A delegation of CSCHR attended the 36th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. During the session for the adoption of the outcome document on India’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to improve its human rights situation, on 21st September 2017, the Government of India (GoI) formally accepted 152 recommendations out of the 250 recommendations given by 112 member states of the United Nations. The remaining 98 recommendations were simply noted. However, most of the human rights issues critical to the situation in Manipur including the repeal/review of AFSPA, ratification of Convention on Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearances (CED), moratorium on death penalty, ratification of the Rome Statute on International Criminal Court, etc., are only noted without indicating a follow up plan and not accepted. Many international organizations including Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurist, FORUM-ASIA, WGHR, etc., strongly denounced the GoI’s continued refusal to accept the recommendation for the repeal/review of AFSPA.
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE PRESS STATEMENT
Imphal, 13th January 2017
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and UN (CSCHR Manipur) submitted its joint stakeholders’ submission report, “BROKEN PROMISES AND ABDICATED OBLIGATIONS” on the status of human rights in Manipur to the UN Human Rights Council for consideration during the examination of India in the third cycle of Universal Periodic Review on the 4th of May this year. The report, which was submitted on 22 September 2016, was prepared through a collective wide-ranging consultative process, consisting of several formal meetings conducted from August to September 2016.
While voicing clear concerns regarding the increasingly openly and deliberately flaunted human rights protection and promotion by states worldwide, CSCHR’s report focuses on the continuing serious concerns regarding the human rights situation prevailing in Manipur. Manipur remains one of the States with a continuous peoples’ movement for the right to self-determination in India since its merger with the Indian union in 1949 in conditions that violated international law.
The report also highlighted very substantive gaps between the information shared by the government and other stakeholders, the recommendations arising therefrom, the acceptance of such recommendations and their implementation by the government of India. India’s approach to this review of deciding to selectively “accept” specific human rights recommendations regarding the outcomes of its UPR 1st cycle and UPR 2nd cycle reviews undermines the basic principle of human rights and its total disregard of parliamentary scrutiny and public accountability also defeats the purpose of setting up such principles and mechanisms to monitor the implementation and achievements in protecting and promoting human rights.
India has also failed to realize its guarantee under Article 253 of its Constitution in fulfilling international human rights obligations by making necessary and appropriate legislation or incorporating new amending provisions in existing domestic laws in accordance with international standards.
Describing the serious situation prevailing in Manipur, the CSCHR report sought the Human Rights Council’s attention on serious violations of civil and political rights under a repressive de facto military regime and state of emergency that has existed from the 50s. Militarisation has impacted on every sphere of human development and governance, and indigenous peoples’ rights are being aggressively violated. CSCHR also informed the UN about the serious challenges confronting the indigenous peoples of Manipur today due to the state sponsored infusion of outsiders and migrants into Manipur that has dangerous implications to the survival of the native inhabitants, and has also led to land alienation, economic subjugation, political repression, irreparable injury to indigenous culture and tradition, conflicts and violence.
The following recommendations were submitted to be made to the government of India and its union States:
- Government of India should respect the Manipur peoples’ right to self-determination as per the General Assembly Resolution 1514, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and seek a political solution to the ongoing armed conflict in Manipur.
- Government of India should repeal Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 as recommended by previous UPR Working Group, Human Rights Committee, Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women as well as the Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defender, Summary, Arbitrary and Extra-judicial Executions, Violence Against Women, etc.
- Government of India should also repeal other security legislations and counter terrorism measures, such as the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act, 1967, National Security act, 1980, etc.
- Government of India should promptly investigate and prosecute all Indian security forces involved in gross human rights violations.
- That the Government of India should remove all its “Reservations” and “Declarations” on all International Conventions and Treaties.
- The government of India should ensure that all MoUs for mega dams in Manipur, without indigenous peoples free, prior and informed consent be withdrawn.
- The Government of India and Jubilant Energy should stop all petroleum and drilling related activities in Manipur till indigenous peoples’ rights over their land and resources are recognized.
