Dr Binayak Sen denied permission to UN Rapporteur’s seminar #WTFnews


Kractivism in Actionp- Free Binayak Sen Campaign

Kractivism in Actionp- Free Binayak Sen Campaign

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu

His visit will compromise the internal security of the state, says court

Rights activist Binayak Sen has been denied permission to participate in an international seminar on health care in Kathmandu by a Raipur court. Dr. Sen sought permission to visit Kathmandu after confirming his participation to the seminar organisers and hence “the application is not bona fide” the court order said.

The court has also considered a reply by Chhattisgarh police that said Dr. Sen’s visit to Nepal “will compromise internal security of the state.”

Dr. Sen was invited by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to speak in an international two-day seminar on providing health care in conflict areas. Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, told The Hindu that he is “surprised and shocked” by the court’s order. He said the report of the meeting would be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Hours before his departure on Friday, a court order restricted Dr. Sen from visiting Kathmandu. “It is evident from the application that the applicant has agreed to take part in the programme without the permission of this court. He sought permission on June 28 and accepted the proposal (to visit Kathmandu) on June 21,” Additional Sessions Court judge Alok Kumar Upadhyay said in his order.

“Dr. Sen agreed to attend the meeting (before June 21) before he sought a permission, so that the organisers could send him the accommodation and flight details and he could furnish those in turn (to court) with his application,” said Dr. Sen’s lawyer, S.K. Farhan. The details of accommodation and a copy of the air tickets to and from Kathmandu were attached with the application.

Earlier, the court sought a reply from the police about Dr. Sen’s application, to which Additional SP, Raipur, Lal Umed Singh replied that Dr. Sen’s visit is detrimental to the country’s security.

“Such foreign visits of Dr. Sen consolidate Naxal and Maoist networks. India’s internal security is also compromised,” Mr. Singh stated. “In view of increased Maoist violence, killing of security personnel and prominent political leaders, objection is raised against Dr. Sen’s foreign visit,” Mr. Singh told the court.

Dr. Sen was invited to speak on healthcare delivery and accessibility to people in remote conflict areas, especially focussing Chhattisgarh. His topic was broadly described in the draft agenda as ‘availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health facilities, goods and services — duties and responsibilities toward affected populations, obligations of non-discrimination and medical independence, Treatment of parties to the conflict cf. civilians.’ He was supposed to speak on the first day of the seminar alongside health care and human rights activists from Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Jamshid Gaziyev, Special Procedures Branch, Katherine Footer of John Hopkins School of Public Health and International Committee of the Red Cross will be attending the seminar, according to the draft agenda.

In April 2011, a Chhattisgarh Court directed Dr. Sen to surrender his passport as a bail condition in line with the Supreme Court order. While it is not mandatory to have a passport to travel to Nepal, Dr. Sen needs permission from court for any overseas travel.

Earlier, he was allowed to travel abroad twice — to South Korea in 2011 and United Kingdom in 2012 — and on both occasions the Chhattisgarh court approved the travel.

 

ILO, UNHRC to take up labour issues at Maruti Suzuki


By Harpreet Bajwa – CHANDIGARH

New Indian Express online, 31st May 2013 

The alleged violence and human rights violation of workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki will be taken up at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva next week by the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR).

The special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association,  an independent expert appointed by the [UN] Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country a specific human rights theme, will also look into the matter.

A seven-member ICLR team met the Haryana DGP and other state government officials on Thursday. However, it could not meet Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Maruti-Suzuki management with the latter refusing to meet them.

International human rights lawyer and team member Suzanne Adely said: “We will take this issue of repressing rights of Maruti workers and the state police booking them in different cases with the special rapporteur next week. We will also take up this case with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).” “This company is also planning to set up a plant in South Africa. The labour organisations there will oppose it as our team there was a member from the labour organisations of that country. If Maruti interfered with the workers’ rights to form union of their choice and terminated union members, there are serious violations of international labour norms,”  said Ashwini Sukthankar, an international labour lawyer and ICLR member.

Another team member Kato, a retired International Secretary of the National Confederation of Trade Union of Japan, said: “ We shall build awareness on this incident at the Manesar plant among Japanese workers so we can build solidarity for the Indian workers in Japan and develop a sustained campaign for protection of dignity and labour rights of Indian workers.”

“We will take up the issue of Maruti workers with senators in the US and also advise the industry there not to invest in Haryana,” said Immanuel Ness, professor of political science at City University, New York.

New Trade Union Initiative national secretary N Vasudevan said that the basic issue in the dispute is not allowing the formation of an independent workers’ union.

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.

