(This write up is the speech delivered by Babloo Loitongbam at the 14th Arambam Somorendra Memorial Lecture organised by The Aramam Somorendra Trust held at Lamyanba Sanglen Palace Compound, Imphal)
I vaguely remember the day I paid my first visit to Arambam Somorendra sometime in the late 1990s, perhaps to invite him for a human rights program. But what I vividly recall is the first words that he had uttered to me: “Nakhoi nadhou dudi eikhoi etao sanarak-e-bani ne!” (Your grand father was a great buddy of mine!). Indeed when my maternal grandfather, (L) Karam Manamohan, produced the first Manipuri film in 1971, it was Arambam’s play, Tirtha Jatra, rechristened as Matamgi Manipur that was put up in the silver screen. They collectively ushered Manipur into the emerging and exciting world of cinema.
I have little memory of those momentous times, as I was then hardly a year old. But almost half a century later, I cannot imagine how my grandfather would react if only he could witness this moment – me standing in front of you all to deliver this lecture in memory of his great friend.
My relation with Arambam Somorendra was just warming up when he had been violently snatched away from us by an assassin’s bullet on 10th June, 2000. How I wish I could have spent some more time with this great soul to gain a deeper insight into his vision. However, I began to realize gradually that his vision has already been embedded and immortalized by the legacies he had left behind in various sectors of our society. I remember singing Chaikhre Ngashi Nang-gi Loubukta with great passion in our school functions. Only to realize, much later, that these ideas of striving for human dignity, emancipation of the downtrodden, patriotism, national awakening, etc. that were interspersed in the songs and plays nurturing the young Manipuri minds, were in fact flowing out from the great soul.
I grew up during the “tape recorders era”, much before YouTube and mobile phones took over. Part of my family collection was a cassette of one of Arambam’s radio dramas, Hingnanaba Hingba, and that was by far the most popular drama during my childhood days in my household. The cassette has gone long time ago, but a dialogue of that drama is still stuck with me even today. When the rich and powerful smuggler, drunk and frustrated in finding his syndicate crumbling in front of his own eyes, reflected philosophically to his friend about the purpose of life. He asked:
Karino eikhoi meeoiobana punshida tanaribase? Macha mashu nungainabara? Natraga maahakna hingiba kuyom aduda pelaktadana, madugi mathakta kuyom amaamuk yomsananaba hotnaribara? (What is that we are perusing in life? Is it an effort to make our children and grandchildren happy? Or is it an effort to build an outer niche to make one’s life more comfortable in as much as the present niche that one is living is dissatisfactory?
Today’s lecture is about this Hingnanabagi Kuyom, the niche that is necessary to sustain life – a life with dignity. It is not about a privileged few to build a more and more comfortable niche to satisfy their greed, but it is for a journey pursuing the vision of a world where the basic human rights and fundamental freedom of everyone are realized. Today the United Nations may have developed an elaborate niche for the promotion and protection of human rights. But the question is how much of its implementation-mechanism can we in Manipur leverage to dismantle the oppressive structure that is crippling our lives and violating our basic human rights?
UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The United Nations is not a gift of God for world peace. It is rather a product of history and politics. It is the direct outcome of the worst-ever-brutality that human beings have inflicted on other human beings, i.e. the World War II. The emergence of human rights was made possible by the people who dared to dream differently even in the midst of this war of brutality and genocide. They could draw the best of human spirit and generate a moral force to fight the “Axis of Evils”. At the end of the war, those visionaries did not give up to harness the same moral forces to ensure the leaders kept up their promises to put human rights as one of the central themes of the international organization built after the war. Today we have an elaborate frame-work of international human rights standard which is unprecedented in human history. But a major challenge still hangs on in implementation of these standards.
Manipur, with its peculiar position in history and the unfolding geo-politics of Asia makes an interesting case to look at. After all, Manipur was a key battleground between the Allied and Axis forces. It suffered the devastation of World War II. Therefore, it deserves to enjoy the fruits of peace and to participate in the global march for human rights and freedom.
Manipur must have received the first waves of refugees fleeing from the Japanese invasion in Burma, when in August 1941, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Wilson Churchill rendezvoused at sea, off the coast of Newfoundland at Placentia Bay, to lay out “their hope for the world”. They singed a document, which later came to be known as the Atlantic Charter, promising “the right of people to choose the form of government under which they will live”, and wanted people everywhere to “live out their lives in freedom from want and fear”. It was a time when the whole of continental Europe was in the hands of the Axis, and Japan was rapidly expanding its territorial hold in Asia. The Allied leaders were pronouncing the Atlantic Charter, perhaps, to demonstrate a sharp contrast from the racist pogrom and territorial aggrandizement of the Axis. But in doing so they had inevitably invoked much hope amongst not only the colonized people of Asia and Africa but also the Europeans under the Fascist regime. In order to hold out hope and to mobilize all resources necessary to mount a people’s war against the Axis, 26 nations signed the “Declaration of the United Nations” on 1st January, 1942 “to preserve human rights and justice in their own land as well as in other lands”.
World War II demonstrated, as never before in history, the extreme consequences of the doctrine of national sovereignty and ideologies of superiority. On the other hand, the counter narrative of equality of all human beings and human rights emerged with equal vigour. Even individual visionaries such as H.G. Wells, president of PEN International, launched a vigorous campaign to bring human rights to the attention of the public during the war. He drafted the “Declaration of Rights” and wrote a book, The Rights of Man or What We Are Fighting For? His pamphlets were even dropped behind the enemy lines.
In fact the war turned out to be as much a battle ground for ideas and values as it was for the warriors and weapons.
