22 August 2014

Mizoram Girl Now Says Boyfriend Was First To Rape Her

By Adam Halliday

Aizawl, Aug 22 : The victim's boyfriend had admitted to having been in a relationship with the girl for about three years.

In a fresh twist, police have arrested the boyfriend of a minor girl who was allegedly raped by seven of his friends, including four minors, after the victim told a court that it was he who first sexually assaulted her and then instigated others to indulge in the crime.

The 17-year-old victim’s statement before Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Lalngaihmawia Zote Tuesday was completely different from the statement given to police where she had given a clean chit to her 21-year-old boyfriend. In the court, she also did not name one of the three 14-year-olds accused of raping her.

According to the fresh statement, the girl said that though they were friends for three years, she did not love the accused. “(On August 3), Around 8 pm (he) came to came to our house at Rolui village and said, ‘We need to talk’. When I pressed him he replied, ‘Come with me and I will tell you’. So I followed him out. He went towards the middle school. When we reached there he said he forgot something and went back, telling me to wait for him.”

In court she said, “After a while he came back alone and immediately cupped his hands over my mouth. I struggled a lot and he was surprised, so he whistled. Six of his friends came out from behind a nearby tree and grabbed hold of me. They carried me towards a retaining wall on the way to Sihphir. Sometimes they dragged me… Near the retaining wall Singh took off my clothes and the others also helped him.”

After the statement, police arrested the youth on Wednesday and took him to district headquarters Lunglei the same night. They produced him before a magistrate Thursday to obtain a 72-hour police remand for further questioning.

Delhi Tops in Racial discrimination Against Northeast Citizens

New Delhi, Aug 22 : Taking a grim view of the report of the 11-member panel, headed by MP Bezbaruah, a bench, headed by Chief Justice G Rohini, asked the Union Home Ministry to file an action taken report (ATR) on or before September 10, the next date of hearing.

The committee, which had submitted its 80-page report to the Ministry in July, was set up after 19-year-old Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania was killed in an alleged racial attack in Lajpat Nagar locality here earlier this year.

As per the report, over two lakh people have migrated to Delhi from northeastern states between 2005 and 2013 and about 86% of them have faced some form of racial discrimination. However, people from the Northeast faced more problems in Delhi as compared to other metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, the report said.

It also said over two-thirds of women from the Northeast have reported that they faced discrimination or harassment in Delhi. The panel said that apart from the language and communication difficulties faced by them, the "Mongoloid" appearance of people from Northeast also "accentuates" their problems.

It has suggested several long and short-term measures to tackle the issue after consulting various ministries and departments. One of the sugestions said serious legal reform was necessary by changing the IPC to make racial discrimination an offence and introducing special police units and fast track courts for trying hate crimes.

The committee has also suggested NCERT introduce certain aspects of the "Northeast ethos" into the curriculum to "integrate each aspect of the region into the consciousness of the people outside."

Resources of the Information and Broadcasting ministry could also be used to create awareness about this issue, the report has said.

Learning From Meghalaya Village To Keep India Clean

Mawlynnong (Meghalaya), Aug 22 : If Indians want to make their country a clean and healthy place, then they should learn from the Khasi tribesmen of Meghalaya's Mawlynnong village, says tourist Michael Dough.

"I thought I was in another countryside in a different continent and not in India," Dough said about the village, referred to as "God's own garden" and also cited as "Asia's cleanest village".

Like the visitor from Canada, Indian tourist Meenakshi Datta strongly felt that all Indians should visit Mawlynnong village and learn the habit of keeping the surroundings clean.

"On Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken much about making India a clean and healthy place. I strongly feel that the prime minister should take his team to this remote village and learn something about cleanliness," Datta said.

Children in the village are taught about hygiene in school at an early age and about how to keep their surroundings clean and green.

Mawlynnong, which means "a cluster of stones" in the local Khasi dialect, is located on the southern slopes of East Khasi Hills. It is about 90 kilometres from Meghalaya capital Shillong and four km from the Bangladesh border.

Mawlynnong presents itself as a pretty queen amongst a cluster of rural areas located on a critical micro-watershed of the Wah Khuri (Khuri river). Unlike other tribal villages, where one is greeted with barking dogs and strange looks, Mawlynnong warmly receives tourists with open arms. Villagers are polite and friendly.

The Khasi tribesmen residing in the southern slopes of Khasi Hills are locally known as War people and are experts in horticulture. Villagers traditionally raised betel vines, arecanut, oranges and other horticultural crops and spices on the foothills and traded these products across the plains in erstwhile Eastern Bengal and East Pakistan, at present Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, their traditional market links got snapped after India's partition in 1947, causing great economic hardship to the people of the bordering villages. Nonetheless, they still maintain the same kind of plantation activities on the foothills.

