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UN Human Rights Office Calls Attention to Persecution of Meitei Human Rights Defender in Manipur Amid Escalating Ethnic Violence

6th October 2023: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations has brought global attention to the alarming situation in Manipur through a public statement released on social media platform X. The statement condemns the violent actions of radical Meitei militias, Meitei Leepun and Arambai Tenggol, against a notable Meitei human rights defender, Babloo Loitongbam, for his outspoken stance on the ongoing ethnic discord in the region.

Babloo Loitongbam, in a recent interview on 3rd October with The Wire, shed light on the involvement of the Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun militias in fueling the ethnic tensions and orchestrating violence against the Zo ethnic tribes. He also criticized the Biren Singh-led State government for its alleged complicity in the ethnic violence.

Reacting to Loitongbam’s accusations, an infuriated mob of Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun militants vandalized his residence and private property. This violent response has now drawn the scrutiny of the international community.

In the detailed conversation with Karan Thapar, Loitongbam emphasized the necessity for an impartial investigation into the grave crimes committed, devoid of any ethnic bias. He urged for a change in leadership in Manipur and condemned the current administration’s handling of the ethnic violence, calling for thorough and unbiased investigations into crimes against both Kuki and Meitei communities.

The UN Human Rights office has vociferously called upon the Indian government and other authoritative bodies to ensure the protection of Loitongbam, his family, and property. They demand accountability for the attackers and emphasize the importance of safeguarding human rights defenders who play a pivotal role in upholding justice and human rights amid a climate of escalating ethnic animosity.

This UN statement amplifies the voice of human rights activists like Loitongbam and brings the international spotlight onto the deteriorating human rights situation in Manipur. The ongoing ethnic violence, flamed by radical factions and allegedly abetted by the state government, has now transcended national boundaries, urging international bodies to demand action and accountability.

The intervention by the UN Human Rights office underscores the global concern over the suppression of freedom of speech and human rights in regions embroiled in ethnic strife. It also serves as a stark reminder to the Indian government and Manipur’s state administration about their obligations under international human rights law.

Loitongbam’s ordeal exemplifies the peril faced by human rights defenders in conflict-ridden areas and accentuates the crucial role they play in advocating for justice, peace, and communal harmony. It beckons a stronger commitment from both state and central governments to uphold the rule of law, protect human rights defenders, and take earnest steps to quell the ethnic violence that’s tearing apart the social fabric of Manipur.

The UN’s outcry embodies a collective international apprehension over the burgeoning ethnic discord in Manipur. It’s a call for immediate action to ensure the safety of human rights advocates and to address the root causes of the ethnic tension. The global community will be keenly watching how Indian authorities respond to this call for justice and protection of human rights in the unfolding Manipur crisis.

In light of the UN statement, it’s imperative that the Indian government takes decisive actions to restore law, order, and justice in Manipur, ensuring the safety of its citizens and human rights defenders like Babloo Loitongbam who dare to speak out against oppression and violence.

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