In the picturesque northeastern state of Manipur, India, a region known for its rich culture and diverse communities, a dark cloud of violence has cast a long shadow over the lives of countless Christians.
The recent wave of violence has left behind a trail of destruction, claiming the lives of 137 Christians, displacing 41,425 people, and devastating 200 Christian villages, with more than 7,000 houses and 360 churches reduced to ashes.
Today, we stand at a crossroads, faced with an urgent moral imperative—to extend our hand in solidarity and support to our Christian brethren in Manipur.
The violence that has engulfed Manipur has spared no one, but the Christian community has borne the brunt of its fury. Families have been torn apart, livelihoods obliterated, and communities left in despair.
As we attempt to comprehend the scale of this tragedy, it becomes abundantly clear that now, more than ever, our fellow Christians in Manipur need our help and support to rebuild their lives, homes, and places of worship.
A Plea for Compassion and Generosity
Today, we humbly come before you, our dear readers and supporters, with a plea for compassion and generosity. We invite you to join hands with us in this noble mission to provide relief and assistance to the victims of the Manipur violence. We request you to donate to Manipur today.
Together, we can make a difference, heal wounded hearts, and rebuild shattered lives.
Your Donations Matter
Your contributions can play a pivotal role in alleviating the suffering of those affected. Here’s how your donations can make an impact:
- Emergency Relief: The displaced families are in dire need of immediate assistance. Your donations can provide them with essentials such as food, clean water, clothing, and medical supplies, offering them a lifeline in their time of need.
- Shelter and Reconstruction: Thousands of houses and churches lie in ruins. Your support can help in rebuilding these homes and places of worship, restoring a sense of normalcy and hope to the affected communities.
- Medical Care: The trauma and injuries sustained during the violence require medical attention. Your donations can help provide medical care and support to the injured, aiding in their recovery.
Support Christian Victims of Manipur Violence
We encourage you to consider making a donation to support the Christian victims of the Manipur violence. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, can make a significant difference in their lives. Here’s how you can contribute:
- Visit Milaap and follow the simple steps to make a secure online donation to the Rural Women Upliftment Society (RWUS), Manipur.
- Contact our dedicated team at RWUS.org for more information on how to contribute or to inquire about other ways you can support.
The Power of Unity and Compassion
In times of adversity, unity and compassion shine as beacons of hope. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and this is an opportunity to put those words into action. Together, we can extend a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in Manipur, demonstrating the strength of our faith and the depth of our love for one another.
The Manipur violence has left an indelible mark on the lives of countless Christians who have suffered immeasurable losses. As a global Christian community, it is our collective responsibility to stand in solidarity with our brethren in Manipur and offer our support. Through your donations and prayers, we can help heal hearts, rebuild lives, and restore hope to those who need it the most.
Let us remember the words of Jesus, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40, NIV). Together, let’s make a meaningful difference in the lives of the Christian victims of Manipur violence. Your generosity can be a beacon of hope in their darkest hour.
What is RWUS?
The Rural Women Upliftment Society (RWUS) has been on the frontlines of the humanitarian response from the very beginning. Committed to the principles of justice, development, and gender equality, RWUS is a Not for Profit organization founded by the Development Department of the Independent Church of India (ICI) in 1990. Operating autonomously, RWUS focuses on addressing the unique cultural, social, and religious practices of the people while championing gender justice, Local Capacity for Peace (LCP), and environmental sustainability.
Relief Initiatives by RWUS
RWUS’s relief efforts have been comprehensive and impactful, targeting the most vulnerable members of the affected communities. Here are some of the ways RWUS has made a difference:
- Distribution of Essential Supplies: RWUS has been distributing dry ration kits, medicines, mosquito nets, and clothing to those in need. These essential supplies provide a lifeline to displaced families struggling to meet their basic needs.
- Support for Vulnerable Groups: The organization has prioritized support for pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children who are at higher risk during crises. This focus ensures that those who need specialized care receive the attention they require.
- Collaboration and Partnerships: RWUS’s work is informed by its partnerships with organizations like Action Aid and Sphere India. Through these collaborations, the organization has received training in Local Capacity for Peace (LCP), enhancing its ability to respond effectively to conflict-related crises.
