A thousand people die every day because of armed violence, and many more are seriously injured. Many of the victims are women and children. In India alone, 12 people die from armed violence every day. Yet the global trade that fuels the epidemic of armed violence is not subject to international regulation. The arms industry is unlike any other. It operates without regulation. There is more regulation in music and film industry than in arms. The movement of arms across the world is a huge threat to human security. 1,135 companies in 98 countries manufacture arms, ammunitions and components worldwide. At present, it is impossible to monitor or interrupt this deadly flow of weapons. This is because there are no agreed global standards for governments when authorising exports or transfers.
Over 20,000 people have been killed in the last five decades in Manipur. Today more than 30 armed groups operate in Manipur – ranging from small outfits to organizations with several thousand members. Besides them, dozens of battalions of the Indian Army and several units of Indian paramilitary forces are stationed throughout the state at the Indo-Burma-border. Manipur is one of the most conflict-ridden states in India. Women and children of Manipur suffer most in this conflict, even when they are not targeted directly. They are traumatized by the deaths of family members. They bear the brunt of the emotional and socio-economic impacts of violence. So many women have become impoverished after the killings of male relatives, who have been working for the survival of the family. Apart from that, women themselves are particularly vulnerable to violence and intimidation at gunpoint, often used as a deliberate military and political tactic. Also women and girls continue to be tortured, raped and killed at gunpoint. Every year 300 widows are born in the state as a result of arm violence.
Control Arms Foundation of India & Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network joined hands with activists from over 80 countries around the world in commemorating the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence. Each year activists around the world use the Global Week of Action Against Violence to raise awareness, campaign for better gun laws and push for stronger regulation of the global arms trade. This year the Week of Action is from 13 June 2012 till 19 June 2012. Each of the efforts will draw attention to the human toll of arms proliferation and misuse of small arms and call upon the government to strengthen the ongoing work at the United Nations for an international arms trade treaty.
At the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty July 2012 Conference is being held next month at UN headquarters in New York, we are appealing not just to our own government of India, but to governments around the world that efforts have to be made to make human lives secure; to call upon the inclusion of survivors rights in ongoing negotiation on Arms Trade Treaty.
Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network) and Control Arms Foundation of India conducted a one day community consultation to commemorate the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence. The consultation highlighted the survivors and their rights in conflict ridden zones, call for inclusions of victim assistance in government, disarmament and united nation arms treaty.
The panelists at the event were Dr. Rajen Laishram, Assistant Professor, Manipur University, Smt. Ksh.Bimola, Professor, Manipur University, Mrs. Rose Mangsi ,President, Kuki Women Organisation, Manipur, Ima L. Nganbi, President, Apunba Nupi Lup (ANUL), Vice President Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL), W. Joykumar, Human Rights Initiative, Manipur, Ch. Budha Singh,Social Worker and Ms. Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder , Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network. Testimonies of survivors were given by Ms. N. Edina & Mr. Philem Johnson of Moirang.
The guests of honours at the event included the Deputy Chief of Missions of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.
A film titled “The story of Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network” was also screened at the consultation.
Oja Ksh.Bimola initiated the conference with a brief history of Manipur, focusing mainly on the administration and women’s arena. She further urged to support the iron lady Irom Sharmila who has been fasting unto death, demanding to repeal the draconian rule AFSPA. She concluded saying ‘there is no real democracy in our society, justice delivery system is very weak, there is no rule of law’
Mrs. Rose Mangsi, President of the Kuki womens organisation, Manipur spoke of the co- existence of the hill people and valley people. She spoke about the difference between the women as a victim in the hilly region and that of women as a victim in the valley area, reasoning that hill women are more illiterate and underexposed. She further grave by adding ‘there is no tongue in this world to express the suffering of women in our society’
Mr. Ake Peterson spoke on behalf of the Ambassadors; he expressed his solidarity and morose regarding the past and current turmoil situation of our state. In his short words, he encouraged the gun survivors and the people of Manipur to fight with grit and perseverance in this vibrant democracy.
Dr. Rajen Laishram addressed his opinion on AFSPA; he further gave an abbreviated history of women in Manipur establishing the various norms and social stigma which hampers in generating gender equality in the state. He blamed the people of Manipur for all the chaos and instability that is happening to our states and cited the reason for this as ‘trust deficit ‘among the people.
Ms Edina, a survivor with two children, whose husband was shot dead by the Manipur state commando expressed her gratitude to Manipur Women Gun Survivors network for encouraging and helping her out financially and emotionally at her trying times after the incident. She put her grievances by stating that the govt. promised hundreds of schemes for the widows but they are quite unsuccessful in implementing those schemes, and they delay each and every scheme. She cried her heart out saying ‘no justice has been done to her and her husband, no punishment has been meted out to those criminals in this long three years ’
W. Joykumar, Deputy Ombudsman of Imphal East talked about Right to Information(RTI) with much aggression and contemplate that the state lack ‘informed’ citizen, which is very much essential to successfully run a democratic society. According to him development should have the essence of our daily livelihood, investing a dreamy amount on infrastructure and technology will not help much. Adding to this he said ‘corruption has become a social norm’.
Mr. Philem Johnson, a young courageous man, whose life has been shattered by the gun violence, had a different story to narrate. He stated that he still carries the bullet which was fired at him a decade back in his body. His body below the torso is paralysed after the fateful incident which happened on September 20th, 1999 at Moirang. His story moved everyone. But he has not lost hope he still moves around in his wheel chair with much grit and determination.
The programme ended with positive note from all the participants to help the survivors fight for their rights in the state. The meeting also resolved and called upon government of India implement United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and also to include survivors assistance in the upcoming crucial negotiations on Arms Trade Treaty at UN.
For more information, please contact,
Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network
Control Arms Foundation of India
Email: Binalakshmi@gmail.com Mobile: +91-9891210264
Address for correspondence: B 5/146, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi-110029, India.
Phone: +9-11-46018541 Fax: +91-11-26166234.
Websites: www.cafi-online.org & www.womensurvivorsnetwork.org