NAGAS ARE WHAT NAGAS WERE
- NMA / NSF / NPMHR
NAGAS ARE WHAT NAGAS WERE
For no fault of ours we have had become victims of history and our victimhood, in the process of history till today, instead of being addressed, has been
perpetually denied political wisdom, reconciliatory courage, and historical maturity. We, the Nagas, have never failed in all these moments of our sufferings and despair. We have proved ourselves that we are fiercely independent people, that we value peace and justice much as we who have had borne the brunt of historical injustice and crime against our Naga humanity, from alien/foreign forces. We have been immensely hurt and every opportunity to address our rights has been met with their wrongs. We shall continue to tell their story of hatred, violence, and acidic forms of injustice that were perpetuated, and continues to be done on us so, until we leam to respect each other as equal nations.
BURMA AND NAGAS:
The Nagas who predominantly lives in the Sangaing Division and parts of Chin State of the present Burmese regime, like many other indigenous brethren, have no laws and legislation to protect them. There is a systematic interest by the majority Burmans (who compose over 70% of the total population) in neglecting the developmental works or elevation of the living conditions of the Nagas. Instead, the Nagas have bore the brunt of military atrocities by the Burmese Army, where houses/villages were burnt down without rhyme or reason, women raped, Naga children taken away for indoctrination programmes, forced military labour, re-grouping, and forced adoption of Buddhist religion and Burman language. As late as May 2001, the Burmese Military (or Tatmadaw) expedition into Naga Hills led to the displacement of more than 2700 Nagas and the burning of three big villages. There was also rampant land mining of Naga gardens, forests, and rice-fields, which led to abandonment of original homes and homelands. Following the enactment of the Peace Treaty of Yandaboo (1826), an imaginary international divisions was carved with the Arrakan mountain ranges' as the border. Then, the Government of Burma Act, 1935 cartographically conceded Patkai Naga ranges to form the boundary, with Sanpang range as the obvious target of natural boundary, but this has been a matter of contention even after the visit of the then Burmese Prime Minister U Nu (with the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru), to Naga Hills, in 1953. Although, the Government of Burma, in the 1940s, propagated a so-called aggressive forward policy towards the Naga Hills, the outbreak of the Asia-Pacific War, followed by the Japanese occupation of Burma, compelled the Government of Burma to postpone any further administrative decisions until after the War. Although Border Posts meant to symbolize demarcation on Naga homeland as international boundaries were agreed upon and laid in the post- 1978 Indo-Burma Border Agreement, it has no relevance because the area continues to be contiguous of Naga population (till River Chindwin) and the geo-strategic stakeholders continue to remain within the Nagas.
BRITISH AND NAGAS:
Recognizing that the colonialist British flirted their imperial temper throughout the world and that they have had irresponsibly created chaotic divisions as a policy for supremacy, we acknowledged with the atrocious infliction perpetuated on the Nagas, too. British direct involvement in the areas encompassing the Naga homeland started during the First Anglo-Burmese War, when, following the intermittent power struggles within the Meitei royal family over the throne after the death of Raja Bhaigyachandra, one of the sons, Marjit, requested for the help of Burmese King Bodawpaya, and with this help he became the ruler over Manipur in 1812. Having become the ruler Marjit's next plan was to drive the Burmese domination out of Manipur, which failed miserably and led to his flight to Cachar and it was during this time that the British officials contacted Ghambir Singh in 1823 and a militia was organized, which includes British officers and co-opted soldiers of Manipur, to overthrow the victorious and occupying Burmese. Then, with the combined forces of Raja Ghambir Singh, the British started to make invading intrusions into Naga territories.
Although Lord William Benedick stated as late as in 1835 that the British interest in these regions was primarily "military," it is now a common knowledge that the British were interested in colonizing the Nagas for the expansion of tea-gardens, mineral and natural resources explorations, and for settling pre- negotiating bargain' deal with the Burmese King of Ava. Without the concern of the partially colonized Naga peoples, the British and the 'Raja' of Manipur, in June 1826, in pursuance to the Treaty of Peace, signed at Yandaboo, which ended the Anglo-Burmese war, drew the Pemberton Line in January 1934, leading to the unscrupulous transfer of Naga territories by the colonialist British to the Burmese, on the eastern front. It comes to no surprise over this colonial paternalism that even during the British time, the larger portion of the Naga territories were never able to be conquered and were termed as "excluded areas" or "unadministered areas." Although Lord Dalhousie propagated a policy of "non-interference" to the Nagas areas, a good portion of the Naga homeland was subjugated and transferred to the East India Company, as tea-gardens or reserved forests, and maintained by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873, after establishment of British Military Post at Kohima in 1866 and the last Anglo-Naga War in 1879. The Nagas had expressed their resentment over British designs in confusing and clubbing the Nagas with the other imperial dominions, when, as early as in 1929, a representation was submitted to Her Royal Majesty, over the Simon Commission that vociferously seeks to equate Nagas with Indians over reform policies.
