Rallies held in Manipur, Mizoram against fencing of Indo-Myanmar border

IMPHAL, May 16 : A large number of people belonging to the Kuki Zo tribal community organized rallies in Manipur and Mizoram on Thursday to denounce the government’s decision to cancel Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar and fencing of the international border with the neighbouring country.
The Centre has announced erecting fencing on the Indo-Myanmar border and cancellation of the FMR to address the issue of illegal immigration from the other side of the boundary.
The Manipur and central governments blamed illegal immigration as one of the reasons of the ethnic strife in the northeastern state, which led to the death of over 200 people since May 3 last year.
Hundreds of Kuki Zo tribal people organised a rally in the headquarters town of Manipur’s Tengnoupal district, while thousands of protestors took part in several processions that covered several villages close to the Myanmar border, the organizers said.
Manipur and Mizoram share 390 km and 510 km of international border with Myanmar.
The Zo Unification Organisation (ZORO), Kuki Inpi and the Kuki Students Organisation organised a rally that began at St Peter’s Church and ended at the deputy commissioner’s office in Tengnoupal.
In Mizoram, the rallies organised by ZORO, were held in Champhai and Lunglei districts.
ZORO is a Mizo group which seeks the reunification of all Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi tribes of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar by bringing them under one administration.
“Thousands of people from Vaphai and surrounding villages held a procession in the morning, while around 7,000¬† protestors participated in the Zokhawthar rally,” ZORO general secretary L Ramdinliana Renthlei told PTI.
Hundreds of people from Khawmawi and neighbouring villages in Myanmar also took part in the Zokhawthar rally, while several could not enter India as the authorities concerned had to close the Friendship Gate to prevent any untoward incident, he claimed.
Addressing the rally at Zokhawthar, ZORO president  R. Sangkawia urged the Centre to assert the rights of indigenous peoples who are divided by international border as stated in Article 36 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), 2007.
Article 36(1) recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to maintain relationships across borders, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic, and social purposes, and Article 36(2) provides that States have an obligation to ensure implementation of the right.
“We will continue to oppose the bid to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and withdraw the FMR,” Sangkawia said.
The FMR allows people to cross up to 16 km on both sides of the international border.
Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma had earlier said that his government wanted the FMR to be retained claiming that the Mizo people living in India and Myanmar can’t accept the present international border because it was demarcated by the British without consulting the Mizo people.
More than 31,000 people from Myanmar, have taken refuge in Mizoram following the military coup in the neighbouring country in February 2021. A large section of them belong to the Chin, also known as the Zo, community. They share the same ancestry and culture as the Mizos of Mizoram. (PTI)