FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Lien Gangte
May 9, 2023 PHONE: 778-231-7686
FATAL CARNAGE & WIDESPREAD ARSON, LOSS OF LIFE AND PROPERTY IN MANIPUR INDIA
VANCOUVER, BC – NAMTA Canada, a sister organization of the North American Manipur Tribal Association, a non-profit organization formed by North American immigrants from the hill-tribes of the north-eastern state of Manipur in India, would like to express our shock, sorrow and condemnation of the recent burning of churches, homes, and displacement of tribals from their homes in the middle of the night of May the 3rd, 2023. We condemn these human rights abuses, unlawful attacks on civilians and civilian homes, burning of homes, churches, vehicles, and killing and injuring civilians, including women and children.
We call upon the international community to send food and water to the camps and apply pressure to the Indian government to stop the carnage immediately and allow tribals to return to their homes safely or be evacuated to safety outside of Imphal temporarily.
According to the latest estimates 49 churches have been burned to the ground in the city of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, where the people of the hill-tribes of Manipur are in the minority. Over thousands of households, and 10,000** people have fled into camps, where the Indian army and Manipur police are trying to protect them from ravaging mobs. The conflict which escalated into violence turned deadly on the night of May 3rd, with eyewitness reports of a young mother and her daughter being beaten to death by vicious, violent mobs in the Lamphelpat neighborhood of Imphal. Recent estimates in the Indian press report over 50 deaths. These mobs, made up of thousands of men, methodically ravaged through neighborhoods, targeting tribal Christian communities with intimidation and arson, burning churches, homes, and vehicles to the ground.
All of us here in North America in the NAMTA organization have been impacted by this violence. Each of us has harrowing stories of family members who had to flee in the middle of the night, to shelter with a non-tribal neighbor or friend until they could be picked up by the police or the army. They were taken to one of the many camps situated around the city and have lost everything they owned.
The situation at the relief camps at the peak of this crisis were precarious. They were set up in an ad hoc fashion, with little infrastructure to house and feed the over 3,000 people in each camp, or even protect them. The Manipur police and Indian army who were protecting them faced exhausted, overwork, and were under-resourced, and in some cases finding themselves the targets of these insurgents. In at least one instance, rioters breached the walls of one of the camps, and the refugees had to be relocated. Each day since May 3rd, refugees have been trying to get out of Imphal, with the airport the only route, even though it was dangerous to leave the camps; it was an unsustainable status quo. Recent on-the- ground news updates seem to suggest modest improvements in the evacuation process but the situation remains extremely tense and still very volatile.
We call on the International Aid Community, and our friends and family in North America, to help us bring light to this ongoing carnage so this does not become an even worse tragedy. The world does not need another genocide or another refugee crisis. This is an ongoing situation, and we will share more as we learn more.
For more information and a list of the churches burned, more personal stories of people who fled and were in camps, visit our site at www.namta.us
Signed, the Founding Board of NAMTA Canada
Lienlalthang Gangte, P.Eng, Vancouver, BC.
Dr. Lian Chin Thang Shoute PhD, Edmonton, AB
Lamminlal Andrew Gangte, New Westminster, BC
Sarah Lousie Alwell, Vancouver, BC
TING REM SIAM, St. Thomas, ON
Khaiginlian Phiamphu, Edmonton, AB
Lalpi Guite, Surrey, BC
Thang Guite, Toronto, ON
** Estimate. As of the 2011 Government of India census, over 49,000 tribal people live in the two Imphal districts of Imphal East and Imphal West. Please contact us or visit our website for the methodology we have used to calculate that number. The current population is certainly higher. We do not yet have accurate counts of how many of them are impacted.