Letter of condolence from European Coordinators for Sharmistha Choudhury

European Coordinators
World Women’s Conference of grassroots women
Suse Bader, Halinka Augustin

Condolences for our comrade and friend Sharmistha Choudhury, General Secretary of the All India Revolutionary Women’s Organisation (AIRWO) and leading comrade of the CPI (ML) Red Star

Sharmistha died on the 13th of June 2021 in a hospital in Kolkata (Calcutta) as a result of corona disease. She was only 45 years old.

Dear friends of AIRWO, comrades of the CPI (ML) Red Star,
It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of comrade Sharmistha.

On behalf of the militant world women’s movement, we extend our deepest condolences to her partner, her mother and to you all! Sharmistha’s death leaves a large gap in the revolutionary and international militant women’s movement.

We commemorate Sharmistha and her life’s work which has now ended so abruptly and far too soon.

Sharmistha was co-founder and leader of the All India Revolutionary Women’s Organisation (AIRWO), a mass movement with organisations in all states of India.

The liberation of women from exploitation and all forms of oppression was an important concern for her. As a revolutionary, she campaigned for liberation in a socialist society. Sharmistha also worked theoretically in this regard. The CPI (ML) Red Star writes in their obituary:

“On the question of women’s liberation, Sharmistha has written many important essays which have exposed the theoretical weakness of the communist movement from the beginning in developing a consistent political line and practice against Brahminical, Hindutua ideology and patriarchy …. and from …. all reactionary forces perpetuating the slavery of women and other genders. She has campaigned for the revolutionary emancipation of women….”.

Sharmistha was an internationalist. In this capacity, she actively contributed to the organisations and development of the World Women’s Conference of grassroots women. At the 1st and 2nd World Women’s Conferences in Caracas/Venezuela and Kathmandu/Nepal, she made valuable contributions with theoretical contributions, translation, mobilisation and organisation work. She was a safe pair of hands for the international militant women’s movement.

In December 2018, together with AIRWO and the coordinators of the World Women’s Conference, she organised the first strategy seminar of the world women’s movement in Bangalore/India. The women from Banghar (West Bengal) gave moving accounts of their 22-month struggle against energy giants and the Modi government’s privatisation plans.

Sharmistha, together with her partner Alik Chakraborty and other comrades, built the “Committee for the Defence of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment”.  The villagers blockaded the area and defended it against hooligans, government troops, police and representatives of the power giants. Over 20,000 people became active in these struggles and women played a prominent role.

Sharmistha trained and educated the women, who were often illiterate, on the tasks in the struggle. These women reported on this confidently, in colourful saris.

We heard: “I felt what freedom is for the first time.” and “Now we were sitting next to the men, we were no longer relegated to the house. When the men were arrested, we women stepped into their place in the struggle.”

On several occasions, the World Women’s Movement organised protest and solidarity actions for our comrade Sharmistha. Neither prison nor kidnapping stopped Sharmistha and her comrades from continuing the struggle.

Sharmistha was proposed to strengthen the Asian coordination of the World Conference on Women. Now this is no longer possible. The Indian authorities refused to allow her to leave the country in October 2019 and she was unable to attend the conference.

We bid you farewell Sharmistha, and we pledge to continue building our international militant women’s movement! At the 3rd World Women’s Conference in Tunisia in 2022, you will be there too!


We mourn the loss of Sharmistha Choudhury

Dear friends,

we are very sad to announce that our beloved friend and comrade Sharmistha passed away on 13/06/21 in a hospital in Kolkatta.

It is terrible and sad news and we wish our comrades and friends in India and her family much strength and solidarity.

Sharmistha was a cornerstone of revolutionary and women’s work in India and internationally. She was a leading force in the struggle of peasants in West Bengal for the preservation of their environmental and living resources.

She will be sorely missed by our friends in India and by all of us in the militant women’s movement as a friend, comrade and comrade-in-arms. Sharmistha only turned 45 years old.

A few weeks ago she contracted the coronavirus and had to be hospitalized because of additional problems caused by the disease. She got sick again when she was participating in the election campaign in Bhangar and had to stay away from all activities from then on. She was hospitalized on the eve of June 13.