However, power being what it is, by the time the tide of the war turned and the Allied powers were in an advantageous position, the same leaders who once spoke eloquently about human rights, quickly shifted their tone and tenor. Atlantic Charter and “Declaration on the United Nations” were considered to represent only goals rather than legal agreements that could jeopardise national interest or national sovereignty. It is in this context that Churchill made his celebrated statement about “not allowing stated principles such as that of right to self-determination to precipitate the liquidation of the British Empire”, and described Atlantic Charter as “no more than a simple, rough and ready, war-time statement of goal” towards which the supporting governments “mean to make their war” instead of binging treaty with firm commitments.
Dumbarton Oaks Proposal
Representatives of United States, Britain, Soviet Union and China secretly met for seven weeks from August to October 1944, at the elegant colonial residence of Dumbarton Oaks at the outskirts of Washington DC to draft the charter of the organization that would come to be known as the United Nations. Despite all the solemn declarations, moving speeches, crusading rhetoric, leaders of the Great Powers were extremely cautious of granting the new organization authority to enforce rights that might interfere with their sovereignty. Ironically, it was only China which was willing “to cede as much of its sovereign power as may be required” to enable the international organization to enforce justice for the world. Despite China’s strong plea the word “racial equality” was totally eliminated and human rights was mentioned only in reference to social and economic cooperation in the final draft.
India also protested that no provision appeared regarding the right of self-determination or racial equality, and Gandhi and his many followers escalated their call for independence. In November 1944 Australia and New Zealand met at Wellington and pressed for more role of the small and medium sized nations and an explicit mention of human rights in the Charter. Similarly in February 1945, 20 nations of Latin America met at the Chapultepec Castel in Mexico City to correct the fundamental defects of the Dumbarton Oak proposal by returning to “the great and humanitarian principles” of Atlantic Charter, promote respect for the rights of people and fundamental freedom, and make provision for the self-determination of the colonies and protection of the rights of their inhabitants. The yearning for a people’s peace following the victory of a people’s was palpable.
A spirit of extra-ordinary euphoria and sense of responsibility prevailed when the delegations of 50 nations gathered for the United Nations Conference on International Organization in the elegant setting of the San Francisco Opera House in April 1945. When the discussion on human rights came about Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India was quick to move an amendment that the new organization should promote “fundamental human rights for all men and women, irrespective of race, color, or creed, in all nations and in international relations and associations of nations with one another”.1
Exactly two months later on 26th June 1945 the United Nations Charter was opened for signature. Wellington Koo of China was the first to put his signature. Others followed suit. The United Nations was born and Human Right was firmly planted at the very heart of the Charter. The opening lines of the Charter read:
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women of nations large and small, and
to establish condition under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS
TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS
The text then carried this resolve directly into Article 1 where the signatories boldly pledge themselves and their organization to very new international responsibilities:
To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures for international peace;
To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character; and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedom for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion…
The Charter gave a big boost to all the discriminated and oppressed peoples struggling for their self-determination across the world. But did this historic event impact the people of Manipur? Probably, when these momentous events were taking place at the other end of the world, the inhabitants of Imphal must have just returned home from the countryside where they had been taking shelter after fleeing from their homes to escape the Japanese bombings. Manipur must have been just limping back to normalcy after going through the most violent experience in its history. The whole society was probably too caught up with the immediate crisis at hand that none of the leaders of that time would find the mind space to think of staking their national claim in the newly emerging world body.
In the first session of the UN General Assembly, 1946, India was very active. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit forcefully moved a resolution accusing the government of South Africa for its policies of grossly violating the basic human rights of Indians and others with darker skin colors, in total contradiction of the principles and purpose of the Charter. This invoked immediate and violent reaction from the South Africa delegation and Mr. Jan Smuts shouted back that his country is protected by article 2(7) of the Charter. The treatment of Indians, coloured, and mixed race, he said, was purely and simply a matter of domestic jurisdiction. He ominously warned that if UN were allowed to intervene in South Africa, it would set a dangerous precedent and would destroy national sovereignty. To this Pandit rose again and dismissed the legal argument about domestic jurisdiction as being “late in the day and far-fetched” and made a mockery of the principles enunciated in the Charter. A hot debate was generated. It marked a revolutionary departure and a clear signal to all governments that the UN will no longer be silent on gross human rights violation or be swayed by the traditional argument that how a nation treat its own people was somehow exclusively its own business.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The first session of the General Assembly also initiated the process of creating one 18 member UN Human Rights Commission1 with Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of late President Roosevelt, as the chair. Its first task was to draft the International Bill of Human Rights.
After much heated initial debate on the contents of human rights and in recognition of the complexity of the issues, the Commission sought assistance from UNESCO. UNESCO set up the Committee on the Philosophic Principles of the Rights of Man, which analyzed written comments from 150 different people from all over the world (including Mahatma Gandhi), directly asking them about their thoughts on some of the specific philosophical questions raised by international human rights.
Heated debates in the Commission and later in the third Committee of the General Assembly continued. Eleanor Roosevelt played a key role in bringing everyone together. Till the last moment USSR wanted to postpone the resolution for one more year and still insisted on minor changes. But when the draft resolution was put for vote on the evening of 10 December 1948 at the General Assembly, held at the solemn chamber of Palais Chaillot in Paris, forty-eight countries voted in favour, none opposed, and eight countries abstained. The entire Assembly gave a standing ovation to Eleanor Roosevelt. UN has proclaimed a vision on behalf of all peoples in the world known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
UDHR enormously accelerated the evolution of international human rights. Despite many efforts to present and portray the document as a mere statement of principles with no legal binding authority at all, the vision proclaimed struck a chord amongst the people of the world and it rapidly began to take on a life of its own. It quickly came to assume a growing moral, political and even legal force through customary law. Ultimately it served as the seed for the other human rights instruments to grow.