- Policies introduced such as the North East Hydrocarbon Policy, 2030, the Manipur Hydroelectric Policy of 2012, Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, 2006, should be repealed.
- Stop all plans for forced commissioning of Mapithel Dam. The 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project should be decommissioned
- The Government should stop targeting human rights defenders and indigenous organizations involved in promoting sustainable development and in challenging destructive projects
- All projects financed by IFIs should take the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and fully adheres with the provisions of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples (UNDRIP)
- Recognition of indigenous people as ‘indigenous’ by guaranteeing all indigenous rights of protection and positive discrimination that includes ownership over land and resources.
- The Government should fully implement the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007
- Ratify the International Labour Organisation’s convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Rights.
PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE FULL REPORT
News Media Briefing Paper on follow-up report of the Special Rapporteur (SR) on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns: INDIA
News Media Briefing Paper for Press Conference
18 June 2015
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR) presents a summary of the salient features of the follow-up report of the Special Rapporteur (SR) on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, which he will be presenting to the Human Rights Council 29th session in Geneva later today. The report analyses the steps taken by India to implement the recommendations contained in the mission to India report made following his visit to the country from 19 to 30 March 2012. The follow-up report was prepared on the basis of all available information and was completed on 30 April 2015. The Special Rapporteur requested information from the Government and from other actors on the steps that had been taken to implement the recommendations made. While acknowledging that some steps have been taken since his visit to address human rights violations and in support of victims of terrorist-related activities, the independent expert urges the Government of India to implement the recommendations contained in the visit report in so far as this has not been done. He says that impunity remains a serious challenge, as does the implementation of existing guidelines and directives issued by the courts and national human rights institution.
After that official visit in 2012, during which he also visited the North Eastern region upon the invitation of CSCHR, the SR had reported extrajudicial killings by security officers, the State Police, Armed Forces and armed groups. He also reported killings related to communal violence and practice affecting women rights to life as a serious problem in some areas of the country. In addition, he noted a number of challenges at various stages of the accountability process leading to impunity in many instances. Significantly, the SR raised the question of the AFSPA 1958 strongly and reported to the UN that “the powers granted under AFSPA are in reality broader than that allowable under a state of emergency as the right to life may effectively be suspended under the Act and the safeguards applicable in a state of emergency are absent. Moreover, the widespread deployment of the military creates an environment in which the exception becomes the rule, and the use of lethal force is seen as the primary response to conflict. This situation is also difficult to reconcile in the long term with India’s insistence that it is not engaged in an internal armed conflict. The Special Rapporteur is therefore of the opinion that retaining a law such as AFSPA runs counter to the principles of democracy and human rights. Its repeal will bring domestic law more in line with international standards, and send a strong message that the Government is committed to respect the right to life of all people in the country.”
The SR had made a number of recommendations regarding the need to reform laws, and policies to ensure the accountability of State actors for violations of the right to life, including the repeal of AFSPA; the establishment of a commission of inquiry into extrajudicial executions in India, which should also serve a transitional justice role; the need to increase the protection of civilians, especially vulnerable groups, through legal reform as well as information and awareness-raising campaigns and increased sensitization and orientation programmes; and the need to strengthen State institutions, including the judiciary and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The SR mentions in his follow-up report that the Supreme Court of India appointed a commission on 4 January 2013 to inquire into six alleged cases of extrajudicial executions in Manipur, to report on the functioning of the State Police and the Security Forces in the state of Manipur and to make recommendations for keeping the police and security forces within the legal bounds without compromising the fight against insurgencies. The Commission also addressed the larger question on the role of the police and the security forces in Manipur. However, much remains to be done to address and prevent extrajudicial killings and to ensure accountability. Often, guidelines provided by the courts or the NHRC and recommendations by commissions of inquiry remain on paper with little or no implementation on the ground. Impunity continues to prevail with various legislative provisions and practices that hinder full and proper accountability. The result is that vulnerable persons, including women, marginalized communities, human rights defenders, victims and witnesses, continue to remain at risk of violence, often resulting in death.
