Indian human rights activist ends 15 year hunger strike to enter politics


Irom Chanu Sharmila, an Indian human rights activist who has been on a hunger strike for 15 years, announced to the world this week that she would end her protest next month. Sharmila has been protesting a law that protects India’s armed services from prosecution, which she and human rights organizations have said allows abuse and human rights violation to occur without punishment. Sharmila began her hunger strike in 2000 after soldiers killed 10 people in the village of Malom following a mysterious explosion there. She has continued calling for a change to the law while being held in judicial custody, charged with attempting suicide, which is a crime in India.  She has been force-fed through a tube in custody. In her brief announcement this week, Sharmila indicated she may seek a political office to effect change next.

“I will end my fast on August 9 and contest elections,” she said.

Sharmila’s family and supporters were surprised at the news, telling Indian press and The New York Times that a move into politics is risky, since losing elections could damage her credibility. Sanjay Hazarika, an academic at Jamia Millia Islamia University, told the Times that Sharmila is in a relationship and has expressed a wish to get married.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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