Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016: Ethnocide of Indigenous Peoples of North East


The aggressiveness of the Government of India to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 at the Lok Shaba beside a strong opposition from the people of North East need a careful monitoring and response at this critical point of time after analyzing various facts of the policy being adopted by the Government of other countries.

The controversial merged to the Indian Union in 1949 made the people of the region to response to the colonial structure and encouraged to fight to restore its sovereignty or to restore pre-merger status.

In order to suppress the movement of the people in the region the Government of India passed the draconian act called an Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) which the Amnesty International termed as “Undeclared Emergency with undefined reasons for unlimited period of time.” and the same law was implemented in the region by militarizing the region and have killed thousands of civilians, hundreds of women have been raped, many children have been made orphans, hundreds of women are made widows, torture, detentions, arrests, etc. There are many oppositions against this act and drew the attention of various international communities at various international platforms.

But now it seems the Government of India is shifting its trend of counter insurgency on a more humane way of approach by trying to grant citizenship to the immigrants or members of certain persecuted religious communities in neighboring Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, after six years of residence in India as against the earlier 11 years, even if they do not have any documents. The communities named, all of them minority groups in the above mentioned countries, include Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians.

Inexplicably, other minority groups such as Jews, Ahmadis and Shias, a sect of Islam, are not included, despite the vicious and violent attacks facing Ahmadis and Shias in Pakistan. In fact, trying to grant citizenship and to disguise of the humane approach by the Government of India will create more trouble and disturbances in the region which the GOI would be happy enough to do anything in terms of extraction of natural resources as mentioned in North East Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 taking the advantages of the disturbances which is likely to come up.

A trick to make overcome the population or over populate of the more than 200 ethnic communities or indigenous people inhabited in the region by destroying its culture, identity, traditions, demography, etc by passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 trying to use it cleverly which is actually not and which doesn’t need a special law such as Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 to encounter terrorism. Though the Government of India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention it pretends to respect the International norms on the other hand failed to respect the International Law by not revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 till date.

Same case is learned from the situation of West Papua which is under the colonial of Indonesia wherein large numbers of people have been migrated to West Papua under the Transmigration Program of the Indonesian Government. Over three quarters of a million people have resettled in West Papua under the government's Transmigration program. West Papuan peoples are also facing depopulation and marginalization. According to the National Census Bureau in 2010, West Papuan people in some areas like Jayapura, Merauke, Sorong, Nabire, Timika, have already become the minority.

The violent repression of the people of West Papua and the genocide against the native West Papuans being inflicted by the Indonesian ruling classes through the Indonesian government and military must stop! These measures uphold the plunder of West Papua’s natural resources in the context of the country’s colonization and occupation!

Records show that the Indonesian government and military have carried out massacres, murders, torture and rape against the West Papuan people. By sponsoring the transmigration of Indonesians into the territory, the Indonesian government is showing that it wants nothing less than the extinction of the native West Papuans. It has also institutionalized racism against the latter and the same is going to take place once the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 is passed by the Government of India.

In the 1965-1998 period, at least 100,000 West Papuans were killed or disappeared. The Indonesian-appointed governor of then-West Irian estimated that since 1963, more than 30,000 West Papuans had been killed by the Indonesian military. The years 1977-1978 marked a milestone in the carnage as more than 10,000 were killed in the Central Highlands during military operations according to an Asian Human Rights Commission report

One cannot deny the fact and must keep in mind of the rich natural resources of North East region as West Papua is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. It has 2.5 billion tons of gold ore seeds, 6.3 million tons of coal, limestone above area of 190,000 ha, quartz sand area of 75 ha with a potential yield of 21.5 million tons, clay of 1.2 million tons, 350 million tons of marble, granite of 125 million tons, etc.

West Papua is the third biggest natural forest in the world after the Amazon forest in Brazil and Congo Basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. It now has 30.7 million ha of natural forest. Since 1967 the Freeport Indonesia is conducting many mining activities till date which gives a serious negative impact to Papuans.

It is very interesting to observe that Transmigration is part of the Indonesian government's stated policy of assimilating indigenous people with the goal of forging a single national identity which is very similar in case of India wherein the Government of India is trying to develop a Hindu Nation.

One more similar instance as cited above is in Chittagong Hill Track (CHT), Bangladesh. Here the Indigenous Peoples land have been thickly occupied by the Bangali Muslims under a strict support from the Bangladesh Military. Transmigration program of Government of Bangladesh was implemented fully backed by the military without recognizing the cultures, identity, traditions and the rights of the Indigenous community of the Chittagong Hill Track by also undermining the United Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It could be noted that the indigenous armed group took initiative to form ‘Chakma Land’ by establishing Parbattya Janasamiti. In 1973, Shanti Bahini, the armed wing of Jana Shanghati Shamiti, activated their efforts to establish ‘Chamatri’ state (i.e Chakma, Marma, Tripura state) to fight for the rights the IPs of the area.

The Government of Bangladesh took up initiatives to counter the insurgency movements and as a result of the counter terrorism there was huge clash between the armed groups and the Bangladeshi army which resulted in large number of displacement of the Indigenous people inhabited in the CHT which gave an advantage to the Government of Bangladesh to dominate the IPs of CHT by the mainland people by adopting the trans migration program while the IPs were displaced.

The Indigenous people are now marginalized in their own land. Thousands of people have been killed, hundreds of women have been raped, tortured, etc. are some of the similar cases as mentioned above and being faced by the people of CHT as similarly here in the North East Region which is now part of India.

In all the aforementioned issues the Culture, identity, tradition, living style, in short the rights of the IPs have never been recognized instead been violated in many forms by the states.

Therefore, the CAB, 2016 is mostly aimed to marginalized the indigenous population having its different disguise and which will Ethnocide the North East peoples who are now part of India.

References :
Merdeka! A Study Conference on WEST PAPUA SELF DETERMNIATION & LIBERATION March 26-27 2017 Davao City, Phillippines

* YACPIP wrote this article for
YACPIP is 'Youths Action Committee for the Protection of Indigenous People' for Thoubal District
The writer can be contacted at youth(DOT)ac18(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 23 2019.

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