#India- Open letter to all MPs from North East India #Vaw #Womenrights


OPEN LETTER TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FROM NORTHEAST INDIAN STATES TO BRING IMMEDIATE JUSTICE FOR REIGPHAMY AWUNSHI & OTHER VICTIMS FROM THE NORTHEAST INDIA…

To: Inner and Outer constituency MP of Manipur.
CC: Home Minister; MPs of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

Subject: Bring immediate justice to Reigphamy Awunshi and other victims from the NorthEast India.

Respected Sir/ Madam,

We the undersigned would like to bring to your attention some very serious concerns relating to recent tragic death of Reigphamy Awunshi.

We strongly believe that the circumstances that lead to the death of the beautiful daughter of Ukhrul and many insensitive and humiliating incidences following the death are a result of many attitudes and attributes that has been formed through the years.

Sir/ Madam, it is great pain to that many of her loving friends and well wishers have to fight to even register a FIR. Worse is the investigating police officer had total disregard and disrespect even for the death that we were told that we are spa working people and it was reason for such incidences of ‘death’ happens.

We wonder how in the face of such attitude which has strong humiliating and degrading attitude towards the people of NorthEast India, Reignphamy Awungshi can even have a unbiased investigation leave alone justice.

Many of us believe there are very strong evidences of homicidal signs and even possibility of sexual assault leading to the death.

Sir/ Madam, we believe one of most important factor that have lead to these ever increasing of negative attitude towards us, that even disrespect us in death is the absence of voices and solidarity of our own people.

We are deeply hurt and angry that our leaders seem to have left us and ignored us during such challenging and tragic times especially aggravated by a biased investigation and non-coverage by the many institution because of our racial origin.

We wish to request you to please exercise your full responsibility and power bestowed by the people who have elected yourself as leaders and make strong initiatives and actions to bring about justice to Reigamphy Awangshi and take punitive actions against those officials and professionals who have made skewed opinions and decision heavily affected by our racial origin.

We would like you to please take notice of the continuing coverage or wilfully undercoveraged in the national media of many such tragic incidences involving people from our north eastern region, which we believe is because of racial prejudice.

We would like to summarise to please share your words of condolences and help Awungshi and help prevent the fate that poor Awungshi have to experience even in death.

We urge to acknowledge the presence of the dangerous racial stereotyping and prejudice that have not only dehumanise and degraded the life of many but also cause many physical and emotional trauma and even have lead to death.

We would be very grateful to you if you Sir/ Madam could exercise your responsibility and power and held those heinous people accountable and herald a new glorious moment in the history of humanity of Manipur and in NorthEast India in general.

Members of Parliament should make significant steps to bring immediate justice to many victims like Reingamphy awungshi and seriously deal with prejudice that have allowed these crimes to happened and then become a huge obstacles towards justice including even toward registering a FIR and manipulation of forensic study.

Thanking you,

A Justice4Richard Initiative

 

#RIP – Mourning Reingamphi Awungshi, 21 year old from Manipur #Rape #Vaw


JUNE 11, 2013
This is a guest post by PRATIKSHA BAXI:  Kafila.org

imagesWhen the police found Reingamphi Awungshi, a twenty-one year woman from Ukhrul district in Manipur brutalised, assaulted and dead in her rented apartment in Chirag Delhi on 29 May 2013, they did not file an FIR. Rather, the Malaviya Nagar police station, a site of anguished protests, began by designating her death as suicide, even as they waited for a post mortem report! Although the family argued that the state of her bloodied and injured body clearly indicated sexual assault and murder, the police ended up filing an FIR, after three days, as a case of abetment to suicide.

It seems very clear that the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape protests have not made a dent in practices of policing—it should not take hundreds of protestors to ensure the registration of a police complaint. Nor is it reasonable for the police without thorough investigation and competent medical examination of the body to conclude that the death was a suicide rather than murder; and that the injuries on the body, the outcome of substance abuse rather than assault. This is evidence of bias, rather than an impartial investigation.

But for protests, the case would not have been transferred to the Crime Branch, nor an FIR filed for murder.

