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UN official to tour Manipur

Imphal, April 25: Rights groups in Manipur are preparing to focus on women victims of armed conflict and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act when they meet Rashida Manjoo, United Nation’s special rapporteur on violence against women in Imphal next Sunday.

The UN official will visit Imphal for two days (Sunday and Monday). She is already in India to assess the overall situation of violence against women, its causes and consequences.

On the day of her arrival, she will meet human rights groups and civil organisations. She is expected to meet government officials before leaving Imphal the following day.

“Civil society, groups and advocates working on the issue of violence against women and girls in the Northeast are preparing for a consultation on the day of her arrival and also have a meeting with the rapporteur,” Laifungbam Debabrata Roy, convener of Manipur’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN, said.

This is the first time a UN official with a human rights mandate will be visiting Manipur to assess the situation.

After her visit to India, Manjoo will submit a report to the UN Human Rights Council in June and UN Commission on Situation of Women in October this year. A similar report would also be placed before the UN General Assembly.

The civil society coalition is consulting with its member organisations to submit a memorandum to the rappoteur highlighting the plight of the women in the ongoing conflict situation and also under the army act.

“We are in the process of drafting the memorandum. We will present a clear picture of the armed conflict and women victims of the conflict. We will focus more on the condition of women in the armed conflict,” a leader of the coalition said.

The number of widows is increasing in Manipur with the police and security forces killing many people in fake encounters, rights activists said.

“Crimes against women in Manipur are rising. As none of the culprits are punished, they are emboldened to commit more crimes like rape and murder. We want the UN official to make strong recommendations to ensure that governments in India give exemplary punishments like capital punishment or life imprisonment to culprits,” Renu Takhellambam, president of Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur, said.

Conflict Widow Forum, Manipur, urged the official to make strong recommendations for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act as women were suffering more under the act.

“We will submit a memorandum to the UN official seeking repeal of the armed forces act,” Mutum Umarani, a conflict widow and senior leader of the forum, said.

The forum said women and children were suffering as their husbands or sons were killed by security forces in the name of counter-insurgency operations and under the protection of the act.