FNR and Nagas in Burma Joint Statement on 29th July 2011

NTIMES 29July: FNR and Nagas in Burma Joint Statement on 29th July 2011

Building Bridges

In an essential and decisive step towards building bridges in the “Naga Reconciliation: A Journey of Common Hope,” public and church leaders representing the common aspirations of the Nagas in Burma met with the Forum for Naga Reconciliation from July 27-29, 2011 at a neutral venue.

During the three-day meeting, the delegates shared precious moments of truth-telling and engaged in constructive dialogue to ensure that the reconciliation process moves forward.

In order to nurture understanding and critical solidarity among the Naga people, the delegates hereby recognize:

1. Since Nagas are Nagas wherever we may be geographically located, it is our birthright to exercise our historical and political rights irrespective of artificial boundaries.

2. The arbitrary geographical realities under which we live has complicated our right to live together as a people. We acknowledge the necessity to understand and appreciate each other’s distinct realities and difficulties.

3. Many a times due to difficulties communicating, suspicions were aroused and mistakes were unintentionally committed, causing Nagas to hurt each other and damage relationships.

4. The urgent need for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation towards repairing broken relationships between Naga leaders, as well as among and between the Naga public in all Naga-Lands.

5. To renew the process of re-establishing effective communication between all Nagas so that despite the different geographical realities, we will work together using non-violent means towards a shared Naga future.

6. The wholeness of the Naga historical and political rights is possible with the mutual acceptance and respect of the Nagas in Burma.

7. The Naga Churches and Naga public in Burma fully affirm their fullest support to the Naga Reconciliation: A Journey of Common Hope, with particular reference to the “Covenant of Reconciliation.”

8. The significance of the landmark Resolution on the Naga Reconciliation Process adopted by the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 4-9, 2011. We need to respond to this global trust put on the Nagas and demonstrate to the world that Nagas can indeed transcend our differences and reconcile with each other for the common good of all.

In light of the above, the public and church leaders of the Nagas in Burma and the Forum for Naga Reconciliation resolve:

1. To strengthen and take forward the Naga reconciliation process on the basis of the historical and political rights affirming our commitment that “There is no turning back.”

2. To creatively rise above the geographical divisions under which we live.

3. Implore the Naga political groups to honor the “Covenant of Reconciliation” and to remain committed to addressing all outstanding issues through mutual respect and understanding, and by using non-violent means.

4. Stand firm to our commitment that no one will be left out of the reconciliation process. We assert that Naga Reconciliation is neither selective nor is it about merging; rather it stands for mutual respect and acceptance in rebuilding the wholeness of the Naga people.

5. We extend the spirit of reconciliation and make this call for better understanding to all the communities and nationalities neighboring the Naga-Lands.

Adopted by:
Naga Public and Church Leaders of Burma
and Forum for Naga Reconciliation

120 nations under BWA resolve to support Naga reconciliation

WBA delegates in Malaysia 2011

DIMAPUR, JUL 12: The Naga Reconciliation process and struggle for sovereignty is now a fervent mission for Baptists world over.


In a historic resolution, the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from July 4-9 affirmed support to the long protracted Naga issue and the ongoing process of Naga reconciliation. The support was one of the three resolutions adopted by the BWA from the numerous issues relating particularly to conflict devastation.

Along with the Naga issue, BWA also resolved to advocate support to the issue of ‘Conflict Minerals’ in the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as South Sudan, the newest nation.

With the affirmation, a total of 120 nations federating with BWA will now make it their focus to advocate the Naga issue to all corners of the world with prayers.

The Peace Commission of the Division of Freedom and Justice for the BWA had also endorsed the ‘Journey of Common Hope’ for Naga Reconciliation.

Addressing a press conference today at Hotel Saramati, Convener of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation Rev Dr Wati Aier, who was presented with the 2011 Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award at the Malaysia meet, remarked that the resolution of the BWA with support from 120 nations is historic, of great significance and a great blessing. In this backdrop, he said it is very pertinent that the Naga people and leaders both underground and over-ground understand this significance.

“How Nagas translate this is very important… hope the Naga leaders take this support seriously,” he stated.

