With the common symbol of the ‘Star and Rainbow’ Naga flag clutched to their hearts, more than 50,000 Naga people from all walks of life and from all Naga-inhabited areas including Myanmar have affirmed that Nagas are a “sovereign people” who uphold the principle that sovereignty lies with the people and that the will of the people is supreme.
In a historic ‘Naga Reconciliation Meeting’ meeting, one of the biggest Naga public gathering in recent times, called by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) here at Agri Expo Centre on Wednesday, the Naga public also resolved that the “historical and political rights” of the Nagas should form the basis of any political solution and that any negotiation process must focus on how Nagas can determine, safeguard and exercise their historical and political rights in a contemporary and inter-related world.
The meeting further resolved for immediate cessation of armed confrontations and hostilities between Naga political groups and to invite all Naga political groups to the “Naga Reconciliation: A Journey of Common Hope”, for a shared future. In this regard FNR Convenor Rev Dr Wati Aier clearly stated that the door for reconciliation has been kept open.
A sense of expectancy filled the air as Naga public for the first time witnessed the battle-hardened top leaders of the Naga political groups sharing the same dais, even as the Oriental Theological Seminary (OTS) choir sang “Long long night is over.”
Leaders of three groups, NSCN (IM) chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Th. Muivah, GPRN/NSCN chairman ‘Gen’ (retd) Khole Konyak and general secretary Kitovi Zhimomi and NNC/FGN president ‘Brig’ (retd) S Singnya and vice president Zhopra Vero, in their speeches affirmed that they were committed to reconciliation.
It may be mentioned that the meeting also acknowledged the presence of members from the NSCN-Khaplang and NNC Non-Accordist. It was informed that Adinno Phizo, President of the Naga National Council sent her greetings to the gathering. Messages of solidarity from NNC president Adino Phizo, Quakers Group, Ao Senden, Concerned Senior Citizens Forum and Concerned Citizens Forum Mokokchung and Sumi Hoho, were read out.
Narrating the ‘Naga Reconciliation: A Journey of Common Hope’ that began four years ago, FNR convenor, Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, recollected the ups and downs of the journey leading to the present situation.
“With optimism, the Naga political groups have torn down the wall of separation built over time by accumulated hatred, bitterness, malice and slander. They have taken the courageous leap towards a common humanity by transcending the fences that have divided us, and today it is a fact that they are sitting and eating at the table together and talking rationally as brothers and sisters on issues of a common future rather than be haunted and victimized by the past,” Wati said.
He also said that at the centre of the ‘Journey’, the historic signing of the “Covenant of Reconciliation” (CoR) has an abiding significance for the Nagas.
Representatives of the civil society in their speeches stressed on the need for reconciliation among various Naga political groups to end fratricidal killings and to salvage the Naga struggle. Most of the civil society also appealed to the groups not to burden the public too much with “taxation.”
Naga Hoho president, Keviletuo Kiewhuo, said that the spirit of brotherhood should be the foundation of reconciliation. Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) general secretary, Rev. Dr. Anjo Keikung, said reconciliation is God’s will and quoted from Psalms “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Naga Women Union Manipur president, Aram Pamei, said it was time for the world to marvel that Nagas too can live in peace.
Advisor, Naga Mothers’ Association, Rosemary Dzüvichü, appealed the Naga groups to stand committed to CoR and stop shedding blood for realization of a dream. Urged for single Naga national government, United Naga Council (UNC) president, L Adani, also said that Nagas’ political rights have to be secured on “uniqueness” of Naga history. Naga Youth Organization (Myamar) Solomon appealed the Naga groups to work together for the common Naga cause. Naga Council Dimapur President Savi Liegise said that the FNR came at the right time led by the right people. Savi also said that the Naga Council was opposed to taxation in the name of nationalism.
Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organization (ENPO) president said that the demand for separate statehood for Eastern Nagaland should not be misconstrued by any group as it was purely for social, political and economic justice of the backward region. Former Sumi Hoho president, Hokishe Yepthomi, lauded the efforts of FNR and said that it was through FNR that Naga political leaders could meet each other. Taking biblical context, he also urged FNR to bring other sheep (Naga groups) to the reconciliation fold.
Trustee, Initiatives of Change and social worker, Niketu Iralu, concurred that the reconciliation is the only way to a shared Naga future and that the ongoing reconciliation process has created opportunities for Nagas to listen to each other. Suggesting that the reconciliation process should be cleaned and restored, he also said that there is no room for self-righteousness. He also said that unless leaders of the Naga groups sit down together and work out the precise terms for negotiations, then things would remain much the same.
Among others who attended the meeting included chairman of ceasefire monitoring group, Maj Gen (retd) N George, Rajya Sabha MP, Khekiho Zhimomi, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) President Sungit Jamir, Congress MLA Hewoto Awomi besides a host of public leaders from all walks of life.
FNR member Rev. Pughoto Aye chaired the meeting, which started with invocation prayer by FNR member, Rev. Dr. VK Nuh. FNR member Neingulo Krome proposed vote of thanks.