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Image from Justice for Reingamphi Awungshi

The police’s initial stance that this was suicide illustrated bias. The dead woman’s character was maligned to generate a motive for suicide. The police claimed it was suicide since the door of her room was locked from inside, ignoring the fact that her room led to another door opening into the landlord’s house. The police concluded that she overdosed herself without forensic analysis to determine whether or not the medicines found in her room, if consumed, could have led to toxicity. The police concluded that rodents nibbled her face and other parts of the body leaving her eye and nose in a bloody mess, without waiting for forensic analysis to establish rodent bites. The police assumed that this young woman who had shopped for her next breakfast would kill herself and then rodents in a reasonably well-kept room would assault her. Thereafter, the scene of crime was not secured and it is not even clear whether forensic samples were collected from the scene of crime.

The second post mortem, while the histological reports are awaited, after five days by a three-member panel of forensic experts, concluded that opinion of death could only be offered after the analysis of the viscera by chemical analysis and histopathology report. The PM report further held that two-fingers could easily pass through the vagina, hence the dead woman was habituated to sex—making it impossible to determine whether she was raped, without other forensic tests. Yet again the Delhi protests failed to persuade doctors that while clinical findings of whether or not the vaginal passage is distensible in a dead survivor may have very limited evidentiary value, such a victim cannot be characterised as a habitué. To characterise the victim as a habituated to sex, especially when she is dead, is to assume that the vagina can be examined as if it were a record of past sexual history of consensual sex. Surely it is equally possible that the vagina is a record of past sexual history of sexual violence. To characterise the victim, as a habitué is not only unconstitutional, it prejudices investigation and the framing of charges, if any person is ultimately held responsible for sexual assault.

Surely it is reasonable for Reingamphi’s family and supporters to suspect sexual assault and murder. It is reasonable to suspect the landlords’ relative who was stalking this young woman for over a month. It is reasonable to be suspicious because the family was not informed when the landlord called the police to break into the dead woman’s room. It is reasonable since sexual assault; stalking and/or murders of women from the North East in Delhi are a statistical high.

Why is there such toleration of violence against women from the North–East in Delhi? The fact is that sexual harassment of women from the North East is both sexist and racist. It is also a social fact that women from the North East are targeted as sexual objects. They are subjected to a racist and sexist gaze, which positions them as vulnerable “outsiders”. Branded, stigmatised and caricatured, they are extremely vulnerable to violence, in particular, to sexual assault.

Such forms of targetted violence of tribal women in Delhi is sufficient to declare Delhi a scheduled area or zone of emergency on the grounds that targeted atrocities against tribal women by non­–tribal men is routine. A provision permitting such declaration is available under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 which specifies that the state government is under obligation to identify ‘the areas where the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are likely to be subjected to atrocities’ and adopt ‘measures so as to ensure safety for such members’.

However, the police almost never mobilises this law to protect Naga, Manipuri or Mizo tribal women from the discrimination they face in the city. Surely the police know that as a form of historic discrimination, such forms of violence have been classified in the law as atrocity. They should also remember that as per Section 4 of the PoA Act ‘whoever, being a public servant but not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, wilfully neglects his duties required to be performed of duties by him under this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year’. Non-registration of an FIR in sexual offences is also an offence, by virtue of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Let alone do their duty under these laws police officers routinely treat a complainant from any North–Eastern state as an exceptional and abject subject. It is as if the zone of exception—dramatized by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act—lives in the heart of our city in everyday and ordinary ways.

The impunity and immunity bestowed on men who think that a Tangkhul Naga woman’s life can be exterminated without any investigation, prosecution, or without inciting a collective demand for justice has been permitted by our legal system. Our politicians too permitted this by ignoring the powerful protests against the AFSPA—a demand to recognise citizenship and justice—instead of repressing populations and suspending constitutional law. Our city permits this by creating zones of sexual exceptionalism where some cases find horrified publicity and others do not produce similar public anguish.

Our city does not experience the same horror today, as it did months ago, at the painful and brutalised death of this young woman—perhaps the details of brutalisation are not titillating enough! Perhaps most of us do not identify with a woman whose identity seems so far removed from what we know as familiar? Perhaps it is less disturbing to believe the police version of suicide?

Yet even as we recall every painful instance of violence that was called out, in the aftermath of the December protests, we must remember than Tangkhul Naga women struggling to make the city their home also want azadi from violence. Tangkhul Naga women also protested with us to make Delhi safer.