When the UDHR was adopted, Manipuris also were enjoying the first sunshine of democracy and self-governance under its own post-colonial Manipur Constitution Act, 1947. Having elected a Popular Assembly through universal adult franchise and having established a Council of Minister, headed by a Chief Minister, the King of Manipur inaugurated the first democratically elected assembly in South and South East Asia on 18 October 1948. Manipur Constitution Act also guaranteed certain fundamental rights and duties of the citizens. A proper study to compare the fundamental rights of Manipur Constitution with those of the UDHR will make an interesting study.
However, this sunshine in Manipur’s political history was short-lived. The sky of Manipur was soon darkened with the merger of the kingdom into the Dominion of India in 1949. The hegemonic control and policy of isolation sneaked in and Manipur was fully eclipsed from all the exciting developments that were taking place in the world of human rights. It took almost half a century for Manipuri to gain access to the UN human rights processes. The expansion of the international human rights activities during the post-Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, 1992 and the declaration of the Decades of Indigenous Peoples (1995 to 2004) as well as India’s own liberalization processes, probably paved the way for Manipur civil society to step into the UN human rights mechanism.
ENGAGEMENT WITH TREATY BODIES
Slowly but surely the adoption of UDHR was followed by adoption of many legally binding international human rights instruments by the General Assembly. In 1965 the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) was adopted. It was soon followed by the adoption of two Covenants – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in the year 1966 and both the covenants came into force in 1976. The Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) came into force in 1981, Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment (CAT) came into force in 1987, followed by Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (CED), Convention on Persons with Disabilities (CPD), etc.
The governments can become party to these treaties by signing and ratifying these treaties. Once the government becomes a state party it has to submit periodic reports to the Committee of independent experts monitoring the treaty. The Committee would examine the report and give their concluding observations and recommendations. Civil society can submit well researched and brief alternative or parallel report to the committee to assist them to better understand the human rights situation in the country.
UN Human Rights Committee
India signed and ratified ICCPR in 1979. The initial report of India was discussed in 1983. The second periodic report was discussed in 1991 and the third one was discussed in 1997.
Committee on Human Rights (COHR), Manipur prepared an alternate report to the Government of India’s report and submitted it to the secretariat of the HR Committee. A two-member team COHR also went to Geneva and personally briefed the Committee members of the human rights situation in Manipur. The Committee in its concluding observation made some sharp remarks specifically referring to the situation in.
The Concluding Observation of the Human Rights Committee: India, CCPR/C/79/Add81, dated 04/08/97, stated as follows:
- The Committee remains concerned at the continuing reliance on special powers under legislation such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the Public Safety Act and the National Security Act in areas declared to be disturbed and at serious human rights violations, in particular with respect to articles 6, 7, 9 and 14 of the Covenant, committed by security and armed forces acting under these laws as well as by paramilitary and insurgent groups. The Committee, noting that the examination of the constitutionality of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, long pending before the Supreme Court is due to be heard in August 1997, hopes that its provisions will also be examined for their compatibility with the Covenant. In this respect, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 1, 19 and 25 of the Covenant:
The Committee endorses the views of the National Human Rights Commission that the problems in areas affected by terrorism and armed insurgency are essentially political in character and that the approach to resolving such problems must also, essentially, be political, and emphasizes that terrorism should be fought with means that are compatible with the Covenant.
- The Committee regrets that some parts of India have remained subject to declaration as disturbed areas over many years - for example the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been applied throughout Manipur since 1980 and in some areas of that state for much longer - and that, in these areas, the State party is in effect using emergency powers without resorting to article 4, paragraph 3, of the Covenant. Therefore:
the Committee recommends that the application of these emergency powers be closely monitored so as to ensure its strict compliance with the provisions of the Covenant.
This is the first time the human rights issues of Manipur were specifically highlighted in the critical United Nations recommendations. Of the two member delegation of COHR, the house of one was raided by a combined team of Manipur police and the army hours before they left the country. And on return, the other person was summoned to the Imphal police station and questioned for seven hours.
On the positive side the writ petition pending before the Supreme Court of India challenging the constitutionality of AFSPA of the last 17 years was finally heard in the apex court in August and the judgment was delivered in November 1997. Manipur Human Rights Commission also started functioning the same year.
Government of India’s forth periodic review was due to be submitted in the year 2001. But even after 18 years there is not sign of making any submission soon. In March 2019 the Human Rights Committee decided to go ahead and review the Government of India’s human rights records under the ICCPR without the report and decided to discuss the list of issues to be discussed in its 126th session from 1 to 26 July 2019.
NGOs can submit their own list of issues for the consideration of the Committee. A group of human right and other civil society groups of Manipur under the name and banner of Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights in Manipur and the UN (CSCHR) made a submission high lighting five key issue:
- Suspension of Right to Life
- Lack of Effective Remedy
- Non-recognition of Ethnic Minorities
- Plunder of Natural Resources, and
- Political Right to Self-determination.
Committee on Elimination of Discrimination of Racial Discrimination
Following the gang rape and murder of Ms. Thangjam Manorama, the unique naked protest of 12 Meira Paibi in front of Kangla Fort and the sustained people’s uprising against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA), the Prime Minister of India promised the people of Manipur that the law will be replaced by a more humane act in 2004.
A Committee was set up to review AFSPA headed by retired Justice Jeevan Reddy of the Supreme Court of India. The Committee submitted its report in 2005. But the report was never made public. In October 2006 when Irom Sharmila, who was on hunger strike for six years demanding the repeal of AFSPA, visited Delhi and demanded a copy of the report, it was leaked in the media. The report is found to have written that AFSPA has become a “symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness”
In February–March 2007, India’s fifteenth to nineteenth periodic reports were getting reviewed by the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination under the International Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its 70th session. The United NGO Mission Manipur (UNMM) has already made a detailed alternate report and submitted to the CERD Committee urging the Committee to invoked the Early-Warning and Urgent Action Procedure of the Committee pertaining to the unsustainable and destructive development projects carried out by the Government of India in the north east region and the militarization of the region.
