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Irom Sharmila Chanu selected for the ”Defending the Defenders” sponsorship project

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Irom Sharmila Chanu was selected by the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) for its ”Defending the Defenders” sponsorship project. For more than six years she has been on a fast-unto-death hunger strike in her campaign for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.

(Bangkok, 11 December 2007) The Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE) announced on 8 December that Irom Sharmila Chanu, a human rights defender, was selected by the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) for its "Defending the Defenders" sponsorship project.

This sponsorship project is run jointly by the Swiss Foreign Ministry and OMCT, one of the largest networks of non governmental organisations (NGOs) fighting against torture, based in Geneva and consultative to the UN Committee against Torture. The project aims to show appreciation for the work and struggle of human rights defenders by linking them with a sponsor who will follow their activities and take specific action on the defender’s behalf if they face difficulties.1 Chanu will be sponsored by a well-known Norwegian designer, Lars Müller.2

Known as the ”Iron Lady of Manipur”, Irom Sharmila Chanu has been on a fast-unto-death hunger strike for more than six years in her campaign for the withdrawal from Manipur of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA).3 She began the hunger strike after soldiers of the Indian Paramilitary Assam Rifles allegedly killed ten innocent civilians on 2 November 2000. She has been arrested and charged with the crime of “attempted suicide” and is forcibly nose-fed by the state. She was previously awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights by the May 18 Memorial Foundation of South Korea.4


1 “Another title for Sharmila” .
2 “Sponsorship for Sharmila” .
3 For more information on the AFSPA please refer to:
4 “Irom Sharmila Awarded Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2007”