European coordinators Halinka Augustin and Suse Bader

Thank you for your solidarity

Hello Halinka, Suse and Zaman,

We received your solidarity message on the very day when Women Farmers’ Day (18th January) was being observed at the farmers’ protest sites. Thank you very much.
Today our women gathered in large numbers at the protest sites to raise the voice of women farmers and protesters. The programme had a special significance because, very recently, in a very regressive observation, the Supreme Court of India advised the protesting farmers to ‘keep women away’ from the protest sites! Women across the country were outraged at the Court’s suggestion that women had no agency, that they were not conscious protesters, but had actually been ‘brought in’ by men and could be ‘sent back home’ by men. Hence today Women Farmers’ Day was spiritedly and militantly observed across the country, emphasising women’s inalienable right to protest and demanding repeal of the new draconian agri-laws.
I am sharing the links of two short videos here. The first shows Comrade Urmila of AIRWO reading out the solidarity message from the European Coordinators of the World Women’s Conference at the protest site on the borders (Tikri) of Delhi.
The next link shows Comrade Nandini of an organisation called Feminists in Resistance reading out the solidarity message at the protest site in Kolkata.
Warm regards,

European Coordinators
of the World Women’s Conference
Susanne Bader, Germany
Halinka Augustin, Netherlands
Zaman Masudi/ Germany

Dear Sharmistha
dear women of AIRWO
to the struggling peasants and women peasants

we European coordinators of the World Women’s Conference of Grassroots Women follow with great respect the development of the workers’, peasants’ and women’s struggles in India.
The new laws, the so-called “agrarian reform” mean the death of many small farmers. Therefore we are happy about the great success of the struggle that these laws have been suspended for the time being. An important reason for this was that the women’s movement, together with the workers and the revolutionaries of the country, declared solidarity with the peasants and carried out great mass activities.
We understand the news to mean that the Modi government is striving to give Indian corporations an edge in the international competition. Therefore, the government is dismantling the “hurdles” of profit maximization in the country. Wide sections of Indian society are affected and these attacks by the Modi government are also worsening the situation ofwomen and families.
It is an important signal for the international militant women’s movement and an expression of the growing women’s consciousness that in all these struggles women farmers, housewives, grandmothers, students, teachers up to nurses are in the front line and form the backbone of the protests. We read that in Delhi’s outskirts of Tikri, more than 2000 women are camping
there and carrying the protest. But it is not only in the capital that they are taking on important tasks, without which a sustained protest would not be possible: they are providing thousands of demonstrators with food and water and preparing beds for them to sleep in.
The masses of people fighting for their social and political rights in India have all our solidarity. We wish them full success !
Please convey our solidary and militant greetings from Europe to the struggling people!
Susanne Bader
Halinka Augustin
Zaman Masudi

Sharmistha Choudhury,
AIRWO (All India Revolutionary Women’s Organisation, India

It’s lovely to hear from you.

We are reading about the second wave of coronavirus in Europe in newspapers here and are full of apprehension. I also read that France and Germany have opted for another month-long lockdown. My best wishes to all of you and solidarity to all comrades fighting against the callousness of governments in effectively dealing with this pandemic. Meanwhile, the general news from Chile and Bolivia is encouraging in these bleak times. The women’s protest in Poland against anti-abortion legislation is also inspiring.

The situation in India is grim. The Hindu rightwing, fascist central government has intensified its attacks on the people. The economy has crashed. Joblessness and poverty are on the rise. India is 94 out of 107 countries on the Global Hunger Index, which shows how pathetic the situation is. On the other hand, Indian billionaires are getting richer and occupying top positions on the list of richest people in the world.

Unfortunately, the Indian Left has simply not been able to get its act together. A large section of the liberals is shouting that Covid is a hoax (like Trump) and there is no need of any special measures. Since the lockdown has increased joblessness and poverty, the common people are now having to make the choice between death by Covid and death by hunger. The government is using the misery of the people as an excuse to lift all restrictions, leading to a possible steep spike in Covid cases very soon. The Parliamentary Opposition simply refuses to raise and struggle for the demand that the government should shoulder economic responsibility and ensure that every needy family gets cash allowance from the government during the pandemic.

The fascist government is going full speed ahead with its agenda of converting India from a secular country into a Hindu nation. It is upholding Islamophobia and the recent incidents in France have given a filip to this. Voices of dissent are being ruthlessly crushed. Anyone criticising the government is being labelled as anti-national and put into prison.

Attacks on women are on the rise. The fascists are trying to seize all hard won women’s rights and champion the philosophy of Hindutva which relegates the status of woman to that of a slave to man. Dalit ((in the traditional Hindu caste system, a Dalit is a member of the lowest caste) women are being attacked and raped by so-called upper caste men. Those who protest against this are victimised by the government. In the incident of the rape and murder of a young girl in Hathras of Uttar Pradesh province, even a journalist going to report the incident was arrested and charged with anti-terrorist laws. The government did everything to pretend that no rape happened and a senior doctor in the hospital where the girl was first admitted before she died was dismissed from his job because he had publicly said that the girl had indeed been raped. Many more such incidents have occurred since then.

AIRWO is protesting against this state of affairs in the different provinces where it has strength. But the pandemic-related reality is not conducive to protests of the magnitude demanded by the situation.

