Press Communique

Mitigating Manipur's Conflict, 59 Years of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 on April 24, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mitigating Manipur's Conflict, 59 Years of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 & Its Impact on the Lives of Women and Children in Manipur

Manipur, 23 April 2016 – The twentieth century has witnessed 250 conflicts and over 100 million casualties. Civilians remain the main targets of contemporary conflicts and account for over 90 per cent of casualties. Over 23 million people have died in more than 160 wars and, after 1945, overwhelmingly in the Third World. These wars have resulted in millions of people being displaced from their homes, and the numbers are rising each year. Women and children are victims of war and conflict in a variety of other ways as well. The loss of family members, which includes husbands, brothers and children, has long-term psychological effects of women. The suffering endured by women as caretakers and those who pick up the pieces after conflict and devastation results in emotional and mental stress.

North-east region has been witness to an ongoing low-intensity conflict for a long period of time. While the entire region continues to suffer, women living in such conditions are most vulnerable due to the restrictions on their mobility, the limited access to health services and most importantly, the lack of opportunities for education, employment and even leisure. Women have been, in internal war, the targets of sustained and frequently brutal violence committed by both parties of armed conflict. Both the sides often use violence to punish or dominate women believed to be sympathetic to the opposite side.

Women have been threatened, raped and murdered during the conflict. (Human Rights Watch 1998).Armed conflicts greatly affect the lives of women and can completely change their role in the family, the community and the ‘public’ domain. Armed conflicts have created large numbers of female-headed households where the men have been conscripted, detained, displaced, have disappeared or are dead. Women invariably have to bear greater responsibility for their children and their elderly relatives, and often the wider community when the men in the family have gone.

AFSPA was introduced in 1958 in Nagaland to fight the Naga secessionist movement and was later applied in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, and some other parts of the Northeast. The AFSPA gives wide discretionary powers even to junior army officers to use force as a method of warning, to search any shelter that could be a hideout and to conduct searches without warrants. Despite appeals to the courts, this particular Act continues to be operational. In 1972 the AFPSA was extended to all states and Union Territories. All the laws mentioned have been in force in various parts of the North East at all times since independence and they allow the state to suspend civilian rule for an indefinite period without review.

Due to protection under Section 6 of the Act, some security force personnel even violated the human rights of people and left the victims without any effective remedy. The failure to identify those responsible for human rights violations and to bring them to justice has meant that some members of the security force continue to believe that they are above law and can violate human rights with impunity.

To discuss this situation Control Arms Foundation of India along with Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace is convening a conference under the title “Mitigating Manipur's Conflict, 59 Years of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 & Its Impact on the Lives of Women and Children in Manipur” on 24th April 2016 at Siroy Conference Hall, Imphal Hotel, Manipur. Women leaders and civil society from all across Manipur including families who survived AFSPA will be present. The event will bring academicians, experts, to discuss this important issue and to seek solutions.

The event will also bestow “Brave Girl of Manipur” tittle to 6 year old Ms Lansinlu Gonmei, daughter of (L) Tiken from Tamenglong district, Manipur who died in 6 year old case on 28 February 2016. Manipur has lost 20,000 people due to the conflict and over 20,000 women have been registered as widows.

We look forward to your support in covering the event and giving to this critical topic the media attention it deserves.

When: 24 April 2016 (9.30 am to 4 pm)
Where: Venue: Siroy Conference Hall, Imphal Hotel, Manipur

For any questions for clarifications, kindly contact

Office of Control Arms Foundation of India/ Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace
B B5 / 146, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi-110029, India
Phone: +91-11-46018541 Fax: +91-11-26166234

Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network
Old Palace Road, Imphal West, Manipur

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