Pangsha Range Council slam construction of trench along Intl border

Pangsha Range Council (PRC) under Tuensang district has expressed strong condemnation against destruction of environment by the “felonious act” of both the governments of India and Myanmar of construction the ongoing trench at the International Trade Centre (ITS, Dan) that seeks to divide the same Khiamniungan Nagas who find themselves on both sides of the international border.
PRC pointed out that the construction of the trench dividing Khiamniungans was being done by cutting of forests belonging to the indigenous people besides destroying the water pipeline connection in addition to “merciless act towards the people of Wolam(Pangsha).
While condemning the Indian and Myanmar governments for the inhuman act, the PRC reiterated its belief in peaceful environment and freedom without separation of the tribe by the trench.
PRC said Khiamniungans have always lived as one community but after British colonialism, an imaginary line was drawn between India and Myanmar where blood relations found themselves separated by the trench.
In conclusion, PRC has reiterated that the community will not be divided by the imaginary line and would not have any biased feelings just because of the “egoistic motive” of those involved in construction of the dividing trench.

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Our future will be decided together in the Naga family

The challenge for the “Advanced Nagas” is to see and accept their mistakes, learn from them and play their roles better. This was stated by Kevino Kuotsu, speaking at the first conference of the Tangshang Naga Students’ Association held here on April 18.

Stressing that the young Naga family needs to know itself, Kuotsu said that “Instead of dealing with our own mistakes we are pointing out the mistakes and wrongs done by others…It is destroying the Naga struggle and weakening our identity because it is creating hate and division.”

While acknowledging that the Nagas of Nagaland, particularly Kohima and Dimapur, have benefitted the most from the sacrifices made by all Nagas, she noted the difficulties faced by Nagas in Myanmar, expressing the realization that “we need to care and give our best to one another, so that we may build together a just and fair society for everyone.”

Kuotsu also spoke on the role that Naga women can and should play. “In our Naga society women are expected only to be seen and to serve by doing all the things that need to be done, but not heard. We are expected not to think. But we can thank God Naga women have quietly thought and served,” she observed. While it is not wrong to be humble and to serve, Kuotsu maintained, “in the new challenges our society is now facing Naga women must boldly come out with their thinking, concerns and wisdom to play their role which they alone can play because they are realistic and practical always. Their men must understand the new dangers our society faces and how much men and women must think and act together to succeed for the sake of our children.”

Significantly, Kuotsu pointed out that “the most important area of our society where our future will be decided is the Naga family.” It is in a family, she said, that our society is shaped. “It is the most difficult place to do the right things because the right things seem to be very small and unimportant.” And it is in this space, said Kuotsu, that her family understood the importance of “simple honesty between us on the small things that can destroy our relationship which will destroy hope in our children.” This involves “learning together how we are to help one another to carry responsibility in raising our family by listening to one another honestly.”

The Need of Introducing Naga History in School & College Textbooks

(A Political Perspective)
– R. B. Thohe Pou
There are many books written on Nagas by foreigners, Indians and Naga scholars. However, it is quite bizarre that Naga history is still not written even for school and college textbooks. The Nagas want to be an independent country but whether it is really desired or not, it is high time to write Naga history and introduce in schools, colleges and universities textbooks

Today one of the main reasons of not being active in mass participation in Naga National Movement (NNM) is due to people’s bankruptcy in Naga historical background. If we know the Naga history, we cannot resist from supporting the NNM. I have got lots of questions that rise in my mind when I think the need of writing Naga history and introducing Naga History as school and college textbooks. Some of the most important questions are – Is there any nation in this world without any written history? Why Naga history need to be written and included in schools, colleges and universities syllabus in Nagalim? Why is it important to know Naga history? Do you think there is less mass participation and support in Indo-Naga talks due to lack of knowledge in Naga history? How many of our Naga educated people know in details about the Naga history? Why many educated Nagas are poor in Naga history? Do you ever come across any word mentioning about the Naga history in Indian history? Do you think it is high time to write Naga history for school and college textbooks? What is our government, Naga historians and scholars were doing in last 50 years? Why none of our Naga historians, scholars and leaders realize the importance of introducing Naga history in school and college? What are the main obstacles that we the Nagas could not write the Naga history and have Naga history in school and college textbooks?

