Irom Sharmila refuses to accept awards
Kolkata: Having shunned food and water for the last twelve years, Manipur's 'Iron Lady' Irom Chanu Sharmila has decided not to accept any award till the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is withdrawn.
When social activist and litterateur Mahasweta Devi presented an award by a group of Kerala writers under the forum of Kovilan Trust, Irom Singhajit, who represented his sister Sharmila, politely returned it.
"Sharmila has expressed the desire not to receive any award from any individual or organisation until and unless her demand of repealing AFSPA is fulfilled," Singhajit told reporters here last evening.
He asked members of the Kovilan Trust to keep the award which included a memento and a cheque of Rs 50,000 in safe custody.
"After Sharmila comes out winning, she will collect it herself," said the brother of the civil rights activist.
Her non-violent means of protest has won her a number of awards including the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission.
Forcibly nose-fed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal, the 39-year-old has been kept under detention by the police for "attempt to suicide" since November 2000 when she sat on the fast.
Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi said Sharmila was like a torch assuring people all over the world to fight for their freedom and rights.
"Seldom do we come across an activist with such determination and courage. Sharmila is an emblem of courage. If Tagore was alive, he would have been so proud of her," she said.