Hmar NGOs seek Union HM's intervention (INDIA)

IMPHAL, Mar 7: Further ratcheting up the charges of rape and other atrocities by cadres of the UNLF and the KCP in the Tipaimukh area of Churachandpur district, the Sinlung Indigenous People's Human Rights Organisation has submitted a memorandum to the Union home minister, Shivraj Patel, seeking his immediate intervention for restoration of law and order in the area, and for relief and rehabilitation of the victims.


The memorandum, signed by representatives of the Hmar Students Association, Delhi, Hmar Committee, Delhi, and Hmar Women's Association, Delhi, apart from the SIPHRO, says that taking advantage of the remoteness of the area, the valley-based militants moved into the area in batches, forcibly occupied the unarmed and unprotected villages and unleashed a reign of terror.

Apart from taxing the poor villagers and using them as forced labor, they herded them together, men and women separately, tortured them and beat them like cattle.
They raped women and young girls; some of them minors. They demanded and slaughtered their domesticated animals at will and took whatever they like from shops without payment, it said.

The UGs planted many landmines on roads and paths frequented by the villagers,
the memorandum further charged, noting that many have already fallen victim to these landmines. All forms of human rights and dignities have been violated and the state government maintained a stony silence and failed miserably to protect its citizens, it said.

In the face of these tragic happenings and the ineptitude of the state government to deal with the situation, many villagers have left their hearts and homes and fled to Mizoram and elsewhere for safety. Fear reigns supreme in the area, the memorandum said.

Seeking the home minister's immediate intervention, the memorandum urged for steps for restoring law and order, peace, security and governance in Churachandpur district in general and Tipaimukh Sub-division in particular.

It further called for setting up military camps wherever appropriate to stop any future threat of retaliation and reoccupation of the area by the armed militants and ensure the military presence as long as the situation demands.

It called for restoration of government institutions, schools, hospitals and police stations in the area, and immediate establishment of public distribution system of foodgrains for the Tipaimukh area preferably at Sipuikawn and Parbung for the poor jhum cultivators who are already facing food shortages and the threat of serious famine.
It sought air-dropping of rice, medicines and clothing for the villages who are denied of access to any of these basic necessities.

The memorandum further called for clearing all the landmines laid by the valley-based militants and secure the area from the scourge of these inhuman and evil traps.

Regarding the refugees, it sought a long-term and sustainable policy for the welfare of the Hmar refugees from Tipaimukh area who are presently taking refuge in different parts of Manipur, Assam and Mizoram, to ensure maintenance of standard human care and treatment for the displaced persons who are taking refuge in refugee camps in Mizoram.

It further urged that the displaced persons should be repariated only after assuring them protection from armed aggression and restoration of peace and security to lead normal and peaceful life.

It further called for introduction of employment programmes for the refugees and provision of free education and medical facilities.

The memorandum also called for immediate dispatch of medical teams to all the affected villages and provide necessary medical treatment and aid to the hundreds of villagers who are tortured and incapacitated by the militants and their landmines.
It also wanted counseling centres for traumatised villagers, as well as payment of compensation.

Reiterating that the UNLF and KCP during their occupation and reign of terror, in the villages in Tipaimukh, raped many women, the memorandum said while initially the rape victims could not speak out, at present there is a list of 21 rape victims who have spoken out. Many more are still reluctant to speak out due to fear, shame, rejection and the total absence of security and aid workers, it said.

It said that on February 11, 2006, five of the rape victims from Lungthulien village were taken to Aizawl, Mizoram for medical examinations by Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO). After all the necessary medical examinations, one was tested positive for pregnancy. Besides the listed rape victims, there are many more victims who are yet to speak out, it said.
In this connection, the memorandum demanded that medical teams should be sent immediately to examine and counsel the rape victims, some of whom have already lost their mental balance.

It wanted provision of ex-gratia financial assistance of at least Rupees 2 lakhs each for rehabilitation and necessary treatment of the rape victims, establishment of long-term counseling programmes for them, and initiation of suitable and relevant vocational training programmes for the victims.

On security issues, it said the Centre as well as the Government of Manipur should, if it still has to carry on the ongoing counter-insurgency military operations, redesign its strategies in such a manner that innocent civilians do not bear the brunt of its operations.

It said the concerned authorities should ensure military presence in all strategic villages to prevent the return of the valley-based militants in the area. The stationing of the Indian Army at Parbung, the headquarters of Tipaimukh sub-division is far from adequate in securing the area from militant incursion.

Media reports in Delhi in the meantime quoted Lalthansang Pulamte, assistant secretary of the SIPHRO as saying, "The number of rape victims has reached 25. The number is expected to increase. However, the sense of fear, insecurity and shame has been refraining them from speaking out," .

The North East Sun, in its report carries the account of a one such 17-year-old victim who reportedly said: "I was raped continuously by three militants. I bled for two days. I am afraid I may get pregnant. Three militants also raped my younger sister who is just 15 years. She is not in her normal senses today. She has not been eating and sleeping since then."

"Things have gone beyond the limit. We are moving the National Human Rights Commission as well as the National Commission for Women. But the people in distress need immediate and urgent help," the magazine further quoted SIPHRO secretary Lalremlien Neitham as saying.

Von: 08.03.2006, - The Imphal Free Press

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