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“FAREWELL TO INNOCENCE”: Towards A Shared Future

By EMN Updated: Feb 27, 2014 9:24 pm

On February 22, 2014, the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) has completed 6 years. At the center of our Journey of Common Hope: Towards a Shared Future, faith in God endures unwaveringly and the people shall remain — as always — the centerpiece in the making of the Naga future. It is a future of common hope, cast in justice, and grounded on “the historical and political rights.”

The Common Journey of Hope, so far, has not always been predictable. Despite the sincerity of the FNR’s intent, we have had our share of disappointments and setbacks. We openly say this to the Naga people and the Naga political groups, as we also seek your understanding and forgiveness.
In the midst of our limitations and disappointments, the Naga reconciliation has been possible because of the expressed commitment of the Naga political groups and the Naga public. Hence, FNR applauds the signing of the “Covenant of Naga Reconciliation” in June 2010, and the “Naga concordant” in August 2011, by the highest leaders of the Naga Political groups. These agreements in combination with the support we have received from the Church bodies, Naga apex organizations, Naga tribes, women, and youth and GB’s and DB’s Associations, as well as non-Naga communities living in Naga areas have sustained the journey to Naga reconciliation.
Through these years, FNR and the Naga political groups have made many transitions; moving from one stage to another. All along, while remaining diplomatic, non-partisan, without political affiliation, non-judgmental and steadfast, FNR has been mindful of not being deceptive nor manipulating to undo the “other.” Our task has been to work with the Naga political groups, each seemingly with differing political framework, approaches and priorities. Finding common ground has never been simple. Yet, the Naga people’s desire to be reconciled and to seek a shared future together has been the inspiration of the process.
In the process of reconciliation, the Naga political groups have identified the past events that occurred in the form of “agreements”, “accords”, and other “reactive” measures that had political, and social implications on the Naga struggle, thereby weakening it and resulting in grave loss of human lives and further divisions. In the spirit of forgiveness the Naga political groups have driven the final nail to the casket of the Naga past, which they have resolved never to exhume.
While learning to let go of past mistakes, the Naga political groups have realized their own failures and missteps for which they confess and seek the people’s forgiveness. They believe that only when the past is openly addressed, then the Naga future can unfold unfettered by history and enter a new age of understanding, justice and prosperity.

The Present Admissions and Resolves:
As a “political nation” Nagas must safeguard ourselves on all fronts – externally and internally. This means being liberated from the vicious cycle of the culture of resentment, unforgiving spirit, pride and elitist practices. Such attitudes, no matter how rationalized or justified, will not nurture enduring peaceful coexistence. The law of nature itself points to the futility of such attitudes.
By being objective and sincere, Nagas need to carefully examine whether our common belongingness will gather momentum, or whether we will succumb to the forces of entropy that threaten to destroy our Naga house from within. Furthermore, for the younger Naga generation, whose growth we must not stifle, the concept of a “shared Naga future” still remains uncertain and endangered without a paradigmatic shift by the present Naga political leaders.
The Naga aspiration to live in dignity and peace therefore needs the participation of every man, woman and child. This is essential because the Naga status will be determined not only by our self percept idealism, but also by the true nature of our relationships with each other and is the cornerstone for a shared future.
The time calls for our national leaders to come together and lay the stepping-stones to cross to the other side of the river. Therefore: If we keep on harping on the “differences”, despite the record that we are “reconciled”, we will only empower those who promote division and conflict and who breed hatred rather than forgiveness and peace. Henceforth, we must embrace the law of human civilization that only when we respect others, we will be able to promote the viable dignified coexistence of all.

Future: A Sincere and Realistic Approach:
Sovereignty is at the core of the Naga struggle. Important as it is, “sovereignty” is a concept we often avoid discussing for obvious reasons, though proclaimed with heightened “patriotism” and fervor. However, there is nothing to fear by sharing, discussing, agreeing and disagreeing around precepts and ideas of sovereignty across the table of common belonging. Although it is an abstract concept, it is simultaneously real and pragmatic within a contextual situation, and comprises reflective, responsible action with careful and sensitive understanding.
Enshrined in the Yehzabo of Nagaland are the following lines:
“We, the people of Nagaland [comprising of all Naga areas], solemnly acknowledges that the Sovereignty over the earth and the entire universe belongs to Almighty God alone, and the authority of the people to be exercised on the territory is a sacred trust from God, who sustained our forefathers, the national workers and our people through the years. . . . .” (The YEHZABO of Nagaland, Federal Government of Nagaland, Amended in 2006).
In the final analysis, sovereignty resides with the people. Explicitly, the Naga people have said, “We want to be a nation. . . . .and the right of the people must prevail regardless of size” (NNC). By tacit understanding Nagas have chosen to stay inside one’s “land” and not “emigrate” nor to be incorporated in the “Reformed Scheme of India” (The Memorandum to Simon Commission).
A crucial fact is that the Naga people have safeguarded our land! This is “popular sovereignty”—sovereignty that lies and resides in the people. Hence, the land, and its people are “inalienable” (Simon Commission). By affirming that “Sovereignty lies in the people”, Nagas are saying that we have ownership and authority over the land and its resources that must be protected at all costs. If sovereignty is a quality of having ownership and authority over our geographical areas, this also means that the people have the power to make changes. This legitimate authority of a people forms the ideological premise of democracy.
Peace and reconciliation through a decree from “above” may seem assuring, but it will take the Nagas only farther away from it. The Naga political groups should freely – without being obsessed by grand narrative – explore humane and rational possibilities through inclusive dialogues based on the “Covenant of Reconciliation”, the “Naga Concordant” and other agreements that they have jointly agreed upon. In this way we can discover the art of sincere willingness, be open to learning, discovering, and dreaming the possibilities for coexisting in an interdependent world. If such an idea is deemed unacceptable to the Naga political groups, then let the Naga people decide how best to pursue the historical and political rights through a unified consensus.
A new domain of mental and spiritual expansion – this is what we need. If we would only be more magnanimous and honest to God, we are on a new ground that Nagas are eagerly looking to.

Forum for Naga Reconciliation
As Endorsed by 31 Naga Organizations on February 27, 2014

Recommendations to the Forum for Naga Reconciliation during its 6th Report on February 27, 2014

1. While unanimously appreciating the hard work and valuable contributions of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) for safeguarding the Naga family at a time of deep crisis, we extend our full support to the Naga Reconciliation process and urge the FNR to continue strengthening and pursing the task of Reconciliation.
2. We implore all Naga tribe and civil society organizations to consciously work towards reconciliation in the spirit of forgiveness towards a shared future.
3. Recognizing that Reconciliation is a continuous process, we urge all Naga political groups to join Naga Reconciliation; and to unitedly pursue the Naga political and historical rights for the common good of all.
Submitted by
31 Naga organizations

By EMN Updated: Feb 27, 2014 9:24:57 pm