Most of the houses are built with traditional material like stone, tin, bamboo and wood. There are a few cemented houses too. Each house is decorated with exotic and ornamental plants, while the courtyards are covered with a green carpet of grass.

The footpaths and lanes within the village have been carefully built with stones and boulders. In each walkway, there are cone-shaped bamboo dustbins. Nobody is allowed to litter any plastic or any waste material on the footpath or in the village premises.

It looks so clean that one would hesitate to throw anything on the ground - and even if there is some litter, it would be cleaned up in no time.

Mawlynnong village was discovered by missionaries of the Anglican church who came in contact with the village to spread the gospel way back in 1902. They later built a church there with the help of the highly-skilled local masons.

The natural beauty and simplicity of the local folk attracted foreign tourists well before the domestic and city visitors began to flow in. The foreigners marvelled at the simple, self-sustained village with its rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. The villagers too were inspired by the adulation of the visitors. They realised that if they could conserve the forest and biodiversity of the area, it could fetch them not only praise but also income from the tourist inflow.

The Dorbar Shnong (village council) makes sure the tourists are comfortable and safe there. There is a tourism management committee in the village that supervises the itinerary of the tourists and their comfort that includes providing tourist guides, accommodation and food.

"The Dorbar Shnong imposed a fine for anybody found to be throwing litter around or plucking flowers. I am happy that tourists visiting Mawlynnong follow the rules but you will still find some domestic tourists lacking respect," village headman Thomlin Khongthohrem told IANS.

"We have learnt about cleanliness from our childhood and, therefore, I am sure the people of Mawlynnong will continue to keep this benchmark alive," he added.

"I am sure people who have visited us will go back home and speak about our clean village, but what is important for them is to follow us in maintaining their surroundings and homes clean since cleanliness begins at home," Khongthohrem said.

In fact, the adjoining villages of Mawlynnong - Riwai and Nohweta - too have become litter-conscious and put up conical waste baskets on the pavement.

Riwai village has also managed to wean some tourists to view its Live Roots Bridge, a natural bridge across a stream made of the inter-twining roots of two trees.

"It's not only cleanliness and good mannered villagers that attract visitors to Mawlynnong," says Dipak D. Laloo, a passionate nature lover and tourism promoter.

"We are trying to educate and encourage the villagers about the importance of preservation and protection of the fragile ecology, natural features and socio-cultural traditions of the village, living in harmony with nature. This is not just for the promotion of tourism alone, but for the survival of the people inhabiting the area," Laloo said.

(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at rrkharmujai@gmail.comO)

Foreigners Online Tracking System Launched in Meghalaya

Shillong, Aug 22 : Meghalaya police chief Peter J P Hanaman today launched an online system tracking inbound and outbound foreigners entering the state, an official said.

The online system on 'Immigration, Visa, Foreigner’s and Tracking(IVFRT)' System under the National e-Governance Plan(NeGP) was launched which aims at enhancing the experience of in-bound and out-bound foreigners will be operated from the

Foreigner’s Registration Office, from the SP’s Office, Shillong under the guidance of Bureau of Immigration(BOI), they said.

The system also handles on-line visa application system, immigration Control System Software(Passenger Checking, look out Circular, loss of Passport, Flight management).

It also functions as the Central module for look out Circular regarding opening, deletion or modification of Look Out Circular) besides an on-line filling of 'C' Forms (by Hotels, Guest Houses, Hospitals and Dharamshala Owner).

It also keep tracks of foreign students studying in Indian Institutes.

In Pictures: Manipur's 'Custodial Killings'

Irom Sharmila's release has once again put focus on extra-judicial deaths at hands of army in northeastern Indian state.

By Karen Dias

Manipur, a northeastern state of India bordering Myanmar, has been embroiled with armed insurgency and ethnic conflict for the past four decades.

The Indian government imposed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1980 to deal with the armed rebellion, in what the government calls "a disturbed area".

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is also applied in India-administered Kashmir, gives security forces the power to detain and arrest anybody on mere suspicion, enter and search without warrants. The armed forces are exempt from any investigation or prosecution under the law that many human rights activists dub draconian.

Under this Act, several human rights violations such as fake encounters, torture, sexual abuse and enforced disappearances committed by Indian armed forces have come to light.

Irom Sharmila, a human rights activist based in Manipur, had been fasting for the past 14 years demanding the repeal of this Act, which is arguably one of the longest protest fasts in history.

She was released from a prison hospital in Manipur on August 20 where doctors had force fed her to keep her alive. She was charged with the attempt to commit suicide, which is a crime under Indian law.