Human Rights Alert tied up UNMM, made copies of the leaked reports of the Jeevan Reddy, high-lighted the discrimination part and individually briefed the Committee experts on the discriminatory nature of the atrocities committed under AFSPA and the struggle to repeal the same. The Committee readily stamped AFSPA as a racist law and invoked the rule of procedure of CERD that empowers the Committee to urge the state party of CERD to repeal racist law within one year.
- The Committee notes with concern that the State party has not implemented the recommendations of the Committee to Review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (1958) to repeal the Act, under which members of the armed forces may not be prosecuted unless such prosecution is authorized by the Central Government and have wide powers to search and arrest suspects without a warrant or to use force against persons or property in Manipur and other north-eastern States which are inhabited by tribal peoples. (Arts. 2 (1) (c), 5 (b), (d) and 6).
The Committee urges the State party to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and to replace it “by a more humane Act,” in accordance with the recommendations contained in the 2005 report of the above Review Committee set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It also requests the State party to release the report.
- The Committee notes that the State party does not fully implement the right of ownership, collective or individual, of the members of tribal communities over the lands traditionally occupied by them in its practice concerning tribal peoples. It is also concerned that large scale projects such as the construction of several dams in Manipur and other north-eastern States on territories primarily inhabited by tribal communities, or of the Andaman Trunk Road, are carried out without seeking their prior informed consent. These projects result in the forced resettlement or endanger the traditional lifestyles of the communities concerned. (Art. 5 (d) (v) and 5 (e)).
The Committee urges the State party to fully respect and implement the right of ownership, collective or individual, of the members of tribal communities over the lands traditionally occupied by them in its practice concerning tribal peoples, in accordance with ILO Convention No. 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations (1957). The State party should seek the prior informed consent of communities affected by the construction of dams in the Northeast or similar projects on their traditional lands in any decision-making processes related to such projects, and provide adequate compensation and alternative land and housing to those communities.
Pursuant to Article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and article 65 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, as amended, the Committee requests that the State party inform it of its implementation of the recommendations contained in paragraphs 12, 15, 19 and 26 above, within one year of the adoption of the present conclusions.
The CERD Committee has also issued repeated communications to the Government of India on the Early-Warming Measures and Urgent Procedure of the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.2 But there is no response from the Government of India .
Committees on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women recommended the review/repeal of the AFSPA in 2000, 20073 and 20144. Relevant abstract of the 2014 concluding observation on Violence Against Women in Border Areas and Conflict Zones contained in UN document CEDAW/C/IND/CO/4-5 dated 24 July 2014 in reproduced herewith:
- The Committee is deeply concerned about the reported high level of violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearance, killings and acts of torture and ill-treatment, against women in conflict-affected regions (Kashmir, the north-east, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh). It is particularly concerned about the:
- Provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act requiring prior authorization by the Government to prosecute a member of the security forces and the reportedly high risk of reprisals against women who complain about the conduct of the security forces;
- Significant number of displaced women and girls, in particular in the north-east, including as a result of sporadic communal violence, their precarious living conditions and exposure to serious human rights violations and the lack of gender-sensitive interventions at all stages of the displacement cycle;
- Lack of centres providing medical, psychological, legal and socioeconomic support to women and girls who are victims of sexual violence in conflict-affected areas;
- Limited regulation of the arms trade and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their impact on the security of women;
- Restrictions imposed on women human rights defenders, in particular those operating in conflict areas, including restrictions on international funding and the surveillance under which they are placed;
- Absence of women in peace negotiations in the north-eastern states.
- The Committee calls upon the State party:
- To, in accordance with the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, promptly review the continued application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and related legal protocols and to enforce special powers protocols in conflict areas and assess the appropriateness of their application in those areas;
- To amend and/or repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act so that sexual violence against women perpetrated by members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel is brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law and, pending such amendment or repeal, to remove the requirement for government permission to prosecute members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel accused of crimes of violence against women or other abuses of the human rights of women and to grant permission to enable prosecution in all pending cases;
- To amend section 19 of the Protection of Human Rights Act and confer powers to the National Human Rights Commission to investigate cases against armed forces personnel, in particular cases of violence against women;
- To ensure that the security sector is subject to effective oversight and that accountability mechanisms, with adequate sanctions, are in place, to provide systematic training on women’s rights to the military and other armed forces involved in security operations and to adopt and enforce a code of conduct for members of the armed forces to effectively guarantee respect for women’s rights;
- To ensure the full and effective implementation of the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, as soon as it has been enacted;
- To ensure that women in the north-eastern states participate in peace negotiations and in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in line with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post- conflict situations;
- To remove restrictions on the work of human rights defenders, such as restrictions on their funding and by not placing them under surveillance.
The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights also recommended repeal of AFSPA in 20085.
Centre for Organization Research and Education (CORE) an NGO from Manipur has engaged with the Committee on Rights of the Child, and has also got some good recommendations from the Committee pertaining to the right of the indigenous children caught up in the situation of armed conflict.
A major limitation, working with the treaty body is that the monitoring mechanism will be triggered off only when the government access to the treaty. If the government does not become party to the treaty then no monitoring of the human right could take place. Moreover the review is only periodic, usually about five years, so in between these reviews the victims of human rights violations have not recourse.
ECOSOC 1503 PROCEDURE
Since the very creation of the UN Human Rights Commission, individuals and groups have been pouring with petitioning for help. But in the name of protecting ‘sovereign immunity’ and ‘domestic jurisdiction’ individual petitions are not entertained. But that did not deter the victims from seeking redress. With the constant pressure from victims, in 1970 ECOSOC passed resolution number 1508, which authorized certain petitions to be referred to the Commission of Human Rights particular situation, which appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross violation of human rights requiring consideration.
The following year the UN Sub Commission opened the door still wider by determining that communication would be admissible if there are reasonable ground to believe that “they reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including policies of racial discrimination and segregation and of apartheid of any form in any country, including colonial and other dependent countries and people”.