The present report mentions that no independent and accountable mechanism to monitor the registration of First Information Reports (FIRs) exists. The SR also regrets that India has not followed the recommendation that it repeal or at least radically amend AFSPA to ensure that legislation regarding the use of force is brought in line with international human rights law and to remove all legal barriers for the criminal prosecution of members of the armed forces.
The SR’s report mentions that the Government has failed to implement his recommendation that autopsies be carried out in conformity with international standards and that the families of victims be given full and easy access to autopsy reports, as well as death certificates and other relevant documentation to allow them to proceed with the closure of the cases. The SR also regrets that India has not ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, nor has and Punishment and its Optional Protocol; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance been ratified. He also reports that India has not implemented his recommendations for the government to consider the ratification of (a) the two Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; (b) the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; (c) the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; and (d) the two Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions.
The SR has expressed concern that non-State actors resorting to the use of deadly violence have threatened the lives and security of civilians and the security of India and strongly condemns the callous nature of these acts. The State has a duty to protect its people from such acts of violence, but should do so in accordance with international human rights standards. The SR recommended that the State ensure that command and/or superior responsibility be applied for violations by security officials of the right to life, and that the establishment and effective functioning of the Independent Police Complaints Authorities should be made a priority in all states. The SR regrets that, according to the information received, that responsibility remains absent. In his country visit report, the SR recommended that promotions and other types of awards for security officers suspected to have been involved in unlawful killings should not be granted until the facts are fully clarified that “no out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantry rewards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence. It must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given/recommended only when the gallantry of the concerned officers is established beyond doubt”.
In this regard, the SR welcomes the order of the Supreme Court and calls upon the Government to ensure its full and proper implementation. He also notes that police officers who have been suspended upon their arrest in cases of suspected extrajudicial killings and charged with extrajudicial killings have been reinstated in senior positions in the police force by the State. The SR is concerned that this will encourage impunity and may impede the criminal trials against the reinstated officers. The SR also recommended that the Government put in place a mechanism to regularly review and monitor the status of implementation of the directives of the Supreme Court and the NHRC guidelines on arrest, encounter killings, and custodial violence and death. He notes that, so far, no mechanism has been put in place to undertake the review and monitoring as recommended.
The SR had recommended that the State ensure, in addition to the payment of compensation to the victims or their families, that criminal investigations, prosecutions and trials be launched and conducted in a swift, effective and impartial manner in all cases of unlawful killings, irrespective of the status of the perpetrator. The practice of paying compensation to victims or their families has often replaced prosecution. While compensation is crucial in redressing violations, it should never replace the investigation and prosecution of alleged perpetrators. The investigations and prosecutions must be launched in a swift, effective and impartial manner. But this recommendation has not been implemented.
In his country visit report, the SR expressed concern over the increased targeting of human rights defenders, by both State and non-State actors. Journalists and human rights defenders often fall victim to the violence between armed groups and the Government. The SR recommended that the State establish an effective witness and victim protection programme. No programme has yet been created by the State.
In order to strengthen the NHRC, the SR recommended that the State amend section 19 of the Protection of Human Rights Act to provide the Commission with express authorization to investigate members of the armed forces for alleged human rights violations. No steps have been taken by the State to amend section 19.
In his country visit report, the SR recommended that the independence and the functioning of State human rights commissions be reviewed to ensure compliance with the Principles relating to the status of national institutions (Paris Principles). The SR is not aware of any such review under way in the State. There is a need for fully independent bodies to be established to ensure that investigations are properly conducted and perpetrators are held to account.
