India: Naga leader Anthony Ningkham Shimray Completes Five Years of Illegal detention


    The 27 September 2015

    Anthony Ningkham Shimray Completes Five Years of Illegal detention

    Today, Anthony Ningkham Shimray, head of Foreign Affairs of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), observed five years of his illegal detention as a political prisoner in Tihar Central Jail along with other Naga political prisoners. On this occasion, the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) joins them in prayer and appeal for their unconditional release.

    The framework agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and his organization (NSCN-IM) has been signed on 3rd August 2015 and yet there is no sign of reconciliatory plan for the political prisoners as part of the peace talks. At this juncture, we expect bold and respectable initiatives on the part of the GoI on pertinent issues such as the issue of political prisoners and human rights activists targeted by the state or exiled by the state. The release of political prisoners is a moral obligation and the right thing to do for the GoI to correct its past wrongs inflicted on the Nagas. Detention of political prisoners and targeting human rights activists puts to question the search for establishing mutually acceptable fair terms of political and social cooperation. It is, therefore, pragmatic and desirable that all political prisoners be unconditionally released if the search for peace is to be firmly grounded.

    It may be recalled that, in the past, Anthony Ningkham Shimray had participated in the official peace talks for at least seven times including in India. He was waylaid and abducted on 27 September 2010 at the Kathmandu International Airport while he was on his way to attend another round of peace talks that was scheduled to start on 29 September 2010 at New Delhi. Five days later GoI admitted to arresting him due to the mounting pressure from national and international human rights groups. Subsequently, charged of procuring arms (without any proof) and waging war against the state (India), he has been languishing in Tihar Jail, New Delhi. He has also been charged with absconding from other old crimes he allegedly committed. However, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the political dialogue, there is no basis to put him on trial by digging up old cases under the law of India. His arrest and subsequent jailing is a violation of the rules underlying the cease-fire agreement, which grants immunity to NSCN leaders and cadres. It is unjust and unacceptable that India grants this immunity selectively and arbitrarily. Immunity should be guaranteed to all NSCN members, no matter what position they hold.

    Leadership in India, a democratic country, should not distort and convert the universal right of resistance into a crime used as a weapon for persecuting those involved in the peace talks selectively. We believe that Mr. Anthony Ningkhan Shimray is a man of integriety and his leadership is indispensable in the search for a just peace.

    While we join him and others in prayer in the observation of five years of his illegal detention as a political prisoner, we appeal to the political wisdom of the leaders and people of India to release all political prisoners unconditionally!

    Sent by Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)