In this article, I may not be able to answer all the above questions. However I believe that the government, Naga philosophers, thinkers, writers and leaders would answer all the above questions. We, the Nagas have enough historians, philosophers, scholar and writers. Nevertheless, it seems the Nagas are so callous to write Naga history. I am sure that it would not be an easy task to write Naga history but there are copious of documents and books, which we can write the Naga history. We the Nagas study Indian history, but do we study Naga history in school or college level? I personally feel that if the Naga history had been introduced in school and college textbooks in 1950’s or at least by 1980’s, it would have awoken the hearts of the educated Naga people with alacrity to participate and extend more solidarity to Naga National Movement or Indo-Naga peace talks.
Today, many educated Naga people have no inspiration and conviction and not ardently supporting the NNM due to lack of Naga historical knowledge. There are many foreigners and Indians who know Naga history better than the Nagas in Nagalim. Unless we know the Naga history, it will be difficult for active mass participation in Nagas struggle for integration or sovereignty. There are many educated Naga people who are dithering to participate in NNM because they have not even browse the Naga history; they are not aware of the Nagas right to self-determination. How can we anticipate the layman to know the Naga history when the educated people do not know the Naga history and are bewildered?
In the present scenario, the urgent need in Nagalim is to impart the knowledge of Naga history to the mass. There is not any specific written Naga history book. However we can read from different books and we need to have lots of seminars on Naga history among the educated Naga people also along with the laymen. The Naga Civil Society (NCS) are actively involved in spreading the Naga issue to many civil societies in India through documentary movies and printed books especially to the non-Nagas. I am sure that it would definitely a help to the civil societies to understand more about the Naga issues and problems. Recently I got a VCD (documentary movie, Naga Story-the other side of silence?) from Mr. Shekho George (a civil society active member) and I have screened that documentary movie in Interdisciplinary Discussion Group, University of Pune and a discussion based on that documentary movie was discussed. There were lots of responses from the imminent Professors, Research scholars and other students. I personally feel that all the educated Naga people should have thorough knowledge on Naga history or whatever we know about Naga history, we should pass on to the Naga friends and non-Naga friends.
There is little written Naga history for school textbooks in Nagaland State but that is not enough and we need to include more even for school level and include the whole history in college level. It is very late by now to introduce the Naga history in school and college level. However, ‘Better late than never’. We do not know how long it will take to solve the Naga political problem. But I am optimistic that Naga problem will be solved in our life time or generation. Even if the Naga problem is solved and Nagalim becomes an independent country or what ever it may be, the Naga history cannot be snubbed and throw into dustbin. It is high time that we the Naga scholars need to write Naga history for school and college textbooks. If our senior Naga writers and government of Nagaland would have taken the initiative to write the Naga history earlier, by now all the educated Naga people might have good historical background.
Today if we ask the graduate or Post Graduate student about the Nine Points Hydari Agreement, s/he may say, “I am not aware of that Agreement”. Recently, the Naga Students Union, Pune (NSUP), held their 24th Annual Literary and Cultural Meet on 26th January 2005, and in that Quiz Competition, a question was asked, “When was the Shillong Accord made?”, the quiz participants answered, in 1962, 1963, 1972 etc. Finally the question was passed to the audience. Then some of us raised our hands and I said, “It was in 1975”. However the Quizmaster said “Sorry, it was in 1965”. Then I was little bit embarrassed. I went home to check again from the book and I found that the Shillong Accord was made on 10-11 November 1975. See – this is how some of our educated people have the knowledge about the Naga history. I doubt that many of us know when the British first came to Naga Hills, Formation of Naga Club, NNC, Nine Points Agreement, Shillong Accord, Breaking up of NSCN, ongoing peace talks etc.
There are many books written on Nagas, however only the Naga writers, scholars, leaders and very few people who are interested in Naga struggle for sovereignty read the books. One of the important reasons or attributes that the school or college going students do not read the Naga book is that all the books are not easily available to all the people; it is mostly confined in some good institutes or Universities in India. I am from a remote village, Senapati District Manipur and I was not aware of the Naga history before I take up my PhD research work. And like me there are more than 90% of the total populations of Nagas who do not get the facility to read the books on Nagas, which is written by foreigners, Indians and Naga scholars. The price of the book on Nagas or any book on Tribal is relatively costlier than the school or college textbooks. We the Nagas or Indigenous people are poor and there are many students who do not have money to purchase their school or college textbooks so there is no question arise to buy and read the book on Nagas. I think the best way for all the Nagas to know or read the Naga history is to write the Naga history and introduce in school and college textbooks, so that all the books are available, affordable and accessible to all the people. I can confidently say that unless, we know the Naga history, we cannot expect active mass participation in Naga National Movement. As a Naga it is a great shame incase we do not know anything about the Naga history.
In conclusion, I would like to suggestl the Government of Nagaland, Naga Hoho, NSF, Naga Mother’s Association, UNC and all the Naga leaders to consider the importance and need to write and introduce in school textbooks. Secondly, I would like to suggest conducting lots of seminars on Naga history with the Nagas and non-Nagas in different cities, towns and villages. If the government of Nagaland, Naga Hoho, NSF,UNC, etc feel the need to write and introduce the Naga history in school and college textbooks, I am sure there will be some people like me who would love to invest their knowledge, time and energy to write Naga history for school and college textbooks.
Note: (This article was earlier published in www.kuknalim.com in Feb. 2005)

PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN MYANMAR AND ITS RELATION TO NAGA POLITICS

By: Athong Makury

The reform process in Myanmar under quasi civilian-led government has come for two and half years amidst twists and turns. Hoping for a real change in the country, the International Community has given much effort in terms of both pressure and support. So also the local community comprised of mainland and ethnic community has contributed much to it yet the result seems blurringdue to so many unfulfilled, empty promises and arrogant behaviors of Myanmar military. Keeping the 2008 notorious Constitution as the core subject of the issue many efforts from both outside and inside are put but USDP, the proxy of the junta still grabs the ball for a genuine change in Myanmar. Aung Suu Kyi the democracy icon of Myanmar, who was once much on 1947’s Panlong agreement, 1990 election result, the rights of ethnic people and abnormality of 2008 Constitution, had made, amidst severe criticisms and loss of trust, U-turn and got into the house with full of hopes and promises in recent by-election after several indoor discussions with the President Thein Sein. During their open secret dialogs she was somewhat confirmed for the amendment of the Constitution but the time has made her seen the real color of the junta. Her hope to become the next president is shattered beyond her imagination.When her attempts in the house fell short, she began to realize that there was no way of fulfilling her dreams from within the parliament where the proxies of junta rule and the promises she received from their indoor discussions proved void of reality. Failing to fulfill her dreams, she signaled to walk away by saying, “We have opened the door for all.” But one way she feels that the remedy for the political trauma is to take the issue to the street and seems nudging the public to do it. But the public is aware and paranoid of the old habit of junta and the present government’s inability to control over the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army). The logic is that if the government still uses inhuman and undemocratic means to crackdown the movements e.g. the monks in Latpadaung Hill issue who peacefully walk out for the sake of the innocent public, then those nightmares of the past painted with much bloodshed can be reversed easily.

