Sinlung /
10 April 2013

ZORO 'No' Military Bases in Mizoram, Apr 10 : The Indian government's policy of safeguarding its citizens is perceived as a threat to the indigenous people by Zo Re-unification Organisation, an umbrella organisation for Zo tribes.

Zoro strongly opposed the proposed installation of military bases in Mizoram, has written an objection letter to the President, the Prime Minister and the Union defence minister of India.

"Army battalion headquarters are proposed to be set up at different places in Mizoram, including IAF radar station at Zopuitlang in southern Mizoram, in violation of UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People 2007," Zoro president R Thangmawia said at a press conference today.

Article 30 of the UN Declaration said that military activities shall not take place in the land of the indigenous people unless justified by a significant threat to relevant public interest or otherwise agreed with or requested by the indigenous people concerned, he said.

Zoro, which has represented the Zo indigenous people in the UN forum for indigenous peoples, Zoro has been making a fervent appeal to the Indian Parliament and the state legislative assembly to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007 that "confers the rights to protection of social and cultural practices and protection of the wealth of their lands to the indigenous people."

The Zoro is also seriously concerned by the ongoing Indo-Bangladesh border fencing which has eaten up a large portion of Mizoram territory due violations of guidelines by the contractors. "The contractors have built the fence at three to five kilometres inside Mizoram from the actual border. While 15 Mizoram villages are now lying outside the fence, the fence passes right in the middle of another 21 villages," Thangmawia said.

Zoro has also wrote a letter the President, the Prime Minister and the Union home minister to dismantle all the fences which have been built. Zoro has called for a halt on all oil and natural gas exploration projects in Mizoram, terming it as "draining" of Mizoram's natural wealth with very little share going to the sons of the soil. Zoro alleged that only ten percent of oil and gas extracted in Mizoram would be shared by the people.

"The remaining ninety per cent would be drained out of Mizoram," Thangmawia said. "In case of power projects, only 12 per cent of power generated from our rivers will be shared by us while the remaining eighty-eight per cent will go to the companies," he said.

"Our contention is that whatever developments are to be projected in our lands and territories, they should all be planned for the benefit of our community in particular without exploitation of our community and our lands just to the benefit of the third party," he said.

"These kinds so called developments exploiting our land will turn out into violence or rebellion unless the UN takes up remedy immediately in line with Article 26 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007," the Zoro president said.

Zoro also hopes that the UN Declaration, that has agreed to give the right of nationhood to around 370 million unrecognised nationalities around the globe, would fulfill the Zoro's undying dream of reuniting the Zo tribes divided by the British in three countries of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, under a single administrative unit. "Zoro is optimistic that this objective can be achieved within the framework of Article 36 of UN Declaration 2007," Thangmawia said.


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