South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, echoes the frustrations of the people of Manipur and reiterates its concern on the continuing unrest and disharmony in the State of Manipur one year after the violence broke out on 3 May 2023. It also emphasises the complete lack of political will of the Government of India and the State Government of Manipur to resolve the issues among the Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities which has resulted in a total breakdown of communal harmony and the widening physical divide based on ethnicity between the two communities who lived as peaceful neighbours.

It has been reported that the death toll in the initial three months of the violence stood at 150, and it became 221 with the killings taking place later. 15 members of the Kuki –Zo community and the 32 members of the Meitei community have been missing for the past year and about 60,000 people have been displaced. Out of more than 4,500 weapons looted from the police armouries after the eruption of the violence, only about 1,800 have been recovered or surrendered.

SAHR learns that the State Government of Manipur has been engaged in repatriating displaced Myanmar Nationals, mostly from the Chin State in Myanmar, who had escaped from the conflict between the Myanmar Junta and the rebel forces. The State Government of Manipur allegedly accused the Kuki-Zo community in the hills for encroaching the reservation areas to build new villages for those displaced from Myanmar.  

During the fact finding mission conducted by SAHR in November 2023 to investigate the missing persons owing to the eruption of violence on 3 May 2023, other related and murky issues were raised by different sections of Manipuri society. Among others concerns were raised about the unchecked and extensive poppy cultivations in the state. Although there have been sporadic attempts to clamp down on the trade the people felt these were not sincere attempts. Various allegations were made about the political implications of allowing the poppy trade to continue unchecked including funding elections. The other issue that is preventing a resolution of the ongoing impasse is the close ties of officials and political authorities with militant groups as well as patronising and providing impunity to right wing vigilante groups like the Arambai Tenggol by the state. The Fact Finding Mission clearly perceived that the political and administrative failures by the state are being conveniently by-passed. In addition there has not been any effective and meaningful measures to bring the alienated communities of Kuki – Zo and Meiteis, together by both the Central Government and the State Government of Manipur.

SAHR therefore strongly urges the Central Government and the State Government of Manipur to take effective and concrete action immediately with the consultation of the communities to bring peace to Manipur. 

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu
Bureau Member

Sushil Pyakurel
Bureau Member