Statement at Human Rights Council 27
A brief intervention on Human Rights situation made by Mr. Neingulo Krome, Executive Member,
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact & Secretary General,
Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights
at the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, held at Geneva, Palais des Nations, Conference room XX on September 17, 2014.
ITEM No. 5
At the outset, I like to emphasise on the importance of protection of indigenous peoples rights to disaster risk reduction as pointed out by the panelist today and agree that there should be maximum participation of Indigenous peoples in this regards as well. While disaster risk reduction initiative and measures is crucial to the indigenous peoples, there are continuing issues of human rights violations that indigenous peoples continue to face on a daily basis. I would therefore like to focus my statement today on the current situation of the Naga people.
Ever since World War II saw its end at the Battle of Kohima in April 1944, following which, the United Nations was formed to save human kind from the scourge of war, sad to say, but from the very same place where the world war ended, another war was waged against indigenous Nagas who just wanted to retain their status as to who and what they were before the advents of world wars. Today, I have come from this same Kohima in the backdrop of a more than 70 years of social and political unrest because our identity has been questioned where an idea was created that we are Indians and not Nagas, under the pretty slogan of “unity in diversity”.
During the last 7 decades, we have experienced unimaginable human rights violations, juxtaposed with ceasefires and political negotiations, agreements and accords in between to resolve this “conflicting idea” without much success. Presently, the Government of India is in Ceasefire truces with 3 (three) different Naga political groups which were signed at various stages over the last 17 years (1997, 2001 and 2011) after the first ceasefire was signed in 1964. However, just over a month ago, after 17 long years of ceasefire, the question of ceasefire area coverage became an issue and an Act under Section 144 CrPC was promulgated in Ukhrul town prohibiting an assembly of 5 persons or more, with the town reeling under Manipur Police Commandoes/Indian Reserved Battalion and Assam Rifles personnel who are well known for their military excesses staging flag marches till today even after an announcement was made that the 144 CrPC have been withdrawn. On 30th of August 2014, as the Civilian population were conducting rallies in the 4 Hills district headquarters of Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of this prohibitory orders, the Manipur Police Commandoes fired and killed two civilians and injured many others with at least six of them in critical conditions.
Mr. President, I also would like to mention in this particular development, that a very strong sign of racial discrimination and provocation can be seen, where restrictions are particularly directed against a particular community, who inhibits Ukhrul District of Manipur. While 4 million Nagas are living in different Naga areas in northeast India and western Burma (States of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and western part of Burma), and the conflicting areas of ceasefire coverage effects all other Naga areas outside the present state of Nagaland, the Government of Manipur choose to impose this restrictions only in Ukhrul Town, which is the hometown of the Tangkhul Nagas.
Side by side, with the many progresses that is supposedly made in the political talks over the last 17 years, the Naga people along with the rest of the peoples of North East India continue to reel under the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958, by declaring our areas as Disturbed Areas even though there are ceasefires and our places are relatively very peaceful even comparing to India’s Capital New Delhi and other big metropolitan cities all over India.
Therefore, I take this opportunity to once again implore upon the Human Rights Council and other United Nation’s mechanisms on Human Rights to monitor ceasefire agreements or any other treaties or agreements made by States with Indigenous peoples, as I have been saying over the years in all the UN platforms that I could speak on, including the then Working Group on Indigenous Population, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as well as in the Expert Seminar on Treaties and Agreements. And I am saying this again in this 27th Session of the Human Rights Council.