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR), a coalition of twenty-three (23) indigenous peoples’ human rights organizations of Manipur in India’s North East region, is extremely concerned with the deepening political instability in Manipur and particularly with the situation of open armed conflict on the eastern flank of Manipur, in Chandel District bordering with Myanmar’s Sagaing Division. It has been widely reported that after the 4th June lethal apparently pre-planned ambush of a convoy of the 6th Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army near Paraolon Village by unidentified cadres of an armed opposition group or organisation that left at least 18 army personnel dead and many more injured, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, chief of the Army and top commanding generals of the Eastern Command gathered in Imphal the next day to initiate activities to “sanitise the area completely”.
CSCHR is a coalition that upholds the principles and statutes of humanitarian and human rights law that are established worldwide, to which members of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) including India are state parties. The coalition does not believe in armed conflict and militaristic solutions aimed at objective of peace and development as a final solution to intractable and sensitive political situations. In this context, and in solidarity with many civil society organisations that have voiced their disapproval in strongest terms, CSCHR does not support or condone in any way, the escalations of armed violence and confrontations between government and non-state armed forces in Manipur and the North East Region of India.
We strongly disapprove of the de facto “state of siege” that exists in Chandel district today, which is beyond the “Rule of Law” and the gaze of the public through the media. We grieve for those who have lost precious lives unnecessarily, as no line of duty in this modern world should involve the grave risk of such violence and untimely death.
Considering that the State of Manipur, for several decades, has been continuously declared a “disturbed area”, with the imposition of the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act of 1958 (AFSPA) to manage the law and order situation, this abrupt development augurs ill for the State and central governments’ views and policies pursued to maintain peace and tranquillity in Manipur. It is far from clear who is in control of the situation in the localities around the ambush site in Chandel District, with the 3 Corps GOC Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat stating that a “people friendly” operation is being carried out to flush out the non-state opposition groups from Manipur completely. Surprisingly, the State government and the district administration seem to have no visible or vocal role in this sanitisation exercise, except for a tacit acquiescence.
With more dead bodies, some suspected to be civilians, being still found from the area, the perceptible lack of involvement or coordination between the central armed and paramilitary forces and the Chandel District administration is underlined by the Deputy Commissioner of Chandel having reportedly to seek “permission” in writing from the army for the families of missing persons to carry out search and identification procedures.
It is perplexing how the Chief Minister of Manipur, who is the chairman of the Unified Command structure of Manipur under the jurisdiction of AFSPA, does not consider he is accountable for the activities of the central armed and paramilitary forces in Chandel District. It is unacceptable that neither he nor the Deputy Chief Minister in charge of home affairs in the State have visited the district immediately after the incident to take stock of the situation, even though top generals of India have flown in from New Delhi! If it is also true, as widely reported that the Indian army unit, which suffered tragic fatalities and losses, had been violating Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the Unified Command under the chairmanship of the CM of Manipur seems to have abdicated its role and functions totally.
There seems to be dual commands stand in this ongoing situation with the State and central governments both announcing having launched simultaneous inquiries. This non-transparent and dual situation, with the central authorities calling the shots, does not comply at all with a “people friendly” operation. If the statement by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat is to have any credence whatsoever, the Chandel District administration, the Manipur police including women police officers must lead the search operations with the cooperation of central security forces. The media must be allowed into the area unhindered as there are no more fire fights or active hostilities as reported.
It is incumbent on the state to ensure that humanitarian laws, especially Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions as the minimum standard, and human rights are respected in all aspects of the present operation. Humanitarian law is particularly critical because of the involvement of the Indian Army undertaking war-like operations in civilian, especially tribal areas of Manipur. Utmost due diligence is expected from the high command under which the central military and paramilitary forces are presently undertaking this operation. In this context, and in cognizance of the Supreme Court of India’s rulings on such matters as counterinsurgency operations, CSCHR views with contempt that civil administration officials do not form a central part of the current operations being conducted in the indigenous tribal peoples populated Chandel, as ordered by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
We concur with the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s views that “modern Constitutionalism posits that no wielder of power should be allowed to claim the right to perpetrate state’s violence against any one, much less its own citizens, unchecked by law, and notions of innate human dignity of every individual;” and that the state in a democracy, is not justified in resorting to illegal means to deal with such movements, in violation of the Constitution, statutory laws and the ‘Rule of Law’, as this would lead to ever increasing levels of escalating violence, in particular in the face of genuine discontent as reported by official committees of the government, reminding governments, law makers, civil and military officials and citizens.
