The Organic links between C3C and Manipur conflict
Why they helped : A cause & effect study

Bhavananda Mayengbam *

 The Organic links between C3C and Manipur conflict
Pix - TSE

Organic Links : A preface

In the summer of 2006, a high intensity armed conflict had begun on 12th of July following various attacks by Hezbollah’s military components on positions and villages in Israeli territory. In the attack, eight Israeli soldiers had been killed in the course of the operation and two of them taken captive.

The Israeli establish- ment retaliated by launching a ground, air and sea offensive on Lebanon. The conflict continued till the 14th August 2006, when a ceasefire had been agreed by the concerned Governments (UNHRC 2006).

Following the armed conflict, the Commission of Inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) considered that an International armed conflict had taken place, even though, the Lebanese armed forces had never taken part in the conflict (Vite 2009).

In UNHRC (2006) report, it considered that Hezbollah should be considered a militia belonging to a Party of Conflict under the meaning of Article 4A (2) of the Third Geneva Convention, 1949. To support this, UNHRC stressed that Hezbollah as a legally established political party which had representation in Parliament and in the Lebanese Government. Further, the commission assumed the 2006-armed conflict was an International Character by virtue of organic link between Hezbollah and the State of Lebanon at that tenure.

Organic Links: Manipur armed Conflict 2023

Keeping the above outline of UNHCR in the context of Manipur armed conflict 2023, India; similarities and organic links are traceable in this present crisis of Manipur and further the typology of conflict can be compared. The crisis in Manipur started on 3rd May 2023 after the Kuki mob attacked the people of the Meitei community in the Torbung area of Churachandpur district, Manipur, India, during the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organised by the All-Tribal Students Union (ATSUM).

Many believe the involvement of the Kuki EAOs (ethnic armed organisations) (Das 2023) and further, various indicators show the support of migrants from the Chin State of Myanmar in the attack and subsequent armed clashes with snowball effects.

The roles of Ethnic Resistance Organisations (EROs) of Myanmar remain prominent and ambiguous amongst the public in the present armed conflict between the two communities of Manipur. The EROs cadres become ordinary migrants on arrival at Manipur after crossing the international border with a meso-structure in place to receive and support them, as the military actions continues against them by the SAC (Junta).

Since 1st February 2021 Myanmar coup through 31st December 2022, there have been more than 10,000 attacks and armed clashes between SAC forces, anti-SAC forces, Ethnic Resistance Organisations (EROs) in Myanmar (UNHRC 2023).

As the armed clashes continued, it acts as push factor and triggers the influx process into Indian territory through Chin and Sagaing region of Myanmar and further facilitate them by a meso- structure of the receiving community in Manipur which is presently engaged in the armed conflict with the Meiteis.

UNHCR (2023) suggests that from February 2021 till 1st May 2023; the IDPs in India from the Chin State, which is adjoint to Manipur and Mizoram States of India, alone account for 53,500. Further, it estimated that over 40,150 are in Mizoram while 8250 are in Manipur.

It will be paradoxical to assume the EROs abandoned their lethal weapons; become forced migrants before crossing into porous border of Manipur, India from Myanmar. The audacious display of sophisticated arms on 15th August 2023, “the Independence Day of India”, by some Kuki civil society organisation at Churachandpur public ground in Manipur are the indicators and many believe in the organic links between the Chin EROs and the Kuki EAOs of Manipur.

Various videos available illustrate Kuki militants armed with highly sophisticated weapons such as US-made Barret M22 ASR (Advanced Sniper Rifle) guarding Kuki villages in Manipur, India. According to Indian Intelligence source, the Arakan Army (AA) in Myanmar possess the Barret M22 ASR and have been used effectively against the SAC and AA is a close ally of Chin National Army (CNA) and Chinland Defence Force (CDF).

The CNA is believed to have sent its trained cadres to help the Kukis in the armed clashes against the Meitei (Mazumdar 2023). At present, the AA is in truce with the SAC (Junta). The Barret M22 is an Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) used by the US Special Operation Command (Mazumdar 2023) and is manufactured by Barret Firearms Manufacturer, Inc., Murfreesboro, TN 37133, USA (ed. Ramage 2004).

All these indicators infer entrance of large numbers of highly sophisticated lethal weapons along with the Chin EROs cadres operating in Chin and Sagaing region of Myanmar into Indian territory. The transformation of Chin EROs cadres into ordinary migrants at arrival on Indian soil and involvement in the Manipur armed conflict 2023 with highly sophisticated weapons and failure to distinguish them from the actual migrants is what makes the conflict sustain and prolong.

A very important point to be noted is, the UN Special Rapporteur (2023) recommends all the UN member states to recognise National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate Government of Myanmar and to engage directly with the EROs and support the pro-democracy movement with resources; and refuse to provide financial or material support to the SAC (UNHRC 2023).

Similarly, under US policy, Myanmar has been listed as a ‘country of particular concern’ (CPC). The US Burma Act is an acknowledgement of the bravery of Myanmar’s people who stood against the SAC (Junta) for restoration of democracy.

Under this Act, aside from other help, 450 million USD will be provided as help to humanitarian needs, sustain the civil disobedience movement, protect the political prisoners, support activist, media, military defectors and civil society organisations in Myanmar (Korobi 2023). However, many are worried about possible ‘Pilferages’ that could be misused in Manipur armed conflict 2023.

