Urgent need to activate the Naga reconciliation commission:Prongo Keishing

 Letter to the president Naga Hoho and president Nagaland Christian Forum

1. Reactivated Naga reconciliation commission most urgent need of the hour 

 We address this appeal to you, out of our deep concern and sense of duty to the collective interests and well-being of the Naga People. Thereby at the very outset we would state our view and opinion, which is shared by an overwhelming majority of our people and our friends and well wishers, that there is an imperative and pressing need to reactivate the Naga reconciliation process without further delay and loss of vital time. And therefore there is need to activate the Naga Reconciliation Commission, immediately at the earliest. The Commission will, in all probability be reconstituted and reorganized, based on our experience and learning since the time of the combined Naga National Reconciliation function in Kohima on December 20, 2001. The point we are stressing is that if it was felt to be the need of the hour in 2001 or 2003, then it so remains today with undeniable urgency, in September 2007. The Naga Reconciliation Commission needs to be reactivated before Christmas 2007.

We follow with a brief recap and certain observations and specific suggestions for your worthy consideration and action.

2. Brief recap

The Naga Reconciliation Process was agreed upon as a solemn pledge taken by Naga Tribe Leaders on December 20′ 200I, at the combined Naga National Reconciliation function in Kohima.

The first anniversary of the Combined Naga National Reconciliation function was held on December 19 – 20, 2002 at a joint meeting of the Naga Hoho, Church leaders, Nagaland Christian Forum, Naga Students’ Federation, Naga Mothers Association, NPMHR, etc. at Kohima.

At this meeting, it was decided to dissolve the earlier Co – ordination Committee on Naga Reconciliation and to entrust the Naga Hoho and the Nagaland Christian Forum to appoint a smaller body to work for Naga Reconciliation.

The work of the new Naga Reconciliation Commission was to carry forward the message of Naga Reconciliation as solemnly pledged by Naga Tribe Leaders on December 20′ 2001, and the declaration signed by 132 Naga Leaders representing more than 35 Tribes / Sub-Tribes, on that occasion.

The Naga Reconciliation Committee was appointed at a joint meeting or the Naga Hoho and Naga Christian Forum on April 9, 2003. The Committee met on April 21′ 2003, decided to accept the responsibility and made certain proposals. It felt that it would be more appropriate that it be made a Commission.

The Mission Statement for the Naga Reconciliation Commission, dated May 23, 2003 was “to realize the Reconciliation among Naga People as declared on December 20′ 2001”.

The Commission began its preparations in right earnest. However, there were cir*****stances and reasons, why it became necessary to signal a “Go Slow”. And a little later the Commission members decided to tender their resignation and did so. We are not entering into details thereof.

3. A few observations

We accept that there were cir*****stances and reasons why the members of the Naga Reconciliation Commission decided that they should resign, so soon after having accepted their appointment and the precious responsibility thereof.

We are certain that they were guided by the highest moral principles. The fact remains that the void created by their resignation has not furthered the process of reconciliation. The void has not been filled since the resignation and divisions within the Nagas remain and differences and disagreements are not reduced & probably grown further.

Therefore the Reconciliation Process and the Naga Reconciliation Commission are needed even more today than before.

It is also necessary to reflect our learning for our guidance in the future. Some of our thoughts and suggestions are shared below for your worthy consideration and possible improvement.

4. Our learning:

4. 1. One of the major reasons for forming the Naga reconciliation commission and its role:

It may perhaps be accepted that the urgency of Naga reconciliation was felt acutely in the context ‘of the Peace Process and the on-going Peace Talks. As express by the Commission they are two sides of the same coin.

The Naga Leaders and people and various social organizations are aware that there are internal divisions within the Nagas. And those factional conflicts, including violent conflicts are a reality. And there is a general awareness that these factional differences are affecting the Peace Process. In that, the Naga people are not able to speak with one voice and the Church and the Social Organizations have been striving to bring about reconciliation for a long time.

It is against this backdrop that the combined Naga National Reconciliation event of December 2001, eventually led to the formation of the Naga Reconciliation Commission. Conflict is the reason. Unity is the desired ideal and aim.

Thereby the Naga Reconciliation Commission is the highest instituted Mediator in the internal conflicts under reference. There are also lesser but real other conflicts. The commission’s role is or involves conflict mediation and conflict resolution/transformation. Fortunately trained expertise for this is available within the Commission in the person of Rev. Kari Longchar and outside the Commission, for example Rev. Pongsing Konyak. There may be others also. The Naga Reconciliation Commission may certainly consider making use of such available expertise.

4. 2. Mediating conflict

To be able to function effectively, it is eminently necessary to ensure that parties to the conflict generally accept the Mediator: In this instance for the Naga Reconciliation Commission, and its members, without any reflection on the integrity and honour of individual members, it is necessary to ascertain and secure acceptance by the parties involved. We have learned that considerations of merit and appointment by leaders, key social organizations, even the Naga Hoho and Nagaland Christian Forum may not ensure acceptance. But our Mission demands acceptability and acceptance.

It is not the task and responsibility or the Commission to ensure this. In this instance, the Naga Hoho and the Naga Christians Forum, being so authorized and charged by the other social organizations will need to arrive at a final list of members from a larger list of willing persons after duly consulting the major conflicting parties concerned. This is necessary for effective functioning of the Naga reconciliation Commission.

4.3. Dealing with criticism and critical issues as may arise

We have experienced the criticism of the work of the commission or members thereof may be encountered. We need to ensure that the Commission is protected from such criticism and not left to fend for itself.

