With a lick of some honey that was spooned onto her palm, human rights activist Irom Sharmila on Tuesday ended her 16-year hunger strike in India — the longest such fast in the world.
Sharmila, known as the “Iron lady of Manipur,” first smiled and then sobbed before she ate the honey in front of reporters in India’s northeastern Manipur state, finally free of the nasal tube that the government had used to force-feed her for more than a decade.
“I will never forget this moment,” she said.
The 2005 Nobel Prize nominee started her strike in 2000, after 10 civilians allegedly were killed by Indian soldiers in Manipur. She was protesting India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the military to search properties, detain suspects without warrants and even shoot on sight.
But she has finally relented, saying that she’ll focus on running for political office to effect change.
“I am the real embodiment of revolution, and I want to be the chief minister of Manipur,” she told reporters in the city of Imphal. “The foremost thing will be the removal of these draconian laws.”