As we mourn for Reingamphi Awungshi, we must also continue to raise our voices against violence against women, especially sexual assault. Yet, should we also now not reflect where we failed? Fact of the matter is that far from creating prevention of violence and increased safety for women, the forensic detailing of what men do to women’s or girl’s bodies in the media, even though their names were withheld, acted as public pedagogy of what men can do women. Sadly, rape cultures thrive despite the protests, and some may argue, because of the voyeuristic representations of the protests.

Alas, change is a long way away. The cry for transformation demands the sustained energy of the Delhi protesters, who should not be satisfied with increased punishment in the statutes. The aspiration for freedom demands that minimally we say to Reingamphi Awungshi, we are desperately sorry.

Pratiksha Baxi is Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University

 

 

 

Manipur – 3 commandos suspended for beating up a patient


PTI  Imphal, June 04, 2013

Three police commandos were suspended for allegedly beating up a patient and five others, who were accompanying him, on the way to a hospital in Bishenpur district of Manipur, police said on Tuesday.

The suspension order of sub-inspector Bung Singh and two constables (all commandos) was issued by the Superintendent of Police of Bishenpur district Radheshyam Singh on Monday.

Khwairakpam Paka (32), under acute pain following detection of stones in his kidney, and his five companions including a woman, were beaten up by the three policemen in an inebriated condition when Paka was being taken from his home at Thanga to a private clinic in Imphal at around 10 pm on Saturday, police said.

Different social organisations had complained to the police about the incident. Three Manipur Rifles personnel and one jawan of India Reserve Battalion were also allegedly involved in the incident.

Respective commanding officers of the Manipur Rifles personnel and IRB jawan have been informed to take action against them, the sources said

 

Delhi – 3 days and a minister’s intervention to file a FIR in North East death case #Vaw #WTFnews


Not just AFSPA, Delhi Police Adds to the Woes of the Northeast Community in the Capital

Neha Dixit, June 1, 2013

It takes over three days and a minister’s intervention to file a FIR in Reingamphi’s death case. Protests continue

Forget justice, Reingamphi’s death shows how even basic investigation proceedings are elusive in this country. Not just her family and the northeast community had to protest for three days to get a FIR registered but also the post mortem report has been brazenly botched up.

On May 29, she was found dead in her rented apartment in Chirag Delhi. She had multiple injuries; her nose was bitten off, her eyelids scratched, eyes bleeding and a big cut on her leg. There was a cell phone in her hand.

Bosco, her cousin says, “Even when the landlord knew our contact details, he did not inform us and broke open the door to her room with the help of the police. We strongly suspect tampering of evidence.” Bosco also informs that they were forced by the SHO to write down ‘death under suspicious circumstances’ instead of ‘suspected murder and sexual assault’ in their complaint to the police.

 

It’s the third day since the northeast community has been demanding the copy of a FIR outside the Malviya Nagar police station of South Delhi district.

 Binalakshmi, founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivor’s Network says, “The interim post mortem report came to us only last night. It mentions that the body had no blood stains. This is a blatant lie as evident in the pictures taken when her body was found the day before.”

The police, after a lot of protest, agreed to provide the FIR number to the family last night at 8 o’clock. After a lot of insistence they were finally handed over the FIR copy. The case was registered under section 306, which denotes ‘abetment to suicide’. It is also important to note that the reason on death in the interim post mortem report is mentioned as ‘pending’ and in spite of that the case has been registered under section 306.

Moreover, the family members informed the SHO Vijay Pal on several occasions that Reingamphi was continuously stalked by her landlord’s brother-in-law. She had even complained to her landlord on several occasions about the sexual innuendos in his brother in law’s conversations with her. He has not yet been taken into custody for interrogation.

Kiran Walia, MLA of Malviya Nagar and also the Minister of Health, Women and Child Welfare, Delhi met the protestors today outside the Malviya Nagar police station. “How can assault be ruled out in the investigation?” she said. She informed the crowd that the demand to transfer the case from the Malviya Nagar police station to the Special Crime branch has been conveyed to Delhi police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar and he has replied in the affirmative.

 

The travesty of justice is evident in the fact that only after a minister’s intervention, the local police filed a basic FIR. The family is now demanding a fresh post mortem, all police proceedings in writing and an investigation under charges of murder and sexual assault.