The State Government and District administration, having declared a curfew in Chandel, must clarify the exact geographical extent of the search operation. The Director General Police of Manipur must update the public and media daily on the activities and developments in the area of the operation. Civilian populations displaced and affected in any way by the search operation must have immediate access to humanitarian and legal aid, psychosocial support and adequate shelter including food, sanitation and safe drinking water though a procedure of direct assessment conducted jointly by competent officers and representatives of the District administration and non-government organisations.
The unforgettable tragedy that befell Oinam in Senapati District of Manipur in 1987, when the civilian population was put under a state of violent siege, terrorised, tortured, killed and subjected to the most inhuman abuses must never be repeated. The State Government has a crucial responsibility to ensure that the civilian population of Chandel District is accorded the fullest protection under the law; and it is unacceptable that the home minister Gaikhangam merely spouts the usual term “unfortunate” and has not described what the “maximum efforts” that the State government is making.
We welcome the news reported that the Indian army is being divested of counter-insurgency duties in the North East Region of India. With such a national policy level trend within the government of India, as reported, the AFSPA should now be seriously considered for repeal by parliament, as recommended repeatedly at the international and national levels. The governments of Manipur and India must leave no stone unturned to see that a peaceful and confidence building situation is in place for a just resolution to this tragic and prolonged armed conflict.
CLICK ON LINKS BELOW TO READ THE STATEMENT IN MEDIA WEBSITES
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.
TO READ THE FULL SOLIDARITY STATEMENT, CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW
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.
SEE THE FULL RELEASE HERE
CSCHR welcomes the release of Irom Chanu Sharmila,, urges immediate withdrawal of prohibitory CrPC s.144 from Ukhrul and Imphal Districts
Imphal, 20 August 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, welcomes the historic and far-sighted judgement and orders passed on 19 August 2014 by the District and Sessions Court of Imphal East District of Manipur for the immediate release of Irom Chanu Sharmila who has been continuously on a fast since 2000 for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 as victory of her and the people of Manipur’s moral and political stance. The court has decreed that her imprisonment under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code is not supported by any evidence that she is “attempting to commit suicide” and clearly pointing to her intention “in surviving to continue her mission of repealing AFSPA to reach its logical conclusion”, and that her “agitation is a political demand through a lawful means of repealing” the draconian law.
The Coalition would like to stress that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 facilitated extensive militarization in all indigenous peoples land and territories of Manipur. The Government of India refused to repeal the Act in spite of the recommendations of series of UN human rights bodies, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo during her visit to Manipur in 2013.
The Coalition denounces the serious human rights violations, in particular torture and extrajudicial executions, perpetrated both by the Manipur Police along with the Indian Army under several emergency legislations, including the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act), 1958 all over the State of Manipur. The Justice (retd.) Santosh Hedge headed high-level Commission appointed by the Supreme Court of India had already confirmed the fake encounter killings perpetrated both by the Manipur Police and the Indian Army and paramilitary units operating in Manipur.
The Government of Manipur usually resorts to violent repressive measures, including prolonged invocation of Section 144 prohibiting conglomeration of 5 or more people under Code of Criminal Procedure, arbitrary detention and torture of human rights defenders throughout the State of Manipur, and in particular within the Valley districts.
The CSCHR fully endorses the appeal of the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) and Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP) for the immediate withdrawal of CrPC Section 144 that has been invoked in and around Ukhrul in Manipur for more than a month, and to end all forms of militarization and martial law governance.