A Plea for Support
While RWUS’s efforts have been commendable, the scale of the crisis demands more extensive support. The camps housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) are grappling with dire conditions, including water shortages, unhygienic living environments, and health concerns. Urgent requirements include food, medicine, hygiene kits, clean drinking water, undergarments, mosquito nets, mattresses, utensils, and clothing.
Your Support Matters
We appeal to your generosity and empathy to support RWUS in their critical mission. No contribution is too small, and every donation will make a significant difference in alleviating the suffering of those affected by this tragedy. Your support will bring solace and help rebuild the shattered lives of the displaced families in Manipur.
Join Us in Making a Difference
As we witness the resilience of the people of Manipur in the face of adversity, let us stand in solidarity with them. Your donation will be a symbol of hope and compassion in their time of need. Together, we can provide much-needed relief, restore hope, and contribute to the healing of Manipur.
Please consider making a donation today to support RWUS’s vital relief efforts. Your contribution will help ease the suffering of those who need it most. Thank you for your compassion and for standing with the people of Manipur during these challenging times.
Beheading of Mr. David Thiek
A 31-year-old David Thiek was beheaded by a riotous Meitei mob at his Langza village in the Kuki-majority Churachandpur district when he was guarding his house amid an arson attack. Read all about his story in this PDF file.
About The 2023 Manipur Violence
In May 2023, the northeastern state of Manipur, India, witnessed a resurgence of ethnic violence, pitting the Meitei people residing predominantly in the Imphal Valley against the Kuki tribal community dwelling in the surrounding hills. This eruption of conflict, which persisted for nearly four months, has left a devastating impact on the region. By the end of July, the violence had claimed the lives of 181 individuals, with over 300 others wounded and approximately 54,488 people displaced. The situation had escalated to the extent that all Kuki (100% of all Kukis are Christians) inhabitants of the Imphal Valley, including government officials, had been uprooted and relocated to Kuki-dominated hill districts.
The Origins of Discord
The genesis of this violent turmoil can be traced back to multiple factors and simmering tensions that existed in Manipur prior to the outbreak of hostilities. One pivotal issue was the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the valley-based Meitei community. This demand, initiated by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) in 2012, aimed to restore harmony between the valley and hill communities, which had been disrupted during Manipur’s merger with India in 1949. However, the hill tribes, particularly the Kukis, viewed this demand with suspicion, fearing that it would enable the Meitei to encroach on their lands in the hilly areas.
The political landscape of Manipur also played a significant role in the unrest. The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, led by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, had emboldened right-wing elements, fostering Hindutva politics and intensifying cultural polarization. This shift in power dynamics led to increased vigilantism, cultural policing, and anti-minority rhetoric, exacerbating existing tensions.
Antecedents and Catalysts
Several incidents preceding the outbreak of violence contributed to the fragile state of affairs. In November 2022, the Manipur government passed an order that disregarded earlier rulings from the 1970s and 1980s, which had excluded certain villages from the proposed Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest. This decision automatically categorized 38 ancestral villages of the Kukis in Churachandpur as encroaching on the forest land, triggering alarm among the affected communities.
In 2023, the Manipur government initiated efforts to expel illegal immigrants from Myanmar residing in state-owned forest reserves. Tribal groups accused the Meitei population of exploiting the pretext of illegal immigration to drive the tribal population from their lands. Eviction drives in districts like Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, and Tengnoupal further intensified tensions, seen by the hill tribes as anti-tribal measures.
The Manipur Cabinet’s decision to withdraw from the Suspension of Operation agreements with three Kuki militant groups in March 2023, despite the central government’s disapproval, added fuel to the fire. Demonstrations in New Delhi calling for a National Register of Citizens (NRC) based on the 1951 census further polarized communities, leading to the first outbreaks of violence.
The Violence Unfolds
The spark that ignited the violence was the “Tribal Solidarity March” organized by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) on May 3, 2023. This march, opposing the Meitei demand for ST status, drew over 60,000 participants and culminated in clashes when returning participants faced a “counter-blockade” by Meitei groups in the Churachandpur town. These confrontations resulted in stone-throwing and property arson, with Kangvai village being completely destroyed.
