NSF appeals for UN intervention

DIMAPUR, FEBRUARY 8 (MExN): The Naga Students' Federation (NSF) has written to the United Nations Secretary General Antònio Guterres appealing for "immediate intervention against further fragmentation of Naga homeland." It said while 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," the "situation has become precarious."

The NSF, in its letter, drew attention to the Government of India’s (GoI) decision "to fence the arbitrary India-Myanmar border and abolish Free Movement Regime." The federation said that this "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."

It said that the GoI is "acting undemocratically" 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 pursuit for subsistence, basic agricultural and micro-economic activities of the Nagas living across the boundary, the NSF said.  

The NSF stated that "even as the rightful owner of the land, Nagas were never consulted when India and Myanmar demarcated their so called international boundary." Furthermore, it pointed out that 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."

It said that 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," the NSF stated. 

It informed that the proposed fencing disregards the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples 2007 (UNDRIP) of which India is a signatory. "Article 36 of the UNDRIP explicitly recognizes the indigenous people divided by international borders to maintain and develop connections, relations, and cooperation across borders for various purpose," the NSF pointed out. 

The federation cautioned that continuous attempts to disrupt Naga society would sow the seeds of discord and unrest in the entire region. "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," it stated.

The NSF asked the UN Secretary General to immediately stop the programme for abolishing Free Movement Regime and the proposed fencing on the arbitrary India-Myanmar boundary in Naga homeland. It also asked the UN Secretary General to 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. Further it asked him to explore the possibilities for a fresh referendum under the supervision of international bodies.