"It is hard for me to believe that I am free now. My battle against injustice and crimes committed by the army in Manipur will continue," Sharmila told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

In 2004, following the rape and murder of a young woman named Thangjam Manorama, widespread protests took place in the northeastern Indian state. Manorama's death triggered a protest by 12 middle-aged women who stripped naked and protested holding up signs saying "Indian Army Rape Us" in the state capital, Imphal, which made international headlines.

In January last year, the Supreme Court appointed a commission to make inquiries into these allegations after a public interest litigation was filed listing 1,528 people as victims of this draconian law. Six cases were pulled up at random and investigated, all of which were found to be fake encounters.

Gangarani Kongkhang, 38, is a visually-impaired woman whose husband Deban Kongkhang was killed after a hail of bullets were fired into the van he was driving, allegedly by the Thoubal District Police Commandos at Patpan Lamkhai in Imphal. The government vowed to punish the perpetrators. She was promised a government job and financial compensation but six years later she has received nothing. She lives on handouts and takes care of her two children aged seven and 12.

Wangkhem Chandrakala's husband, Namoijan Lukhoi, was shot by two unidentified men outside their home on April 21, 2008. She filed a police complaint but gave up the case because she feared repercussions and worries about the safety of her four school-going children. "Soon after my husband's death, I went into depression and began to lose my senses. I would wander off and find myself in the fields or in the crematorium. My family members and neighbours had to keep an eye on me," she told Al Jazeera.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, known as "The Iron Lady of Manipur" has been on a protest fast for last 14 years demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Here she is pictured in her Security Ward at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. She was released on Wednesday.

Family members and local activists attend the memorial service held on the tenth anniversary of Thangjam Manorama's death on July 10 at Bamon Kampu Mayai Lekai in Imphal. Manorama was picked up on July 9, 2004 by the 17th Assam Rifles. She was found raped and murdered with bullet wounds on her genitalia the next day near her home in Ngariyan Maring. Her death sparked widespread protests in Manipur and other parts of India.

Khumbongmayum Lata Devi's 20-year-old son Khumbongmayum Orsonjit Singh was killed by the Manipur Police Commandos on March 16, 2010. His is one of the cases concluded to be a fake encounter by a commission appointed by the Supreme Court.

  Irom Sharmila waits in her ambulance on July 7 as armed guards stand by outside the Appellate Court in Lamphel. She began her fast on November 2, 2000 when 10 civilians were killed at a bus stop by the Assam Rifles in the Malom district near Imphal airport.

  Women who are part of the Extrajudicial Execution Victims Families Association of Manipur (EEVFAM) pose for a photograph with portraits of family members who were killed by armed forces on the fifth anniversary of EEVFAM in Imphal. EEVFAM provides support and counsels families in dealing with the loss of their husbands and sons and in dealing with the stigma of their family members being labeled as underground rebels.

  On January 24, 2009, Soraishem Joy, 40, was picked up from his home by Assam Rifles soldiers and was blindfolded and beaten in an open field and waterboarded at their camp in Patsoi, near Imphal. He was forced to sign a blank piece of paper and was later thrown in jail for six days after which he was released because villagers protested and pleaded his innocence. "If it wasn't for my neighbours and family support, I would have been a dead body like all those other fake encounter cases. I have done nothing wrong," he says.

Flowers are placed in front of portraits of men who were victims of extrajudicial killings.

  RK Surjalata Singh, 50, lost her 26-year-old son Irengbam Roshan on May 8, 2012. He was allegedly shot by the Assam Rifles in the Ukhrul district in Manipur. Surjalata remembers her son's body at the morgue as having burn marks from scalding water and bullet wounds suggesting torture methods were used. Surjalata's younger brother, RK Khogen was also killed in the 1995 RIMS (Regional Institute of Medical Sciences) massacre in Imphal when security forces opened fire, killing nine civilians.

  Neena Ningombam, 33, lost her husband Michael Nongmaithem in 2008. Michael was accused by the police of being a rebel and was allegedly shot for trying to escape. After her husband's death, she joined other widows whose husbands were killed by the Indian Army and started a campaign against army atrocity. She has two sons, aged six and 12.

  Roni, 30, with her nine-year-old son Mutum Mir. Her husband Mutum Herojit, 38, was killed in an encounter on October 13, 2008. "I want justice for my husband. No other woman's husband should die in the future. I want to tell the government that this killing should stop or else Manipur will become a state of widows," she told Al Jazeera.

Source: Al Jazeera

Ethnic Minorities Question US-Burma Military Ties

Burma’s armed forces take part in a ceremony to honor the 65th anniversary of independence from British rule in Naypyidaw on Jan. 4, 2013. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Burma’s armed forces take part in a ceremony to honor the 65th anniversary of independence from British rule in Naypyidaw on Jan. 4, 2013. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)
RANGOON — As the United States insists that military engagement with Burma is crucial to promote political reforms, human rights activists and ethnic minorities are raising some questions.
Among them: Who will take responsibility if US assistance to Burma’s armed forces is used to oppress, rather than help, the Burmese people?

