases of public fury or when the security forces were caught in the act by the public, no paramilitary officer or soldier has been prosecuted for destruction of property or murder or rape. Finally, five official commissions and committees have recommended either repeal or drastic review of the Act.

We the participants of these two seminars and other individuals consider this and other such acts a gross abuse of the Constitution. AFSPA has led to atrocities in the North East and Kashmir. Currently, a case concerning 1,528 deaths in alleged fake-encounters in Manipur alone is before the Supreme Court.  Over and above these, one can mention the Thangjam Manorama Devi case in Manipur in July 2004. She was arrested by the security forces and was allegedly raped and killed. Amongst other cases is the attempted molestation near Kokrajhar in Assam, on 23rd December, 2005, of some university students who entered by mistake a compartment carrying Haryana Armed Police personnel. Four students died when the police opened fire on other students who blocked the train after hearing the screams of the students. No action has been taken till today against the perpetrators of these and other crimes. Also many other cases of massacres, mass rapes and torture like the destruction of Oinam village in Manipur in 1987, the killing of some innocent persons in the Pathribal case, the Sophian sexual violence case and the discovery of mass graves in different places in Jammu and Kashmir raise similar concerns.

Many commissions and committees, such as the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee (2005), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007), the Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir (2007) headed by Shri Hamid Ansari, the Interlocutors’ Report on Jammu and Kashmir (2012) and Justice J S Verma Committee (2013) have recommended that the Act be repealed or amended. Even the Planning Commission in the 12th Five-year Plan document passed by the National Development Council has for the first time ever asked for not only a gendered review of the Act, but also of gendered violence in the ‘Disturbed Areas’, as women and children are the most vulnerable in conflict regions. These voices should be heard because AFSPA is symptomatic of a larger militarization. The negative impacts on human development such as health and education have been extensive so also the scars left by these acts and the negative effects on the psyche of people who live in a situation of low intensity warfare and are treated as unequal citizens

At the international level, India has been repeatedly flagged on the issue of AFSPA in the Human Rights bodies of the UN, including the Universal Periodic Review of the Council, in almost all the major human rights treaty bodies and Special Procedures. It is clear that the Act has not served its purpose. But the Government of India has not even amended the Act for more than 50 years. A reason given by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in a speech in New Delhi on February 6, 2013 is that there is no consensus because both the retired and present army generals oppose even the idea of making it more humane.

Why does the army oppose the repeal or even amendment of this inhuman Act? Is it because they want to protect their personnel who abuse power? Surely, as the Verma Committee (2013) has remarked, the armed forces cannot expect impunity for actions such as rape, which are not in the line of duty. Can a democratic country tolerate such an anti-democratic Act? The situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East is complex and can be resolved only through a political process and dialogue. Those decisions cannot be taken by the army. The elected representatives have to take decisions that should include Confidence Building Measures (CBM). That is impossible when such abuses under a draconian Act continue. The rights of the people must be protected by judicial and official / administrative processes such as grievance cells that protect the right to information of relatives of detainees.

The security situation in most areas where the Act is in place has improved enormously in the last decade because of ongoing peace processes and civil society initiatives. So the stated purpose of the Act no longer exists. The security forces cannot presume that they have an unfettered right to continue using the Act in perpetuity. There has to be sunset date in these legislative measures. Continuing such Acts indefinitely would be undemocratic and violative of human rights. As a result of such violations a trust deficit has developed between the people of the North East and Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and the rest of India on the other.

In addition, major state legislative measures exist in Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Security Act and the Nagaland Security Regulations Act which are no less arbitrary. They provide the police with impunity. Such laws no longer have a place in our democratic polity, especially after the extensive peace processes in these states. We, therefore, call on States like Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland that have been demanding the repeal of AFSPA to take a lead in changing the undemocratic tenor of the legal regime. We call upon all political parties and political candidates, including the major regional parties, to take a position on the repeal of AFSPA in the run-up to the general elections.

It is critical that a civil society alliance takes up a robust programme of advocacy and dissemination especially through the media. As a step towards it, we the 90 participants of the Seminar on AFSPA held at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi on 6th April 2013, and sponsored by ICSSR (NCR) and 160 persons present of the seminar held at Indian Social Institute, Bangalore on 13th April, 2013 demand the immediate repeal of AFSPA. We also demand that, that the armed forces be brought under the purview of the civilian government with no impunity.

