END MARTIAL LAW GOVERNANCE, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT AGGRESSION IN MANIPUR, INDIA: PROMULGATE A FITTING PUBLIC POLICY TO PROTECT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN MANIPUR
“Protecting indigenous peoples is protecting the Earth.”
[CSCHR, Solidarity Statement to the WCIP 2014]
22 SEPTEMBER 2014
On the occasion of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. a High Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly, from 22-23 September 2014, New York City, CSCHR transmitted a Solidarity Statement through its delegation led by Mr Jiten Yumnam.
- Manipur, an ancient indigenous native state of Asia known by various names in the past – Mekley, Kathé, Kangleipak – now an Indian provincial State located in its North East territories aptly embodies the struggles indigenous peoples worldwide are undergoing today, at the same time tragic and heroic in character.
- Like most indigenous peoples territories, from the Amazon and the Andes to North American plains and river basins, from the southern Africa to the Asia and the Pacific, where indigenous peoples and their communities have always lived close to each other and shared their natural inheritance, Manipur is a province with a territory shared by 33 communities indigenous to the region that straddles South and South East Asia.
- Throughout the greater part of the modern period of India’s independent history, from the 1950s till today, the indigenous peoples of Manipur comprising broadly of the Meitei, Naga and Kuki-Chin groups face three critical areas of threat that are relentlessly obliterating us, destroying our lands and extinguishing our great cultural heritage.
- Protecting indigenous peoples is protecting the Earth. The Government of India must end its denial of the existence of indigenous peoples within its territories, and embrace totally the undertaking in the United Nations to secure the rights of indigenous peoples.
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URGENT PRESS STATEMENT
Imphal, 12 September 2014
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR), a coalition of twenty-four (24) indigenous peoples’ human rights organizations of Manipur in India’s North East region, in an Emergency Meeting held today, expresses deep distress that the affirmative steps being taken up by the government of Manipur to find a just resolution to the public campaign for a significant and appropriate policy to safeguard the rights of the indigenous peoples of Manipur by promulgating a system comparable to the Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) has been derailed by a widely reported irresponsible Manipur police action on Monday, 8 September 2014 by officers from Imphal East District. The ILPS issue has seen two separate constructive resolutions in the Manipur State Assembly in 2012 and 2013, and the government of India has also been kept abreast of this demand by the people of Manipur.
On last Monday, a large number of Manipur Police officers from Imphal East reportedly picked up 12 (twelve) human rights defenders including four women and two students from the office of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) located in Nongmeibung, Imphal after beating up several persons and vandalising the office. The arrested persons are identified as Moirangthem Angamba Singh (34), Johnson Nongmaithem (29), Sumanta Monoharmayum (23), Elangbam Bijendra Meitei (22), Longjam Abothe Meitei (24), Konsam Phulindro Singh (54), Md. Sajad Buya (19), Sarangthem William Milton (25), Khumukcham (n) Naosekpam (o) Rashesori Devi (55), Okram (n) Khomdram (o) Gunabati Devi, Hijam Ibema Devi (42) and Nameirakpam Ibemcha Devi (55). It has been also reported that the office computers of JCILPS have been also seized by the police. In this arbitrary action the police did not serve any warrant to arrest and enter and search the JCILPS office or any arrest memo, clearly in violation of the law. Nongmeibung is within the Imphal Municipality area where the draconian AFSPA had been withdrawn since 2004. The Manipur police action is in clear infringement of even the terms laid down by the Honourable Supreme Court of India regarding the powers conferred to Union security forces only in disturbed areas where ASPA is enforced.
Mr Phulindro Konsam, Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights (COHR) Manipur, a renowned human rights defender of Manipur was among those arbitrarily arrested and charged by the police, and subsequently remanded to judicial custody. It is a matter of great ignominy that Mr Konsam who was just visiting the office of JCILPS for consultations on the imminent talks upon the invitation of the government of Manipur scheduled the next day (Tuesday, 9 September 2014) was randomly charged with several section of the IPC including common cause, wrongful concealment and confinement, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons and extortion without any evidence.
The steps taken by the police are in clear negation of India’s commitments under the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration and also breach the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A legitimate and democratic people’s campaign for the protection of their rights has been sought to be criminalised. COHR has further claimed in a media statement that its Chairman, Mr Konsam is innocent. CSCHR finds it totally perplexing that in Manipur, upholding the law seems to have been delegated as a task of the civil society; and officers of the state’s law enforcement agencies obligated to uphold the law are conducting themselves in a repressive and autocratic manner as if the rule of law has been dumped.
CSCHR urges the government of Manipur to ensure that the conducive climate for talks with JCILPs, which had been further enforced by the release of its co-convenor, Advocate P. Arun on 6 September 2014, be restored immediately by taking decisive disciplinary action against its erring law enforcement personnel whose arbitrary and illegal actions have resulted in the abrupt disruption of a political process highly crucial for the future of the indigenous population of Manipur.
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