India activist ends sixteen-year hunger strike
Written by Morenike Adebayo on August 9, 2016
A forty-four-year-old activist who has been on a hunger strike for almost sixteen years to protest against alleged brutality by India’s military in the country’s northeastern state of Manipur ended her protest today.
Irom Sharmila said that she plans to stand as an independent candidate in elections early next year. She had not eaten any food voluntarily since the fifth of November, 2000, when she began her protest against an Indian law that suspends many human rights protections in areas of conflict.
Three days after she started her hunger strike, she was arrested on charges of attempting suicide, which is illegal in India. Her lawyer has denied that Sharmila was trying to commit suicide, insisting that her hunger strike was a form of protest. Prison officials at a government hospital in Manipur have since force fed her through a tube in her nose.
She said the single issue on her agenda would be the removal of a law that allows the military to act with impunity. Her long hunger strike garnered support from across the world, and Amnesty International has called her a prisoner of conscience.