NWUM & NPMHR Joint Press Release, 15 June 2010
Detention of members of NWUM and NPMHR by the Manipur IRB and Commandos at Liyai Khunao Village.
Members of Naga Women’s Union, Manipur (NWUM) and Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) were detained at Liyai Khunao village on June 14, 2010 by Manipur IRBs and Commandos when they went there to ascertain the situation. They also seized the cameras of the team and forcefully deleted pictures taken by the team, including photos of the house of Mr. Th. Thaimaso which had been forcefully occupied by the said security forces.
It is to be recalled that Manipur IRBs and Commando personnel were deployed at Liyai Khunao from the 4th June 2010 onwards, purportedly to prevent the entry of Mr. Th. Muivah, the Ato Kilonser (Prime Minister) of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN), into his village Somdal in the present state of Manipur, India. Liyai Khunao is a small Poumai Naga village with about 30 households situated about 25 Kms south of Pfutsero, the town in the state of Nagaland, where Mr. Muivah is presently stationed.
Since their arrival at the village, the people have been living in a state of fear and insecurity, particularly in the backdrop of the excesses that the said forces had committed at Mao Gate on 6th May 2010 where they had shot dead two students and injured more than hundred women and children. Liyai Khunao villagers has already petitioned the Deputy Commissioner, Senapati district expressing their concern and apprehension at the presence of the Manipur security forces and have asked for their removal. However, till date the district administration has not made any efforts to address these concerns, or even to assess the situation of Liyai Khunao villagers and the impact of the overwhelming presence of Manipur security forces in the small village.
On the afternoon of June 14, a team of NWUM and NPMHR representatives went to Liayi Khunao village to assess the situation and investigate the impact of the strong presence of Manipur security on the villagers. They found that an atmosphere of fear and insecurity pervades the village.
Villagers recounted to the NWUM and NPMHR team how the IRBs and Commandos have been forcefully taking their properties, including firewood, vegetables and fruits. Village elders also mentioned that the security forces, in the absence of elders, lure the children to give them firewood in exchange for sweets. They also expressed their concerns for the safety of the children.
The team learned that the Manipur IRBs and Commandos had forcefully broken into the house of Mr. Th. Thaimaso on the day of their arrival and have occupied it since then. The team found that the house is still occupied. Two rice storage bins had been removed from the house to gain space for their stay. When the team tried to take photographs of the house, Manipur security forces prevented them. They started questioning the team on what they will do with the photographs. When they were told that it was for dessimination and documentation the security forces detained the team and forcefully took the camera of the team and deleted the photos of the area already taken by the team. The team was rudely told not the take any photograph of the area. Two security officers in civilian clothing told the team that they should meet the commanding officer but when the team refused on the grounds of the mistreatment and attitude being committed by the security forces, the team was detained and not allowed to leave for a considerable period of time. Despite the efforts of the NWUM and NPMHR team to persuade the security forces to let them go and that in a democratic society people have the right to know the conduct of state forces, and therefore photos of the house of Mr. Thaimaso should be allowed to be taken, the security forces remained adamant. When the team was finally let off, they were subjected to repeated checkings, including repeated examination of the cameras and documents to ensure that no incriminating evidence of the conduct of Manipur security forces was being recorded.
The conduct of the Manipur security forces is once again a clear indication of the attitude and impunity in which they act. Such acts are actively encouraged by the Government of Manipur, and used reguarly to supress the rights of people. If representatives of organisations such as NWUM and NPMHR could be treated in such a manner, it is not hard to imagine how Manipur security forces would treat ordinary citizens.
NWUM and NPMHR strongly urge the Government of Manipur to remove its state forces deployed at Liyai Khunao immediately. NWUM and NPMHR also urge the district administration to immediately address the concerns of Liyai Khunao villagers already placed before them.
We once again reiterate that militarization of tribal areas, including Naga areas, in Manipur has caused many rights violation of tribals and therefore should be immediately stopped.
K.Marigold, Joyson Mazamo
Secretary,NWUM Member, NPMHR