Dr Joseph Xavier                                                                       Dr George Mutholil

Executive Director                                                                    Director

Indian Social Institute, New Delhi                                           Indian Social Institute, Bangalore

With Partner organisations and individuals

Human Rights Alert, Imphal, Centre for Policy Analysis, New Delhi, North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, Altternative Law Forum, Bangalore, Mithra Foundation, Bangalore, NAPM, PUCL Karnataka, National Council of Churches in India, Nagpur, SCM, Bangalore, St Joseph’s College, Bangalore, Openspace, Bangalore, Vistaar, Bangalore, The Other Media, New Delhi, NAPM-Karnataka, Women’s Department, UTC, Bangalore.

Individuals

Ms Patricia Mukhim, Shillong, Mr Bashir Manzar, Srinagar, Ms Nandita Haksar, Goa, Mr Sanjoy Hazarika, New Delhi, Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, New Delhi, Prof. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai.

 

The Struggle For Justice In Manipur #AFSPA


 

By Graham Peebles

03 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

The primary colours of any civil democracy are we would agree, social justice, freedom of expression, freedom to protest and participation. India, with a population of 1.3 billion people is regularly hailed as the largest democracy in the world. At first glance the governments pretentions to democracy would appear to be justified, after all there is, on paper at least, an independent judiciary, a free press – freely owned from top to toe by corporations – a thriving civil society and, of course, the cornerstone of any democratic state: the haloed parliamentary elections, totally funded and (therefore) fully owned, top to toe, by the same corporations that count the national and regional newspapers, radio and television networks as their own, as well as growing portfolios of natural assets; rivers, forests, water supplies, mountains (full of bauxite), and other mineral resources.

Where elements of democratic necessity are lacking, democracy is absent, and if there is a single tenet upon which the democratic dream is built, it must surely be justice: legal justice, together with social justice, both of which are essential. With cries of inequality ringing out across the world, social justice – solidly founded upon principles of fairness, is universally missing.

In large parts of India not only is there little or no social justice, but the observation of judicial law is also lacking as government agencies and security forces trample on federal law, the Indian constitution, and a range of Internationally binding agreements. State violence, injustice and corruption, under the comforting cloak of impunity have long taken root in vast tracts of the country, most notably the Northeastern and Central States, where local people, herded together under the terrorist tainted banner of ‘Maoists’, or ‘rebels’ are waging a tribal uprising against government military and paramilitary forces.

State Criminality and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Manipur, like its neighbouring States in the Northeast is awash with government paramilitary, for over five decades it’s people have been petitioning and fighting for self-determination. They bear witness to the plague of state criminality, violent injustice and corruption surging through the country. Widespread rape, torture, false imprisonment and extra judicial killings, are all in use as methods of government oppression and control that are poisoning life in the region.

In March 2012i the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heynes, spoke of the “excessive use of force by police including fake encounters, custodial deaths and traditional practices affecting women such as honour killings, and dowry deaths”, he called for justice for victims and for the government to set up a “credible Commission of Inquiry” into extrajudicial killings. The panel should investigate “past violations, propose relevant measures to deal with these, and work out a plan of action to eradicate practices of extrajudicial executions.”

Justice is a jewel that unsurprisingly, eludes the disadvantaged and vulnerable throughout India; most at risk of abuse Heynes tells us, are “women and minorities — religious minorities, as well as Dalits [so called untouchables from the lowest caste]…. Adivasis [and] human rights defenders, including Right to Information activists…. and their protection deserves special measures.” Alas the only ‘special measures’ these marginalised people and advocates of justice are receiving in corporate India are to be found in the draconian articles of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958. A law that is anathema to the democratic principles India proclaims to cherish. It grants immunity to security personnel committing wide-ranging offenses to innocent civilians. Human Rights Watch (HRW) 19/10/2011ii, state, that the law “grants the armed forces the power to shoot to kill in law enforcement situations, to arrest without warrant, and to detain people without time limits.” Soldiers acting with impunity are, HRW relay, “routinely engaging in torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation”.

