TODAY -

The Kukis, Justice and the UN

L. Lunminlen Haokip *



If there could be one reason, among others, that stood out in the backdrop of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), it would be the attempt to avoid a repeat of the World War One. If one were tasked to single out how a repeat of WW1 could have been avoided, maintaining world peace would be the answer. Crystal clear it is.

About the same time the WW1 was fought in different fronts and magnitudes, the Kukis, too, were not spared from this man-made catastrophe either. The patience of peace-loving Kukis, who have been settling in different parts of North-East India and in modern-day Myanmar since time immemorial was put to litmus test thanks to the British aggression and the then Kuki chiefs’ never-say-die attitude when it comes to defending their ancestral land.

“The Anglo-Kuki War was one of the most serious incidents in the history of Manipur and its relation with the Hill subjects,” Robert Reid, the former Governor of Assam. The Anglo-Kuki War (1917-1919) can also be viewed as a showdown between modernised British warfare and the tribal combat the Kukis then resorted to. By the time this article goes for print, the Anglo-Kuki War has yet to receive the highly-deserved official recognition from the Government of Manipur.

The Treaty of Versailles (1919) failed big time.

For the second time in as many decades, the world once again decided to quench its warmongering thirst — this time, with the detonation of two atomic bombs, in a more sophisticated manner, though – by entering into another world war arena. This self-destructive mode the world engaged itself in came to be known as World War Two.

It is said that there are no winners in war. However, the WW2 came to an end with The Allies having an upper hand in sculpting the new world order. The United Nations was founded in 1945 with China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States as permanent members of its Security Council (UNSC).

These 5 countries are also called veto power countries. Needless to mention, to maintain international peace and security was one of the UN’s aims.

Just when the dust in the WW2 battlefields would have not even settled down, geopolitical tension between the US and the Soviet Union saw the two veto power countries lock horns for decades until the fall of the USSR in 1991. This period of the Cold War was also significant for the clash it saw in propagation of democratic and communist principles.

Today, even after more than 70 years of the founding of the UN, maintaining world peace still seems a far cry. What is more ironic is the involvement of one of the UNSC member countries in almost every conflicts the world witnesses today.

The US’s conquest of Afghanistan and the un-ending interests it shows in some Middle East countries, as if it had not learnt a lesson from the Vietnam war, do not seem to go hand in hand with the very basis on which the UN was founded.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea was highly uncalled for. China’s high-handedness on the people of Hong Kong and the ‘carrot and stick’ policy it exercises on the People of Tibet seem to defy the principle of international peace the UN advocates. Rather, a close monitoring of these manoeuvres seems to preach the religion of ‘the might is always right’.

While the world was about to succumb to the unprecedented onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kukis were taken aback as the news of the burning down of Chassad Kuki Village in Kamjong District, Manipur came out of the blue. This broad daylight act of cowardice and arson in burning down of more than 170 houses was carried out by neighbouring Tangkhuls-inhabited Sampui village on 16 March 2020.

Old habits do die hard. The NSCM (IM)-backed Tangkhuls certainly haven’t parted ways with the demonic pulsation that had led to their killing of over a thousand innocent Kukis in the 1990s. Again, at the time of printing this article, justice hasn’t knocked on the doors of the victims.

As the COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire, the latest challenge the UN has to face would be US president Donald Trump’s tirade with the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO is a specialized agency of the UN with emphasis primarily on international public health and the US alone has provided roughly 15% of the WHO’s total funding over its current 2-year budget period.

In May, Donald Trump had warned of terminating the US’ relationship with the WHO as he accuses the latter of being ‘China-centric’. That written, Mr. Trump will be faced with some legal hurdles in order to fully withdraw the US funding for the WHO.

At this pace and trend, Mr. Trump resorting to steps that can put the legacy of the UN at peril and jeopardising its future at the same time is never off the cards; more so, with the US presidential election coming up shortly and America on the brink of a potential civil war.

As much as the undercurrent in Mr. Trump’s feud with the WHO snowballing into long-lasting implications with the UN can be too early to rule out, it can as much be unwise to write-off the possibility of the UN undergoing an overhaul in a post COVID-19 world. Even in 2017, Mr. Trump did not hesitate to withdraw the US’s participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

As much as the Kukis have become weary of the step-motherly treatment meted out to them generation after generation, the Kukis would as much envisage to welcome a revamped UN structure that sees, in general, an end to the UN’s rhetoric of ostracising countries outside of the UNSC membership in maintaining international peace and harmony and harbinger a change that sees an abrupt end to the Kukis’ long wait for justice in particular.

The Kukis, particularly in Manipur, have long realised that their cry for justice will continue to fall on the deaf ears of the Govt. of Manipur.


* L. Lunminlen Haokip wrote this article for Imphal Times
The writer is a freelance writer from Churachandpur
This article was webcasted on June 24, 2020.



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