Indigenous Women Forum of Northeast India (IWFNEI) and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) are deeply saddened and disturbed by the outbreak of ethnic violence in Manipurand the carnage that followed.We strongly condemn the reprehensible violence and call for an immediate end to it. The events that unfolded have brought to light the totally inept handling of the situation by the state Government and its highly questionable role that has resulted in loss of lives and properties, displacements, burning of places of worship and houses and other numerous human rights violations;it constitutes blatant crimes against humanity.
It has been observed that Manipur has been rife with ethnic tensions for long due to divisive majoritarian politics, social discrimination, inequitable distribution of development funds and lack of transparency in recruitment to Government jobs. In addition, existing major issues such as immigration, land and territorial rights including drugs and contraband trafficking in the trans Indo-Myanmar border over the years and the ambivalent attitude of successive Governments and its failure to appropriately address these problems have ultimately culminated in the present violence.
The modern day politics of Manipur is shaped by divisive vested interests which results in eliminating any common ground amongst the people of Manipur. However dealing with the present case of violence must also necessarily deal with the conditions that created them.
To bring about healing, politics must emphasize the common good and cooperation as part of the search for meaningful reconciliation, or it will be yet another divisive politics. This will offer an alternative perspective that can help people find a common ground towards co-operation and understanding.
While we appeal to all parties to restrain from hateful speech and provocative misinformation for normalcy to return, it must be noted that peace and reconciliation efforts will not yield results or solve the problem unless the political reality is objectively accounted for with sincerity and honesty. This demands immense courage from all parties, and we further appeal to all communities, leaders and right-thinking people to reason together to find a common ground for long-term reconciliation. To start with, we must admit that violence is not the answer, and we must refrain from it.
Indeed, we are encouraged by the heroic acts of those, whether government officials, security forces or ordinary citizens, who saved lives without discriminating and acted purely on humanitarian grounds. Their bravery and humanity are the light of hope even in dark times such as this.
We call on the government of Manipur to act with wisdom and refrain from indulging in divisive politics and blatant abuse of power and authority. Further, it must initiate a high level independent judicial inquiry into the incident to win back the trust and confidence of the people and to secure justice.
Finally, it should be the responsibility of everyone – right thinking individuals, CSOs and Governmental organizations to whole heartedly support and help in rebuilding the lives of the victims of violence and restore peace by rising above narrow sectarianism.
The press release is issued on May 17, on behalf of Indigenous Women Forum of Northeast India (IWFNEI) and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)