Introduced in 1958 in Nagaland, the AFSPA descended onto the ‘disturbed’ districts of Manipur in 1980, creeping then into Jammu and Kashmir, until it permeated much of the Northeast of the country. The ‘emergency’ law, which Parliament and the people were promised was to be in operation for only six months, has lived on for 52 years and hundreds of deaths, rapes and false imprisonments later, is still being used to shield security personnel committing criminal acts. The AFSPA, as all unjust actions – far from easing tension has exacerbated the situation and fed insurgent groups, The Hindu 7/02/2013iii record, “In 1958 there was one “terrorist” group in the North East. Manipur had two groups when the State was brought under the Act. Today, Manipur has more than twenty such groups, Assam has not less than fifteen, Meghalaya has five of them and other States have more groups.“

Working for justice

The Government, perhaps keen to conceal the conflict taking place in Manipur, refused the UN Special Rapporteur permission to visit the State in 2012. Through the committed work of human rights groups and political activists in the region, the struggle for justice and the outrage against widespread human rights abuses, are kept persistently present. The figurehead is the heroic Irom Sharmilla Chanu. An “icon of public resistance”, the New York Times 8/02/2011iv called her, she bravely represents the people of Manipur, particularly the women of the state in their struggle for justice against the hated AFSPA, the excessive military presence and the violent abusive methods of security personnel.

The right to protest is another pre-requisite of democracy alongside justice. Peaceful or otherwise, protest is strongly discouraged in India, by a government eager to suppress dissent and present a sparkling-clean market-friendly image to the world. Within three days of Sharmilla’s peaceful protest, she was arrested, charged with attempted suicide – illegal in India, and imprisoned, without trial, for one year – the maximum sentence. This bizarre process has been repeated ever since, resulting in her being held in judicial custody for the last twelve years. She was last released on 12th March only to be re-arrested two days later.

Imprisoned, The Independent 4/03/2013v report, in “the secure wing of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in the city of Imphal” she is force-fed by the police using nasogastric intubation – a tube inserted into her nostril. She pleads ‘not guilty’ to the charge of attempted suicide, and rightly calls for all criminal charges to be dropped. Amnesty International (AI) 20/03/2013vi demanding her immediate release from police custody, report her saying “I love life…. I do not want to commit suicide. Mine is only a non-violent protest. It is my demand to live as a human being.” A hunger strike the British Medical Association makes clear, “is not equivalent to suicide. Individuals who embark on hunger strikes aim to achieve goals important to them but generally hope and intend to survive.” (Ibid)

Her well-documented political protest against abuse and injustice in Manipur, and specifically against the internationally condemned AFSPA, was fuelled by the shooting of 10 civilians in the village of Malon, near Manipur’s capital, by the Assam Rifles. They are one of a number of Government forces present within the State that have been implicated in a barrage of cases (yet to be investigated) of murder, rape and torture, most notoriously perhaps, the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in July 2004. Human Rights Watchvii report Manorama’s “bullet-ridden body was found at around 5:30 a.m. on July 11, 2004 by villagers near Ngariyan Maring, about four kilometers from her house.” she had been arrested at home, beaten and HRW report, “tortured” by members of the Assam Rifles, who were responsible for her murder. The incident so outraged the community that a group of elderly women staged a naked demonstration in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters, while carrying a banner that read: “Indian Army, Rape Us.”viii

Sharmilla’s peaceful action is the loudest cry in an army of voices calling for the repeal of the AFSPA. The Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)ix state that the AFSPA, “continues to increase militarisation in the North East, augment impunity and facilitate human rights abuses including rape and other forms of torture, forced disappearances, and killings of civilians.” There is broad recognition in India, HRW 19/10/2011x report, “that the AFSPA should be repealed because it has led to so many abuses. Prime Minister Singh should overrule the army and keep his promise [made in 2004] to abolish this abusive law”. Various Indian bodies have recommended repealing the law, including amongst others, the Jeevan Reddy Commission (back in 2005), which described the situation in Manipur as “grave” and the Prime-Ministers Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures. In January this year The Justice Verma Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law found “that the AFSPA legitimised impunity for sexual violence, and recommended an urgent review of the law”.

An unjust law worth fighting

Reviews, recommendations, proposed amendments all miss the unjust violent point, and fail to demand that the law, which is an abhorrence to any society, democratic or not, be scrapped totally, and thorough investigations of past state criminality initiated. This commonsense view, is one that not only the conscience of the UN holds but the Supreme Court of India, which acknowledges that the conflict in Manipur is a fight for “self-determination”, also shares. It is, it seems, the army generals who are devoutly attached to the AFSPA. The Hindu reports Mr P. Chidambaram, the former Union Home Minister and now Finance Minister saying the “Army Chiefs have taken a strong position that the Act should not [even] be amended”, but retained in “disturbed” areas – ignoring the fact that the army is causing the disturbance. Government subservience to the men with guns has caused The Hindu to asks “Who is it that rules India”? The rupee-rich multi-national corporations, albeit via ‘democratically’ elected representatives, is the majority response.