The Coalition would like to urge upon the Government of Manipur to immediately withdraw the invocation of sections of CrPC in Ukhrul Town in the last month and the imposition of the similar restrictions in Imphal East and West Districts since the last more than one decade, and to end all forms of militarization in all indigenous peoples territories of Manipur under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. The coalition would like to urge upon the Governments of Manipur State and India to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and other emergency laws and policies in Manipur.
28 July 2014: Expressing condolences to all those families and communities that have lost their lives in the ongoing “situation of war” in the Gaza Strip over the last days, various human rights defenders and organizations of Manipur urge the government of India to end military and defence relations with the government of Israel including the purchase of military hardware from the country.
“The government of India to end military and defence relations with the government of Israel including the purchase of military hardware from Israel and step up humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip,” reads a joint statement from the organizations.
Here is the full text of the statement:
A STATEMENT ON GAZA: A SITUATION OF WAR EXISTS
28 July 2014
Human rights defender and civil society organisations in Manipur are highly concerned with the ongoing situation of war in the Gaza Strip, and view it as one of the most horrendous humanitarian disasters and crisis of serious human rights violations of this century. We are extremely concerned that Israel, a full member state of the UN, and Palestine, a non-member observer state of the UN since 2012 are both directly involved in the crisis. The heart-wrenching pictures of mutilated and wounded infants and young children bears witness to the abject failure of the conflicting parties as well as the international community to conclude this tragedy and affront to humanity. Considering this escalating brutally violent situation that has seen no sign of ending till today, it has become necessary for us to express our united position.
Within the last five years, since 2009, the Palestinian region known as the Gaza Strip has experienced at least three major incursions by the defence forces of Israeli state that resulted in untold human suffering to the local population in the most shocking dimensions. The present one, and third of the offensives, of bombardment and assault of Gaza from land, air and sea by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), using a wide variety of sophisticated modern weapons against a basically exposed civilian population, has now gone on for as many as twenty days. Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is a naked attempt to obliterate civil society in the Gaza Strip.
Health institutions, hospitals, mosques and even schools in Gaza have been deliberately targeted in this the latest outbreak of war, and the death toll has crossed 1000, of which more than 80 per cent are claimed to be civilians and includes more than 200 children. There are more than five thousand injured, at least half of them are children and UN claims that there are now 167,000 internally displaced persons in Gaza. The patent abrogation of international humanitarian and human rights norms is glaring in the images depicting the brutality of the deepening crisis in the Middle East.
On the other hand, at least 35 personnel of the IDF have been killed, many of them attributed to reported friendly fire, and rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets by Hamas have been continuous. Civilian casualties in Israel have been relatively very low, only three, contrasting with the very high toll among the Palestinians. Dozens have been reportedly injured in the rocket attacks. There is no recorded internal displacement in Israel.
“Disproportionate” must be the qualifying descriptor of this violent confrontation by the Israeli state. Internationally accepted position of every country’s right to self-defence definitely does not include any right or privilege to commit a genocidal and merciless campaign of state terror upon an unarmed and defenceless civilian population in what is perhaps rightly called the world’s largest and most shameful open prison.
In 1994, after 27 years of occupation, granted the right of self-governance to Gaza through the Palestinian Authority. Prior to this, Gaza had been subject to military occupation, most recently by Israel (1967–94) and by Egypt (1958–67), and earlier by Syria when Gaza had been part of the Ottoman Empire. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been de-facto governed by Hamas, a Palestinian group claiming to be the representatives of the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian people. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly “accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations”. Gaza forms a part of the Palestinian territory defined in the Oslo Agreements and UNSC Resolution 1860.
The wars that have involved the Gaza Strip wrought havoc amongst its population. The physical and psychosocial health consequences constitute a major burden in Gaza. The widespread use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in this region has led to courageous initiatives from the medical fraternity to rehabilitate the survivor victims. Many years of effort painstakingly built up over the two decades is being ruthlessly and rapidly destroyed. It will take many years to gain some small ground again to rehabilitate the victims of this latest flare-up of armed conflict.
