AFSPA: AHRC Writes An Open Letter to the President of India

AHRC News
An Open Letter to the President of India
For further information about AFSPA please read INDIA: AFSPA promotes armed insurgency in Manipur

Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi
INDIA

Fax: +91-11-23017290

Dear President

INDIA: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 should be repealed

I am writing on behalf of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the 216 persons listed below to express solidarity to the ten-year-long fast of Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu, the Iron Lady of Manipur and her cause.

Sharmila started her indefinite fast on 4 November 2000, in protest of the violence committed by the state and non-state actors in Manipur and the impunity they enjoy against the crimes they commit. We are aware that Sharmila’s fast also demands an immediate end of impunity in the state, for which the withdrawal of the draconian law, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), from Manipur is a prerequisite. We are concerned about the ordinary people of Manipur and their unending suffering at the hands of the underground militant organisations as well as the state agencies operating in the state.

We are aware that the AFSPA is enforced in Manipur to support government operations in the state to counter secessionist and underground militant activities. We are of the opinion that the present climate of impunity is one of the reasons why conflict continues in Manipur. We are certain that you will agree that the AFSPA has not helped in countering militancy in Manipur, but on the contrary, has enraged it. We are confident that you will also agree that AFSPA negates the very notion of the rule of law and democracy.
We are of the opinion that the AFSPA, is a legislation that contributes to the overall impunity framework in states where it is enforced. National bodies including Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee; the Second Administrative Reforms Commission; and the Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir concur with our opinion. These expert bodies have recommended your office to advice the Government of India to repeal AFSPA. The experts have categorically mentioned that a law like AFSPA will only facilitate violence and will not prevent it.
We are convinced that under the current circumstances, the withdrawal of AFSPA will not in itself solve the Manipur crisis. Yet, it could be a bold and open step by the government to show that it is determined to find solution to an armed conflict that has haunted an entire generation in the state.
Additionally, withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur will be recognition to the sufferings of the state’s people and an expression of respect and acknowledgment of their inalienable rights.
We the undersigned, therefore request you to advice the Government of India to repeal AFSPA and take immediate steps to end the culture of impunity in Manipur.

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