FNR member Rev VK Nuh recalled the humble beginnings of the FNR as well as the obstacles and setbacks faced on the way and said the journey has indeed been rewarding with the world now coming to support the Reconciliation process.

The BWA also affirmed the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) and its leadership who have courageously supported the reconciliation process in calling Baptist brothers and sisters to be reconciled to one another and to adopt non-violent methods in pursuit of their goals.

The regional bodies of BWA under which 120 nations coalesce include All Africa Baptist Fellowship, Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, European Baptist Federation, Union of Baptist in Latin America and North American Baptist Fellowship.

Challenge for Naga nationalists

With the BWA resolution to support the Naga reconciliation process, the Nagas, particularly the underground groups, now face a greater accountability – to show the world that the struggle is not about fratricidal killings or tussle for authority on vested and selfish motives.

Commendation from the BWA said the Naga reconciliation process should be set as an example to ‘Baptist brothers and sisters around the world who find themselves in conflict with one another.’

With the world putting the Naga reconciliation process as exemplary model for the world to follow, the FNR threw a challenge to Naga Nationalist brothers.

“Now that the challenge is upon us, are we going to be true to what they believe and what they say about us?” the FNR asked.

‘No gap in reconciliation’

THE FNR TODAY said there is no gap in the Journey of Common Hope and the reconciliation process as feared by many in the backdrop of the split of the Khaplang group into GPRN/NSCN and NSCN/GPRN (K) and the recent spurt of violence.

“Just that we are not publishing what we are actually doing…but it’s an everyday affair for us, like a full time job,” Rev Aier asserted.

While reiterating that reconciliation is a process, he went on to state that FNR is also ensuring that a measure of peace is maintained despite the split in some quarters.

The FNR convenor, moreover, said FNR is in touch with all groups and will continue to maintain the inclusive policy. “There is no pick and choose in reconciliation,” he added.

Member N Krome said one major reason why the activities and progression of FNR and the Naga political groups is not revealed to the public is because some forces within and outside the State have been viewing reconciliation as a threat. “They are trying to sabotage this process in the guise of extending support,” he stated further.

Peace and Development in NE India

Many people talk about peace and development, but how many of us sincerely want peace and development in North East India? Arms Force Special Power Act (AFSPA) was introduced in NE regions in 1957 and re-imposed in Manipur and Nagaland in 1985. Nagaland State has again been declared as a disturbed area in July 2011. The draconic law of AFSPA has mentally and physically affected the people in the region, and it will have a great impact even in the future. Some people may allege that there is peace in the region, but controlling the people by a gun barrel cannot be called as PEACE. If you are really talking about peace, let there be peace and development in the region in letter and in spirit.

The government wants to bring peace and development in the region, but it cannot do so while denying the rights of the people. If rights and justice of the people are denied, there cannot be peace and development in NE India; this is true not only in NE India but anywhere in the world. With mutual understanding and knowing the facts of the history, no problem is so abstruse as to be unsolvable.

The BJP government took the initiative in the Indo-Naga peace talks with the senior leaders like Atal Vajpee Bihari. However, the younger generation have different views on the Naga political problem; some are even ignorant about the essential Naga historical facts. There is medicine to kill pain, and we can prescript medicine to reduce it, but a doctor needs to diagnose the root cause and problem, and give the complete dose to heal a patient. Repressing the rising voice of the people through military might is only like a doctor prescribing only the pain killer to be relieved ephemerally.

Mizoram state is becoming one of the fastest developing states in NE and has achieved the second highest literacy rate in India after the insurgent problem was solved. The State has recently celebrated the 25Years of Peace in the State on 30th June 2011. It has become one of the model states in terms of developments and peace in NE. Only those who have genuinely studied the issues and problems can only understand the real cause of the problem and issue of NE India. Recently, Rahul Gandhi – one of the promising future Indian Prime Ministers, says, “Army is not the solution to Kashmir and NE.” Many other Indian Army officers having previously served in NE region also gave a similar report.

When the NE burns, it affects all of India; when the Naxalites affected regions burn, it affects the entirety of India. Unfortunately, only some logical and visionary leaders see this aspect. According to the govt. of India – Home Ministry Affairs (HMA) 1967, NNC was listed as a banned terror group in NE India.

