Irom Sharmila Chanu also known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur" is a civil rights activist from the Indian state of Manipur. She has been fasting for more than 10 years, so far the world's longest hunger strike.
She started her fast unto death on November 2, 2000, after the Malom Massacre. Her primary demand to the Indian government was the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which allowed soldiers to indefinitely detain any citizen on suspicion of being a rebel. The act has been the reason for permitting torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions.
Sharmila is regularly arrested, released and re-arrested every year since 2000 because under IPC section 309, a person who "attempts to commit suicide" is punishable with imprisonment up to 1 year.
Sharmila has held various protest demonstrations with students, human rights activists and other concerned citizens in places like Jantar Mantar, Rajghat etc.
Sharmila has won many awards for her brave & selfless act for humanity & was even nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Many western dignitaries have shown support for her cause in their letters to her.
When asked about fulfilling her personal dreams like marriage while fasting, she said tests needed to be passed for every upgrade. “For any promotion, we have to pass an experiment. In my case, I am experimenting to get success for making a difference for the whole society,” she said.
Many civil societies & volunteers have started campaigns in support of her cause. Recently ‘Save Sharmila Campaign’ was launched by the Delhi-based National Alliance for Peoples’ Movement (NAPM). The ‘National Signature Campaign’ planned by NAPM is submitting the signatures of all supporters to the President of India, Smt Pratibha Patil on 10th Dec 2011, the International Human Rights Day. We have only until 8th Dec 2011, less than 2 months from the time this campaign on www.change.org was launched, to add to the signatures of that campaign.
So let’s respect the fight by a woman who by punishing her body has been selflessly fighting for more than a decade for the betterment of humanity. Let’s show our support to our north-eastern fellow citizens who also have the right to life, peace & justice.