 

 

Denial of abortion is “torture,” says United Nations report #Vaw #reproductiverights


report recently presented to the United Nations (PDF link) says that a denial of abortion can be considered torture, in line with actual methods of female torture such as female genital mutilation.

ultrasoundThe report by Juan E. Méndez, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is cited as a report “on certain forms of abuses in health-care settings that may cross a threshold of mistreatment that is tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Méndez, a visiting professor at American University’s law school, makes some bold statements in Section B, entitled “Reproductive rights violations.” His assertions show just how far the quest for abortion has come in the world – to a point where the torture of a baby ripped from the womb and sucked away and thrown into a medical incinerator is considered a human right that spares someone else from torture.

Section 46 of his report notes:

International and regional human rights bodies have begun to recognize that abuse and mistreatment of women seeking reproductive health services can cause tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender.  Examples of such violations include abusive treatment and humiliation in institutional settings;   involuntary sterilization; denial of legally available health services  such as abortion and post-abortion care; forced abortions and sterilizations; female genital mutilation[.]

To compare involuntary sterilization and female genital mutilation – permanent methods of actual torture – with the denial of a “right” to take another life is tragic. In fact, it doesn’t actually line up with the U.N.’s own statements.

The U.N.’s Committee against Torture defines torture in its Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and it actually reads more like a pro-life statement in its language:

Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Recognizing that those rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person …

The U.N. then goes on to define what torture is:

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

Clearly the U.N.’s version of torture doesn’t seem to allow for the killing of a baby in utero, but Méndez does. Though many current exceptions to abortion laws note that “mental suffering” is justification for that exception and include it as a health reason to have an abortion, the comparison of who suffers more, a woman who carries a baby to term and gives the baby up for adoption or the one who lives forever with the reality of choosing to kill her baby, cannot adequately be evaluated by one man making a report to the United Nations.

While it would be wrong to assume that a woman carrying a child she is not prepared to raise would not be painful, it is also wrong to call it torture. Torture would be punishing her for the pregnancy or forcing her to raise a child she isn’t prepared to raise. However, the real torture is inflicted on the baby in her womb, who will be sucked out and discarded if that abortion happens.

Méndez goes on to note that:

For many rape survivors, access to a safe abortion procedure is made virtually impossible by a maze of administrative hurdles, and by official negligence and obstruction. In the landmark decision of K.N.L.H. v. Peru, the Human Rights Committee deemed the denial of a therapeutic abortion a violation of the individual’s right to be free from ill- treatment. In the case of P. and S. v. Poland, ECHR stated that “the general stigma attached to abortion and to sexual violence …, caus[ed] much distress and suffering, both physically and mentally.”

It’s unquestionable that a rape survivor who gets pregnant (notably, this is about 1% of all rape victims, so not a majority of those seeking abortions, though a valid minority) needs great care. The tragedy inflicted on her must be handled well, but the torture has come from the rapist, not from the denial of taking another life. Our torment should never allow us the right to kill another. A culture that seeks to nurture and care for victims of torture needs to put its focus on caring for the victim, giving resources, and providing many other solutions that will help heal the tragedy by giving a woman lasting comfort to the effect that she has helped to redeem a tragedy, not to create another.

Méndez is insistent that denial of abortion is torture, though, for all cases. He says in section 50:

The Committee against Torture has repeatedly expressed concerns about restrictions on access to abortion and about absolute bans on abortion as violating the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. On numerous occasions United Nations bodies have expressed concern about the denial of or conditional access to post-abortion care. often for the impermissible purposes of punishment or to elicit confession.  The Human Rights Committee explicitly stated that breaches of article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include forced abortion, as well as denial of access to safe abortions to women who have become pregnant as a result of rape and raised concerns about obstacles to abortion where it is legal.

Here forced abortions are presented as on par with denial of abortion. But the fact is, they are not. A forced abortion takes a life, and the denial of abortion saves one. A forced abortion can never be undone. A woman is subjected to the horror of having her body violated (possibly a second time, if she was a victim of rape), and knowing life has been taken from her. Denying someone a right to have a life taken is not torture; it’s a basic human right for the unborn life.

By all accounts, Méndez would consider the North Dakota legislature torturers for deciding that life begins at conception. He would consider Kansas and Arkansas as inflicting torture for passing laws that protect life. However, denying abortion isn’t torture, because the motive isn’t torment; the motive isn’t to make someone suffer, but to prevent the suffering of the baby destroyed and of the mother, who will have to live with it.

The extra tragedy in this culture of death is that we have walked forward into the past, where we justify death as a merciful thing, when truly it brings destruction. Méndez has stretched the definitions to a point that distorts them and, in the process, manages to reduce the true suffering of victims of such horrific crimes as female genital mutilation to the level of carrying a living baby to term. Protecting life can never be equated with killing it.