Christof Heynes during his visit in March, made an unequivocal demand for the law to be scrapped, saying “the repeal of this law will not only bring domestic law more in line with international standards, but also send out a powerful message that instead of a military approach the government is committed to respect for the right to life of all people of the country.” The application of the law denies “the right to life” he said. His statement emphasises a chorus of comments made by the UN since 1997. In 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Government to repeal the Act, and in March 2009, Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights herself demanded it be repealed. Such common-sense calls, as so many issuing forth from the table of the UN, have been resolutely ignored. The inviolable sanctity of the ‘nation state’, together with the unrepresentative out-dated Security Council, is constraining the UN and overriding the human rights of the people, which the Assembly of Nations was founded to establish and safeguard.

In Manipur, the most basic of the 30 rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (UDHR) – the right to life, liberty and security – also the right, “to be protected from arbitrary arrest, and to be free from torture and other ill-treatment”, are being trampled on by government security forces with, thanks to the AFSPA, impunity.

These unconditional rights are to be found not only in the pages of the UDHR, but within the hearts of just men and women throughout the world. They are everyone’s birth-right, beyond caste, class, income or position, and must be rightly observed.

Graham Peebles is Director of The Create Trust, www.thecreatetrust.org A UK registered charity (1115157). Running education and social development programmes, supporting fundamental Social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need. Contact , E:graham@thecreatetrust.org

 

Don’t You Have A Sharmila Within You?


writetoirom

 

By Ravi Nitesh

03 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

When you talk about her, you automatically relate yourself with her, with her pain and struggle, with all the sufferings of her and this association happens without force, it is because somewhere your soul is same as her or as any other human being. This association with someone’s pain and sufferings is based on the very nature of humanity because humanity is a virtue of being human and regardless of specific identity.

The continuous demand of Irom Sharmila through a non violent protest under which she adopted path of hunger protest and observing it since last 12 years, is itself a struggle that needs lot of power and self belief and self motivation. It is all towards your fight as an individual for the objective of welfare of a large group who are associated with you with the relation of humanity. When you write about her, when you hear about her and when you talk about her, its all about your contribution also in a larger struggle for the sake of justice. We all know about the cause for which she is on hunger protest. It is for the better administration, a rule of justice, a peaceful environment. The rule against which she is on protest is a draconian law in real terms. There were hundreds of examples where it can be proved that this rule named ‘armed forces special powers act’ violated the rights and attacked on humanity. She through her protest dedicated herself towards sacrifice as a protest. Her sacrifice is actually not about suicide (as claimed by rule of law of India), instead it is towards enriching the life of self and others with building a safe environment of living , of living with dignity as in true sense life without dignity and humanity is actually no life. We all must have to live our life for such causes in our own areas.

If you will see closely, you will understand that you too have same spirit the Sharmila has. When you will think, you will find that there is an automatic respect in your soul for her. You must had experience of your own struggle that you ever fought for a right cause at your home, school or work place and this fight of your life , though , you might suffered during your fight but it is sure that you had realized the need for this fight and the satisfaction after following your inner voice. If you would left the option to fight then you might feel guilty of not doing anything. It happens with everyone, our hearts sometime tell us to help someone, to fight something, to shout on , to raise our voice, to make our people and government more effective, and on the next instant, we again back to our life. Sharmila had the same feelings and emotions that you have, she is as like you as you are for yourself, she is a sister, daughter and fellow citizen. The only difference between you and Sharmila is that she fought and struggled for the cause for a long time and she did not come back to normal life. She became so motivated that she decided to live with dignity. Her soul became so pure for a specific purpose that she get diverted from all worldly affairs. It is the time for all of us, to identify a Sharmila within us and to think and to associate with the great cause of her. It is a fight that she is not fighting for herself instead for all of us who believe in justice.

It is a time to identifying our potential in our hearts and souls that make ourselves a follower of truth. It is a time to think about future generations and to contribute in building an atmosphere of fearless minds. Its not only fight of Manipur or other NE states or J&K, its not only fight of those who lost their persons in resulted this rule, instead it is a demand by the persons who believe in humanity and rights and justice for all. We all are living Sharmila in our heart because we are determined to support the Repeal AFSPA cause and moreover to the all and any cause that can enrich humanity and that can remove ill effects of present rules imposed by society or government at any place.