Tom Malinowski, the US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, met with the commander-in-chief of the Burmese military during his visit to Naypyidaw in June. Washington has repeatedly sought to assure critics that military engagement in Burma would not involve training of combat forces or the exchange of weaponry systems, but would instead focus on promoting respect for human rights and professionalism.

But ethnic minorities in Burma, who have for several decades been the victims of brutal military campaigns, are not so convinced. Thirteen ethnic groups from Shan State sent a letter to the US Consulate in Thailand’s Chiang Mai last month, saying they believed US military engagement in the country was premature.

“What if ethnicities are attacked with US-provided technologies? That’s the question,” said Khun Htun Oo, a prominent Shan leader, adding that the uncertainty of Burmese politics was reason for caution.

“We don’t even know what will happen in 2015. We don’t know whether the election will be free and fair. Now, proportional representation (PR) is being debated and we don’t know how things will develop.”

Khon Ja, an activist from the Kachin Peace Network, also opposes US-Burma military engagement, saying she wonders what will happen if the Burmese army does not follow ethical rules after undergoing training, especially if the United States does not continue to monitor it.

During half a century of dictatorship, the military committed more rights abuses than the Burmese government, said Cherry Zahau, an ethnic Chin human rights activist. “There is no consensus in regards to how to engage with the Burmese military, which keeps on committing human rights abuses,” she said.

The military has signed bilateral ceasefires with most ethnic armed groups since 2012, but over the past three years clashes in northern Burma have left more than 100,000 people displaced.

The Chin activist accused the United States of strengthening ties with the Burmese military not to further political reforms, but due to the geopolitical importance of Burma for US national security.

“The military has continuously been a hindrance to reforms. It has impeded the progress by waging battles. It is ridiculous that [the US] says it’s engaging with the Burmese military to encourage reforms,” she said.

Because the United States is a mature democracy and a superpower, Mya Aye from the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society says he believes US mentorship for the Burmese military would not be problematic, if the focus was on preventing further rights abuses.

“US’s military ties with Burma could help build democracy in Burma, but only when it takes the human rights situation in the country into consideration,” he said.

21 August 2014

Stranger in my land – A film by Duyu Tabyo

STRANGER IN MY LAND, a hard hitting short film that talks of the undeniable racial profiling meted out to the people of the Northeast in and around India.

The film tries to portray the ignorance of the mainland Indians towards the existence of the place called the Northeast India, its rich and vibrant culture and the immense patriotism of the people of the Northeast India.

As a whole the film depicts a dark and an uneasy cloud of the evil called Racism that exists in the Indian society.

Written and Directed By Duyu Tabyo

Source: www.strangerinmyland.com

What Lies At The Heart of Assam-Nagaland Dispute

By Rajesh Ahuja/Digambar Patowary

A minor land dispute between an Assamese tribal and a Naga simmering for the last four months and militant groups taking sides in it seems to have led to full-blown confrontation at the border of Assam and Nagaland claiming 11 lives so far, say Union home ministry (MHA) officials.

According to a MHA report on the dispute, in Chetaigaon village that lies in the disputed area belt (DAB) touching Golaghat district at the Assam-Nagaland border, a piece of land belonging to a Naga was given to an Assamese tribal for cultivation.

In April this year, the Assamese tribal complained that the Naga owner has erected an illegal hut on the land.

The administration first decided that the hut would be dismantled and the Assamese tribal would not cultivate the land but two months later, the tribal started cultivating the land.

To sort the matter, the district administration later allowed erection of hut in the land with cultivation rights to the Assamese tribal.

But in the meanwhile two tribal boys went missing from the village. In retaliation, on August 2, tribals with the help of cadres from militant outfit Adivasi National Liberation Army chased away the Naga land owner from the village.

Afterwards, the Nagas took help from another militant group NSCN (Khaplang-Kitovi) faction who allegedly abducted three tribal boys from Chandalashung area, say MHA officials.

Later Naga miscreants fired on tribals on August 12 and houses were set ablaze. So far 11 people have died in the ensuing violence.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has put the onus on the centre.

 "In the DAB, a central force has been deployed as neutral force. It is Centre's duty to handle the situation in the border disputed areas", said Gogoi.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who was briefed by ministry officials on Wednesday, spoke to Gogoi and Nagaland chief minister TR Zelian. The Prime Minister's Office also sought report from the home ministry on the issue. Union minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju is going to Guwahati on Thursday and would sit with Gogoi and Zelian to sort out the problem.

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