Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Peace Building in Manipur Examined

IMPHAL, Nov 17: Issues relating to peace building in Manipur, with particular emphasis on the role that the public and civil society must play, were thoroughly examined today in a one-day workshop held at the GM Hall, Imphal.

The workshop, `People`s Dialogue on Peace Building in Manipur from Religious and Civil society`s Prespective was organised by the People`s Initiative for Peace, Manipur.

Dr Lenin Raghuvamshi, joint winner of the Gwangju Human Rights Award 2007 along with Irom Sharmila, participated in the workshop, and in his address strongly emphasised the need to guarantee the full democratic and human rights of citizens for any peace process to be meaningful.

Dr Ksh Bimola, dean of social science, Manipur, gave the key note address, observing that the pain of conflict has been felt in Manipur for a long time, and the people of the state have a broad feeling that this should stop.

People don`t feel that violence arising out of conflict cannot bring any solution, and they feel that it is time to act and speak out for peace. The formation of the PIPM prompted by this need, she said, adding that the PIPM feels that not only the path of violence should be abandoned, but a real new start needs to be made for Manipur.

Various speakers, including Maulana Sayed Ahmed, Jameut-Ulma, Chand Thingmei, development secretary, Manipur Baptist Convention, Dr Hawlngm Haokip, president ALM, Prabhu Manamali, ISKCON, Pradeep Phanjoubam, editor, IFP, Laingam, secretary All Manipur College Teachers Association, and AK Kom, secretary, UCM, spoke on peace building in Manipur from different prespectives.

A draft declaration was adopted at the end of the meet, which took the stance that real and lasting peace can only be achieved by involving civil society directly in the peace process, and stressed the need to guarantee democratic and internationally agreed human rights of civilians, and give them the role they deserve in the peace process.

The declaration appealed to the political leaders in Manipur and the government of India to help stop violence and save the lives of the civil population, and strongly urged that military forces should work according to the legal framework of the country, and as well international treaties on humanitarian law.

It further urged all insurgent groups to prevent, and stop the violence in Manipur and look for alternative ways of responding to the demand and interests they want to represent.

It further appealed to all the people of Manipur to help prevent and avoid violence and speak out for peace and move forward for a process of building peace.

The declaration called for the repeal of the AFSPA, in conformity with the long-felt needs and demands of the people which is supported by the Justice Reddy review committee report.

It also took the stance that peace process should be started that includes all citizens of Manipur, and called for taking up a programs for demobilisation, disarmanent and rehabilitation. It also sought initiation of a support program for orphans, widows and women affected by violence, immediate and independent monitoring of the human rights situation in Manipur, and supported a free press, protected from corruption and violence.

It also stressed the importance of providing education for all, creation of employment opportunities, and guaranteed access to land, and called for a state-wide program to fight corruption.

It was stressed the need for inclusion of women in decision making bodies, and the development of a structure where all civil society can share roles and responsibilities for peace.

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