Stresses on need for ‘genuine dialogue, mutual understanding and a pro-active approach’
DIMAPUR, JULY 24 (MExN): The Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) today stated that the “Naga people are currently going through a crisis” and that challenges have been “created from within and without.” A press release from NPMHR lamented that “our collective inability to constructively address them has been exploited…” by those who “…actively deny Naga peoples’ history and rights.”
Terming factional politics and “isms” as the “Achilles heel of Naga politics,” NPMHR stressed on the need for reconciliation in order to ensure Naga people a dignified and peaceful co-existence. It extended support to the Forum for Naga Reconciliation’s (FNR) position that all Naga National Groups should reconcile on the basis of Naga historical and political rights. It urged Naga National Groups’ leaders to “transcend factionalism and jointly chart a Naga future.” NPMHR further called for better and frequent communication and dialogue processes among Naga tribes and civil society organizations irrespective of geographical and state boundaries.
NPMHR said that Nagas need to “objectively review” the ceasefires between the Government of India and the Naga National groups and discern whether it has enabled a genuine democratic space to address the Naga political issue through negotiations and nonviolence. While acknowledging that the ceasefire has enabled a generation of Nagas to grow up in “some form of relative peace,” NPMHR however lamented that it has “also been used as a means to further suppress, divide and weaken the Naga people.” “The ceasefire has provided an opportunity to many young entrepreneurs, but it is the State and its institutions that have benefited the most,” it added.
It further demanded repeal of the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). NPMHR stated that AFSPA is “not only a deterrent to peace, but a primary cause for violating civil and democratic rights.” It expressed concern at the “extensive militarisation of the Northeast region including the Naga areas through systemic means such as the Military Civic Action (MCA) that have undermined the rule of law and civil administration.”
NPMHR also expressed dismay at the “lack of discipline and respect of human rights by Naga National Groups,” and lamented that the “protracted ceasefire has also created conditions that have made the public vulnerable to human rights violations by Naga groups.” It stated that the “absence of a democratic system to hold perpetrators of human rights accountable has given rise to a culture of impunity.” It also expressed solidarity with the public in their concern over “unchecked taxation” by Naga National Groups and urged upon the latter to be “sensitive to the existing economic conditions…”and to ensure “…a unified system that is free, fair and safe while upholding the principles of accountability and transparency.”
On land and development, NPMHR expressed concern that increasing activities for exploiting natural resources in the form of Special Economic Zones, oil exploration, and mining of minerals are being undertaken “without any informed consent, public knowledge or democratic consultation.” It stated activities to promote development are being undertaken “by ignoring the voices and basic needs of ordinary people” and cautioned that the “top-down state-centric development will have long term negative impacts…” It thus called for development that is “value based and consistent with indigenous peoples’ worldview and perspectives…”
NPMHR further stated that it is distressed by increasing violence against women and the entrenchment of social and cultural structures that promotes such violence. It pointed out the need to re-examine “exclusive and parochial definitions of customary law and to work towards a more inclusive understanding of customary law…”
NPMHR stated that these challenges provide an opportunity for self-criticism and stressed on the need for “genuine dialogue, mutual understanding and a pro-active approach…” It called upon Naga churches, Naga National Groups, traditional organizations and women groups, civil society organizations and Naga men and women to work together for the common good of the people.