Ravi Nitesh is a Petroleum Engineer, Founder- Mission Bhartiyam, Core Member- Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign follow on twitter:www.twitter.com/ravinitesh Blog: www.ravinitesh.blogspot.com

 

UNHCR rapporteur calls for repeal of AFSPA in India


The much-criticized Armed Forces Special Powers Act known as the A-F-S-P-A used by India in Kashmir and troubled northeastern states has once again come under fire — this time by the UN.

The body has asked for an immediate repeal of the controversial law throughout the troubled zones.

Rashida Manjoo, the Special UN Rapporteur says the act, which has been blamed for arbitrary executions in Kashmir and seven northeastern Indian states, gives sweeping powers to troops to arrest, search and even shoot people with impunity from local laws. She believes the act violates international laws.

India introduced AFSPA in 1958 to put down separatist movements in the country’s northeast which extended to most parts of Indian-administered Kashmir soon after the outbreak of armed insurgency against New Delhi’s rule in 1989.

Hafiza is one of the many thousands of victims hit hard by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Her 15-year-old son was taken away by government forces in Kashmir and his whereabouts remain unknown to date.

Manjoo was in India to assess the situation of violence against women. The UN expert’s visit to India comes at a time when violence against women has increased exponentially in India’s capital as well as other cities.

According to the national crime records in India, rape cases more than doubled between 1990 and 2008. Statistics show 228,650 of the 256,329 victims of violent crimes recorded in the country last year were women. The conviction rate for rape cases in India is 26%. Investigations also reveal every 20 minutes one rape happens in the country. Despite the increase in sexual violence, the number of convictions is falling.

Human rights defenders have repeatedly requested the Indian government to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. But the administration still seems least interested in responding to the calls and this has created an atmosphere of impunity and lack of accountability for the crimes security forces have perpetrated… Shahana Butt, Press TV, New Delhi, India

 

RashiDa Manjoo, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Vaw visits Manipur, weeps #AFSPA


IMPHAL, April 29, 2013

Iboyaima Laithangbam, The Hindu

 Rashida Manjoo, U.N. Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, broke down and wept for a few minutes uncontrollably on Sunday during a consultative meeting here. It was attended by about 200 human rights defenders, families of victims and civil society organisations. The frail mother of Manorama Thangjam, who was arrested, raped and shot dead allegedly by some personnel of 17 Assam Rifles on July 11, 2004, was telling Ms. Manjoo about the tragic death of the girl. She fervently appealed to her for justice.

Ms. Manjoo arrived in Imphal on Saturday. During the consultative meeting on Sunday, 40 separate depositions were made. Speaking about her mandate and the purpose of her current visit to India, Ms. Manjoo said, “The death of a woman is not a new act but the ultimate act in the continuation of violence in the life of the woman.” In her closing remarks, she said that it was not her mandate to comment on the depositions made before her and that her report would be based on facts. She also said that her opinions and conclusions as an independent expert were hers alone and that these would not be changed or shaped by any influence whether from the government or any other organisation.

Irom Sharmila, the woman who has been on more than 12 years of fast unto death demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, also sent a hand-written terse letter to Ms. Manjoo. The letter thanked her for visiting the conflict area. A “justice lover like [her] from a remote hilly state” expected a positive outcome. “Like a viewer of fish in an aquarium, by now you must know the cause and effect of the utter lawlessness in Manipur.” She also wrote that Ms. Manjoo could not change the mindset of the people here.

She says that the government has been spending lakhs of the tax payers’ money in nasal feeding her all these years. She wonders why the people are not saying anything about the misuse of the public money in this manner. The government is doing these things to “suppress my voice of truth forcibly.”

 

Indian Army –Magic Formula to have beautiful and successful daughters ? #WTFad #AFSPA #Kashmir #Manipur


Dear Indians

Do you want a daughter ? No of course not, why will you want a girl child , she is such a burden and a son will only carry on the family name etc etc… blah blah.

Oh No  !  you dont want to have a  girl child !!!

Well  in shillong specifically and allover india generally, the  Indian army  is giving the incentive, to have a girl child. Wow, this advertisement will go a long way in balancing child sex ratio ?  and it might also give impetus to the ‘ Laadli Campaign, which is in deep shit for now, 42% girls dropped from Laadli scheme over 2 years

army

So above in the advertisement you see—  PRIYANKA  Chopra, Gul Panag, Preity zinta,  Anushka  Sharma , Celina Jaitley , Simmi Garewal,  Amrita singh, Chitrangadha , Sakshi Tanwar, and it says -‘If you want to have beautiful and successful daughters  join INDIAN ARMY”,.