For a pragmatic change in the country, the government has to realize the fact and put it into action before it gets worse..As long as abnormal systems are active.., no genuine change or progress may be expected
The other factor is the issue of ethnic people in Myanmar! As the ethnic forces have learned enough wily tricks of the junta in the past, they have made a new paradigm shift in dealing with the government. After the failures of several individual attempts for each interest and goal, the ethnic people realizedthe need and strength of unity and thus they had come under one unit as United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) which has acquired much bargaining power, an institution that they never had in the past. One can see that it has also gained much international and local support. UNFC’s stand is clear, nothing but a federal union that safeguards and guarantees the future of the ethic people in Myanmar. Some soft-liners within the USDP began to bend with the wind by including the federal topic in the talks but within the ugly 2008 constitution. It was seen in the recent talks in Chiang Mai, Thailand where the two forces were caught up in a catch-22: one with the present and the other for a new federated constitution. And also, during President Thein Sein’s recent visit to the West, he bloomed there withplenty of promises before the world powers about the release of political prisoners, the amendment of the constitution and the ethnic issue. But the ground at home proves contrary to his claims. The public and the world are confused about who has the real power in Myanmar politics. For instance, several agreements signed on the table to ceasefire are followed by continued gunfire and bloodshed. For another example, Union Minister U Aung Min, the chairman of Union Peace Negotiating Team has said that the Team needs has only ten billion Kyats which is half of the expenditure for nationwide peace talks and for which he is begging from international community. The question is, “Are they [Burmese] really doing it practical?” The government spends billions of US dollars in procuringnuclear, Jet fighters, warships, missiles, WMDs and heavy artilleries to destroy the ethnic forces but for a few bucks, which are less than the cost of aF-16, the government says it has no fund. Another awkward thing is that the government canstill effort to make a bronze bell that will cost twenty billion Kyats. It is nothing but a plain irony that insults the ethnic people!Another key factor is Ministry of Defense headed by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, C-in-C who acts always independently. UNFC is right in commenting that Min Aung Hlaing is constitutionally and practically above all in the country and neither is he controlled by none except Mr. Shwe who pulls the thread from behind thecurtain. After all, the amendment of the constitution lies as the main subject in the reform process in Myanmar. The topic for amending the constitution still remains a hot potato for the junta-backed government. But after much counseling and pressure, this Burmese python of course begins to uncoil by forming a team comprised of 105 membersa month back to examine the amendment of the constitution. As the team begins to examine the particulars, Thura Shwe Man, the chairman of the House is heralding that much change cannot be expected from it. His message has been marked ambiguous and ambivalent. It is discouraging to learn that circumscription has come before any visible move.For Mr. Win Tin who is the brain child of National League for Democracy (NLD), people must be prepared at any time for reversal to status quo ante. It is clear to all that this impasse will remain as a chronic malady unless the core subject is addressed properly. Failing to do so, the country and innocent people will be succumbed to unending imbroglios and the road to genuine democracy in Myanmar will prove cul-de-sac.

For a pragmatic change in the country, the government has to realize the fact and put it into action before it gets worsethat real peace in nationwide must start with practical approach from the initial level. So that the real meaning of union will be fully understood and experienced in the country. As long as the abnormal systems are active in the process, no genuine change or progress may be expected.However, it is a good signal that the system from the part of government may anyway go out of track, UNFC seems well experienced this time about such abnormalities. Further, it feels doubtful of Suu Kyi’s stand even as she remained silent in recent clashes and civil wars with the ethnic forces. For many, her speech in Yale University was seen an escape. Though the ethnic people longed much for her intervention in those bloodyissues, she replied that she was not invited to participate in the team. It seems she forgot that she was unwelcome and uninvited to participate in Myanmar politics by the junta government but looking for an invitation after securing a place in the house. However, after much pressure and request from communities she now walks into the team but her role and power in the team is unknown thus far which is a matter of concern. On the one hand, UNFC is also not fully strong until all the ethnic forces in the country are incorporated into it. By now more than 15 groups are already in but some groups like Karen National Union (KNU) who thinks herself ‘alone but a lion’ yet to give a hand for common goal as she is also fighting for a federal union. For KNU, it is like “wait and see” as she learned a good lesson during the times of National Democratic Front from which KIA/KIO made immediate departure by signing ceasefire agreement with the junta in 1994 and in following KNU was severely singled out by the junta.Here, it is pretty weird to learn about the absence of the Nagas in UNFC!It might be true to comment that sometimes Nagas seem too proud of ourselves.

