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India: FORUM-ASIA Welcomes the Release of Irom Sharmila

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(Bangkok, 22 January 2015) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) welcomes the verdict of a Manipur court to release Irom Sharmila from judicial custody. Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for over 14 years, demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The court has once again rejected the charges of attempted suicide against Sharmila and ordered to release her from custody. We hope that the court’s ruling will  end the vicious cycle of arrests and re-arrests, and end criminalizing Sharmila for exercising her fundamental freedom. We also reiterate our longstanding call to the government of India to repeal AFSPA, which has been the cause of flagrant human rights violations.

On 2-6 November 2014, FORUM-ASIA co-organized with the May 18 Memorial Foundation and Just Peace Foundation (JPF) an international solidarity mission composed of Sharmila’s fellow Gwangju Prize for Human Rights laureates from India, Nepal and Indonesia and leaders of May 18 Memorial Foundation from South Korea, FORUM-ASIA from Thailand and other NGOs from India. The mission met with relevant government authorities, including the media to lobby for the release of Sharmila and the immediate repeal of the AFSPA.


Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu is a civil and political activist and poet from the North East Indian state of Manipur. Ms. Sharmila has involved in campaigns against the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, (AFSPA), demanding the Government of India to withdraw the AFSPA. Ms. Sharmila began her hunger strike after the killing of 10 people by the Assam Rifles (a paramilitary force) in Malom, Imphal in November 2000. She was arrested shortly after she began her hunger strike and charged with attempting to commit suicide which is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code. While she was under arrest, she refused to sign the bail-bonds, maintaining that she had not committed any offence, and instead called for the criminal charges against her to be dropped.

Ms. Sharmila has been the recipient of several human rights awards. She was awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights [1], which is given to “an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights”. In 2009, she was also awarded the first Mayillama Award of the Mayilamma Foundation for achievement of her nonviolent struggle in Manipur.

[1] The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights was established to celebrate the spirit of May 18 Gwangju Uprising by recognizing both individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work.