Now , Indians this  is your  chance dont let ti go away.. RUSSSSHHH TO INDIAN ARMY,  if you want to have BEAUTIFUL daughters who will become a hit  Bollywood  or television actresses, and will make you PROUD and will  add to the great  HONOR  of your family, ie   if they save themselves from honor killing.!

Also all women in the ad are BEAUTIFUL as per what is  ingrained in our brains. The super-skinny, super-tall, and amazingly gorgueous figure; The Super-Models and Actresses.The  certain typecast images fed on physical appearances and . If you don’t fit into those notions, you feel terrible – that’s why people are unhappy about their bodies. This advertisement further promotes, the fact  that to succeeed you need to have a hour glass figure ?. How do you define beauty ? Who said “big” isn’t beautiful? Who said curves aren’t sexy?
Who told you to change who you are, loosing the weight that you’ve gained so far. For me Tuntun, Manorama  all were beautiful also. beauty has nothing to do with your body but your innerself , your personality as a whole. For me Sheetal Sathe, Soni Sori, Aparna Marandi, Irom Sharmila are all BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, and SUCCESSFUL as well.

 The Fact that  whether you will  have a daughter or son THE MANS SPERM WILL DECIDE, if  you have a daughter, she has to decide her life and what’s success for her ?

This  sexist  advertisement further strengthens  the stereotypes feminist have been fighting.  Women are human being and not relationships , think about them outisde their roles as  daughters mothers and sisters. Valourising women as  daughters, sisters, , mothers, bhabhi, dadi and Nani.  Today women are screaming at top of their voice-- ” I am not your  Mother, Wife, Sister or daughter . I am a PERSON.  So this ad, adds to all the sexists ads which are defining every woman by her relationship to another person rather than as a person in her own right; and that relationship (by implication if not stated overtly) is usually with a man. The self-sacrificing mother who bravely sends her son to war; the devoted sister who pampers her brother, the obedient daughter who makes her  PARENTS  proud, as stated in the ad . Women are  fed up being boxed into traditional roles. They are angry at being told what to wear, how to behave and lead their lives.  Respect women”, we tell our sons, “for they are all someone’s mother, sister or daughter.” Aha,,,,, yes…..  But the childless woman;  and a  woman whose husband is no more or whose  father has died and has no brother to ‘protect her honour’ — well, she’s fair game, isn’t she?  This is the kind of logic we perpetuate when we glorify a woman by her relationship rather than as a person.

I wonder if all these ‘ SUCCESSFUL DAUGHTERS’  have given their permission to be on the Advertisement and if they agree

and gulpanag tweets says so,

About the join army ‘ad’.Whether in jest or not,I have no problem with it.I owe 100% of what I am to my AF upbringing. Proud of it. @rwac48

— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) April 14, 2013

I wonder,   if all of them are  proud of  The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act . which is to-date the single most direct instrument violating the democratic rights of the people of the North East and of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is implemented when an area is declared ‘disturbed’ by either the central or the state government. Since 2 November 2000, she has been on hunger strike to demand that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of northeast India. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker”.

What is  rationale for  keeping AFSPA ,  thinking that security persons who rape innocent women should enjoy impunity in the name of national security? For whose security was the law enacted, for that of the country or of the criminals in uniform? Whenever some change is suggested in the Act the army seems to oppose it and the civilian government buckles under its pressure. For Eg , when the Jeevan Commission appointed to inquire into the alleged rape and murder of 30-year old Manorama Devi of Imphal in Manipur arrested by the Assam Rifles suggested  AFSPA should be repealed ,the  Government did not even publish the report.

Do you all know of woman called Manorma ?  In 2004, the women of Manipur held a protest after the brutal murder of Thangjam Manorama who was taken into custody from her home by the Assam Rifles under suspicion of having links with rebels. Her bullet ridden body was found a few kilometres away from her home, bearing signs of torture. Twelve Manipuri women came out naked, holding a banner saying ‘Indian Army Rape Us’ to protest against the paramilitary forces of the Assam Rifles demanding justice and taking a stand against the many rapes of other girls. Despite the curfew imposed, the protests by the women continued as they wanted the men responsible to be punished

One of the major rape cases in the history of Kashmir and indeed whole of India is the Kunan Poshpora mass rape incident. A village in northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Kunan Poshpora, on February 23, 1991 witnessed incidents of alleged mass rape of 20 women by the Army troops in one night. The incident drew the attention of national and international media. However this was soon forgotten and the womenfolk of the village landed in unending troubles. Women who deserved the respect and honor of the society, were not secure anymore form the cruel face of the armed forces and since that incident, numerous other cases of rape and enforced disappearances have come to fore in the last three decades. Another case which shook the region was the 2009 Shopian rape and murder case which resulted in protests rocking the whole Valley and several families lost their loved ones in the agitation.

