Idinthakarai Update

May 15, 2012

PMANE Withdraws Indefinite Hunger Strike and Plans a Conference

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has withdrawn its latest indefinite hunger strike as per the request of Justice (Retd) A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of Madras and Delhi High Courts, Advocate Geeta Ramaseshan and Professor Prabha Kalvimani who presided over the public hearing on “Koodankulam and State Suppression of Democratic Rights” held in Chennai on May 14, 2012.

Although 25 men and 302 women were on indefinite hunger strike from May 1st and May 4th respectively, neither the Government of Tamil Nadu nor the Government of India invited us for talks or any kind of negotiations on the eleven demands that we had put forward. Although the local county administrator sent a medical team on May 6th and May 7th to check up on the strikers’ health, the higher officials turned a blind eye.

When we invited the people from the neighboring villages for a massive show of strength on May 10, 2012, the district officials promulgated prohibitory orders for up to 7kms from the Koodankulam plants. Since our people could be arrested and harassed by the police as happened in March 2012, we asked our people to organize a “Day of Prayer and Fasting” in their respective villages on May 10th instead of coming to Idinthakarai.

The federal and state governments rush to talk to Maoists and Naxalites who kidnap and kill officials and politicians. They even grant their wishes and demands. But these governments completely dismiss the legitimate demands of our fishermen and farmers who have been waging a peaceful, nonviolent and democratic struggle for the past nine months. This is definitely not a healthy trend and it could send wrong messages to our youth and children.

While no government official or minister came forward to talk to us, one local police officer, a local correspondent of a sunny TV and a local correspondent of a Hindu-ish newspaper were calling a member of our team giving orders, suggestions and even imposing conditions for possible talks. We hear that these two “journalists” are the local wheeler-dealers for some powerful institutions and agencies in our area and have built palatial houses recently with their “hard-earned” money. And we took a principled position not to talk to any of them. Naturally, the talks about talks did not bring any results.

On May 11th we decided to scale down the number of hunger strikers as we did not get any medical help from the government or an ambulance to ferry the fainting strikers to the nearest health centre as we requested. We advised the older people and people with health concerns to terminate their strike and continued the indefinite hunger strike with some 102 men and women.

Now that we have terminated the indefinite hunger strike, we are resuming our relay hunger strike from May 15th. We are planning a one-day youth conference on “The Futures of the Tamils” on May 17, 2012, the third anniversary of the Mullivaikal operation in Tamil Eelam. We also plan a candle-light procession and flower-throwing ceremony in the sea to honor the Tamils who lost their lives in the Sri Lankan genocide. We will have a planning meeting with the community elders, women and youth to plan the future course of our struggle on May 17th.

The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)