World’s Indigenous Peoples Day observed in Manipur

World’s Indigenous Peoples Day observed in Manipur
Artists perform at the celebration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples at Tuisenphai village on August 9.


Imphal, August 9 (MExN): Various Manipur based organizations celebrated International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples at Tuisenphai village on August 9.


Tuisenphai Village Authority, Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights in Manipur, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM), and Youth Action Committee for Protection of Indigenous Peoples observed the day with the theme ‘Defending our land, resources and rights’.


The celebration was marked by indigenous cultural presentations and discussion on the issues and challenges of indigenous peoples in Manipur, informed a press release from CRAM president, Sanaton Laishram.


Jiten Yumnam, CRAM Secretary highlighted that Manipur is inhabited by diverse indigenous peoples with rich traditions, cultures emanating from close relationship with their land and resources. However, he expressed concerns that the fast folding globalization and development aggression increasingly targets their land and resources, 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,” Yumnam added.


Nitinril Shaiphu, Village Chief of Tuisenphai meanwhile shared that Kharam tribe is one of the oldest and most marginalized tribes of Manipur. “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,” the release quoted him as saying.


Khotinsan, elder of Tuisenphai village also shared the history of Kharam tribe and stressed the need for special attention to ensure the survival and rights of ‘minoritized’ tribes.


Meanwhile, Majabung Gangmei, social activist noted that 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,” the release said. Attachment to land and collective defense of land, he asserted, is critical for promotion of indigenous cultures, value system and way of life. Gangmei further lamented that the Government of India and multinational companies are targeting Tamenglong and other parts of Manipur for oil exploration, mining and dam building “that will lead to displacement and undermine their culture and identity.”


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.


According to the release, 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.”