Related Article

#India – Tracing the ban on skirt and its length #Vaw #moralpolicing


TNN May 25, 2013,
(Tracing the ban on skirt…)

The skirt and its length has been an issue more often than not in our country. From celebs likeSania Mirza and Katrina Kaif to schoolgirls across states, many have gotten into trouble over this piece of clothing. And it isn’t only the desi moral police tying itself up in knots over the issue – it seems to unite people across countries.

Bans in schools across India

Haryana
In Rohtak in March, a right wing educational institution’s management prohibited girls from Classes VIII to XII from wearing skirts, citing “security reasons.” At least five Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools, run by the Kurukshetra-based Hindu Shiksha Samiti (HSS), would implement the dress code from the current academic session, they said. One of the schools’ principals said that the decision had been taken in consultation with parents who endorsed those reasons, and that they’d received complaints about some girls wearing short skirts.

Jharkhand
The DAV group of schools called for a ban on skirts this year as part of the uniform, as they think tunics or short skirts ‘invite unwanted attention’. The director of the DAV group has said that they have taken the step to make children aware of our culture and tradition. Female students from Class VIII onwards would be required to wear only salwar-kameez with a bandi (jacket). “We’ve done this to ensure girls dress decently to school and follow a discipline,” said LR Saini, director of the DAV group.

Rajasthan
In December 2012, BJP legislator Banwari Lal Singhal suggested a ban on skirts as the school uniform for girls. Singhal wrote a letter to Rajasthan chief secretary CK Mathew, demanding that skirts be replaced by trousers to keep female students away from “men’s lustful gazes.”

Manipur
In Manipur last year, six student bodies, which included the All Manipur Students Union, Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur and Manipur Students Federation, issued a diktat to prohibit school and college students from wearing clothes above the knee. In 2007, the outlawed People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), an Islamic outfit active in the state, banned Muslim schoolgirls and college students from wearing frocks and skirts. The Manipuri rebel group Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup, (KYKL), in 2001, asked girls to wear the ankle-length traditional phaneks instead of western wear. The reason for enforcing the wearing of the phanek was to ban “indecent dresses” and also for moral and traditional reasons. KYKL even warned that women of the state who do not wear the traditional phaneks could even ‘face death penalty’!

Mizoram
After being pressurised by a student body in the state, all schools banned short skirts and tight pants in 2011. The ban was imposed to ‘promote decency and discipline’ among the students. If caught violating the ban for the first time, a fine of `300 was to be charged. If the rule was violated again, the fine would increase to `500. And if the students were found repeating it, then they would be expelled from the school.

Uttar Pradesh
In 2012 in Ghaziabad district, the panchayat in a Jat-dominated region demanded that girls should wear salwar-kurta from the sixth standard. The president of Jat Mahasabha was reported as saying, “The girls will wear salwar-kurta from sixth standard onwards. We will speak to the managements of the schools and will make sure the order is implemented strictly.” They didn’t mention the reason for it but we assume it, again, has something to do with ‘decency’. The panchayat even warned that ‘severe punishment’ would be handed out if the diktat wasn’t followed.

Celebs in trouble

Sania Mirza – In 2005, a group of Muslim clerics issued a fatwa demanding that the tennis player should cover herself more on the field. They said that her outfits were a negative influence on young girls. Their grouse was that her skirts and T-shirts had slogans like ‘Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History’ and ‘I’m Cute, No Shit’, which were ‘un-Islamic’. Even though Sania had to give in to the clerics’ demands at that time, later, she appeared at the 2007 French Open in a skirt. “How I dress is a very personal thing, so give me a break. I’m just trying to have some fun. If I have something to say I can speak, can’t I? I don’t have to speak through what I wear,” she had said.

 

‘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
TOPICS

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.”

 

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

 

A missing girl, a known militant story in Manipur


Esha Roy : Imphal, Mon Apr 29 2013, 02:36 hrs
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FP14-year-old Alice (right) with a cousin. File photo

Alice Kamei had been missing for two days when Sundari got the call. What the voice on the other end said about her 14-year-old daughter has turned the world of this family living in Chingphu Kabui village in Manipur‘s Bishnupur district upside down.”It was a call from the RPF (Revolutionary People’s Front). They said that Alice had come to them of her own will,” says Sundari. “They asked to speak to her father. My husband wasn’t home at the time. I asked for my daughter and they said they would call the next day at 6 in the evening. They told us not to go to the police or the media, or we would not hear from her.”