On 17th May 2010 the govt. of India released another list of terror groups in India in which more than 100 terror groups are banned like – Maoists, ULFA, NBDF, SIMI, etc., but the NSCNs factions are not included. However, some people alleged the NSCN – the Naga National Workers as terrorist, criminal, extortionist, etc. If the NSCN are terrorist and criminal then the whole Naga civil leaders and Naga people also can be booked under TADA and criminal cases for supporting them to bring peace in the region as an accomplice also can be punished under IPC.

India will become a peaceful Nation and develop more progressively once some of the threats and problems are solved. Today the three biggest problems being encountered by the GOI are –
i). The Jammu and Kashmir issue and problems
ii). NE insurgent Issue and problems (especially the NSCN and ULFA)
iii) Maoist problems (Naxalites) issue and problems

India has been investing a huge sum of money for counter-insurgency. Such expenditures would be reduced significantly if the above three problems were solved, yielding not only peace, but also greater economic prosperity. Those three problems have different issues and problems, and it needs to consider patiently in each case separately. It is high time that the GOI gives serious thought to these burning issues in India. Corruption is another mania in India, but the above three issues are more important than other issues in India. If the GOI wants the Naga political to be solved and to restore peace in the region, it needs to acknowledge and accept the genuine cause of the Naga political problem and prescribe the complete dose to heal the region completely.

The people of NE India yearn for peace and development, but more than 60% of the Indian population does not understand the root causes for the lack of peace and development in NE. One should not think that the problem in NE region is just a law and order problem. While considering the size of the region and demographic aspects, some people may want the Seven Sisters to become one nation, but there is no historical basis for such a union. Why has the giant India had a ceasefire with the small Naga army since 1997? The size does not matter but the historical fact counts.

It is well-known that NSCN is considered as the mother of insurgents in Northeast India, and everyone who loves peace and development in the region needs to extend support to resolve the Naga political and ULFA problems. Then someday the beautiful greenery of the NE States of India can become one the best tourists’ destinations, and also become one of the commercial hubs of India. The people around the world want peace and development in the region and in a recent Annual Gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the World Baptist Alliance (WBA) which consists of 120 Nations support Naga Reconciliation. NE people have suffered enough for more than 50 years under AFSPA and the insurgency problem, and it is time now for everyone to think more positively and to have the desire to the most pressing issues and problems in the region.

The Naga Political problem is not problematic only to the Naga indigenous people; it affects the whole NE region and India. Directly or indirectly, development in the northeastern region is depending upon solving the Naga Political and ULFA problems. Once the Naga Political and ULFA problems are solved, we can see the dawning of development and peace in northeastern region of India. It is alleged (reported) that the Naxalites have a link with the ULFA, and the network may continue to enlarge as times passes. It is also alleged that the NSCN is giving shelter to the ULFA cadres some where in the border of India and Myanmar. So in one way or another, all three groups are closely linked, which shows the insurgent epidemic in the future in India.

Solving the NSCN and ULFA problems in NE will bring solace to India and in particular to northeastern region. The GOI and the people of northeast need to understand not only the factual issues, but also to acknowledge and accept the genuine cause of the Naga Political problems. In previous Central-NSCN-IM Peace-talks, the Chairman of NSCN-IM said that the Peace-talks are coming to most crucial stage, and in more recent talks (18 July 2011), NSCN Special Emissary V.S. Atem told the Telegraph, India, “The talks were positive and we now enter the most crucial phase of the negotiation.”

Moreover, it is also reported that the Naga political problem will be solved in “shortest possible time” and the solution will be based on “the uniqueness of Naga history and situation which was recognized by the government in 2002”. After more than 60 rounds of Peace-talks held in different countries and in Delhi, now it is showing a positive result in their Peace-talks. Consequently, the people of Nagaland and NE India should be in euphoria and extend their support to the ongoing Peace-talks to bring a long-lasting peaceful solution in the region.

-Dr. Thohe Pou


Members of the central team and NSCN (I-M) at the meeting in New Delhi - Pix :: Nagaland Post