Mizoram activist's UN speech on Manipur conflict sparks debate

Aizawl: A social entrepreneur and activist, Alienery Lianhlawng, has ignited a fervent debate on social media after delivering a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council addressing the Manipur ethnic conflict. Her remarks prompted an official statement from L. Ramdinliana Renthlei, General Secretary of ZORO General Headquarters in Aizawl, disassociating her from representing the Mizo people.

Renthlei expressed disappointment with Lianhlawng’s speech and questioned her status as a representative of the Mizo community, citing her marriage to a non-tribal “English” man. Renthlei argued that she should adapt to her husband’s culture and that her identity as a Mizo/Zohnam no longer holds. He emphasized that her words solely represent her individual thoughts and not the collective sentiment of the Zo people.

Lianhlawng, in her address at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, identified herself as an indigenous woman from Northeast India. She challenged the narratives circulated by international media regarding the Manipur conflict and highlighted the rich ethnic diversity in India’s northeastern region. She stated, “Being an indigenous woman from the North East of India, I have the privilege to shed light on the Manipur conflict and the Government of India’s firm resolve to bring back peace and normalcy in the region.”

Lianhlawng further elaborated on the complexity of the Manipur conflict, emphasizing that it should be viewed through the lens of intricate ethnic relationships. Land rights, control, and ownership disputes are among the primary factors contributing to the conflict, rather than religious differences. She clarified, “Therefore, as the narratives peddled by international media have been that the Manipur conflict is of religious nature, it holds no ground.”

Her speech sparked a debate in social media some groups criticising her and some speaking in support of her speech. The Karnataka Meitei Association praised Lianhlawng as a Mizo Christian social activist and commended her insightful address on the Manipur conflict during the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

The association criticized certain Kuki community members for consistently portraying themselves as religious victims and influencing global Christian NGOs. It contended that Manipur’s turmoil arises from issues such as land disputes, demographic imbalances due to immigration from neighboring regions, cross-state mobility, and the prevalence of narco-terrorism activities, including extensive deforestation and poppy cultivation.

Alinery Lianhlawng is the founder of Rochun: Pay It Forward – a social venture aiming to provide access to educational resources and increase the leadership skills of young people in India and Myanmar. Rochun provides both online and physical libraries and aims to set up a library in every school in the Indian state of Mizoram. 

Also Read: Mizoram: CYMA denounces PM Modi’s Sunday cleanliness drive as disrespectful towards Christians

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