India has firmly rejected a statement issued by a group of United Nations experts regarding ongoing ethnic violence in the northeastern state of Manipur. The statement, titled ‘India: UN experts alarmed by continuing abuses in Manipur,’ expressed concerns about violence directed at religious and ethnic minorities in India, with a focus on the Kuki ethnic minority in Manipur. The Indian government characterized the UN experts’ comments as “unwarranted, presumptive, and misleading” and asserted that they revealed a lack of comprehension of the situation and the government’s actions to address it. The violence in Manipur has reportedly led to numerous casualties, injuries, displacement, and property damage.
UN Experts Express Concerns
In the statement issued by Special Procedure Mandate Holders (SPMH), a group of UN experts raised alarm over the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur. They expressed serious concerns about the government’s response, which they deemed slow and inadequate in addressing the violence. The experts called for increased relief efforts for affected individuals and prompt investigations into acts of violence. They also voiced apprehensions about reported harassment of human rights defenders documenting cases of violence.
The UN experts expressed shock over the reported gender-based violence targeting women and girls, particularly from the Kuki ethnic minority. These alleged acts of violence include gang rape, public humiliation, severe beatings resulting in fatalities, and even burning women alive or dead. The experts noted that this violence appears to have been incited by hateful and inflammatory rhetoric, both online and offline, which sought to justify atrocities against the Kuki ethnic minority based on their ethnicity and religious beliefs.
The experts also highlighted concerns about the misuse of counterterrorism measures to legitimize acts of violence and repression against ethnic and religious minorities in Manipur. They reported that by mid-August 2023, approximately 160 individuals, primarily from the Kuki ethnic community, had been killed, with over 300 others injured. The conflict had also resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of homes, churches, farmland, and livelihoods.
In response to the UN experts’ statement, India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva issued a strongly worded statement. They categorically rejected the news release as “unwarranted, presumptive, and misleading.” India’s response emphasized that the statement demonstrated a lack of understanding of the situation in Manipur and the government’s efforts to address it.
The Indian government asserted that its law enforcement authorities and security forces were committed to dealing with law-and-order situations in strict accordance with principles such as legal certainty, necessity, proportionality, and non-discrimination.
The Ongoing Situation in Manipur
The ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur has been a cause for concern since May 3, 2023. The violence has resulted in significant casualties, injuries, displacement, property damage, and human rights violations. The situation remains complex, with various communities and stakeholders affected by the conflict.
The rejection of the UN experts’ statement underscores India’s commitment to addressing the ongoing violence in Manipur. It highlights the government’s stance that the UN experts’ comments do not accurately represent the complexities of the situation or the efforts made to mitigate the crisis. The situation in Manipur remains a matter of concern, with continued efforts needed to promote peace, stability, and the protection of minority rights in the region.
Sources By Agencies