Some  more cases of rape and sexual assault against personnel of the Army and central forces in Kashmir:

Case against Harbhajan Singh and Gurtej Singh

May 15, 1994: Rashtriya Rifles men entered the house of a couple and took the husband to Qazigund Hospital. When he returned the next morning, his wife told him she had been gangraped. A case of rape an other charges was filed at Qazigund police station. Responding to an RTI application, the home department said it sought sanction on January 23, 2006, to prosecute the Army men and have not yet got it. In a 2009 affidavit in the high court, the defence ministry said the state was informed that both accused, Nk Harbajan Singh and Rfn Gurtej Singh, had been tried by a summary general court-martial for rape, sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and dismissed from service. “A retrial for the same offence will be in contravention to Article 20 (2) of the Constitution,” it argued.

Case Against Major Arora

January 3, 1997: A family comprising a 60-year-old, his two daughters and a grandson were preparing to go to bed at Manzgam, Kokernag, when some soldiers allegedly broke in. They were allegedly led by Major Arora of 5 Rashtriya Rifles. “He slapped me and dragged my younger sister (then 16) into a room and raped her,” the elder daughter told The Indian Express recently. The elder daughter’s husband had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and the local army unit would often raid her father’s house. The day of the alleged rape, the Army allegedly picked up the father, who remains untraced 15 years on. The younger sister is now married with children, the elder one said, while her own husband surrendered  to the army, divorced her and remarried.

The police registered a case of rape at Anantnag and the government sought the defence ministry’s sanction to prosecute the officer. In an affidavit in the J&K High Court on June 5, 2009, then defence secretary Ajay Tirkey said the ministry received the request in December 2006 and it is “under consideration in army headquarters/Ministry of Defence”. On January 10, 2012, the ministry, responding to an RTI query, said permission was denied on April 21, 2007. “There were a number of inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses… The lady was forced to lodge a false allegation by anti-national elements,” the MoD said.

Case against Major Aman Yadav

December 5, 1999: Army men led by Major Aman Yadav of 28 Rashtriya Rifles, along with a few counter-insurgents, raided a house at Norpora, Kitter Dhaji, in Rafiabad. The officer allegedly raped a housewife, whose husband wasn’t home, while his men allegedly robbed the house. The family later left the village.

On January 4, 2000, based on a complaint by the victim’s husband, Panzala police lodged an FIR, one of the charges being rape. In an affidavit to the high court on June 5, 2009, then defence secretary Tirkey said the ministry received the request for sanction in January 2009 and “the case is under consideration in Army headquarters/Ministry of Defence”. In response to a separate RTI query, the MoD said sanction was denied on September 23, 2010. It has argued the allegations are “baseless and framed with mala fide intentions to put army on the defensive” Intriguingly, the ministry has cited it as a case of torture leading to death. Calling the allegations “mala fide” was effectively an indictment of J&K police, for it was on the basis of the police probe’s outcome that sanction was denied. There was, however, no follow-up government action. In response to an RTI application, police said they closed the case on August 19, 2011, having declared the accused “untraced”.

Case against Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia

February 14, 2000: Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia and three special police officials allegedly entered a house at night in Nowgam, Banihal. Captain Tewatia and one of the SPOs allegedly raped a mother and her daughter in separate rooms. A case of rape was filed in the Banihal police station. Two chargesheets were prepared for house trespass, assault, wrongful restraint and rape, and submitted to the Banihal chief judicial magistrate’s court on April 1, 2000.According to information gathered by rights group International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice through RTI applications, the case was split between a court-martial and criminal courts (in Banihal, Ramban and Jammu). The court-martial found Tewatia guilty of rape, sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment and dismissed him from service. He challenged the findings on October 1, 2000. On December, 31, 2002, the high court set aside the court-martial’s ruling. In 2003, the defence ministry filed a letter patent appeal in the high court, where it is pending. The state government didn’t challenge the high court order.

