A trip into the Forbidden Nagaland of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, revealed untold miseries amidst what was to be a cultural festival. Was this harvest festival a normal gathering of tribes in the past, today it is organized by the military junta of Burma with the aim to show tourists how original Naga tribes are celebrating under its supervision. Consequently once a year in January a horde of foreigners is flown into Khamti on the Chindwin River and transported precariously for six hours in trucks over the Naga Hills to reach Lahe village. Thus far an adventurous trip for explorers in spe who were aptly received in especially made for them bamboo rooms with outside hot water facilities plus a first class restaurant.
However the army camp nearby held a close watch on the villagers so that they could not invade the privacy of the foreign visitors but of course the visitors happily could invade theirs. Just a sideline observation and not important compared to the crux of the matter which was threefold:
1 – The festival was orchestrated by the Burmese army, all revolved around the presence of a general, a lieutenant colonel, who had come from Yangon to steal the show which became apparent when they placed themselves among all tribes in front of the stage on the festival field.
2 – The tribesmen who normally would wear G-strings with their attires were required to wear a kind of shorts as well as sneakers, things quite alien to them.
3 – On an around the field Burmese soldiers, heavily armed, were moving around inconspicuously, so for everyone to witness. Invariably they held Chinese made weapons.
On top of the cultural show the Burmese junta representatives presented gifts to the Nagas; rice, electronic etc., stating they wanted the Nagas come into the mainstream of the land they called Myanmar.
The Naga International Support Center condemns this showcasing of the Naga Peoples just for the military junta to make a good impression. The military is not there to secure the safety of the visitors but to make sure the Nagas, who do not want to be part of Burma, are kept under tight control.
The Naga International Support Center calls on all nations to look into these flagrant violations of human rights and calls on the Government of China to withdraw its support to a murderous regime.
Naga International Support Center,