In 2009, the UN’s Human Rights Council established the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict with the mandate “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.” The report of this mission, known as the Goldstone Report, is perhaps the most prominent, comprehensive and fair human rights report on the Gaza till date. Yet, many of the important recommendations made to both the Israeli state and the Palestinian Authority have never been implemented.
The Human Rights Council, last Wednesday, adopted yet another resolution to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights since mid-June in the Gaza Strip, and it also condemned Israel for potential infractions of international law. While we welcome this resolution that marks the concern among the international community of nations, we remain with scepticism whether such steps will ever be a positive and constructive impetus towards a just solution to the Israel-Palestine question.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (S/RES/242), which was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War has yet to be implemented. In fact, this resolution has been assigned to the growing heap of adopted resolutions by the United Nations that are rejected or ignored by the parties to the conflict. Adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, the preamble to this resolution refers to the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security.”
It’s Operative Paragraph One “Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
- Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
- Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
In this position, human rights defender and civil society organisations in Manipur reiterate that we are aware that the situation of human rights within both the Palestinian Territories and Israel (including the occupied territories) is inadequate. Israel is seen as a transgressor while the Palestinians are perceived as the wronged. However, the situation in Palestinian Territories may be considered as one of declining civil liberties for its citizens, due to the many reliable reports of shooting deaths of civilians by Palestinian security personnel; the summary trials and executions of alleged collaborators by the Palestinian Authority; extrajudicial killings of suspected collaborators by militias; and the apparent official encouragement of Palestinian youths to confront Israeli soldiers, thus placing them directly in harm’s way. Discrimination of non-Jewish populations in Israel is also widely reported. The practices of political imprisonment and administrative detention are very high in Israel according to reliable sources. Accusations of alleged use of civilian or non-combatant human shields to achieve “military objectives”, a war crime, have been raised on both parties to the conflict.
Militarisation and flawed financial aid in this region with the support of arms supplies from many known and unknown sources has been one of the major hurdles to reach lasting peace. Munitions from foreign suppliers are used by both parties to the conflict to target civilians. There must a concerted resolve and action place a strong embargo on all arms and weapons supplies to both warring parties. This is, in our view, one of the key components of any immediate and long-term initiative towards real peace in the region. The vision of peace in this region must be informed by the committed understanding that demilitarisation is the only answer to the insecurities and perceived threats to Israel or the Palestinians.
We cannot ignore the regional geopolitical strategies employed by the Israeli state, which consistently transgresses every norm and decent value of the community of nations in the world. This constitutes the roots of the stubborn conflict and intransigent nature of both warring parties. Western companies’ continued investment in companies and projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people continue to perpetuate a deeply unjust expansionism of an obviously hegemonic state. 17 EU countries recently issued warnings to their citizens against doing business or investing in illegal Israeli settlements. It is now a fact that tax-payers’ money from USA and European countries have been used by their irresponsible governments, corporations and financial institutions to finance Israel’s military and unlawful settlements. Such flawed aid and supplies underwrites the true economic costs of Israel’s belligerent role in the region.
The human rights defenders and organizations of Manipur fully recognize the Right to Self Determination of all peoples, and:
Express heart-felt condolences to all those families and communities that have lost so many lives in such a brutal and violent manner over the last days. The civil society in the Gaza Strip is being literally obliterated, and the loss is not just a loss to all humankind but also our failure;
Call upon the Government of Israel, Hamas and other armed militant Palestinian organisations in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian National Authority to immediately end all forms of aggression and offensive action against the citizens of the Gaza Strip and Israel;
Further call upon them to end violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip, and the resolutions of the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council on the situation of Palestine including Gaza;
Call upon the peoples of Israel and Palestinian Territories to abide by norms of human decency, non-discriminations and any form of racism or racial discrimination; any form of apartheid and anti-Semitism is rejected;
Call upon the United Nations to immediately impose an overdue comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups;
Commends the government of India for its support to UN Human Rights Council resolution made during an emergency session on 23rd July 2014 in Geneva that condemned in the strongest terms the “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms” arising from the Israeli military operations since 13 June, called for an immediate ceasefire and decided to launch an independent inquiry into purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
Further urge the government of India to end military and defence relations with the government of Israel including the purchase of military hardware from Israel and step up humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip;
Also call upon private and public corporations and financial institutions such as ABP, Hewlett-Packard, Veolia, Barclays, Caterpillar, and G4S, among others, to withdraw immediately from continued investment in companies and projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people.