Further, UN Special Rapporteur posits the NUG has increased military collaboration with EROs, setting up bodies to streamline communication and clarify command chains. A Central Command and Coordinating Committee (C3C) between NUG, KIA, KNPP, CNF and All Burma Students Democratic Front was formed in October 2021 (UNHRC 2023).

The CNA with headquarter at Camp Victoria in Chin State of Myanmar is the armed wing of the Chin National Front (CNF) and operates in Chin and Sagaing region of Myanmar which is adjoint to Manipur.

A leader of the CNF Sui Khar in an interview with DW News told that “India sees China’s influence in Myanmar as a threat. It is therefore trying to forge good relations with military junta which is misplaced. It will not work. Tatmadaw (Myanmar Military) is not only stakeholder of the country, and sooner New Delhi realises this, it will be good” (DW 2023).

This above statement was given by the CNF leader in response to India’s 51 million USD armed supplied to the SAC (Junta) from February 2021 to December 2022 and the CNF is affiliated with the NUG. This could be the geo-political “embryonic link” which consequently influenced the local agendas for brewing up the components of the May 2023 conflict in Manipur.

On the other hand, India told the UN rapporteur that the arms supplied to Myanmar (SAC) were part of commitments made to the civilian regime prior to 2021 coup and were exported in the light of domestic security concerns (Scroll 18 May 2023).

Aside from India, countries like Russia 406 million USD; China 267 million USD; Singapore 254 million USD and Thailand 28 million; also supplied arms to the SAC from February 2021 to December 2022 as per the UN Special Rapporteur (UNHRC 2023).

Further, in response to the 51 million USD arms supplied to the SAC by New Delhi, Moe Zaw Oo a Deputy Foreign Minister of the NUG told DW that “The people of Myanmar will remember that and it will have impact on the long-term relations of the two countries. India’s Government should seriously take into consideration of our people’s desire and will rather than short- sighted business interests” (DW 2023).

The ‘dual track’ strategies employed by New Delhi to save ‘the hearts and minds investments’ of Act East Policy (AEP) in Myanmar has not gone down well especially with the NUG and EROs after the 51 million USD armed supplied to the SAC.

India has invested nearly 1.75 billion USD in infrastructure projects in Myanmar with incomplete projects in hand. Further, a Line of Credit for 500 million USD is provided to Myanmar for undertaking various projects. (India Myanmar Bilateral Brief 2022).

While the AEP funded Sittwe port in Rakhine State of Myanmar has begun operations, the 68-mile stretch of highway passing through Chin State in Myanmar remains unfinished. Much of this stretch is in conflict and controlled by the EROs and completion of the project require negotiations with them (Hmung & Indergaad 2023)

The Kuki EAOs and the meso-structure see the above situation as opportunity and strength for pursuing their local agendas. Further, they have received “advantage” from the current geo-politics around the region and support from Chin EROs of Myanmar; which are to be supported directly by various member States as per the UN Special Rapporteur (UNHRC 2023).

New Delhi has options, leave it to Nay Phi Taw for security of the projects under the AEP and execute under their cover or negotiate with the concerned EAOs (Myanmar) and EAOs which will not be easy under the current situation. Alternatively, engage with China and Myanmar jointly and avoid the “free rider problem”.

Nay Phi Taw (SAC) has managed a truce with Arakan Army (AA) and three other related groups with the Chinese intervention and to protect international investments in their regions including Rakhine areas (Datta 2020) (Padmanabhan 2023) where Chinese projects like Kyaukphyu deep-sea port and Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (KPSEZ), Shwe gas field, and China-owned oil refinery in Maday Island are located. The SAC has also managed truce with Wa National Army (WNA) in Shan State.

Furthermore, China’s investments in Chin State are Mwetang Nickel Mines, Tiddim Township with 20% share with Myanmar Government and remaining with China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) (Dunn, Ji and Peng 2016) where the Chin EROs are active. Since 2021 coup, China has invested nearly 7.1 billion USD in Myanmar (Banerjee and Rajaura 2021).

On close study of the chain of events and geo-politics around the region citied above; and other archival records on India’s 51 million armed supplied to the SAC and subsequent response by the concerned stakeholders; the organic links between the present armed conflict in Manipur, India and the CNF which is one of the components of the C3C cannot be ignored.

Further to illustrate the typology of the Manipur armed conflict 2023, these links can be compared with the above outlined instance of conflict between Isarel and Lebanon and how UNHRC established the organic links between Hezbollah and Lebanon government, even though, the Lebanese armed forces have not involved in the 2006 attack.


In this armed conflict in Manipur, more than 100 people died and scores others have been injured; and more than 50,000 are internally displaced since 3rd May 2023 (Amnesty International 2023). Many Indian civilians injured and died from Advanced Sniper Rifles (ASR) gun shots from the Kuki militants which is believed to have organic links with the CNA (Mazumdar 2023) which is the armed wing of the CNF; and the CNF is a component of the C3C (UN Special Rapporteur 2023). Without this organic link, the armed conflict in Manipur could not have sustained for so long.

New Delhi in spite of casualties on its citizens has not responded like the Israel retaliated on 12th July 2006 by launching a ground, air and sea offensive on Lebanon. However, the presence of organic links between present armed conflict in Manipur and the C3C cannot be fully ruled out.

The ‘dual track’ strategies adopted by New Delhi in Myanmar, whether it will hold water or not only future will reveal.

* Bhavananda Mayengbam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an alumnus of Erasmus University, the Netherlands and a NFP scholar.
This article was webcasted on 03 September 2023.

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