For example, NSCN-K is known for her traditional stand “Sovereignty” as its unique claim but this claim, though dearing and admiring, seems sometimes making the Nagas isolated more and more from the real world when its procedure is not well defined or unclear “the how.” Some think-tanks among the Nagas in Myanmar worry that the Nagas will be out of track politically in the near future when we are not accustomed to the changing scenario of the political trend around us. Some are of the opinion that the Nagas also should participate as observers at least, not necessarily as full-fledged member and support them by supplying technical and academic assistance yet not compromising for what we stand: perhaps on a same train but to a further station.To be logical, a unique claim has to do with a unique preparation. Or in other word, idealism is good up to some extend but to bein a dialectical mode is a must lest we end up as day dreamers. For instance, NSCN-K’s silence on Chin-Naga issue wherein Nagas are mentioned as one of Chin tribes and mentioning of Mt. Saramati as the highest peak in their Chinland documentary report and land demarcation of Naga Self-Administered Region which is just one third of our ancestral territory has caused doubts in the minds of the Nagas in Myanmar. Further, NSCN-K is yet to clarify on accountability of poppy farming and allowing the use of opium in the region. It is reported that even NSCN officials themselves cultivate poppy in the region. It might not be beautiful to see poppy fields under the banner of “Nagaland for Christ.”Hence, it’s a reminder to all that our activities should not prove that our claim is far-fetched. Or else we will have to redefine our claim for better.

The ceasefire agreement between NSCN-K and GoM is a welcome matter and the Naga public wanted it to be of good and progress holistically which should also pave the way for our final goal. It is sad to learn that before the talks have reached Union Level some people have been stripped and some ground realities picture that the talks need some more preparation. The Naga think-tanks in the East feel disquiet that our boys will be trapped as border guard force if continued as usual. The progress of talks after a while is unclear from both GoM and Naga group. The recent meet in Naypyidaw with the Naga delegates went silent except hearing that Naga delegates received a package of wheels for off-road travel. What will be the next and the next is an interesting update to see. On the one hand, it may not be wrong on the part of public to ask for transparency and what’s being done for the Nagas.

The Naga public in Myanmar is also a matter of concern. It’s nice to see that the nascent nature of the people in the region has begun to experience some new waves of changes and the region also begins to see some visible developments as their elders from the Western sidereach out to them. The relation between the East and the West becomes closer and gets warmer. Yet the USDP-led regional government looks at the public with much doubt and uncertainty but the problem is USDP members are more attentive to their higher authority than to the public in the region. Having the insecure feeling, they are afraid to fully educate the public to claim even for a few bits and crumbs mentioned in the 2008 constitution. Naga National League for Democracy (NNLD) who once made loud claims is now out of station when the time has come. It might be a serious need that both regional parties and Naga national workers have to remove the gap and get closer to the public for trust and support so that all the decisions and verdicts made will reflect the reality in the region which will pave a way for overall development in the region.

As the Naga political organizations both over and underground are moving on their own, the public starting from grass hoot level also need to be enforced with capacity building and mobilization with a proper education to catch up the changing trends around them. For which, all the stake holders must be accountable for a better future of the Nagas. When the reform process is taking its own shape in the mainland, the Nagas in the Hills also should be ready to face anything that comes on our way. Every sensible Naga willcomment that it is a prerequisite to have pragmatic preparationto fulfill our beautiful dreams lest ours exists as utopia.

(To be continued)

*The writer hails from Layshi, Eastern Nagaland. He, after completing his studies
in Nagaland and in South India, left for Thailand where he did a Tribal linguistic research.
Now he remains as an observer to Myanmar-Naga politics based in Thailand.