In 1998 COHR made a detailed submission under this procedure pertaining to the consistent pattern of gross human rights violation under the prolonged imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. But since the procedure is confidential the fate of the petition is still unknown to the petitioners and the public. This is the major defect of this mechanism. It is like a dark hole, one can only up in sometime one does not know what is going on inside unless and until the compliant if accept and forward to the Commission or the Sub Commission. A much more open and transparent process of complaint handling evolved in the form of Special Procedures much latter.
ENGAGEMENT WITH SPECIAL PROCEDURES
When the activist minded Theo von Bowen from Netherlands becoming the Director of the Division of Human Rights in 1977 they successfully determined to implement their broader authority under resolutions to charges for gross violations on their agenda by creating new means. Over time, these have taken the form of various working groups composed of experts acting in their individual capacity known as special procedures. They are to examine and publicly report on major phenomena of human rights worldwide (Thematic Rapporteurs) or on human rights situation of specific cases of greater public attention (Country Specific Mandates). At the end of 2018, there are 44 thematic mandates holding worldwide mandates on their specific themes, which can be engaged by anyone across the world.
The Government of India has extended a standing invitation to any of these mandate holders to visit India in 2011 and thereinafter a number thematic mandate holders made official visited India.
SR on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Ms. Sekaggya visited India from 10 to 21 January 2011. She did not come to Manipur but she came out to Guwahati and HRD from Manipur organized a whole delegation from the civil society of NE and organized a briefing meeting with her at Don Bosco Institute, Kharguli.
When the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggaya submitted to the General Assembly and Human Rights Council, contained in document number A/HRC/19/55/Add.1 dated 6 February 20121 she stated:
At the time of the visit, Manipur was reportedly the state worst affected by militarization with more than half a dozen human rights groups having been banned as terrorist due to their self-determination advocacy. Since 2000, Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike to demand the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, has been forcibly detained and force-fed in a hospital in Imphal. For 10 years, NHRC reportedly never visited Ms. Sharmila, despite repeated request by defenders. The Special Rapporteur thank Ms. Sharmila for her letter, read by her brother, during her visit to Guwahati.
In Geneva when she presented her report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Government of India strongly reacted as been biased and sub-standard and being informed by “ideological extremist”.
In Manipur, follow the experience of the travelling together to Guwahati and to systematically engaged with the UN mandate holder, the human rights defenders and other civil society groups of Manipur organized themselves under CSCHR to stream line the work of the civil society engaging with the UN human rights procedures.
SR on Summary, Arbitrary or Extrajudicial Executions
Prof. Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial execution made an official mission to India from 19 to 30 March 2012. Despite of an invitation from the Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur (EEVFAM) he could not make it to Manipur. But he did meet with a busload of families of victim of extrajudicial executions and other HRDs from Manipur at hotel Bramhaputra in Guwahati. CSCHR prepared a detailed memorandum listing 1528 cases of extrajudicial executions in Manipur from 1979 to 2012 under shadow of AFSPA.
In his report after his official visit to India in 2012 he observed:
(…) The NHRC shared with the Special Rapporteur its views in support of AFSPA’s repeal … The Supreme Court of India ruled, however, in 1997 that AFSPA did not violate the Constitution. The Special Rapporteur is unclear about how the Supreme Court reached such a conclusion. … the powers granted under AFSPA are in reality broader than that allowable under the state of emergency as the right to life may effectively be suspended under the Act and the safe guards applicable in a state of emergency are absent.
The full text of his analysis on AFSPA and related legislation is reproduced herein below:
21. The situation regarding the use of force in India is exacerbated by what in effect though not in law could constitute emergency measures. In this regard, AFSPA, enacted in 1958, regulates instances of use of special powers by the Armed Forces in so-called “disturbed areas” of the country. In order for AFSPA to be applied in an area, the area must be defined disturbed or dangerous to the extent that the use of armed force is deemed necessary. AFSPA first found application in the north-eastern States of Manipur and Assam as a way to address the continued unrest in the area, and was also extended to other areas, including in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. In 1990, the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, containing nearly identical provisions to those stipulated in AFSPA, was enacted in Jammu and Kashmir.
22. AFSPA provides wide-ranging powers to the Indian armed forces in respect of using lethal force in various instances, and fails to provide safeguards in case of excessive use of such powers, which eventually leads to numerous accounts of violations committed in areas where AFSPA is applied. The Special Rapporteur wishes to draw attention to two main concerns to which he was constantly alerted. Firstly, concerns were raised regarding AFSPA provisions regulating the use of lethal force. Section 4 of AFSPA provides: “Any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer…may, in a disturbed area, (a) if he is of opinion that it is necessary to do so for the maintenance of public order, after giving such due warning as he may consider necessary, fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area…” Such provisions clearly violate the international standards on use of force, including lethal force, and the related principles of proportionality and necessity.
23. Secondly, Section 6 of AFSPA and 7 of the Jammu and Kashmir AFSPA, grant protection to the officers acting under these Acts and stipulate that prosecution of members of the armed forces is prohibited unless sanction to prosecute is granted by the central Government. Sanction is rarely granted in practice. In this context, the Special Rapporteur was informed of an application submitted in India under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in November 2011, requesting information on the number of sanctions for prosecution granted from 1989 to 2011 in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The response received from the authorities revealed that in none of the 44 applications brought was sanction not granted. In addition to AFSPA, the CPC also protects members of the armed forces from being prosecuted without prior sanction being granted, which will be examined in chapter V.
24. The Special Rapporteur notes that the Supreme Court of India held that the declaration of a “disturbed area” under AFSPA must be “for a limited duration and there should be periodic review of the declaration before the expiry of six months”. He found, however, that this procedure is not followed in practice, and AFSPA remains effective for prolonged periods without a review of the context in the respective area.
