Imphal, Aug 10,
The Tuisenphai Village Authority, Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights in Manipur, the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, Youth Action Committee for Protection of Indigenous Peoples celebrated the World’s Indigenous Peoples Day at Tuisenphai Village, Manipur on 9thAugust 2018, with the theme, “Defending our land, resources and rights”. Indigenous cultural presentations and discussion on the issues & challenging of indigenous peoples in Manipur marked the celebration.
Mr. Jiten Yumnam, Secretary of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur shared that Manipur, is inhabited by diverse indigenous peoples with rich traditions, cultures emanating from close relationship with their land and resources. He expressed concerns that the fast folding globalization and development aggression increasingly targets their land and resources, the forest, land, rivers threatening their survival as peoples. The negation of self-determined rights of indigenous peoples over their land and resources is associated with militarism and undemocratic practices, such as imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, militarization of their land and violations of peoples’ human rights.
Nitinril Shaiphu, Village Chief of Tuisenphai Village shared that the Kharam Tribe is one of the oldest and most marginalized tribes of Manipur, like the Aimol and Koireng tribe etc. The Kharam Tribe depending on their land and resources for generations are reduced to one of the most minoritized, impoverished and neglected tribes of Manipur, lacking facilities and infrastructures for education, drinking water, road etc. Sh. Khotinsan, Elder of Tuisenphai Village shared the history of Kharam Tribes and stressed the need for special attention to ensure the survival and rights of minoritized tribes.
Majabung Gangmei, Social Activist shared that the Kharam Tribe and many other minority tribes of Manipur are fast losing their culture, due to globalization and other religious factors, apart from the increased land alienation due to introduction of unsustainable development. He said attachment to land and collective defense of land is critical for promotion of indigenous cultures, value system and way of life. He lamented that the Government of India and multinational companies are targeting Tamenglong and other parts of Manipur for oil exploration, mining and dam building over the Barak River, Irang River, Leimatak River etc that will lead todisplacement and undermined their culture and identity.
Mr. Gopen Khunjabam, Assistant Secretary of Irabot Foundation stressed the need to value, appreciate and foster indigenous peoples’ traditions, cultures and way of life, through recognizing their rights over their land, to ensure their rightful participation and consent in all decision making processes affecting their land, rights and future. The participants generally agreed to defend indigenous peoples land, resources and rights in Manipur and resist development aggression, viz, dam building, oil exploration etc, and State’s undemocratic practices.