I think I have written rather a long reply! I hope I do not strain your patience!

With love and solidarity,


International Call Corona pandemics

World Women’s Conference of grassroots women
Continental Coordinators
April 2020

The international militants women’s movement’s international call and catalogue of demands to all governments of the world

We demand protection- We do not want a state of emergency but a liberated world!

Without us women there is no solution to any of the urgent problems of this time. We women unite in the fight for a future worth living for all mankind. We do not agree with the way we are governed. We have learned from the past. The world economic and financial crisis of 2008 brought profits to banks and monopolies while the burden of the crisis was shifted onto workers, women and families. With this international call we rise up. We are managing this everyday crisis. We make our demands to the governments and monopolies. NOW!

The Corona pandemic is spreading over our countries and continents. It has already killed more than 100,000 people worldwide. We mourn the loss of these people and feel connected to their loved ones. Why do so many people have to die? Because capitalism has created a worldwide health crisis, and health systems are collapsing. There is a lack of protective clothing for doctors, nurses and carers. There is a lack of protection for the population. Old and sick and poor people are not being treated. This is a scandal. What is already dreadful for the rich industrial nations is a catastrophe in the poor countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and for refugees. We are fighting for a health system in which people are the centre of interest.

We accuse the capitalist profit economy of putting profit before people. While on the one hand the spread of the virus is to be slowed down by means of contact bans and curfews worldwide, the workers in the industrial plants, the textile factories, have to continue working very close to each other.

We demand worldwide:

  • Extensive protection of workers in the textile industry, in the industrial plants, a ban on dismissals and lay-offs, continued payment of wages in case of plant closures, increase of salaries and reduction of working hours with full wage compensation!

  • Effective protective clothing for doctors, nurses and nursing staff!

  • Free, mass testing of all people in the neighbourhoods where we live!

  • Immediate expansion of the medical infrastructure!

  • Creation of new jobs and traineeships in the nursing sector!

  • Free distribution of protective masks and disinfectants!

  • Free care and medication for the sick!

  • The money for this must be taken from the big corporations and from the gigantic military budgets!

Although so-called “simulation games” have long been in place to prepare countries for an epidemic, no government in the world has taken appropriate precautions. All governments are misinforming, some are even belittling the pandemic with serious consequences.

We denounce those who steal protective equipment out of national selfishness, export protective equipment for pure profit while leaving their own people without protection, or poach care workers from poor countries.

We demand worldwide coordinated research and development of vaccines, medicines, for all people! No enticement of qualified personnel!

The current crisis demonstrates an overwhelming, transnational solidarity of working people. It reveals creativity, inventiveness and courage. Women are at the centre of the organisation of this day-to-day crisis life worldwide: in the care professions, in trade, in families. We are prepared to give everything for life, we support measures necessary for our health, but we are angry when our willingness to make sacrifices is exploited to reduce our rights and freedoms.

We demand broad information campaigns instead of state violence by the military and police, threats of arrest and warnings! We will not let our hard-won rights be taken away! No state of emergency exercises!

We condemn these measures!

Due to the curfew, women in Africa, Asia, Latin America can no longer sell their goods, they have no money, no food – famine is threatening people in the poverty-stricken areas of the world. Migrant women and refugees are particularly affected worldwide. Day labourers, migrant workers work in provinces that are often far away from their homes. The factory owners have thrown them onto the streets without pay, and they too are dying of hunger. The police and the military are often brutal. Farmers can no longer sell their crops.

We demand:

  • Financial security for day labourers, migrant and temporary workers and for small traders!

  • Acceptance and distribution of agricultural products by governments!

  • Free distribution of food to poor families in cities and rural areas!

  • Running, clean water for every household!

  • Comprehensive measures for the most vulnerable: refugees, poor, homeless!

  • Dissolution of the refugee camps and safe housing for them!

  • Fight against racist attempts to create division!

We condemn these measures!

For the majority of the population, curfew actually means living together in a small space, with hardly any opportunity for a break or personal retreat. No school, no kindergarten, no work. This increases domestic violence against women and children. Women take care of the mental, emotional and physical health of all family members without paying attention to their own needs.

We demand:

  • Ban all evictions and foreclosures

  • Prohibition of giving the tenant notice of termination in case of overdue rent!

  • State aid, hot meals, and emergency care for children and old people!

  • Teaching and learning materials as well as help for children in case of school closures!

  • Information in the media for victims of violence!

  • Help and provision of rooms for the accommodation of victims of violence!

  • Use networks to outlaw gender-specific violence!

