Irom Chanu Sharmila, an Indian activist who has been on a hunger strike for the last 14 years, was re-arrested on Friday, just two days after she was released from judicial custody, according to media reports.
Sharmila, 42, was charged with “attempt to commit suicide” in November 2000 when she began a hunger strike to protest the killings of 10 civilians by personnel of the Indian Paramilitary Forces. She was arrested three days later and had been in judicial custody until she was released Wednesday when a court in the northeastern state of Manipur struck down the charges. Over the last 14 years, Sharmila was being held at a hospital in Manipur where she was force-fed through a pipe in her nose.
After her release, she vowed to continue her fast until the Indian government repealed the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, which, she said was being used by the Indian army to commit atrocities on civilians in Manipur. However, she was re-arrested Friday after fresh charges of attempting to commit suicide were leveled against her.
AFSPA, which was enacted in 1958 and has been widely criticized by human rights organizations worldwide, grants the country's defense forces untrammeled powers to search, arrest and use lethal force on suspects.
Navi Pillay, the outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, had, in 2009, criticized the law and termed it a “breach of contemporary international human rights standards.”
Human Rights Watch said that the law provided a cover for the armed forces to “engage in torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation in army barracks,” and that it is a violation of “India’s obligations under international human rights law.”
AFSPA is implemented in regions labeled by the government as “disturbed areas” and is currently in force in many parts of the northeastern states of Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland, and the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.