25. The Special Rapporteur wishes to underline that several international bodies have called for the repeal or reform of AFSPA, including the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Furthermore, Indian authorities at various levels have also expressed their support for the repeal of AFSPA. In this context, the Indian Government set up a special committee in 2004, tasked with examining the provisions of AFSPA and advising the Government on whether to amend or repeal the Act. The special committee found that AFSPA should be repealed – that it was “quite inadequate in several particulars” and had “become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination”. The need to repeal AFSPA was reiterated by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its fifth report, published in June 2007. Finally, the NHRC shared with the Special Rapporteur its views in support of AFSPA’s repeal during a meeting held in New Delhi.
26. The Supreme Court of India ruled, however, in 1997 that AFSPA did not violate the Constitution. The Special Rapporteur is unclear about how the Supreme Court reached such a conclusion. The Special Rapporteur, however, notes that in the same case the Supreme Court declared as binding the list of “Dos and Don’ts” elaborated by the Armed Forces, and containing a series of specifications on the manner of applying AFSPA in practice. Although the list contains more precise guidelines on the use of lethal force under AFSPA, the Special Rapporteur believes that they still fail to bring AFSPA in compliance with the international standards in this regard.
27. In the Special Rapporteur’s view, the powers granted under AFSPA are in reality broader than that allowable under a state of emergency as the right to life may effectively be suspended under the Act and the safeguards applicable in a state of emergency are absent. Moreover, the widespread deployment of the military creates an environment in which the exception becomes the rule, and the use of lethal force is seen as the primary response to conflict. This situation is also difficult to reconcile in the long term with India’s insistence that it is not engaged in an internal armed conflict. The Special Rapporteur is therefore of the opinion that retaining a law such as AFSPA runs counter to the principles of democracy and human rights. Its repeal will bring domestic law more in line with international standards, and send a strong message that the Government is committed to respect the right to life of all people in the country.
28. The Special Rapporteur was encouraged to hear from several Government officials that AFSPA is in the process of being amended, which will lead to reduced powers provided to the armed forces acting under this Act. This is a welcomed first step.
In Geneva, when the Special Rapporteur presented his report of his mission to India. Government of India blasted Prof. Heyns for disrespecting the Supreme Court in his report for his comments on how he could not understand how the Court upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA. But the Rapporteur responded by quoting GA resolutions that his mandate requires him to examine every organ of the government and the society including the judiciary pertaining to his mandate and the Supreme Court is not exception.
Two years later the Special Rapporteur did a follow up report of his mission to India contained in document A/HRC/29/37/Add.3 dated 6 May 2015. In the follow-up report he has the following to say about AFSPA and related legislation:
15. In his country visit report, the Special Rapporteur noted that the situation concerning the use of force in India was exacerbated by the implementation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The Act is applied in areas that have been declared “disturbed” or “dangerous” to the extent that the use of armed force is deemed necessary. These have included areas of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, while in Jammu and Kashmir, a nearly identical piece of legislation known as the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is applied.
16. Particular concern was expressed in the report over the provisions in the Act regulating the use of lethal force, in violation of the international standards on the use of force, and the related principles of proportionality and necessity. The Special Rapporteur also expressed his concern at the protection granted to officers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Act, where the prosecution of such officers is prohibited unless sanction to prosecute is granted by the central Government. This rarely occurs in practice. Thus, accountability for extrajudicial or arbitrary killings committed by armed forces members is frequently made practically impossible. The Indian Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act and provided several conditions on the use of the special powers conferred on the Armed Forces by section 4 thereof. This part of the country visit report in particular was strenuously opposed by the Government in its comments thereto, on the basis that the State viewed it as a gross disregard for the Supreme Court (see A/HRC/23/47/Add.7, para. 1). This approach seems not to take into account the fact that the special procedures of the Human Rights Council regularly pronounce on the rulings of domestic courts from all over the world, in line with the established principle of international law that States are internationally responsible for the actions of all their organs (see General Assembly resolution 65/19).
17. Several international bodies and Indian authorities have subsequently also expressed concern over the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The Justice Verma Committee, constituted in December 2012 as a result and within a few days of the brutal gang rape and murder committed in New Delhi on 16 December 2012, recommended the continuance of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and similar legal protocols in internal conflict areas be immediately reviewed. The Committee found that the review was necessary in order to determine the propriety of resorting to such legislation in the areas concerned. In July 2014, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called upon India to implement the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee and to promptly review the continued application of Act and related legal protocols (see CEDAW/C/IND/CO/4-5, para. 13 (a)). The Committee also urged India to amend and/or repeal the Act, so that sexual violence against women perpetrated by members of the armed forces could be brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law and, pending such amendment or repeal, to remove the requirement for government permission to prosecute members of the armed forces accused of crimes of violence against women or other human rights abuses of women, and to grant permission to enable prosecution in all pending cases.
18. In part V, paragraph 5.4 of its report, a commission appointed by the Supreme Court stated that it was time to progressively de-notify areas of the State under the Act, and to withdraw section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. That commission agreed with the Jeevan Reddy Committee created to review the Act. The Committee¼s report has not been made public, but determined that the Act had become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness, and that it was highly desirable and advisable to repeal it altogether. In part IV, paragraph 3.10 of its report, the commission found that the conditions laid down by the Supreme Court had remained largely on paper only and were mostly followed in violation.
- The Special Rapporteur, however, regrets that India has not followed the recommendation that it repeal or at least radically amend the Act, as well as the equivalent legislation in Jammu and Kashmir, to ensure that legislation regarding the use of force is brought in line with international human rights law and to remove all legal barriers for the criminal prosecution of members of the armed forces. The Special Rapporteur also recommended that, while waiting for the necessary repeal or amendment of the Act, it must be ensured that the status of a “disturbed area” is subject to regular review and a justified decision is made on its further extension. In that regard, he has been informed that states of the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir regions continue to be declared “disturbed areas”, without any deliberation, justification or reference to the scale of insurgency in the respective areas.
