AFSPA and human rights issues tabled in UN session

IMPHAL, Mar 5 : Taking the fight against Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and human rights violation to a higher plane, the demand for repealing the military Act has been tabled in the ongoing 19th session of the United Nations at Geneva today.

Speaking to media persons at Manipur Press Club here today, convenor of the Civil Security Coalition for Human Rights in Manipur and United Nation L Debabrata said the ongoing UN session deliberated on the issue of torture in the morning followed by the question of human right defenders in the afternoon today.

During the morning session, UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya raised the issue of AFSPA and its impacts as witnessed in Manipur.

Margaret made a spirited argument for scrapping AFSPA at Geneva. She also sought immediate attention of the international body towards Irom Sharmila’s 11 year old struggle against the infamous Act.

It is possible that the UN Human Rights Council may recommend abolition of India and the same may be forwarded to the Government of India soon.

Together with scrapping the infamous Act, the UN would most probably ask New Delhi to protect human rights defenders of the country.

Today’s session also deliberated on human right defenders affected by security legislations and militarization. The arrest Sanaleibak Editor  A Mobi was also raised at the session.

Margaret also raised the  issue of journalists killed in the State as well as the crippling pressure exerted on the journalist fraternity of Manipur.

All these matters tabled and discussed in the UN session would be relayed to the Government of India and it make take up necessary steps towards safeguarding human rights, Debabrata said.

Before presenting her case at the UN session, Margaret Sekaggya visited Guwahati on January 14 last year where she interacted with many human rights activists of the North East region.

She also visited Manipur and talked with representatives of 18 different civil society organisations about the law and order related issues, AFSPA and the status of human rights in the State.

In her report presented at the UN session, Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya said, “At the time of the visit, Manipur was reportedly the State worst affected by militarization with more than half a dozen human right groups having  been branded as terrorists due to their self-determination advocacy work.

“Since 2000, Irom Sharmila, has been who has been on hunger strike demanding repeal of AFSPA, has been forcibly detailed and force-fed in a hospital at Imphal. For 10 years, NHRC never visited Ms Sharmila despite repeated requests by defenders”, it read.

“In Manipur, on August 5, 2010, several human right defenders were arrested as part of a crackdown to end protest against an illegal extra-judicial killing in Imphal by police.

“They were remanded to judicial custody for 13 days and detained under the National Security Act in addition to the judicial remand according to an order of the Imphal West District Magistrate”.

“On August 25, the President of Poirei Leimarol Meira Paibi Apunba Manipur was arrested by the Imphal West Police along with two activists. The police seized posters advocating abolition AFSPA 1958 and punishment of criminal police commandos. She was remanded in judicial custody for 15 days together with the two other  activists”, Margaret reported.

Talking about the immense pressure under which journalists have been working in Manipur, Margaret reported that six journalists were killed in the State in the last decade.

“Journalists reported pressure exerted on them by the authorities not to report on some aspects of the conflict.

They mentioned the closure of four newspapers in the last few years”.

“State agencies often use the presence of armed underground groups to suppress a certain type of information or journalist’s works.

The Editor of the newspaper Sanaleibak was arrested and detained for a week in December 2010 on the allegation that he works for secessionist elements operating in the region.

He was released on bail as no prima facie case has been made against him”, Margaret reported.

The press meet was also attended by former Chairman of Manipur Human Rights Commission Y Laba, COHR convenor Phulindro Konsam and CCDD Joint Secretary Y Jiten.