Even as the imperial British left the Indian sub-continent in 1947, they left their writs largely noticed till today. They did not have the audacity to acknowledge their crimes on Naga humanity or, for the least, give any statements relating to the Naga nation in the context ofneo-colonial establishments of India and Burma. The only knee-jerk response that has been documented in the ledger of British colonial history is the Couplan Plan and the subsequent debates in British Lower House, and the Akbar-Hydari Agreement of 1946, which has brought no change or has any further relevance.
INDIA AND NAGAS:
Even as the crucial moment has arrived in contemporary times without any definite decisiveness, in the Indo-Naga political negotiation and peace process, following the second Indo-Naga ceasefire in 1997, it largely remains incomplete without highlighting the silent and virulent wars that have been waged against the Nagas for the past five decades and the atrocious designs of inducting administrative divisions of the Naga homeland by post-independent Indian regime. When the Indian leaders were debating in the Parliament of India in the 1950s and 60s there was a profound sense of ignorance on the question of Nagas, except referred to as "rebels," "savages," or "headhunters." For, this ignorance was partially because the Nagas have no historical or cultural or political ties with the Indians. The Nagas voiced their collective opinion when, on 14th August, 1947, Naga Independence Day was declared even as the United Nations Organization acknowledged such symbolic token. Subsequent to this, and in view of the imposed political governance, land occupation, and cultural annihilation programmes heavily waged by the Indian State, the Nagas, once again, voiced their desires by affirming that they do not belong and does not want to remain under any alien rule, through the 16th May, 1951 Naga National Plebiscite. With the growing tensions India faced over occupation of Naga ancestral homelands, the para-military and military forces of Indian military forces were rushed to Naga territories, which has resulted, till today, in the tragedy of severe conventional and psychological warfare, innumerable loss of human lives and properties, degradation of Naga cultures and habits, perpetual militarization, regrouping of villagers, abuse of women and human rights, and adamant non-internationalizing of Naga issue.
The containment policies advocated by the Indian state are purely on the traditional methods of appeasement, divide and rule, and acculturation programmes. The Indian state has insidiously tried to win over some Naga elites through brokered monetary arrangement, when the memorandum of demands (16 points) was submitted by some dissident
Naga individuals, in 1960, through the creation of Naga Peoples Convention and State ofNagaland, in 1963. The Nagas have remained faithful to their dreams and hopes, inspite of the sufferings and emotional tactics employed by the Indian Military State, when, through the re-organization of States, the Naga homelands have been further divided into Indian States like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and present state ofNagaland. In 1978, the Indian and Burmese States willingly conspired for laying down the international boundaries, which further divides the Nagas into two different so-claimed countries. The predominantly Christian Nagas are not allowed to freely exercise their faith, like the Nagas in Arunachal Pradesh and a systematic war by other means has been waged through the use of Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants, control of market forces by using the atmosphere of Indian militarization, enactment of inhuman legislations and ordinances like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1958), Prevention of Terrorism Act (2002), Arunachal Pradesh Control of Organized Crime Act, 2002.
Whereas the Nagas who have hitherto enjoyed their most complacent freedom and dignity before the invasion of colonial British supremacy into our lands and culture and much before the Indian and Burmese military apparatus horrendously attempt and gratifyingly continue to occupy our homelands and subjugate our peoples, and Whereby we, the Nagas, have also expressed our desire to live as free people, as before, but continue to remain in fear and suppression under the shadows of our enemies (as claimed by them) who have no remorse for killing our peoples, raping our women, destroying our culture, controlling our markets, and imposing on us alien forms of governments, dividing us into different 'national' and international administrative units, regrouping us for their idea of geo-strategic and national security, and
Therefore, we resolve to uphold and ensure that we as a people belong to our land; that we have the right to self-determine our own happiness and sadness, our own government and means of sustaining our collective responsibility; that, as we have had been respecting our neighbouring nations, we also expect mutual trusts and recognition from all areas.
Thereof, we collectively commit our long-standing priorities and affirm once again:
* that any acts of undermining our values and rights will only bear futile and bitter relationships;
* that the British should compensate the Naga peoples for the resource plundered during the colonial hegemony and commit a statement highlighting the cultural and human destruction, and issue an acknowledgement for its deliberate political blunder by relegating the fate of the Nagas to the quirks of Indian and Burmese history;
* that the surrendering of Naga occupied territories by India and Burma will only ensure mutual respect for each other;
* that the expediting of sovereign powers to the Nagas by neo-liberal and neo-colonialist Indian and Burmese regimes will only strengthened cooperation between nations;
* that the struggle for freedom continues.. .and we shall not be at want for lack of disrespect from our aggressors;
* for which, unification of all Naga areas is a must for any political settlement.
Issued in the interest of public safety on 14th August, 2003, by
NAGA MOTHERS ASSOCIATION(NMA),
NAGA STUDENTS' FEDERATION (NSF) &
NAGA PEOPLES MOVEMENT FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS (NPMHR).