Once the Commission is installed, it needs to be protected against being drawn into critical exchange with anyone at all. It must also be protected from directly responding to criticism which cannot be ruled out and is to be expected and to be prepared for.

It may be appropriate, for instance, that a designated spokesperson or the Naga Hoho and the Nagaland Christian Forum deal with such issues. Clarifications generally may be given by the spokesperson, until an alternative is established,

4. 4. The need to work together

We should be prepared to reconsider the issue of autonomy a little. Autonomy will be ensured. However, for the strength and success of the Commission, the Naga Hoho, the Nagaland Christian Forum and the Naga Reconciliation Commission will need to work close to one another and always with one voice. Without allowing anything to cause differences that need to be publicly expressed or converted into non-function.

In other words the Mediator or Reconciler will need to demonstrate that they have the capacity to deal with internal problems and differences; even conflict, without letting it affect the “Mission” which must continue until it is fulfilled!

4.5. The strength of the Naga reconciliation commission

The Naga Reconciliation Commission draws its strength and its moral power, certainly from the integrity of and high standing and regard enjoyed by individual members. However, in the context of the situation leading to its appointment, the Commission draws it strength and power of function and influence because they are appointed jointly by the Naga Hoho and the Nagaland Christian Forum, being themselves so authorized to do by leaders and representatives of various Tribes and Church leaders who took a solemn pledge on December 20′ 200I and the organizations who participated in the first anniversary of the combined Naga National Reconciliation Function on 1920 December 2002 viz. in addition to the Naga Hoho and the Nagaland Christian forum, Naga Students Federation, Naga Mother Association, NPMHR, etc,

In a way therefore, it may be a very good practice for the organizations to so meet every year to hear the report of the Commission and to review the progress and the situation and to consider what needs to be done to further strengthen and reinforce the commission. However, other modalities may be considered.

4.6. System and procedures

With all the respect and commiseration for the hurt feelings of the Commission members for reasons explained by them and no doubt, perhaps similar hurt feelings in the Naga Hoho and the Nagaland Christian Forum which the resignation of the Commission members may have given rise to, our submission is that it will be necessary to formulate simple but clear rules and procedures for dealing with such situations and thereby to guard against dis-function/non-function of the Reconciliation Commission.’

5. Organization: Functional support teams to assist the Naga reconciliation commission.

Good organization will be an important and perhaps key factor in ensuring effective functioning and success’ of the Naga Reconciliation Commission. And it is an established fact or Naga tradition, that Naga people are good organizers.

From our experience, we need to acknowledge at the Naga Reconciliation Commission, rather than being looked upon as quote, “A smaller body to work for Naga reconciliation,” will, in all probability need and benefit from the assistance of specific functional support teams. For example:

1. Situation monitoring/conflict watch team: to continuously collect and collate information relating to the conflicts at hand and related issues for routinely briefing Commission members.

2. Conflict analysis and strategy team: with reference the main conflicts. But also other serious conflict/Issues. With counsel, purposes succeed.

3. Quick response/diplomatic intervention teams (NMA and NWUM, etc. for example): It is vitally important that communication never breaks down. Dialogue must continue even when tempers flare-up and tensions grow or one or the other party threatens withdrawal/non-co-operation. We need persuasive power.

4. Public information team: Support of the people and their continuing interest and zeal for the Reconciliation Process necessitate that they be kept informed especially on the, positives and progress.

5. Regional/district support teams and centres: They can keep the people informed of positives. It is good to be in a position to express appreciation for co-operation and good actions of the parties we are in the endeavor of reconciling. They will also undertake a programme for local resource mobilization. Part of this, church based?

6. Resource mobilization co – ordination team: to co-ordinate efforts of regional/district teams. Correct procedures and high standard of accountability are a must. Hence regular audit as generally practiced in the Naga Community everywhere.

We do urge the Naga Hoho and Nagaland Christian Forum to grow this, their due consideration. However, it is necessary to begin with whatever available human resources and build as we go along.

6. Resources for the Naga reconciliation commission .

Evidently, as has been appreciated by the Naga Hoho, Nagaland Christian Forum and the Commission members, this work will need more resources than people’s voluntary contributions.

Certainly the social organizations may be expected to share resources/personnel etc.

In this connection, our submission and respectful suggestion is that while it is good to make this Reconciliation Process, people based and people financed, why exclude the government? The Government is of the people and for the people. Government is a prime stake-holder in peace making and reconciliation. And as a matter of principle, governments, everywhere in the world, should contribute to expenditure on peace and reconciliation and not only war/insurgency/counter insurgency. This is also an enlightened aspect of reconciliation in view of global realities and changes needed in our government thinking.

7. Reconciliation: A spiritual commitment

The essential point, however, is that, on the one hand, Naga Reconciliation is high priority need of the hour and on the other hand, those who seek reconciliation and those, who being entrusted with the onerous task of guiding the reconciliation process, may not expect this to be work without pain and suffering. This may also be a cross. If so, it has to be carried. Not cast down. And the day shall dawn, let us pray, that thorns shall turn into f1owers. That is our Hope, though there cannot be any guarantee. Let us so to our appointed task and duty with a robust spirit. Let us encourage the Commission and its members in everyway possible to continue this difficult but laudable work until the mission is fulfilled i.e. reconciliation are realized as articulated in the mission statement. Let us be resolved that ordinarily no one may resign from this work until so agreed by the appointing body under any special circumstances.

And with our prayers and good wishes and assurance of cooperation through you, we urge the Naga Hoho and the Nagaland Christian Forum to activate once more the Naga Reconciliation Commission at the earliest and certainly before Christmas 2007.

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