 

 

‘Probe sexual violence against Tamils in Sri Lanka’ #Vaw


NEW DELHI, February 22, 2013

J. Balaji, The Hindu

File photo of Brad Adams, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch

The Hindu File photo of Brad Adams, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch’s report to be released on Monday

The Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global human rights organisation, has sought an international investigation into reports of sexual violence, rape, third degree torture against Tamil women and men carried out by the Sri Lankan security forces to get confessions from those suspected to have links with the then Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The HRW, which has prepared a 140-page report, “‘We Will Teach You a Lesson’: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces,” which is to be released on Monday, provides detailed accounts of 75 cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse that occurred from 2006 to 2012 in both official and secret detention centres throughout Sri Lanka.

While widespread rape in custody occurred during the armed conflict (with LTTE) that ended in May 2009, “HRW found that politically motivated sexual violence by the military and police continues to the present.” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams claimed: “The Sri Lankan security forces have committed untold numbers of rapes of Tamil men and women in custody. These are not just wartime atrocities but continue to the present, putting every Tamil man/woman arrested for suspected LTTE involvement at serious risk.”

Mr. Adams said the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should direct the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct an independent international investigation. “The government’s response to allegations of sexual violence by its security forces has been dismissive, deeming them ‘fake’ or ‘pro-LTTE propaganda.’ It’s not clear who in the government knew about these horrific crimes. But the government’s failure to take action against these ongoing abuses is further evidence of the need for an international investigation,” he said.

Victims’ accounts

Quoting from the accounts of a 31-year-old Tamil woman who was picked up from her Colombo house by CID personnel in November 2011, the HRW said: “I was taken to the fourth floor of the CID office in Colombo. I was not given any food or water. The next day, the officials, who included a uniformed armed official, photographed me, took my fingerprints, and made me sign on a blank sheet of paper. They told me that they had all my husband’s details and kept asking me to disclose his whereabouts. When I told them my husband was abroad, they continued to accuse him of supporting the LTTE. I was beaten with many objects. I was burned with a cigarette during questioning. I was slapped around and beaten with a sand-filled pipe. Throughout the beatings, they asked me for my husband’s details. I was raped one night. Two men came to my room in civilian clothes. They ripped my clothes and both raped me. They spoke Sinhala so I could not understand anything. It was dark so I couldn’t see their faces clearly.”

Another 23-year-old male youth, caught in August 2012, said: “They removed my blindfold [and] I found myself in a room where four other men were present. I was tied to a chair and questioned about my links to the LTTE and the reason for my recent travel abroad. They stripped me and started beating me. I was beaten with electric wires, burned with cigarettes and suffocated with a petrol-infused polythene bag. Later that night, I was left in a smaller room. I was raped on three consecutive days. The first night, one man came alone and anally raped me. The second and third night, two men came to my room. They anally raped me and also forced me to have oral sex with them. I signed a confession admitting my links with the LTTE after the rapes.”

Yet another youth, who surrendered before the security forces in May 2009, said: “Two officials held my arms back [while] a third official held my penis and inserted a metal rod inside. They inserted small metal balls inside my penis. These had to be surgically removed after I escaped from the country.” A medical report corroborates his account, said HRW.

The rights body alleged that the victims also described being beaten, hung by their arms, partially asphyxiated and burned with cigarettes. None of those who spoke to HRW had access to legal counsel, family members, or doctors while they were detained. Most said that they signed a confession in the hope that the abuse would stop, though the torture, including rape, often continued. The individuals interviewed were not formally released but rather allowed to “escape” after a relative paid the authorities a bribe.

 

#Srilanka -Without truth, there can be no justice or peace


Callum Macrae’s documentary No Fire Zone: Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields is making waves, showing war crimes during the LTTE-government conflict. Speaking with Manoj Ramachandran, Macrae discussed his views on the Sri Lankan government, why accountability is crucial – and how India can help:

Why is your film significant?
What’s significant is the shocking scale of war crimes committed by a government which claims democratic legitimacy and adherence to international humanitarian law. The crimes we’re talking about aren’t executions of prisoners and sexual violence against fighters – we’re talking about the deliberate targeting of civilians in the No Fire Zone, which the government itself encouraged them to gather in.
A UN panel concluded that most who died did so as a result of government shelling – we’re talking about tens of thousands dead.
Have there been serious attempts to get victims justice?
The people who stand accused are at the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government. They’re unlikely to investigate themselves – and if they do, i fear they will simply find themselves innocent.
At the end of the war, many hoped the government would hold out a hand of friendship and reconciliation to Tamil citizens. They did the opposite. Their behaviour seems to suggest they regard all Tamils in the north as indistinguishable from the Tigers, that they’re in effect an enemy within which must be thoroughly repressed – that’s a recipe for more conflict and tragic bloodshed.
You claim to have footage of LTTE supremo Prabhakaran’sson,Balachandran,alive in a bunker, apparently held by Lankan troops, later showing the 12-year-old shot two or three feet from his chest. Would you tell us more?
The new photographs of Balachandran alive are not just distressing and disturbing – they are also enormously important evidentially because they appear to rule out any suggestion that he was killed in cross-fire or during battle or that he was executed by some maverick band of paramilitaries.
They show he was held – even given a snack – before being taken and executed in cold blood. There was time to take photographs. It is difficult to imagine the psychology of an army in which the calculated execution of a child can be allowed with apparent impunity.
Against this backdrop, can a film make a difference?
Without justice, there can be no peace – and without truth, there can be no justice. We hope we can be an important part of that truth-telling. Our job is to present the evidence to the world. I think there are enough people who care about the rule of law, human rights and the need for reconciliation to take up the campaign for justice.
Forthcoming events, starting with the UN Human Rights Council meeting in March, going on to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in November, will focus attention on this.
Many people are already asking whether their governments should be attending that CHOGM meeting unless the government shows significant progress on accountability. Also, human rights defenders argue for a credible independent international inquiry. If India was to declare its support, it could mark the start of the movement towards peace and justice in Sri Lanka. India has a huge responsibility in the forthcoming UN meeting.
Finally, is your film absolving the LTTE?
The LTTE were a brutal army, guilty of appalling crimes. There should be no doubt about that – we make that point very clearly in our film. But the Sri Lankan government needs to understand that the crimes of one side do not justify the crimes of another.

UN Survey on women Make your voice heard #Vaw #Womenrights #Gender #Justice #1billionrising


 Survey on discrimination against women in economic and social life

 Make your voice heard

 

Dear all,

the Working Group on Discrimination against Women invites you to contribute to its 2014 report by taking the survey on discrimination against women in economic and social life available at this link:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Questionnaire_on_Economic_and_Social_Life

The Working Group on Discrimination against Women is a special procedure established by the Human Rights Council in 2010. It has been tasked to identify, promote and exchange views on good practices to eliminate discrimination against women in law and in practice. The Working Group will devote its thematic report, to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2014, on women’s economic and social life, in particular during time of economic crisis. The inputs you will provide through the survey will inform the report. The deadline for reply is 1st of March 2013.

Depending on your expertise and experiences, you might want to respond to only some of the questions or some of the sections of the survey. Please be assured that all responses will remain confidential.

Please see the survey’s introduction for further details.

The Working Group thanks you very much for your time and efforts.

For more information on the Working Group see:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx

 

Pakistan’s human rights review: Internet censorship comes under scrutiny


Published: November 3, 2012

Netherlands asks Islamabad to remove restrictions on internet access. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: As part of a review of Pakistan’s human rights standing, the Netherlands has recommended that Pakistan remove restrictions on internet access.

The recommendation is part of a draft report of the UN Human Rights Council working group on the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan.

In the draft report, released on November 2, the working group has listed this demand along with 163 other recommendations on the country’s rights record.

The video sharing site, YouTube, has been suspended in Pakistan since September 17, 2012.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf ordered the ban over a blasphemous movie trailer that incited protests around the world.

It is the fourth time the site has been banned since 2008.

Second review

Pakistan presented its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report in the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, October 30. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar defended Pakistan’s progress since the last review in 2008. The Review, created in 2006, takes place every four years and is a state-driven process.

Pakistan will have to respond to the recommendations by March 2013 at the 22nd session of the Council. The response will then be included in the outcome report adopted by the Council in that session.

“It is a great opportunity as it is now part of UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations to the government and we can continue to build pressure on the government to do better on net freedom in the country,” said Shahzad Ahmad from Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan, a human rights organisation that focuses on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for social justice and development in the country.

Ahmad presented a shadow report along with two UN accredited international NGOs, Association for Progressive Communications and Freedom House.

“This is first time ever that a shadow report on internet rights in Pakistan was submitted and a UN member state picked it up and put it as a recommendation for the government to improve internet rights in the country,” he wrote to The Express Tribune in an email from Geneva.

Internet-based human rights

Netherlands made the recommendation that Pakistan “(r)emove restrictions on accessing internet in the country, which runs counter to the criteria of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and the principle of proportionality.”

Internet-based human right issues were not part of Pakistan’s first review in 2008. President Asif Ali Zardari signed the ICCPR in June 2010 and made Pakistan signatory to the law which commits it to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to a fair trial.

