URGENT PRESS STATEMENT
Imphal, 11 September 2015
On the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act of 1958 (AFSPA) that promulgated the controversial and draconian Act in Manipur and Nagaland, the CSCHR once again condemns the perpetuation of this law that violates the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights despite a worldwide call for its repeal. In this spiralling spread of impunity that has infected every sphere of governance in Manipur, the highly problematic implementation of this Act in Manipur ever since has not solved any of the problems it was meant to resolve. In fact, the climate of impunity and unabated use of brute force by the state to deal with any situation has repeatedly compounded and complicated the situation in Manipur. There have been reports of the divisive and partisan role played by Indian security forces in Manipur, most recently in Moreh Town in August this year.
The observed overall lack of training, preparedness and strict adherence to existing principles and guidelines of crowd control has resulted in the tragic death of one child in Imphal East District in August and nine other innocent lives, including one child, in Churachandpur district during this month, and the violent human rights violations of more than a hundred persons, mainly young persons and children in Manipur, including reported arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment, and grievous injuries perpetrated by the law enforcement agencies in different parts of the State. The State police and central security forces have been let loose to inflict a brutally violent response by using disproportionate powers to suppress public protests in the last three months concerning a set of laws purportedly designed to address a critical issue faced by all the indigenous peoples and communities of the State.
Curfew and public restrictions under Cr.P.C. Section 144 have been imposed repeatedly during the last three months in the districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Senapati, Chandel and Churachandpur in the wake of public protests against the atrocities committed by the state law and order machinery. Public strikes, road blockades, market closures and public transportation shut downs have contributed to the volatile situation causing immense obstacles and restrictions in public life and government functioning.
Today, Manipur is on the brink of an inter-ethnic calamity. If appropriate steps are not taken now there is every possibility of an explosion of dirty and violent ethnic hostilities that can only lead to a human and humanitarian disaster of such proportions that we have not seen before in this sub-region of South Asia.
CSCHR is very concerned that there exists in Manipur a situation of mounting polarisation of different ethnic groups within the State fuelled by perceptions of multiple threats by the different ethnic communities, the spread of rumours and disinformation, highly objectionable statements published or released by fringe groups and elements aimed to bring about communal enmity, partisan discussions and meetings, the abject lack of the will to communicate and dialogue, expectations that are detrimental to the maintenance of communal harmony and the strengthening of democracy and human rights protection, and sectarian demands that impinge upon the provisions of the Constitution of India and international human rights and humanitarian law.
CSCHR earnestly urges the government of Manipur and all communities living together in Manipur to desist from partisan and divisive, non-inclusive processes and activities that can lead to a serious rupture of the democratic and sovereign polity of Manipur State. The need at this critical hour is for all communities in Manipur to embrace constructive suggestions and inclusive dialogue as this is the only avenue we have now to avoid a humanitarian disaster.
Further, CSCHR strongly recommends to the governments of Manipur and India to facilitate the healing of the suffering people of Manipur by immediately embarking on just reconciliation measures of redress by removing all legislative, policy and administrative encumbrances and obstacles in the State, such as the repeal of AFSPA and repressive discriminatory laws, re-establishing a fair and compassionate Rule of Law that is strictly in compliance with India’s obligations to all its citizens, the supreme Constitutional provisions and international human rights and humanitarian law for the promotion of democracy and peace.
(Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy)
On Behalf of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN
Member Organisations of CSCHR are:
- All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMANA)
- Centre of Network and Empowerment (CoNE)
- Centre for Organisation Research & Education (CORE)
- Centre for Research & Advocacy (CRA Manipur)
- Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD)
- Civil Liberties and Human Rights Organisation (CLAHRO)
- Civil Liberties Protection Forum (CLPF)
- Committee on Human Rights, Manipur (COHR)
- Ethno-Heritage Council (HERICOUN)
- Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families’ Association Manipur (EEVFAM)
- Families of the Involuntarily Disappeared Association Manipur (FIDAM)
- Indigenous Perspective (IP)
- Human Rights Alert (HRA)
- Human Rights Defenders Manipur (HRD)
- Human Rights Initiative (HRI)
- Human Rights Law Network Manipur (HRLN-M)
- Just Peace Foundation (JPF)
- Life Watch
- Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR)
- Movement for Peoples’ Right to Information Manipur (M-PRIM)
- North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF)
- Threatened Indigenous Peoples Society (TIPS)
- United Peoples Front (UPF)