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“BLACK SEPTEMBER” DECLARED IN MANIPUR TO CONDEMN ETHNIC VIOLENCE

Region of Concern: India

Written By Tejas Vaidya; Edited by Elena Alice Rossetti

Date: September 3, 2023


Map of Manipur, India[1]


Event: On September 2, Meitei FAMBEI, an assembly representing the Meitei population in Manipur, India, declared “Black September” observance from September 3-21 in response to the ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities. According to Ningthouja Lancha, Meitei FAMBEI’s spokesperson, the observance serves as a mark of condemnation against Prime Minister Modi and the central and paramilitary forces for practicing “oppressive tactics” and governmental negligence[2] while addressing ethnic conflict. As part of the observance, Meitei FAMBEI plans to hoist black flags, and hold meetings for social unification in Manipur.[3] The armed conflict between them, which started on May 3, has killed over 160 individuals[4] in over 212 violent incidents[5] and has displaced more than 60,000 residents.[6] Both groups are armed with automatic weapons, rifles, pistols, extra rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, and mortars.[7]


Significance: The Kukis will very likely perceive the Meitei FAMBEI's communal gatherings as a recruitment tool which will likely escalate the conflict. The Kuki armed groups will likely increase recruitment and weapons procurement in response. “Black September” will almost certainly deepen ethnic divisions, mistrust, and instability in the region. Hate speech and the spread of propaganda will very likely occur during the gatherings. The Kuki armed group will likely attack Meitei FAMBEI's communal gatherings and leadership. The Indian army and local security forces will almost certainly monitor Meitei FAMBEI's activities during the observance. It is very unlikely for both groups to engage in a peaceful dialogue and negotiations. The influx of refugees from neighboring Myanmar will almost certainly strain local resources like food, water, shelter, and medical facilities and divert security forces and humanitarian organizations’ focus from resolving this ethnic conflict to addressing refugees’ needs.


Recommendations: CTG recommends the Indian army and local security forces monitor the FAMBEI’s demonstrations during the “Black September” observance and implement conflict prevention and mitigation measures in communal gathering locations. Security forces should also counter any hate speech and disinformation campaigns. Central and local security forces should coordinate themselves to prevent social unrest and protests from becoming violent. Security forces should exercise extreme situational awareness and caution, and increase security personnel. Anyone with information surrounding the Kuki armed group’s activities should immediately report to law enforcement authorities. The Indian government should broker a ceasefire agreement between the Meiteis and the Kukis and negotiate with the armed ethnic groups’ withdrawal to ensure civilians’ safety. The Indian government should engage with the community leaders to address the current and historical causes of the conflict. Indian army and local security forces should prioritize armed disarmament and demobilization and collect and secure weapons from both sides.

 

[1]Map of Manipur” by Tejas Vaidya via Google Maps

[2] Manipur violence: Meitei FAMBEI declares 'Black September' against crisis till September 21, India Today, September 2023 https://www.indiatodayne.in/manipur/story/manipur-violence-meitei-fambei-declares-black-september-against-crisis-till-september-21-671822-2023-09-02

[3]Manipur violence: Meitei FAMBEI declares 'Black September' against crisis till September 21, India Today, September 2023 https://www.indiatodayne.in/manipur/story/manipur-violence-meitei-fambei-declares-black-september-against-crisis-till-september-21-671822-2023-09-02

[4]Manipur: Violent clashes between tribal and non-tribal continue for 5th day, 1 killed, 4 injured, Northeast Now, September 2023 https://nenow.in/north-east-news/manipur/manipur-violent-clashes-between-tribal-and-non-tribal-continue-for-5th-day-1-killed-4-injured.html

[5] Manipur's worst days behind, peace on the horizon, says Assam Rifles DG, India Today, September 2023 https://www.indiatodayne.in/manipur/story/manipurs-worst-days-behind-peace-on-the-horizon-says-assam-rifles-dg-671766-2023-09-02

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