PUCL Bulletin, June 2001

Muivah's deportation to India will setback the peace process -- By Tapan Bose

Also see,

Civil groups in Kohima call for repeal of undemocratic laws in Naga areas

PUCL demands Th Muiva be treated with dignity

UNHCR rejects Th Muivah's application


Dear Friends,
Most of you are familiar with the situation in India's northeast and particularly that of the Naga Indigenous people, who since the 1940s have been struggling for independence from India. For the last fifty years the Naga people and the Indian government have been engaged in an armed conflict which has claimed several thousand lives. For the past three years a ceasefire has been in place and a political dialogue between the Indian government and the Nagas have been going on. The process has not been very successful till now in terms of finding a political solution to the Indo-Naga conflict. Its main achievement till date is that it has brought down the level of daily violence on the streets. Taking advantage of this lull in the violence, the civil society organisations of the Naga people have become active in the peace process. They have also been engaging in dialogues with the militant organisations on the future of the Naga people.

This process is facing a serious challenge. The leader of the Naga resistance movement Mr. T. Muivah was arrested in Bangkok in January 2000 for traveling on a false passport. As a stateless person he had no option but to travel on a false passport. He was on his way to The Hague to attend the eighth round of Indo- Naga official talks. He was sentenced to one year's prison term. He appealed against this sentence. Now it seems that he may be released soon. However this poses a new problem as under Thai law all 'illegal immigrants' after they finish their 'jail sentence' must be deported back to their country of origin. And, as the Royal Thai Government considers the home land of the Naga indigenous people as an integral part of Indian territory, they will forcibly deport him to India. Mr. Muivah's deportation to India will certainly strain the ongoing peace process. If the ceasefire collapses it will unleash another regime of violence in the north-eastern parts of India.

Mr. Muivah had appealed to the UNHCR for protection and resettlement as a refugee. His appeal was rejected by the UNHCR on the grounds that he is a 'war criminal' without assigning any details or reasons. His appeal to the UNHCR has remained unanswered till date.

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