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Myanmar mum on security clearance for Naga team

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Source: Google images
Source: Google images

New Delhi: A week after the home ministry gave security clearance to a 16-member Naga delegation to travel to Myanmar to hold talks with NSCN-K chief S.S. Khaplang, the delegation is yet to receive the green light from the Myanmar government.

The delegation is expected to talk to NSCN-K about resuming the 2001 ceasefire which was abrogated in March this year. The delegation is also likely to convince the group to join the peace process.

According to the delegation, that consists of members from apex Naga civil society Naga Hoho and Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the request was made to the Myanmar government immediately after the Naga Peace Accord was signed on Aug 3 between the Indian government and the NSCN (IM). A further reminder was sent last week.

“We have not received the security clearance or even any kind of reply from the Myanmar Government inspite of making the request weeks ago. Due to the absence of the order, we are unable to decide on the dates to travel to Myanmar or where we are likely to hold talks with the senior officials of NSCN(K) including it’s chief S.S. Khaplang,” Naga Hoho president P. Chuba Ozukum told IANS.

In recent times, Khaplang has signed a pact with the Myanmar government, paving the way for grant of autonomy to the NSCN-K in Sagaing — a northwestern administrative region of Myanmar.

The agreement allows NSCN-K members to move unarmed across the country and to open a sub-office in the region.

Speaking on the issue, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told IANS: “Home Ministry has got nothing with finalising the dates, as it is not an official delegation. Apart from the security clearance, we are not giving any direction to them on their travel.”

Nagaland chief minister T R Zeliang and home minister Yanthungo Patton had met union home minister Rajnath Singh earlier this month. “They told him that they are going to send a team to Myanmar to talk with the NSCN(K) chief. They have also said that they will put efforts from their side. So, if that is so, then what’s the problem, let them go ahead with it. However Myanmar Government’s clearance is must,” he said.

Central government’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks R.N. Ravi is also in Nagaland to take ahead the final accord and is likely to meet leaders of other factions of the NSCN.

National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) has several factions including NSCN-(Isak-Muivah), NSCN-(Khaplang), NSCN-(Unification), NSCN-(Reformation) and NSCN-(Khole-Kitovi). Apart from that there also exists the oldest of all groups — the Naga National Council (NNC).

A source in ENPO, which is part of the delegation, told IANS that though the place set for the negotiation is in a remote area of Myanmar, the delegation cannot depart without the Myanmar government’s permission.

On being asked about the content of the negotiations, he said: “First of all we have to make the NSCN(K) understand the Naga Accord signed between the government and the NSCN (IM). We will try to convince them to resume the ceasefire that they had abrogated early this year. We want peace in Nagaland.”

The abrogation of the 14-year-old ceasefire in March this year was followed by several attacks on the Indian Army – the first being on the Assam Rifles in Nagaland’s Mon district, killing eight troopers and then on June 4, during which 20 troopers of the Dogra Regiment were killed in an ambush in Manipur’s Chandel district.

Earlier, the Myanmar government had informally indicated that permission to travel for the delegation would be available after August 15 — India’s Independence Day.

(IANS)

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Report: Conditions in Myanmar Not Safe for Return of Rohingya Refugees

Myanmar has presented Bangladesh with a list of more than 1,200 verified displaced persons who repeatedly expressed their desire to return, he said

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rohingya refugees
FILE - Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait in queues to receive aid at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh, Nov. 15, 2017. VOA

Conditions in Myanmar are far too dangerous for the safe, dignified return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to escape violence and persecution in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

More than 730,000 Rohingya refugees are living in squalid, overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.  While conditions in Bangladesh remain dire, U.N. officials say the situation in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state is worse and far more threatening.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore presented the report to the U.N. council. She says Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine state face serious discrimination, and continuous, systematic violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

“We continue to receive and can verify reports from a variety of sources, including reports on sexual and gender-based violence, that human rights violations continue, allegedly committed by members of the security forces,” Gilmore said. “The conditions conducive for refugee return simply do not exist.”

Rohingya refugees
Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

Security forces attacked and burned Rohingya homes and shops in several townships in May, Gilmore reported. She said her office has received reports of disappearances, and of people being subjected to torture and other forms of abuse in detention.

In addition, she said, Rohingya Muslims are denied basic services to health, education and jobs, and many have been stripped of their property and identity papers, essentially rendering them stateless.

Gilmore called on the Myanmar government to reverse this situation and to end the statelessness of the Rohingya. She said it is unlikely the refugees will return to their place of origin until their citizenship status is recognized.

Reaction in Myanmar

Myanmar’s Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Kyaw Moe Tun, says human rights awareness is promoted throughout his country. He called the U.N. report misleading, incomplete and full of unverified allegations that distort the truth.

Rohingya refugees
Displaced Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Wikimedia Commons

The repatriation process must begin as soon as possible to resolve the humanitarian situation, he said, adding that Myanmar has been ready to receive people since January 2018, when his country and Bangladesh signed a repatriation agreement.

ALSO READ: Cutoff of Internet Service at Rakhine, Chin States Creates Difficulty for Civilians who Cannot Access Donors Online to Make Aid Requests

Myanmar has presented Bangladesh with a list of more than 1,200 verified displaced persons who repeatedly expressed their desire to return, he said.

Earlier this year, Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the U.N. Security Council “not a single Rohingya has volunteered to return to Rakhine due to the absence of conducive environment there.” (VOA)