The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) slams the Manipur Police for the attacks against local environmental activist Jiten Yumnam. “We are demanding the local authorities to put an end to the harassments against our member Jiten Yumnam,” says IPMSDL global coordinator Beverly Longid.
Reports show that last August 13, several Police commando appeared without formal notice in his home, asking his whereabouts, taking pictures of his house and requesting him to face an alleged pending case against him.
Yumnam who is also an Indigenous Peoples (IP) and human rights defender, environmentalist and journalist was already harassed and illegally arrested last 2013 October. In September 2009, working as a member of the Committee on Human Rights, he was again summoned by the police and then illegally detained for trumped up charges, interrogated and heavily tortured. The recent incidents of intimidation by police commandos have severely caused undue threat to safety, tension and anxiety to Mr. Yumnam and his whole family.
This also constitutes to the continued threats and attacks to rights defenders in Manipur. Currently, more than 1,528 cases of extrajudicial killings in Manipur by army and police is still under investigation according to the Committee on Human Rights, Imphal Manipur.
Mr. Yumnam, as an IPMSDL Regional Coordinating Committee member for Asia and Pacific, Secretary of Center for Research and Advocacy (CRA), Manipur, and a writer for Imphal Free Press, E-Pao.Net, has been very active in educating people on the struggles of different communities for the environment, ancestral lands, and human rights of IP through his writings and advocacy work both local and overseas.
“Thus, we call on everyone to stand against any forms of harassment and attacks on Mr. Yumnam and to all human rights and IP defenders around the world. We hold the Police commandoes, the military and state accountable for any untoward incident that may result to the harassment to Mr. Yumnam, his family, and organizations.” Longid adds.
Indigenous peoples and defenders under attack around the world
In Guatemala, an indigenous farm leader was forced into hiding after learning that he has a $100 bounty on his head and receiving death threats from suspected ex-military and gang members linked to companies of large infrastructure projects he has opposed. In Ecuador, indigenous leaders and environmentalists protesting against new mining law and oil explorations in Amazon fall victim to “judicial harassment” for the trumped-up charges, arrests and cases extending for years but have been found to have no sufficient evidences. While in the Philippines, several IP leaders active in fighting against corporate plunder of ancestral lands have been tagged and included in a “terrorist list” made by the military.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz sounded the alarm stating that: “pattern of abuse, with the private sector often colluding with governments to force Indigenous Peoples from their lands by whatever means necessary to make way for infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and extractive projects.”
IPMSDL firmly calls: “all rights advocate, IP networks and formations to demand an end in criminalizing dissent and defeat any attempt to silence our voices and destroy our united struggle for lands, rights and justice.”
Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org