Public Statement by Special Rapporteur on Summary, Arbitrary or Extrajudicial Execution and Special Rapporteur on situation of Human Rights Defender
In Manipur, EEVFAM and HRA converted the memorandum to the Special Rapporteur into a Public Interest Litigation to the Supreme Court of India2 seeking justice for a list of 1,528 victims of extrajudicial execution carried out from 1979 to 2012. The apex court after perusing report of its own fact finding commission and acknowledging the systematic violation of the right to life under AFSPA, pronounced a historic judgment in 2016 re-asserting that the criminal cases should be registered against the police and armed forces of the union and that criminal investigation should commence in each case of extrajudicial killing.
But this is easier said than done. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was assigned to investigate 98 cases where there is already a prima facie finding. But the CBI is not only carrying out the task in a very slow pace but also demonstrate extreme reluctance to do so. Witnesses and human rights defenders involved in the case are systematically intimidated and harassed. This has compelled the present UN Special Rapporteur on Summary, Arbitrary or Extrajudicial Execution, Ms. Agnes Callamard and the UN Special Rapporteur on situation of Human Rights Defender, Mr. Michel Forst to issue a public statement on 4 July, 2018 reiterating that “the Government of India has an obligation to ensure prompt, effective and thorough investigations into all allegations of potentially unlawful killings, and a failure to do so is a violation of its international obligations. Justice delayed is justice denied.” They also stated that “some of these families have been waiting decades for these cases to be fully investigated. It is unacceptable that CBI is failing to meet these deadlines and appears to lack good faith”. They further stated that “we are extremely concerned that the delay appears to be deliberate, undue and unreasonable and we condemn this lack of progress.”
Till date only 39 FIRs have been registered and eight charge sheets have been filed against some lower ranking Manipur Police personnel. Five final reports have been submitted stating that no charge can be made out. EEVFAM is challenging the report in the Session’s Court in Imphal.
No armed forces personnel of the Union involved in the killing have been indicted till date. In fact, in August 2018, when the first army officer, one Major Vijay Singh Balhara (now Colonel), was even named in the First Information Report, 356 serving army personnel moved the Supreme Court in a Writ Petition3 seeking class impunity from legal action in their conduct of counter insurgency operations. The number of army personnel signing the petition swelled up to more than 750. Even though the court finally dismissed the petition on 30 November 2018, such a demonstration of military valour in the court, supported by the Attorney General, has effectively stopped the proceeding in the EEVFAM case. The Supreme Court registry has not listed the case for hearing since September 2018.
SR on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences
Ms. Rashida Manjoo was the first UN Special Rapporteur to set foot on Manipur soil as she landed in Imphal airport on 28 April 2013. She stayed over-night at Imphal. Apart from the usual meeting with the government officials she met with victims and women human rights defenders and other civil society actors from all over the North East region. When the mother of Ms. Thangjam Manorama gave her testimony and she paused foe a while, Rashida also took out her handkerchief and sipped her eyes. There was pin drop silence in the fully packed Royale conference hall of the Hotel Classic as everyone paused to absorb the gravity of the moment. She also made a request to meet Ms. Irom Sharmila who was under detention for carrying out hunger strike against AFSPA, which was turned down by the administration. The CSCHR also prepared and submitted a detailed memorandum on violence against indigenous women perpetrated or condoned by the State during armed conflict, entitle Manipur: Perils of war and womanhood.
The immediate impact of her visit was that the National Human Rights Commission conducted the first-ever camp sitting in Manipur and disposed off several pending cases. A three member delegation of the NHRC led by the Chairperson himself visited Irom Sharmila inside the hospital where she is detained and issued a statement that the way she was incarcerated violent both national and international law.
In her report contained in UN document number A/HRC/26/38/Add.1 she recommended to the Government of India as follows:
(f) Repeal, as a matter of urgency, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and ensure that criminal prosecution of members of the Armed Forces is free from legal barriers;4
When she presented this report in the UN Human Rights Council she said from the podium that she have been to 14 missions in various parts of the world as a mandate holder of the Council, but she said she was never humiliated by the officials the way she was done during her last visit to India. Would her visit to Manipur be the reason behind this ill treatment?
Human Rights Alert, as part of the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR), took the floor during the discussion in the UN Human Rights Council and thanked her for her visit and the positive contributions it has made.
SR on Water and Sanitation
The second Special Rapporteur to visit Manipur was Mr. Leo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. He made an official mission to India from 27 November to 10 November 2017 and visited Manipur. CSCHR organized civil society consultation and a filed visit the affected communities of the Thoubal multipurpose dam project.
In his report contained in UN document no A/HRC/39/55/Add.1 dated 6 July 2018, in the section on “Leave no one behind”, in the sub-section “Communities living near megaprojects” it is stated as follows:
- Rural populations’ access to water is also affected by large projects that directly or indirectly affect essential water sources used for drinking, domestic tasks or livelihoods. In Manipur, the Special Rapporteur was informed about how large infrastructure (dams, railways, roads and industrial projects) affects water sources of rural villages. In particular, he visited two communities downstream of the Thoubal multipurpose dam project that no longer relied on the river as their source of drinking water, due to the deteriorated water quality and the irregular flow, and that had to pay for access to the water source of a nearby village. The Special Rapporteur is concerned that the lack of prioritization in allocating water for domestic and personal use may negatively affect the access to drinking water of those living in vulnerable situations. In some of the villages visited, the Special Rapporteur was informed that the local authorities had only partially constructed household toilets and, while the intended beneficiaries waited for the construction to be finished, they had no choice but to defecate in the open.
Perhaps taking clues from the Manipur experience, the Special Rapporteur organized an Asia-Pacific Regional consultation of impact of mega-projects on the human rights to drinking water and sanitation on 12th November 2018 at Kuala Lumpur where the CSCHR also participated.
