Indian police on April 24 arrested Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh after a month-long manhunt. Singh gained notoriety for supporting the Khalistan movement, which calls for the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland in the northwest state of Punjab. He was taken into custody in the gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the village of Moga, Punjab. He is charged with attempted murder, obstructing law enforcement, and disturbing the peace under terms of the harsh National Security Act. The charges concern a Feb. 23 incident in which hundreds of followers of Singh's organization Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) stormed a police station in Amritsar with sticks, swords and firearms, demanding the release of a detained member of their group. During the manhunt for Singh, authorities cut off internet access to all Punjab, a state of nearly 30 million. (Jurist, Mint)
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum in India's northeast state of Manipur announced June 26 that it has rejected "any offer of dialogue" with the state's Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. In a statement, the ITLF said the chief minister's stated intention of reaching out to stakeholders following a meeting with India's Home Minister Amit Shah "comes too late after the loss of so many innocent lives and properties and the untold hardships faced by the Kuki-Zo tribals; there is no point in talking about peace without a political solution." Singh, of India's ruling Hindu-nationalist BJP, is accused of inaction or outright collaboration in attacks during weeks of violence between the Hindu Meitei community and the mostly Christian and animist Kuki and Naga indigenous peoples. (The Wire)
In Episode 179 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg compares the military and settler attacks on Palestinian towns in the West Bank with the eruption of ethnic violence in Northeast India's state of Manipur—and uncovers the unlikely connection between the two. The Kuki indigenous people now targeted in Manipur includes a sub-group called the Bnei Menashe, who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and practice an ancient form of Judaism. Israeli NGOs are raising the alarm about the violence in Manipur, but also exploiting it, luring Bnei Menashe to emigrate to Israel—with some of them settled on the West Bank, serving as demographic cannon fodder for the Zionist project. The Kuki and Palestinians, both land-rooted peoples usurped of their traditional territory, are pitted against each other—despite the convergence of their enemies in a Hindutva-Zionist alliance.
In Episode 178 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the new eruption of ethnic violence in Northeast India's state of Manipur, which was the scene of far deadlier inter-communal clashes last month. The spark was the current bid by the Meitei people to become a "scheduled tribe," granting them access to resource-rich forestlands. This is opposed by the Kuki and Naga peoples, whose tribes are already "scheduled"—but are nonetheless being targeted for eviction from Manipur's forestlands under the guise of a crackdown on opium cultivation. The Kuki and Naga leadership perceive a land-grab for their ancestral forest territory by the Meitei—the dominant group in Manipur, who already control the best agricultural land in the state's central Imphal Valley. The Kuki (including their Jewish sub-group, the Bnei Menashe) and Naga have long waged insurgencies seeking territorial autonomy, or even independence from India. And both their traditional territories extend across the border into Burma (where the Kuki are known as the Chin), pointing to potential convergence of the armed conflicts either side of the international line.
The government of India on Dec. 27 announced that it had signed a peace agreement with the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), an insurgent group in the northeastern state of Manipur. Senior officials of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Manipur government and representatives of ZUF signed the "Cessation of Operation" agreement in the presence of the Chief Minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh.
The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed Nov. 20 with what was hailed as a breakthrough agreement to establish a "loss and damage" fund for vulnerable countries on the frontlines of climate disasters. Yet no action was taken to stop oil and gas expansion from fueling further disasters. India had pushed a proposal to extend to all fossil fuels the agreement to "phase down" coal reached last year at COP26 in Glasgow. A broad coalition of more than 80 countries took up the call, but host country Egypt, holding the presidency of the conference, was able to block the measure, acceding to powerful opponents prominently including Saudi Arabia and Russia. (ENS, NYT, Jurist, Climate Home News)
The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) opened Nov. 6 in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh—in an atmosphere of censorship and repression. In the weeks prior to the summit, Egyptian authorities arrested hundreds of people for allegedly planning protests, with at least 151 currently detained by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP), according to Amnesty International. The Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) reported that in the final days of October, the SSSP ordered at least 65 people detained for 15 days on charges including publishing "fake news" and misusing social media platforms. (Jurist)
Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with other rights defenders from the region earlier this month, reports that it has documented 18,000 war crimes committed on Ukrainian territory since the conflict began there in 2014—with the number skyrocketing since the Russian invasion of this year. Instances of torture and rape by Russian occupation forces are particularly emphasized. The Center is stepping up its investigative work in response to a fast-growing caseload. Ukraine's law enforcement system is already overloaded with war crimes cases, and the International Criminal Court is focusing on only a few cases. The Center's leader Oleksandra Matviychuk is calling for creation of a special tribunal to try Vladimir Putin and Russian war criminals. (Jurist)