Women of the world, the corona crisis is a historic challenge and we are responding to it with a historic step. Across continents we have agreed on this call and these demands. The Corona crisis reveals a systemic crisis. Capitalism is not able to provide us with a life in dignity. So we take matters into our own hands. Today we can see once again that women are “essential” to the system. And this awareness gives us strength to fight for our demands. Therefore we have to develop the international cooperation we have already started to a higher level:

  • We strengthen our solidarity with one another and coordinate our activities across ideological differences as an international movement.

  • We share forms of struggle such as “noise demonstrations”, banging with pots, and find new ones.

  • For the poorest countries, debt relief is needed.

  • The ruling monopolies must pay for the crisis – not the broad masses. This can be done through a special tax.

  • We must fight for better working conditions and higher wages.

Only if we organise ourselves we will become a force, in trade unions, in neighbourhoods, in women’s associations. Strengthen the world women’s movement of the World Women’s Conference of grassroots women. A great opportunity for this is the World Women’s Conference of grassroots women in Tunisia at the end of 2021.

Let us be like a olive tree

Rooted in the earth

Reaching for the sun and strong

Nobody and nothing can break us!

Women of the world weave a bond of solidarity!

Call for the 3rd World Women’s Conference
of grassroots women 2021 in Tunis!

From the Andes, to the Rocky Mountains, from Ayers Rock to the Alps, from the Himalayas to the Urals and Atlas, our call resounds and becomes an outcry that spreads across the world – echoing in the metropolises until it finally reaches every corner of the earth! It embraces more and more women. Let us weave a bond of solidarity together!

Come to Tunis for the 3rd World Women’s Conference 2021!

Tunisian women textile workers are fighting against work stress, gender discrimination and violence at work. Courageous strike leaders are put on black lists. Women textile workers in Bangladesh fight unionized for a minimum wage that is enough to live on. They defy prison and violence. They all form the backbone of the militant women’s movement.
In Iran the embers of the revolution are re-ignited, women stand up – defying death – against the Islamist-fascist mullah government. Their demand for women’s rights is connected with the struggles of the workers. Indigenous women of Latin America fight for the future of the children and the planet. They call out to the world: Save our mother earth!
The courageous women fighters of Rojava, side by side with the men, defend their democratic revolution with the most extensive women’s rights against the invasion by the troops of the fascist Erdogan government, which is against international law.
Africa’s women are rising up against the dictate of oppression and plundering of their continent by imperialist countries of many colours. “Our continent, its resources can feed us and our children but not the imperialist bandits!”
In Europe, women are fighting courageously, powerfully and resolutely for their interests. On the other side, fascist and proto-fascist forces are gaining strength. Women are standing up against this rightward development, fighting for the preservation and development of women’s rights, against increasing violence and murders of women.
The young generation has also set out on its way. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, one of the largest youth movements in the world has emerged with “Fridays for Future”. Their demand “System change – not climate change” connects youth, women, environmental and labour movements!
The establishment of World Women’s Conferences of grassroots women since 2006 is the answer to the crises of imperialism:

With the 1st World Women’s Conference 2011 in Caracas (Venezuela) we have started to weave the first threads of the bond of solidarity. For the first time, grassroots women of the world came together and exchanged information about the situation, struggles and women’s movement in their countries.
With the 2nd World Women’s Conference 2016 in Kathmandu (Nepal) the bond was strengthened and woven into a world women’s movement. In view of increasing attacks on the women of the world, death threats against our representatives and arrests, the world women’s movement must make the bond of cooperation and coordination unbreakable with the 3rd World Women’s Conference 2021 in Tunis (Tunisia). Women of all continents are no longer willing to play the role assigned to them by capitalism. With the strategy debate that started in 2018 and the theoretical seminar in India, the world women’s movement has broken new ground. This was an important step that we must now continue.

• We continue our strategy debate for the liberation of women! For this we will carry out discuss all ideological disputes in solidarity to develop the women’s consciousness in the militant world women’s movement.
• We take responsibility in our countries for the urgently needed fight against fascism and war.
• We will develop the militant women’s movement in our countries into large, strong and opinion-forming mass movements.
• We strengthen our international coordination and cooperation.
• In the world women’s process of the last 10 years, we have built a good, sustainable foundation: our movement is across party lines, democratic, financially independent. Our movement brings together the masses of women of the world “From Religion to Revolution”.

But that is not enough. The militant world women’s movement is facing great new tasks, because the imperialist world system in its crisis-proneness tries to smash militant movements with division, ideological confusion and violence. In contrast, we must strengthen our militant women’s movement ideologically, politically and organisationally.
Let our bond of solidarity shine in the brightest colours, appear in the most diverse forms, become unbreakable with thousands and thousands of threads. Let it fly in the wind of the coming liberation, let it hang on the olive trees, symbols of steadfastness and resistance.
We are glad to have been invited by the Committee of Women of Tunisia. Let’s go to Tunisia. Tunis here we come!