AHRC alarmed over targeting human rights groups by politicians for anti-corruption work
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, July 25 2014 : The Hong Kong based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has taken serious note over targeting of two human rights organisations in Manipur by local politician for exposing corruption in administration.

In a statement, AHRC observed that Centre for Social Development (CSD) and Women Action for Development (WAD) are two human rights organisations with head offices in Imphal.

Both CSD and WAD support numerous grassroots initiatives that monitor government welfare schemes, undertake education of the marginalised and poor, and train human rights defenders to report corruption in civil administration.

Due to such activities particularly those that promote monitoring and reporting of corruption in administration corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the region have tried to interrupt work undertaken by the CSD and WAD.

AHRC pointed out that on the morning of 12 July 2014, around eight unknown persons gathered in front of the office of CSD and WAD and they proceeded to puncture the tyres of two vehicles parked in front of the office.

The vehicles belonged to the organisation and were parked by the public road, in front of the organisations' office, along with other vehicles that belong to staff members of the organisations.

Staff members at the organisations' office contacted the police stationed at Porompat Police Station, requesting immediate assistance.

The police came to the spot and asked the gathered mob to leave the area.

But the mob refused and soon more unidentified persons joined in.

Some persons in the mob began using abusive language against the two organisations and its staff members.

One person demanded that no vehicle should be parked in front of the organisation near the public road, if it belonged to the organisation, or to any of its staff members.

The gathered mob also claimed that they would call for an excavator and force the vehicles away if they remained parked there.

At that time, Elangbam Chand Singh, Member of the Manipur Legislative Assembly arrived at the spot.

When staff members of the two organisations requested the MLA to find an amicable solution to the problem and requested the MLA to ask the police to act against the mob, the MLA refused.

Instead, the MLA produced a sketch, which he claimed to be a road development plan, and informed the staff members of CSD and WAD that a proposal is with the Public Works Department (PWD), which holds that no vehicles should be parked in front of the organisations' office.

Then the MLA ordered the area, where the vehicles were parked, to be cleared.

The mob immediately started clearing the area by pushing and removing the vehicles parked.

Premila Devi, a WAD staff member tried taking a picture of the forceful removal of the vehicles.

Consequently, a woman from the mob physically assaulted Premila and started abusing other women staff members with foul language.

The MLA and the police did nothing to prevent this.

Both CSD and WAD believe that the MLA is behind the incident.

Though the inability to park vehicles in front of the two organisations' office, on government land, where parking is not prohibited by law, will not seriously affect the functioning of the two organisations, it is worrying to note that serious threat to the work of civil society organisations begins with small provocations.

The CSD and WAD are worried that the incident is a precursor to the persecution that will follow.

Manipur, and its capital city, is notorious for unidentified gunmen firing and killing persons.

Arson and destruction of property is also a common phenomenon in the state.

The CSD and WAD fear for the safety of their staff members, as well as organisation property.

The CSD and WAD have filed a complaint regarding the incident on 12 July 2014 to the Officer-in-Charge at the Porompat Police Station requesting action.

However, the police have failed to register a case concerning the incident, the AHRC statement added.

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