UNLF vows to continue liberation struggle despite setback

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IMPHAL, Nov 24: The Central Committee of the United National Liberation Front, UNLF, on the occasion of its 46th birth anniversary, said the party stands resolute in upholding its goal of dismantling the structure of oppressive “Indian occupation” to liberate the people from colonial yoke.

In its annual statement, the UNLF’s apex decision making body said although unfortunate at the loss of the able stewardship of its chairman, RK Sana Yaima, the organisational resilience acquired in its 46 years of armed struggle, is nothing to be undermined, and this can would take the struggle forward towards its goal of restructuring the collective political destiny of Manipur.

“As you would be aware, our Chairman Sana Yaima has been abducted recently in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and has now been handed over to the Indian government. But regrettably both the Governments are keeping the matter under wraps, violating all international norms.” The statement said.

It acknowledged that this development “represents a worsening scenario in terms of the sympathy and support for liberation struggles in the immediate international environment of the Indo-Burma Region due to the shoulder rubbing policy of India and its implications for the continued presence of our cadres in Bangladesh.” It said.

It said the UNLF Central Committee, “respects Bangladesh’s political choice though this marks a regrettable rupture with the legacy of Bangladesh’s founding father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”

It however added that the loss of Sana Yaima’s able stewardship is a sad development for the organisation as well as the struggle.

The UNLF statement continued “in all humility, however, the Central Committee and the memners of the UNLF take this opportunity to reassure our compatriots that we will not be daunted by the challenge and is ever more determined to collectively carry on the struggle to the best of our ability. This is a confidence that the UNLF and its Central Committee has garnered in 46 years of leading the armed struggle for liberation of Manipur.”It vowed that “this confidence will not go in vain, as the abduction of our honourable Chairman invigorates our party men to continue the fight against Indian with more urgency and intensity.”

The UNLF statement also took stock of its ups and downs in its 46 years of waging war against India, claiming major military success during Feb 1997 to March 2008, virtually taking control of large tracts of the hill areas of Manipur, and at the same time admitting disappointments at the tendency to adventurism which manifested in various forms in the party’s armed campaigns.

It however said “One common link that runs through all these is the issue of centrality of the people – be they in the hills or the plain areas of Manipur – in the process of liberation both in terms of the political and mindscapes.”

Spelling out what the party considers as the challenges ahead, the statement laid out a preamble saying that “liberation in the true sense of the term begins and ends in the mind of the individuals that make up the collective, and that empowering these minds out to be the primary objective of the liberation process.”

Admitting a departure from this, it said “instead, many a times our interactions with the people have tended to display a lack of respect for the people and patience with their ways. The Central Committee regards this insight as a significant though painful learning and henceforth intends to realign all processes of our armed liberation struggle to the twin goals of empowering minds and dismantling the external colonial controls.”
The statement said with this fresh insight in mind, the party though still committed to plebiscite as a mechanism to resolve the ongoing conflict with India as floated by party chairman Sana Yaima, now considers a recalibration of the thought.
It also said that the people, both as individuals as well as a collective, “must take the responsibility for their political choice and that they need to decide firmly how important is the possession of a distinct identity for them and their sense of self-worth.”

It said those who still believe in the importance of a distinct identity, including those who are waging an armed struggle for national liberation, can and should join hands in addressing this issue.

“True commitment ot the cause of national liberation and true unity towards this end would become meaningful only on a shared basis of a people-friendly and empowerment-oriented work ethics and outlook.” It said.

It said “the threat is not confined to the Meitei society alone. For quite some time now, Manipur has been a divided self with the people in the hill areas contesting the idea of the historical Manipur. The Central Committee of the UNLF can understand the discomfort of the smaller nationalities at being part of a state with hegemonic proclivity of the majority Meiteis and their consequent aspirations for carving separate homelands.”

It said the party is of the opinion that splitting the geographical space called Manipur endlessly for separate homelands is not the solution. Oppression is not just an inter-nationality phenomenon, but can equally be an intra-nationality one, it added.

It said it is the party’s considered view “that the challenge is more of locating the political and institutional arrangement that respects and promotes multiple identities and their creative self-expression in all spheres of life.”

The statement invited all fraternal nationality groups to respon to the real challenge and jointly explore and negotiate the evolution of such an arrangement.

It admitted “the challenge at the level of the Indo-Burma Region for the liberation struggle is not confined to the dwindling support and sympathy as manifested” in the response to the abduction of the UNLF chairman Sana Yaima. This challenge also extends to “the gathering clamour for peace talks with India amongst our fraternal revolutionary organisations in Manipur and the Region.”

It however said the Central Committee of the UNLF firmly believes that peace is a mirage so long as the structures of oppression are not dismantled, saying “this clamour for peace talks is a temporary cycle and that that abiding imperative of liberation lands and minds will prevail ultimately.”

The UNLF statement further extended revolutionary greetings to party cadres, local members, officers and men of its armed wing, the Manipur Peoples’ Army, MPA, “and to those who are languishing in enemy jails and to the families of those who have laid down their lives and those who continue to be in the forefront of the struggle and to the people in general who have stood by the values and ideals that the UNLF is fighting for.”

The statement also extended revolutionary greetings to “fraternal revolutionary organisations now fighting against India’s colonial rule in order to regain Manipur’s sovereign independence.” It also in the same vein called for unity in the struggle.

It also greeted “fraternal revolutionary organisations in the Indo-Burma Region; Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, KLO, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, NDFB, National Socialist Council of Nagaland, NSCN-K, Tripura People’s Democratic Front, TPDF and United Liberation Front of Asom, ULFA.

It also sent out well wishes to the Kashmiri people for success in their struggle for liberation from Indian colonial rule.
It also wished and gratitude to “countries, CSOs and Human rights NGOs supporting the cause of ‘Right to National Self Determination’ and also to the International media for giving objective coverage to the Manipur-India Conflict”

Above all the statement saluted “Nura Temsingnabi” Irom Chanu Sharmila “whose lone, decade-long, fast-unto-death for removal of the AFSPA symbolizes the spirit and determination of the people to lead dignified lives free from fear and abuses.”

The party also saluted its “founding leaders and all the brave fighters as well as members of the public who have laid down their lives for the national struggle” before reaffirming the party’s commitment to follow in their footsteps “until victory is ours.”

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