Sinlung /
24 July 2013

Mizoram Group Approaches UN Over Indian Army Bases, Jul 24 : In a petition submitted to the United Nations, an indigenous rights group has protested against the upcoming Indian Armed Forces installations, ongoing oil and exploration activities and international border fencing work in Mizoram and its adjacent areas inhabited by ethnic Mizos.

The Zo Re-unification Organisation (ZORO) has protested against the setting up of three new Indian Army bases, an Air Force radar station and up-grading of the state's lone domestic airport to allow landing of fighter jets citing a provision under the UN's Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with India voting in its favour.

Article 30 of the declaration cites, "Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous people unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous people concerned."

ZORO contends that the security situation in Mizoram, which has remained peaceful for 27 years after two decades of insurgency, does not warrant such militarisation.

Citing the same declaration, ZORO has also urged the UN to intervene in the ongoing oil and gas exploration activities by Indian PSUs and the work on several hydro-power projects.

The petition alleged that the Mizoram government's agreements with oil and gas PSUs and hydro-power companies under which the state will roughly get 10-13 per cent of the energy generated from the projects goes against the declarations' contention that such natural resources belong to the indigenous people who inhabit the land.

It has also demanded to stop the border-fencing work along the international border with Bangladesh, which it alleges will stop the movement of ethnic Mizos based in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

ZORO is supported by locally active political parties, including the ruling Congress and the main opposition MNF. The group has also taken the initiative of getting joint resolutions signed to "re-unify" ethnic Mizos across Northeast states, eastern Bangladesh and western Myanmar.

Earlier in the year, ZORO had raised the issues with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the President of India.

The organisation's president, R Thangmawia, said there was no response from either the PMO or the President. This is why they decided to approach the UN, he added.


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