Irom Chanu Sharmila

Irom Chanu Sharmila
The "Iron Lady of Manipur", a Civil Rights Activist, Political Activist, Poet, Voted as The Top Woman Icon of India by MSN Poll, and Declared as a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International

Irom Chanu Sharmila served 16 years imprisonment in the North-East Indian state of Manipur, peacefully protesting the AFSPA, a colonial based law that granted absolute impunity under Indian (though not international) Law against investigation charges or prosecution in Indian criminal courts for all crimes including but not limited to rape extortion kidnapping and murder. She was also held for long periods under mainly solitary confinement, which the NHRC had ruled was a policy designed to break the spirit of a respected human rights defender. She was kept alive during these 16 years by nasogastric intubation. The AFSPA was removed from Imphal city in 2005, but no farther progress was made in its removal. In 2016 Mrs Sharmila ended her now nominal fast and stood for the Manipur legislative assembly with the sole intention of removing the AFSPA. As the elections were so close that year one MLA could have held the balance of power, and if she had been elected, the AFSPA could have been withdrawn from Manipur that year. But the people preferred the status quo. She later married her long-term fiancee and has two twin daughters Nix Shakhi Chanu and Autumn Tara Chanu. She would like them to have the choice to attend University when they are older, a choice not previously given to women members of her family. In the past, girls were expected to work to provide funds for their male siblings to attend University regardless of merit. She hopes that young women can be inspired to make decisions and take actions without lust for results. One of her famous quotes is, “Live the life of your calling regardless of the difficulties and without care for failure or success… And yes to persevere.”

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