When they talked the next day, the 35-year-old says, both she and Alice were in tears. “I asked her, ‘Don’t you love us, don’t you love your younger brother? Why did you leave?’,” says Sundari, breaking down. According to her, Alice replied that she loved them all very much and “desperately wants to come back”. “‘Please please come and get me. I don’t know where I am but come and get me’,” she told her mother. The phone got disconnected before her father, 45-year-old Chakri Kamei, could speak to her.

That was March 13. The family hasn’t heard from Alice in the 45 days since.

It was at 6 pm, March 10, that the Kameis first had an inkling that something was wrong. They received a call from Grace Reach Academy in Thoubal district of Manipur, a boarding school where both their children studied, asking if Alice had by any chance come home. “I was shocked… They told me they couldn’t find her,” says Sundari.

As the reports filed by the Kakching police station in Thoubal district earlier this month say, Alice and her 15-year-old friend Sanakalbi Khaidem went missing from the school at 11.30 am that day. It was a Sunday and most officials were not present on the campus. The girls were accompanied by a school helper, Elangbam Rojita Devi.

Since then, Rojita (35) and the school cook, 48-year-old Elangbam Thoinu, have been arrested and have reportedly confessed to being “overground workers” of the RPF, the political wing of the banned underground group, the People’s Revolutionary Army. The PLA is an active militant group in Manipur. Police are now hunting for a warden of Alice’s building, who is absconding.

According to the FIR lodged against Thoinu and Rojita, the two reported to 29-year-old Ranjana Devi, known as a child recruiter for the PLA. Police say Thoinu and Rojita had confessed that on March 3, they met Ranjana and two male members of the PLA in Myanmar and were instructed to specifically recruit Alice and Sanatalbi. They were allegedly given Rs 30,000 for the recruitment — Rojita got Rs 20,000.

But as far as tracing the girls goes, there has been no progress. Two weeks ago, the RPF released a statement reiterating that the girls had joined it “of their own free will”.

Chakri Kamei, who has withdrawn his son as well from the boarding school, disputes that. “There is no way that Alice would join a militant group — that too a Hindu Meitei valley group. We are Zeliengrong Nagas. Why would we support their movement?”

The Zeilengrong Naga community has been holding protests for the release of the girls. “We submitted demands to the Home Minister and even President Pranab Mukherjee when he visited Manipur recently,” says Zeilengrong Youth Front president Titus Kamei. “The RPF has told the family they are willing to release Alice if their underground and overground operatives are protected and the police take no action against them. They have said this is the family’s responsibility. How can the family be responsible for police action?” Titus asks.

Thoubal Superintendent of Police A K Jhalajhit, who is in charge of the Alice case, says Manipur militant groups routinely induct children and such cases were difficult to crack. “Most of the children inducted are from poor families. As soon as the militant organisation threatens them, they don’t even report the disappearance. In Alice’s case, three operatives had been placed in a school as scouts,” he says.

Jhalajhit doesn’t blame the school, noting that it is difficult for them to check antecedents of their employees.

The police officer also admits that chances of the abducted children returning home are slim. Most disappear for good.

Alice’s parents hang on to hope. Chakri talks about her daughter’s “big dreams”. The family had scrimped and saved to send their two children to the Thoubal boarding school. The Kameis grow and sell vegetables to sustain themselves.

Alice, a keen sportswoman, wanted to become a national-level archer. A bronze medal and plaque that she won at the 15th International Tribal Archery Competition, held in Vijaywada last year, occupy pride of place in their modest mudcaked thatched hut.

Their Chingphu Kabui village is known for its archers, with a local boy recently selected for an archery competition in Korea. Chakri believes Alice too would have made it to there.

Sundari has now locked up Alice’s notebooks, filled with her neat, precise handwriting, safely in a trunk. Her prized possession was a yellowing, cover-less book on birds.

“The lord is my shepherd” is scribbled on her algebra copy. Alice also had a book of hymns that Sundari now takes out and opens to a psalm, ‘Rescue the Perishing’. They would often sing it together, she says.