Wake up brothers and sisters
The savior of the nation
We have come out all the way
Knowing we all will die
Why the fear is
So shaky in the heart?
Yes, myself too
In the impact of this hard step
Overwhelmed with anxiety and fear
With the prayer to almighty
Praising the spirit of truth
Touchily from this frail body
I am bidding farewell
Yet longing for life
Though birth is followed by death
So fond of to accomplice
My desired mission
- A poem titled Wake Up by Irom Sharmila
Irom Chanu Sharmila announced the name of her party - People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance - on Monday.
The ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, as she is known, had been on a hunger strike since November 2000 to repeal the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). This political crusader, civil rights activist, poet and journalist broke her 15-year-long hunger strike on 9th August 2016.
She hadn’t accepted a morsel of food in over 15 years as protest, thus becoming the world’s longest hunger striker. She was force-fed over the years and kept alive.
Growing up against the backdrop of insurgency and inter-tribal warfare, she has seen a lot of violence catalysed by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, which authorises security forces to search properties without a warrant, and to arrest people and use deadly force on the grounds of mere ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a person is acting against the state. In 2000, when she witnessed a brutal mass encounter killing of 10 civilians who were waiting at a bus stop by the Assam Rifles, an Indian paramilitary force, in Malom, a small town in Imphal Valley, her life was changed forever. She swore to achieve justice for the Malom Massacre. She was 28 then.
What prompted her to change something that she had been doing for more than a decade and a half?
The government’s failure to give any positive response led her to break her fast and change her tactics. Upon breaking her fast, she had announced that she would fight at the policy level to institute change in the landscape of the North East. She had announced in August that she would contest the 2017 Manipur elections.
Making good on her promise, she launched her party and announced its name on Monday. The People’s Resurgence Justice Alliance was launched in Imphal, and Sharmila wants to be the next Chief Minister of the state to further her demands. Her fight for justice has been long, but the woman with the will of iron is not ready to give up just yet.