SR on Indigenous Peoples
Though the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples has never made an official visit to Manipur, India, the office has been closely following the issues in Manipur. Many of the ethnically distinct people of Manipur and the North East region of India self-identify themselves as indigenous peoples. In the sister state of Mizoram, the State Assembly adopted resolutions twice (8th October, 2015 and 15th March, 2019) for the implementation the United Nations Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007. But this is only of symbolic significance, as the Government of India does not recognize that there are indigenous peoples in India or the entire population of India is indigenous to the country.
Prof. James Anaya, the then Special Rapporteur of Indigenous Peoples in this communication to Government of India, in context of a petition by indigenous peoples of Manipur affected by construction of Tipaimuk Dam, explained the current concept of indigenous peoples:
(…) the understanding of the term “indigenous people” in the India and general Asia context “should put less emphasis on the early definition of aboriginality … [and instead] on the more recent approaches focusing on self-definition as indigenous and distinctly different from other groups within a state; on a special attachment to and use of their traditional land whereby their ancestral land and territory had a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples; on an experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, expulsion or discrimination because these peoples have different cultures, way of life or means of production than the national hegemonic and dominant model.
By using this yardstick the Special Rapporteur concluded:
The affected communities belong to the Tangkhul Naga, Kuki and Meetei peoples of Manipur consider themselves to be distinct cultural groups with their own territories, culture and histories. Their grievances, stemming from their distinct cultural identities and deep connection to their traditional territories can easily be identified as the type of problems faced by other indigenous peoples worldwide with regards to the effects of development projects within their traditional land.
SR on Freedom of Expression and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Manipur journalist Wangkhem cha Kishorechandra was detained under the National Security Act on 27 November 2018 for posting anti-government comments in his facebook post. He was already released on bail by the regular court on the same charge. To re-arrest, detained and incarcerate him using the preventive detention law was widely protested in Manipur.
The United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression send a communication alleging violation of his human rights to the Government of India. The abstract of the communication reference number AL IND 32/2018 dated 3 January 2019 is reproduced hereinafter as follows:
We express serious concern at the arrest and detention of Mr. Wangkhem. We are concerned at the criminalization of the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression through the use of the National Security Act, which is a broad and unspecific state security legislation, may have a chilling effect on public debate in India, including on the work of journalists. We are concerned that such legislation may be used particularly to target critical and dissenting voices in India. The facts alleged, if proved correct, would be in contravention, among other norms, with articles 9, 14, and 19 of ICCPR, acceded by India on the 10 April 1979. They guarantee the right not to be deprived arbitrarily of ones liberty and to fair proceedings before an independent and impartial tribunal, the right to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
ENGAGEMENT WITH UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVEIW
In 2006 the UN Human Rights Council was established. The Human Rights Commission was dissolved. It is an upgrading of the human rights agenda within the UN Human Rights system as the Council and directly reports to the General Assembly where as earlier it used to be done through the ECOSOC. Now the Council can also take resolution with financial implications, whereas with the Commission it has to be approved by the ECOSOC.
The Human Rights Council has also started a new mechanism called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It is peer review process where all the members of the UN are reviewed by all the other members of the UN, for all their human rights records once in every four and half years. It is a new mechanism where the civil society can also submit their stakeholder’s report to the UPR secretariat. Civil Society groups in Manipur have been taking full advantages of this opening and have been submitting join reports and assisting the other governments to formulate questions to be raised to the government of India.
Till date three cycle of UPR review has been completed. India was reviewed in 2008, 2012 and 2017. CSCHR submitted stakeholder’s reports in 2012 and 2017. But other civil society groups from Manipur such as COHR, HRA, etc. submitted their own reports individually or as part of a collective in the first cycle too.
During the first review Canada, UK and Germany raised the issue of AFSPA. During the second review the governments of Slovakia,
Switzerland and France raised the issued. In the third review Switzerland and Pakistan raised the issue of review and/or repeal of the AFSPA. Thus, the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review that directs all the recommended the State under Review, here Government of India, has recommended the repeal/review of AFSPA in all the three cycles. Unfortunately the Government of India has not accepted the recommendation persistently.
In his last days Arambam Somorendra was very keen to know how to raise the human rights issues of Manipur to the UN. He might be pleased that so much progress has been made toward that direction in the last twenty years or so. But these are only baby steps and a lot still needs to be done.
UN is a huge and complex system and one needs a great deal of patience and perseverance to see results. Even a lifetime’s work may not be sufficient. There are also inherent limitations of what the UN can do to push the influential and powerful government like India on human rights issues. And there are many geo-political factors well beyond the control of small actors like us.
But we are happy today is that we are at least able to engage with the UN human rights mechanisms – sometime effectively and sometime not so effectively. This engagement needs to continue. We need to prepare our next generation to take on the baton. Some day, if they are persistent enough, they might find the answer to the issues we are throwing up today.
In conclusion let me read out a Manipuri poem, whose author I cannot recollect, but have read somewhere:
Taramdai numitna laorakkhi
“Eidi chatalni; malemsi mamhourani
kanana ihut shihougani?”
Piklaba kegam gi dosina khumakakhi
“Eina ngalhangani malem!”
dosi machana hairakhi
“Hayen inung ngallaga,
nangna amuk thoklaklaga
Malem se nouhouna ngallani.
Adubu, ugani eibudi tanggoi oina, Adubu, chaothokchei eidi, Eigi ithoudang pangthoklamme!”, haina.
1 Para 83, Report of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defender, Margaret Sekaggya, Addendum, Mission to India, A/HRC/19/55/Add.1 dated 6 February, 2012.
2 Writ Petition (Criminal) number 129 of 2012.
3 Writ Petition (Criminal) number 201 of 2018. 4
See also A/HRC/23/47/Add.1, para. 101.