Appeal for Immediate Intervention Against Further Fragmentation of Naga Homeland by Occupational Forces
Antònio Guterres Secretary General United Nations New York, 10017
We the undersigned, representing the sentiments and the aspirations of the Naga youth, bring to your urgent attention on the serious threats propounded by the Indian occupational force to fence the arbitrary India-Myanmar border and abolish Free Movement Regime. The ploy manifests a clear evidence of the government of India’s insincerity and insensitivity towards the inherent Naga birth right and the hope for the Naga people to once again live as free people.
The occupation of free Naga Homeland by the Indian and Burmese armed forces in violation of the Naga nationhood and the resistance by the Naga people is more than seven decades. Despite the unaccountable atrocities perpetrated on the Naga people by the colonial governments, the Naga ceasefire agreement with government of India and Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) and various other agreements and joint communiqués gave a ray of hope for a political solution. However, situation has become precarious.
We therefore submit the following before you. That;
1. Your esteemed self must be aware of the protracted Indo-Naga and Myanmar-Naga political conflict that has been going on for more than seven decades. The Naga declared independence on 14th August, 1947 and in compliance with conventional rules, the declaration was sent to the King of England, the government of India and to the Secretary General of the United Nation. Consequent upon the declaration of Naga independence, the British government left some portions of Naga areas in complete disorder that triggered India to invade Naga homeland.
The Nagas conducted a plebiscite on 16th May, 1951 wherein 99.9 percent wanted Independence from India. Nonetheless, the referendum was utterly disdained by India and the international communities. Since then, India and Myanmar without any remorse divided Naga homeland into two countries, then split into various administrative regions.
The Naga country has more than four million population with an area spread across 1,20,000 square kilometer, situated in the Northeast region of India and Northwest region of Myanmar. We would like to unmistakably assert the fact that Naga movement for self-determination is not a case of cessation but a fight against the occupational forces.
2. Your esteemed self must be aware of the fact that India’s and Myanmar’s unjust war on the Naga people, in the initial stage was primarily motivated by extra territorial, geo-strategic, mercantile capitalist interest of the ruling forces, who in the subsequent period of time have set-up local puppet regimes. In the last few decades, India’s capitalist interests to expropriate Naga natural resources and to control trade routes have been rigorously enforced at gun point. Since the late 1940’s, the Nagas have been bearing with the negative fallouts of this unjust war by India, which have been constitutionally buttressed by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958.
3. Your esteemed self must be well aware of the widespread views that the nationality question cannot be solved by military. However, the government of India is acting undemocratically, by investing more on the unjust war efforts to keep the Nagas permanently under siege. The proposition to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and scrap the Free Movement Regime is one of such repressive policies to control day-to-day pursuits for subsistence, basic agricultural and micro-economic activities of the Nagas living across the boundary.
4. Your esteemed self is well aware on the unique history of the Nagas which is well acknowledged by India and others. By unique history, it means the history of independence where Nagas were neither part of Indian Union or Myanmar either by conquest or by consent. Nevertheless, even as the rightful owner of the land, Nagas were never consulted when India and Myanmar demarcated their so called international boundary. Furthermore, the Memorandum of Understanding also called the Free Movement Regime which regulates the movement of citizens of India and Myanmar up to 16 (sixteen) kilometres along the India-Myanmar international border was also not made known to the Nagas.
Historically, the existing artificial boundary has no practical relevance whatsoever for the day-to-day lives and realities to the Nagas way of life, culture and identity, particularly to the villages along the assumed international border. Therefore, this sacred freedom of movement and the right to unrestricted mobility across the arbitrary international border not only confront Naga historical and traditional rights, but also a very destructive and tyrannical design against Naga people inalienable human rights.
5. Your esteemed self be informed on the Naga sentiments deeply hurt by the proposed fencing by the authorities in Delhi disregarding United Nation Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples 2007 (UNDRIP) wherein India herself is a signatory. Whereas, it may be cited that, Article 36 of the UNDRIP explicitly recognises the indigenous people divided by international borders to maintain and develop connections, relations, and cooperation across borders for various purpose.
The Naga people on both side of the Patkai fold belt have suffered the consequences of arbitrary divisions imposed by colonial regimes. Continuous attempts to disrupt Naga society would sow the seeds of discord and unrest in the entire region. When such situation arises due to the failure of the Indian government, Naga people should not be held responsible.
If the present peace talk fails to bring a logical conclusion, the younger generation may be compelled to revive the demand, as it was in the beginning. Such situation would be too costly for the people of Naga homeland, India, Myanmar and the neighbours. Therefore, with humble prayer, we impress and call on you to urgently intervene and to urge the government of India to;
1. Immediately stop the programme for abolishing Free Movement Regime and the proposed fencing on the arbitrary India-Myanmar boundary in Naga homeland.
2. Closely monitor the state of affairs across Naga homeland and support for peaceful resolution to the Indo-Naga-Myanmar political issue which would be just, long lasting, inclusive, honourable and acceptable to all the parties involve.
3. Explore the possibilities for a fresh referendum under the supervision of international bodies.
The Naga people look forward to your unconditional support in delivering justice and ensuring sustainable settlement to the protracted political impasse.
President, Naga Students’ Federation