All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association (AMANA)
Centre of Network and Empowerment (CoNE)
Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE)
Centre for Research & Advocacy (CRA Manipur)
Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD)
Civil Liberties and Human Rights Organisation (CLAHRO)
Civil Liberties Protection Forum (CLPF)
Committee on Human Rights, Manipur (COHR)
Ethno-Heritage Council (HERICOUN)
Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association Manipur (EEVFAM)
Families of the Involuntarily Disappeared’s Association Manipur (FIDAM)
Federation of Regional Indigenous Societies (FREINDS)
Forum for Indigenous Perspective and Action (FIPA)
Human Rights Alert (HRA)
Human Rights Initiative (HRI)
Human Rights Law Network Manipur (HRLN-M)
Human to Humane Transcultural Centre for Torture and Trauma (H2H)
Just Peace Foundation (JPF)
Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR)
Movement for Peoples’ Right to Information Manipur (M-PRIM)
North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF)
Threatened Indigenous Peoples Society (TIPS)
United Peoples Front (UPF)
CSCHR welcomes Indian Supreme Court’s judgement on commutation of 15 death sentences as unconstitutional and urges for judicial review of AFSPA
Imphal, 25nd January 2014
CSCHR welcomes Indian Supreme Court’s judgement on commutation of 15 death sentences as unconstitutional and urges for judicial review of AFSPA
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN – a coalition of human rights organisations of Manipur – welcomes the far-reaching pronouncement of the Supreme Court on 21st January 2014, commuting the death penalty of 15 convicts to life term on ground of unexplained delay in deciding their mercy plea by the government and mental illness. The death penalty of 13 condemned prisoners has been commuted to life on the ground of inordinate delay on part of President to decide their mercy pleas. The other two convicts were given life sentence on finding that long years on death row had made them mentally ill.
This judgment delivered after the court heard a specific case, went through its merits and demerits and arguments of the parties. The landmark judgement is a reflection of the stature and role of India’s highest court of law. Time has come when the people of India expect a clear stance on the question of death penalty from the guardian of the Constitution and supreme authority for resolving disputes of legal and constitutional in nature.
Article 51 (c) of Indian Constitution clearly stands to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations and we also expect that the democratic Indian state would follow the international opinion and abolish the death penalty completely. The judiciary must take up the cudgel to facilitate the same.
The Indian state has made voluntary pledges and commitments before UN; wherein it proclaimed – “India shall continue to cooperate with United Nations treaty bodies and contribute constructively …” The justified international opinion on capital punishment affirmed while the United Nations made researches in 1988 and 1996 regarding executions and capital punishments that ‘Research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect then life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming.’
In the multi-layer judiciary of India, there is ample scope to rectify judicial wrong committed by lower layer by the upper one, but in case of capital punishment ordered by a court and subsequently executed, termination of a human life cannot be regained by any judicial rectification. The law cannot take away what it has not given.
We urge the Indian state to see overwhelming international opinion and accede to the Optional Protocol on the abolition of the death penalty of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Such a step would promote a torture-free culture in our society and more humane society for our future generations.
CSCHR urges the apex court of India to take such a progressive interpretation of the right to life to review AFSPA, which 16 years ago upheld its constitutionality, as its continued imposition in certain parts of the country amounts to Government of India abdicating its obligation to protect the right to life of the population inhabiting the “disturbed areas” and imposing a discriminatory and racist de facto death penalty by Indian armed forces without due process of law.
(Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy)