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Geneva, 20 Sept. 2023 – Florence Nianghoilun Guite, representing the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi community, made a compelling appeal at the 54th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. Guite’s impassioned speech shed light on the dire situation in Manipur, where violence has been raging for 139 days. She emphasized that the people of Manipur are desperately seeking justice, as over 300 lives have been lost, many remain unaccounted for, and families continue to suffer.
Addressing the UNHRC, Miss Guite began her speech by stating the grim reality of the situation in Manipur. She revealed that it has been 139 days since the violence erupted, and during this time, 6,500 complaints have been filed with the police. These complaints, she emphasized, are not just numbers but desperate pleas for justice from a community that has witnessed brutality and chaos.
Guite expressed her concerns about the apparent breakdown of the rule of law, with the government and police failing to maintain order, allowing mob rule to spread like a virus across Manipur and India. She argued that the government has not acknowledged the true extent of the violence, and many families are still awaiting the return of their loved ones’ bodies.
During her speech, Guite recounted several horrifying incidents that have occurred during the ongoing violence. On May 5th, Florence Hangsing and Oliva Chongloi, who worked at a carwash, were brutally attacked, tortured, and gang-raped. When the room in which they were held was finally opened, they were found dead, their bodies mutilated, and the scene was described as a nightmarish mix of blood, flesh, and hair.
Guite also mentioned the tragic incident on June 4th when a seven-year-old Kuki-Hmar-Zomi boy named Tonsing, along with his mother Meena and her friend Lydia, were burned alive in an ambulance by a violent mob while en route to the hospital. The mob, led by the Meira Paibi women, committed this horrific act.
Another heart-wrenching incident occurred on July 2nd when David Ṭhiek Hmar, a 30-year-old, was captured along with two friends. While his friends were eventually released, David, because of his Hmar community background, faced torture and beheading. His dismembered body was gruesomely displayed on a bamboo fence, with his head mounted for all to see. The killers posted a chilling video on social media, mocking their victim and declaring their intention to target the Kuki community.
Miss Guite concluded her address by identifying the affected communities, stating, “We are Zo, Kuki-Thadou-Paite-Hmar-Gangte-Vaiphei-Simte, and a few more tribes. We ask for peace and justice and to be allowed to practice our religion and our customs without persecution. We ask for our right to self-determination and self-governance. Without the fear of mob, vigilantism, or discrimination and attack from our own government officials. We are Zo United.”
Khuraijam Athouba’s Key Points
Khuraijam Athouba, Spokesperson of CoCOMI (Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity) and Vice-President of IPSA (Indian Political Science Association), also addressed the UNHRC during the 54th Session. He presented several critical points regarding the ongoing violence in Manipur:
- Athouba asserted that the UN has been misinformed and is narrating the wrong content regarding the situation in Manipur.
- He emphasized that the violence in Manipur is not based on religious conflicts, as the Meitei population is around 45%, which is less than the Christian population.
- Athouba highlighted the vandalization of Meitei Churches on May 3rd in Churachandpur, underscoring the need to address these acts of violence.
- Regarding narco-terrorism, he identified Churachandpur as the new hub of the Golden Triangle, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue.
- Athouba reported that 19 Meitei villages have been completely evicted and destroyed, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
During Athouba’s address, the microphone was unexpectedly turned off, and the UN Special Rapporteur proceeded with concluding remarks. The Special Rapporteur urged India to be more inclusive, democratic, and secular.
Ongoing Crisis in Manipur
The accounts provided by Florence Nianghoilun Guite and Khuraijam Athouba underscore the urgency and gravity of the situation in Manipur. The ongoing violence has resulted in tragic loss of life, displacement, and extensive suffering among various communities.
It remains essential for the international community, including the United Nations, to closely monitor and engage with the situation in Manipur to ensure that justice is served, and peace is restored. The pleas made by Guite and Athouba at the UNHRC shed light on the need for urgent action and intervention to address the root causes of the violence and ensure the protection of human rights and freedoms in the region.