 

 

#India- Long Live The Iron Lady Of Manipur- #Irom Sharmila


 

By Asis Mishra

27 October, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila’s fast. Irom Sharmila is completing her 12 years of fast on 5th November. This is the third in the series

“It (non-violence) is the only thing that atomic bomb cannot destroy”Irom Sharmila

All of us must have come across her name-Irom Sharmila, in newspapers, magazines and electronic media. Only a few of us actually know: Who is she? why is she doing protest in such a manner? What are the circumstances that forced her to take such a harsh step?

Well, Imagine a situation where you see bloodshed, murder, violence on a daily basis. People in uniform (Indian Army) would visit your locality and kill innocent people. What impact would it have on your mind? How would we react to it? Most of us would react to this situation by remaining silent .Some would even stay indoors. None of us would dare to stand against the mighty Indian Army. Under such horrible circumstances, Irom Sharmila Chanu, the 28-year-old daughter of a Grade IV veterinary worker , decided to fight against the powerful army and its draconian law – the armed force special power act. Even though she belongs to a poor and humble background, her continued fight against AFSPA speaks volumes of her courage and integrity.

It all started on 2 November 2000, in Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley where ten civilians were allegedly shot and killed by the Assam rifles, one of the India’s paramilitary forces, operating in the state, while waiting at a bus stop. The incident later came to be known to activists as the “Malom Massacre”. The next day’s local newspapers published graphic pictures of the dead bodies, including one of a 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner. It was this incident that made the then 28 year aged Irom Sharmila Chanu start her indefinite fast as a mark of protest against the atrocities done by army. Since then, she has been regularly arrested by police on charges of “attempt to suicide”.By 2004, she had become “an icon of public resistance” .In October 2,2006 , she visited Rajghat and paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. At the same time, she met and won the support of Nobel-laureate Shirin Ebidi , the Nobel Laureate and human rights activist, who promised to take up Sharmila’s cause at United Nations Human Rights Council. In 2011, she invited anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to visit Manipur, and Hazare sent two representatives to meet with her. In October 2011, she received support from Manipur Pradesh All India Trinmool congress and they urged the party chief Mamata Banerjee to support the cause of Irom .

Apart from being a political activist, she is also a poet. Her poem “”Fragrance of Peace” is quite popular among the youths of Manipur. She has also received awards in India and abroad. She was awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which is given to “an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights“. In 2010, she won a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission.

In spite of all this, the government of India has not repealed the AFSPA and had not taken any action against army jawans and officers indulging in atrocities. So a question arises: Is this acceptable? Being a citizen of India, is it not our duty to express solidarity with her? Manipur is as integral a part of India as the rest of the states are. For how long, will we tolerate the injustices done to innocent Manipuris by the devils in the army? Is it not high time to repeal AFSPA at least for a temporary period of time? Much more, the episode of Irom Sharmila also brings about serious questions about our democracy and how it operates at ground level. It is no doubt to say that it is a blot on the face of India. Well, these are the questions whose solutions are to be found out by the Government of India and the people. Merely writing articles or giving condolences won’t work, much more needs to be done. We need to be united. We need to tell the Government that we all want it to be repealed. We all want her voice to be heard.

Asis Mishra is an engineering student from Bhubaneshwar. He is a volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be reached at asisoec@gmail.com

 

UN condemns Iran’s use of ‘stoning’ as ‘capital punishment’


 

London, Oct. 12 (ANI): United Nations human rights officials have condemned Iran‘s use of stoning as a form of capital punishmentamong a number of “deeply troubling” rights violations, many of which are “systemic in nature,” according to a report.

UN Human Rights Council‘s special rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed also called for an “extensive, impartial and independent investigation into the violence in the weeks and months that followed the presidential election of 2009″, when pro-democracy protesters surged into the streets to denounce the election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as bogus and rigged.

Shaheed ‘reiterates his call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience’ in the report, the Daily Express reports.

He claimed that at least 150 journalists have fled Iran since the 2009 elections, and some reports put the number as high as 400.

According to his report, and to the New York-based rights group Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran detained more journalists than any other nation last year, which counted 179 writers, editors and photojournalists jailed in Iran in December last year.Half of them spent time in solitary confinement, 42% were sent into exile in 2010-11, and half were serving sentences ranging from six months to 19 years on charges such as “working with hostile governments”, “propaganda against the state”, and “insulting religious sanctities”, Shaheed wrote.

The document will be the basis for a General Assembly resolution critical of Tehran’s human rights violations, which will probably be voted on in December. (ANI)