Human rights abuses in Manipur
|Human rights abuses in Manipur|
Location of Manipur (highlighted in red)
|Target||Civilians and combatants|
|Perpetrators||Indian security forces
Human rights abuses in Manipur, a state in northeastern India, have been an ongoing issue. The Indian Armed Forces have committed several human rights violations in Manipur while suppressing a separatist insurgency in the region. The insurgency groups have been known to kidnap and recruit children to work as child soldiers against the Indian Government.
A separatist insurgency began in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur in 1964, although momentum to a more violent phase did not occur until 1978. The Separatists demand a sovereign state separate from the Union of India, conceding their grievances over lack of development, plundering of local resources and a general discontent in Manipur. Human Rights Watch, argues that human rights violations by Indian Security Forces have only fuelled the insurgency. It adds that the Indian Army have at times acted with impunity as anti-terrorism laws in the state make prosecution of human rights violators difficult.
There are currently 34 groups, including non-violent ones, that demand independence from India. In 1999, some of these groups coalesced into an alliance organization called the "Manipur People's Liberation Front." Of these, the three most prominent are the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), and PLA of Manipur. The UNLF is estimated to have 2500 active freedom fighting rebels, the PREPAK with 1500, and PLA with 3000.
Armed Forces Act, 1958
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is a controversial legislation that was passed on September 11, 1958 by the Parliament of India. The legislation grants "special powers" to the Indian armed forces in regions which the act refers to as "disturbed areas". The act has been in force in all seven northeastern states of India currently embroiled in a decades-old violent insurgency, including Manipur, for over fifty years. According to human rights organisation Redress, the Indian armed forces have abused power through privileges conferred in the act by using it as a manipulative tool to conduct "killings, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and enforced disappearances."
The act's continued application in Manipur have led to numerous local protests, with the most notable being that of Irom Chanu Sharmila, a Manipuri civil rights activist. Sharmila has been on a longstanding hunger strike since 2 November 2002 in which she has demanded the Indian government to repeal the act, which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of India's troubled northeast. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called "the world's longest hunger striker". Her cause has gained international attention.
There have been repeated reports of insurgent groups in Manipur kidnapping children to bolster their ranks with child soldiers. These children are then taken and recruited as . One recent report was on April 18 2012, when three teenage boys were kidnapped as they watched a local football match.
The Manipur Alliance for Child Recruitment denounced the kidnappings, stating "International Human Rights Law prohibited the recruitment of children below 18 years as child soldiers".
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