The Hon’ble Chief Minister,
Sub: Representation vis-à-vis People of Concern (POC) for displaced Nagas of Myanmar.
The Naga people who have been living independently and peacefully in our own land without any interference from outside people were divided in two countries – India and Myanmar without the consent of the people. This arbitrary boundary divided families, clansmen, relatives, tribes, communities and the Naga nation. The Nagas on both sides of the border have been resisting these forceful occupations by India and Myanmar however the neo colonial design and brutal militarization by both the countries have only resulted into forceful division among the same people and the land. Many decades of successive Military regimes in Myanmar with the concept of nation building based on the principle– “One Race, One Language, One Religion”, the Naga people in Myanmar have suffered more grievously.
Presently, the Nagas in Burma live in approximately 390 Naga villages. Its population is estimated to be about half a million. There are 7 major Naga tribes in Myanmar –Tangshang, Konyak, Lainong, Nokko (Khiamniungan), Makury, Para, Tangkhul and other minor tribes include Anal, Moyon, Lamkang etc. With the formation of States and divisions after Burma attained independence on 4 January 1948, about 40 Naga villages of Tanai Township and Shinbwiyang sub-township were included in Kachin State while the rest were included in the Sagaing Region. The Naga townships in the Naga areas of Sagaing divisions are – Khamti, Homlin, Layshi, Lahe and Nanyun (The constitution of the Union of Burma 1974). However, when Naga Self Administration Zone (NSAZ) was created under the terms of the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar and its official name announced by decree on 20 August 2010, it included only the hill townships – Layshi, Lahe, and Nanyun. Lahe was chosen as the administrative seat while the important valley townships Khamti and Homlin were left out.
The Naga consented neither to the creation of Self-Administered Zone nor the exclusion of the two important Naga townships, Khamti and Homlin. This was clearly mentioned in the memorandum submitted to the Chairman of the National Convention Steering Committee on 1 November 2004, where the inalienable and indivisible right of the Nagas to their ancestral homeland was highlighted. The Naga people have a right to determine their own future by themselves.
The ancestral Naga areas in Myanmar which was also known as the “Somra Tract” during the British regime was never under direct rule of the British and it was left unadministered. And when the area was included to Myanmar during the formation of new nations – India and Myanmar, the area continued to be remain virtually unadministered/ neglected by the Myanmar Government and hence very little about the Nagas living in Myanmar were known to the outside world.
The Nagas in Myanmar are the poorest, most isolated and least developed people in Myanmar. Economically, Nagas in Myanmar depend on land and forest; there is hardly any opportunities for livelihood. Their access to education is at minimum as there were no educational institutions for decades. It was only some 40 years ago that some primary schools were established. Out of 390 Naga villages in Naga Self Admin Zone, the Myanmar Govt recognized only 266 villages. The government of Myanmar refused to recognize 32% of the Naga Villages. This non-recognition meant, there are no schools in 124 villages, the children receive no education. Even the children of the 242 villages supposedly having primary schools also receive no education due to non availability of proper school buildings and teachers.
There are only 13 High Schools and 11 Middle/Post Primary Schools which are located at Townships, Sub-townships and bigger villages. These schools also have their own limitation and challenges as few teachers mostly from other ethnic groups and regions refused to stay regularly in the remote areas without any incentives and support from the governments. Till now there is no college or University in the entire Naga areas. For college/university, they have to go to Kalay, Monywa, Myikyitna, Mandalay, Yangon etc.
Besides there is no proper health care systems across the Naga administrative regions such is the case that in the year 2016 the measles outbreak have taken the tool of over 80 people death as recorded and many unrecorded in the remote villages. The common diseases among the Nagas are diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, respiratory tract infections, musculoskeletal pain, Hepatitis B & C, kidney failure and stones and also high concentration of rickets. Low vaccination coverage is also an issue due to its remoteness, leaving the people vulnerable to preventable diseases. It is worthwhile to mention that the health care system is provided through the 7 Health care centres/hospitals, each for the 3 townships and 4 sub-townships, but having only 2 doctors and few nurses to assist.
It would be natural for our Nagas to send their children for education and other better prospect in Nagaland and other neighboring Naga regions where the situation is comparatively better and more promising. The repressive military regimes in Myanmar since 1962 had taken untold miseries on the Naga people. The difficult terrain, lack of connectivity, roads, schools, health care and any other development infrastructure that is essential for any people to live with some dignity, there is forced labour, porter,conscription into military, forced conversion and perpetual violation of human rights under the present regime. To escape from all these atrocities, many have been internally displaced (IDPs) and many have fled to the Naga areas of India.
It is believed that there are about 5000-6000 Nagas from Myanmar living in Nagaland State. Since the arrival of the Nagas from Myanmar beginning 1970s, they have been treated as kins and given relief and support by individuals, families, village communities and authorities, Churches and Civil Societies in Nagaland. However, so far, we are yet to see any concrete and open policy coming from the Nagaland state government towards the Naga refugees’ problems from Myanmar. Therefore, the Nagas from Myanmar must be recognized as People of Concern (POC) and efforts to provide aid and support on a steadfast manner must be established.
To add more to the wounds, the military coup in Feb 2021 leading to Civil disobedience Movement (CDM) resulted in new displacements. According to the UN, an estimated 11,13,000 people have been internally displaced and thousands have fled across the international borders since 1 February 2021. Thousands fled into India, particularly in Mizoram state, and hundreds into Nagaland State. These new entrants in Nagaland are facing security and humanitarian crisis – Food and Shelter, and they have very little access to Education.
While acknowledging the governments’ effort towards Nagas fleeing Myanmar delegating all the Deputy Commissioners of respective districts ‘to deal with them with human feelings’. We are also happy that the then State Land Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Neiba Kronu acknowledged them as our own people and to help and provide refuge by the churches and tribal bodies of the district on humanitarian grounds.
However, the Naga Hoho strongly feel that the present crisis is not only human crisis or international crisis, but as a Naga we are one people ‘the Nagas’. It is our moral and bounden duty to extend all possible help towards securing the lives of our own people. It is evident that the displacement crisis from Myanmar is expected to further escalate as Myanmar’s Military Junta Government continues to unleash its atrocities on its citizens and Nagas in particular. We therefore, urge upon the government of Nagaland to extent all possible help and support and to immediately arrange border area humanitarian support team with all medical facilities and arrange a shelter and safety for the Nagas coming from Myanmar.
That we recommend:
1. Humanitarian Assistance:
(i) Provide food and shelter
(ii) Engage diplomatic community in India, the international community
UNHRC for working on the refugee status for the Naga refugee in the state
INGOs to sustain long-term humanitarian assistance.
(iii) Grant Asylum status to asylum seekers.
(i) Provide free education in Nagaland.
(ii) Provide accommodation for the students.
(iii) Develop “Scholarship programs” for students in higher education
3. Health Care:
(i) Provide free of cost medical health care facilities in Nagaland.
(ii) Develop health training programs to build community health workers.
4. Capacity building & Empowerment
(i) Provide skill and knowledge development trainings
(ii) Develop special programs to capacitate them
5. Security: To allow free passage at the border and ensure for their security while living in Nagaland.
(K. ELU NDANG)