When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Irom Sharmila, in white.
Irom Sharmila, in white.

DELHI — On November 4, 2000, Irom Sharmila, an Indian civil rights activist, began what would become the longest recorded hunger strike ever, protesting against India's military following the killing of 10 civilians in her northeastern state of Manipur.

Fifteen years later, the now 43-year-old has never broken her fast, as The Indian Express reports Wednesday on the anniversary of the strike, noting the activist goes as far as cleaning her teeth with dried cotton so no water passes her lips.

What keeps her alive? Sharmila is force-fed three times per day through a nose-probe in a room at the Imphal Hospital, under police surveillance.

Under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, she has faced charges of attempted suicide, which, until December 2014, was illegal in the country. Sharmila, who has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, has rejected these allegations on many occasions and repeated she was on a hunger strike for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which grants Indian forces special powers in what the act describes as "disturbed areas."

The incident that initially prompted the action took place on November 2, 2000 when the Assam Rifles, a government paramilitary force, responded to an attack by anti-government rebels by shooting dead 10 civilians at a bus stop in Imphal, the state capital of Manipur. Sharmila saw the pictures of the dead bodies in the newspaper the following day and started the protest that would earn her the nickname "Iron Lady of Manipur."

The activist's hunger strike is the longest in the world and her face appears as a revolutionary emblem for "Repeal AFSPA" on t-shirts across India. This, according to Indian website Catch News, is precisely what Sharmila didn't want to happen, insisting that she just wanted to lead a normal life while protesting like any ordinary person of good conscience would do.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Can machines be ironic?

Charles Barbour

What was your first reaction when you heard about Blake Lemoine, the Google engineer who announced last month the AI program he was working on had developed consciousness?

If, like me, you’re instinctively suspicious, it might have been something like: Is this guy serious? Does he honestly believe what he is saying? Or is this an elaborate hoax?

Put the answers to those questions to one side. Focus instead on the questions themselves. Is it not true that even to ask them is to presuppose something crucial about Blake Lemoine: specifically, he is conscious?

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