The World’s Indigenous Peoples day was organized jointly by Citizens Action for Social Development, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur and Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Awang Sekmai New Market Development Association at Awang Sekmai, Manipur on 9th August 2014 with the theme “In Defense of Our Land, Forest, Water, Our Rights and Future”.
Jiten Yumnam, Secretary, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur provided Key Note address of the celebration.
Yaiskul, Writer, Phulindro Konsam, Convenor, Committee on Human Rights, Thanmi Kashung, Advisor, Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization (MDAVO), Chaoba, Jt. Secretary, All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union, Sorokhaibam Sanjoy of All Manipur United Clubs Organization deliberated as resource persons.
In his key note, Jiten Yumnam stressed on need of a strong message of indigenous peoples of Manipur in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014.
The increasing development onslaught, such as proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam over Barak River, the Mapithel dam over Thoubal River etc and oil exploration plan in Manipur threatened indigenous peoples’ survival. He also stressed on the need of a self determined development of Manipur and to end militarization process in Manipur.
Further, to repeal all draconian laws, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 which violates non derogable rights in Manipur.
In his speech Chaoba explained how Ithai Barrage of the 105 MW Loktak Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project submerged more than 80,000 acres of agriculture land and conscripted indigenous fishing communities’ rights in Loktak Lake. The Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006 led to forced eviction of fishing communities and arsoning of floating huts. Many indigenous fish and edible plant species are lost after Ithai barrage. He urged to decommission Ithai Barrage of Loktak project.
Thanmi Kashung shared how the Mapithel dam will submerge several villages, prime agriculture land, their forest land and will threaten survival of communities.
Further, the advisor, Mapithel Dam Affected Villagers Organization called for review of Mapithel dam construction and to conduct a holistic impact assessment and resumption of the Expert Review committee formed in 2008.
While another resource person, Phulindro Konsam spoke on the alarming human rights situations due to the ongoing efforts to subdue the right to self determination of Manipur. The influx of non indigenous population in Manipur with state patronage threatened survival of indigenous peoples of Manipur. Development injustice undermined food sovereignty and foster inequality in Manipur. Development should be centred on peoples’ rights and their wishes. He called for repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
Yaiskul, Executive member, Patriotic Writer Forum, explained how indigenous cultures and traditions are fast losing out due to changing pattern of land ownership and development aggression on peoples land and resources. The removal of boulder and sand from Sekmai River and other rivers by rich people with state patronage further devastates ecosystem. There are folklores on our forest of Manipur and even rituals before cutting down trees but today, such practices are disrespected.
S Sanjoy of AMUCO spoke on the human rights violations perpetrated under the militarization process in Manipur under emergency laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 and how indigenous youths are subjected to extensive fake encounter killings. The celebration of the World Indigenous Peoples Day celebration adopted the following statement.
Affirm indigenous peoples right to self determination over our land, water, forest and all natural resources of Manipur as inherent for our physical and spiritual survival, rights and future.
Express concern with the continued application of emergency laws, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA, 1958) to subdue the right to self determination of indigenous peoples of Manipur, which derogates “right to life” and “right to justice remedy”. The AFSPA, 1958, responsible for serious human rights violations, continues to be enforced in Manipur despite peoples’ and the United Nation’s call for its repeal, said a joint statement from the organisation.
Expressing their concern over the “vast tract of prime agriculture land and forest are acquired to sustain militarization process in Manipur, in subduing indigenous peoples’ political rights and to advance corporate interest of Multinational corporations” they condemn all efforts to expand the Leimakhong Army base and to further conscript more than 1000 acres of prime agriculture land in and around Sekmai area.
Seriously note the development processes in Manipur, incompatible to the aspirations of indigenous peoples and failing to recognize their self determination over their land and resources, such as Government of India’s pursuance with multinational corporations, to construct the 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam, the Chakpi Dam etc and to drill oil and gas from Manipur etc without indigenous peoples free, prior and informed consent.
The World Bank and ADB financed infrastructure projects such as Trans Asian Highway, the Trans Asian Railways etc aimed at facilitating the expansion of India’s neo-liberal policies in Manipur will further impoverish indigenous peoples and aggravate development injustice and violation of peoples’ rights.
Express concern that sand mining in Sekmai River, pursued by powerful elites with tacit state patronage led to water scarcity, destroyed environment and rendered their agriculture land uncultivable and unproductive.
Express our concern that series of development policies incompatible to the rights and needs of indigenous peoples has been introduced aggressively. The Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006, the Manipur Hydroelectric Power Policy, 2012, the New Land Use Policy, 2014, the Manipur Tourism Policy, 2011 etc has been introduced which will increase land alienation, expropriation of community land and resources
Expressing solidarity with the ongoing movement in Manipur to stop state sponsored infusion of non indigenous populations in indigenous territories of Manipur and to formulate appropriate legislation towards protection of indigenous peoples’ right and land, their livelihood sources and future
Called on the Government of India to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007, especially to recognize indigenous peoples self determination over their land and resources and to recognize communities’ rights over their land and resources, their traditional practices and way of life.
Further called on the Government of India to end all human Rights violations on indigenous peoples in Manipur and repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 and end all land grabbing for militarization. Further, repeal all policies such as Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006, the Manipur Hydroelectric Power Policy, 2006, New Land Use Policy 2014, aimed to facilitate corporate expansionism in Manipur.
Called upon the Government of India to stop Oil Exploration Jubilant Energy, to stop the proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh Dam, the proposed Chakpi HEP project and ongoing Mapithel dam construction in Manipur
End all forms of state sponsored implantation of non indigenous populations in Manipur and formulate specific policies to stop unregulated infiltration of non indigenous populations in Manipur.