In the ensuing violence on May 3, the homes and churches of the predominantly Kuki tribal population were targeted in non-tribal areas, particularly in Imphal. Hundreds of occupants were displaced, with some seeking refuge in Lamphelpat and Bishnupur. Simultaneously, around 1,000 Meiteis affected by the violence fled their homes, taking shelter in Bishnupur. Incidents of violence were reported in various districts, including Churachandpur, Kakching, Canchipur, Soibam Leikai, Tengnoupal, Langol, Kangpokpi, and Moreh, primarily concentrated in the Imphal Valley. Numerous houses, places of worship, and properties were damaged or destroyed.
The government’s response to the escalating violence was swift and intense. Curfews were imposed in eight districts, comprising both non-tribal-dominated areas and tribal-dominated regions. The government issued a shoot-at-sight order, and military forces, including the Assam Rifles and Indian Army, were deployed to restore order. By May 6, over 23,000 people had been relocated to safer locations, with a significant military presence in Manipur.
The Conflict Escalates
As weeks passed, fresh outbreaks of violence continued to plague Manipur. Kuki MLA Vungzagin Valte was attacked, and his condition was reported as critical. Multiple cases of house burnings and vehicle destruction were reported. The government continued to grapple with the situation, imposing curfews and deploying additional security forces.
On June 14, a particularly gruesome incident occurred, with 11 individuals, mostly Meitei men, shot and numerous others injured. The violence had become so extreme that identifying bodies became a daunting task for authorities. A 21-year-old Kuki youth was arrested for posting against CM Biren Singh on social media, only to be beaten to death while in police custody.
Recurring incidents of violence persisted, with more property damage and casualties reported. The situation seemed to spiral out of control, leading to widespread concerns about the safety and security of the affected communities.
The Shocking Assault on Kuki Women
One of the most shocking and distressing incidents during this period was the sexual assault and humiliation of two Kuki women. A video depicting the women being stripped, paraded naked on the streets, slapped, and sexually assaulted by presumed Meitei men went viral on July 19, 2023. The victims’ father and teenage brother were killed while trying to protect them, and the younger victim was allegedly gang-raped. The police’s lack of action for more than two months following the incident, despite a filed complaint, sparked outrage among the Kuki community, who accused the police of bias.
The Supreme Court intervened in response to the viral video, warning of its intervention if the government failed to act promptly. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) eventually took over the case, though issues surrounding the victims’ statements arose.
Supreme Court Proceedings
The Supreme Court’s involvement escalated as it demanded a complete breakdown of approximately 6,000 FIRs related to the violence in Manipur. The court expressed shock at the delay in registering even a zero FIR in the case of the two assaulted women, highlighting the “absolute breakdown of the constitutional machinery” in the state.
On August 7, 2023, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance and formed a committee to oversee relief and rehabilitation efforts, as well as an independent probe into the violence. The situation had become a matter of national concern.
Reactions and Fallout
The violent clashes in Manipur evoked a wide range of reactions from political leaders, religious figures, and civil society. Protests erupted in various parts of India and even in foreign countries, condemning the violence and demanding justice for the victims. Prominent human rights organizations called for immediate action and accountability for the perpetrators.
The central government faced criticism for its handling of the situation. Opposition parties accused the government of turning a blind eye to the crisis and called for the resignation of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. Meanwhile, regional leaders in Manipur, including the Chief Minister, called for unity and reconciliation among the various communities.
The 2023 ethnic violence in Manipur has exposed the deep-rooted fault lines in the state’s society and governance. The complex web of issues, including the demand for ST status, land disputes, political polarization, and cultural tensions, has created a volatile environment where violence can easily erupt.
The shocking incident of sexual assault and humiliation of Kuki women, along with the loss of lives, displacement of thousands, and destruction of property, underscores the urgency of addressing these issues and seeking lasting solutions. The Supreme Court’s intervention and the subsequent establishment of a committee to oversee the situation offer hope for justice and reconciliation.
However, the path to healing and restoring peace in Manipur is likely to be long and challenging. It will require the cooperation of all stakeholders, including the government, civil society, and the affected communities, to address the underlying causes of the conflict and work towards a more harmonious future for the state.