The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) denounces the harassment and intimidation hurled against Jiten Yumnan in the State of Manipur, India. Jiten, an indigenous peoples leader, environmentalist and human rights activist, serves as the Secretary of the Center for Research and Advocacy and global focal point for CPDE Indigenous Peoples sector.
In August 2018, Jiten was subjected to political harassment from Manipur police. Without a clear case and a warrant of arrest, Manipur police searched for Jiten in his residence at Kwakeithel Mayaikoibi Ningthoujam Leikai Imphal and arbitrarily summoned him at Manipur Police Commando complex.
As an active member taking on leading roles at various levels since 2013, Jiten has raised crucial issues on behalf of the global South in various United Nations and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development-Development Assistance Committee processes, especially of indigenous peoples on the impacts of rights-violating practices of development cooperation actors.
In India, he has exposed the lack of private sector accountability in rights-violating development projects, collusion of government, financial institutions and multinational companies in the oil, mining and energy industries to control critical natural resources causing gross human rights violations on IPs.
CPDE joins indigenous peoples and other civil society organisations (CSOs) in denouncing Indian government’s crackdown of CSO members actively defending their social, economic and political rights in different spaces for participation in Indian society. A few months ago, the Philippine government listed fellow indigenous activist and CPDE co-chair in its terrorist list. Similar incidents across the developing world are recorded around criminalisation of dissent and involvement in development work. We call on development cooperation actors to exercise accountability in ensuring that commitments in providing enabling environment for CSOs and their leaders like Jiten.
Attacks on civil and political rights are barriers to the full participation of CSOs in development process and a step back on the global recognition of CSOs as critical actors contributing to development as stated in the Nairobi Outcome Document on effective development cooperation and the 2030 Agenda agreed by all stakeholders. In the same breath, the human rights-based approach to development entails governments to recognise protect, and fulfill existing norms and obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other international human rights agreements. These rights extend to critical voices in the development process.
We call on the government of India as a signatory to various international human rights agreements to accept the recommendations of the Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on its implementation of its obligations. Jiten was one of the representatives from Indian CSOs and governments that forwarded around 260 recommendations for the Third UPR at the UN Human Rights Council on 21st September 2017 at Geneva.
We join the call of civil and social movements to end harassment of human rights activists and leaders of indigenous peoples across the world. We appeal to all to remain vigilant and to consistently forge linkages and solidarity for a sustained global attention on human rights violations in India, and in other communities facing systematic state repression that affects the overall goal of achieving an enabling environment for CSOs and in defending human rights to realise the people’s development aspirations.