Rape case against  BSF Personnel

April 18, 2002: Personnel of the BSF’s 58 Battalion allegedly gangraped a 17-year-old in front of her mother, relatives and neighbours, all held hostage at gunpoint in Kullar, Pahalgam. Some 15 or 16 men in a BSF patrol party, passing through their village, had been beating up the girl’s uncle and she had tried to rescue him. A medical examination confirmed rape, while then BSF inspector general (Kashmir Frontiers) G S Gill, too, conceded that BSF personnel had committed rape. The girl identified three men at a parade. The same day, a case of rape was registered at Pahalgam police station. The police say that they submitted a chargesheet before the chief judicial magistrate in Anantnag. There hasn’t been any progress since.

Case against Major Rehman Hussain

November 6, 2004: Troops of 30 RR raided the home of a horsecart driver at Badhra Payeen village in Handwara at night. The man’s younger brother said, “The officer went into my brother’s room and pushed him out.” “He dragged my daughter (then 10) into the kitchen,” the wife of the targeted man this correspondent, adding the officer left and returned after an hour. This time, the woman alleged, she was raped in the kitchen.

The police registered a rape case and the district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry. The Army invoked the AFSPA . The accused officer, Major Rehman Hussain, was tried by a general court martial, which absolved him of rape. He was, however, found “guilty of using criminal force with the intent of outraging the modesty” of the 10-year-old girl and dismissed from service. But he challenged the decision in court and returned to service.

Even the  comments by apex court few days back while hearing PILs filed by families of victims of alleged fake encounters in Manipur, are a stinging rebuke of the lack of political will on revoking laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In this instance, the government’s response to the damning report of the SC-appointed committee set up to probe six such cases in Manipur was that it agreed that such fake encounters should not take place. But mere “taking note” will not do any more. The government must speedily act to revoke this black law from wherever it is in effect, be it the north-east or Jammu and Kashmir. Blanket immunity for security forces has led to murder, rape and other crimes. And when the legal framework vests such crimes with impunity, it vitiates the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law that are necessary for the citizens of these areas to feel part of the national mainstream.

The  Court  also sharply brought attention to another vital fact: keeping these laws, and thereby maintaining an unnatural state where the armed forces are seen as the primary representatives of government, mutates the whole political, democratic system itself.

Now after  getting a glimpse of AFSPA, what the supreme court of india says of Indian army ?

I wonder  if you  all are still proud of Indian Army

This sexist  advertisement should be immediately removed,

It will be great if  women part of the advertisement ask to do so.

best

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Not proud of Indian Army

Not a Proud Indian

A Person  , A  Feminist and a  Human Rights Activist

April 15th, 2013

 

#Manipur- Upholding the right to life #AFSPA


April 11, 2013, The Hindu

MANIPUR

In northeastern India, Manipur remains the State worst affected by insurgency. The Assam Rifles, the Army and other security forces have a tough job on their hands. But admittedly, nothing can justify the scale and extent of the fallout of that fight — what the Supreme Court has described, possibly in an understatement imbued with a touch of irony, as “a pattern of carelessness.” It was referring to the findings of the Santosh Hegde Committee appointed by the court, on a public interest petition that sought to highlight mass killings in the State over the last decade. The committee found that seven killings in six instances were the consequence of fake encounters. The petitioners had claimed over 1,500 such deaths. The findings now add force to widespread complaints of human rights violations, reinforced over time by some striking incidents including the assault and killing of Manorama Devi in 2004. The Central government has told the court the Hegde report would be considered at the highest level. But given past experience, it is unlikely that the Centre would act on its own to make a meaningful difference on the ground. The court, which expressed a sense of sorrow and helplessness, must ensure the most precious of all rights — the right to life. The committee having recommended the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act with respect to Manipur, the court may need to take a call on that contentious question as well — including, crucially, whether the Act is meant to aid civil powers or substitute for them.

The National Human Rights Commission’s plea, in response to the report, to ensure that all encounter incidents be thoroughly investigated under the terms of its guidelines, is a sensible one. That will involve reporting incidents promptly to the NHRC and holding detailed and systematic magisterial inquiries within three months. But all this will add up to nothing if the Centre is unwilling to ensure that security personnel, be they from the Army or the paramiltaries, are held to account for any illegal use of force on their part. Soon after Manorama’s killing at the hands of the Assam Rifles in 2004, the Justice Upendra Commission was set up to probe the incident. Nearly nine years later, its report has yet to see the light of day, let alone be acted upon. It is this culture of pervasive impunity that allows innocent persons to be killed in staged encounters. Coming out with a list of “dos and don’ts for the security forces,” as the government has promised it would do, will hardly suffice. A similar list ensued the last time the apex court heard a major case on the role of the armed forces in the northeast. That was in 1997. This time, it must do more.