GUWAHATI, Dec 1 - The third North East India indigenous women�s peace congregation was held recently online with the theme, �Working towards our collective peace, justice and our rights�, where women from the North East and the world gathered to share experiences and to adopt resolutions for their future.
The peace congregation was organised recently by the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace and the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Gender Justice and Peace.
The congregation saw over 51 indigenous scholars and women�s rights activists from eight states of the North East and from around the world, including from the Americas, Peru, Japan, Philippines and Bangladesh.
Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of then Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, spoke on how she and others started the first Women�s Peace Congregation in March 2015 in Imphal, followed by the second congregation in August 2016 in Guwahati, with the aim to ensure that women of the North East are made equal stakeholders in peace and conflict resolution processes to bring lasting peace in the region.
�North East India has been torn by seven decades of armed conflict where over 50,000 people have been killed,� she said, reiterating that peace can come when women are made a part of the efforts.
Delivering the keynote speech, Prof Elsa Stamatopoulou of Columbia University said, �Indigenous women have bravely taken up the roles of mediators and peace builders, and have sought to address these issues at the local, national and international levels.�
Niketu Iralu, a Naga intellectual, spoke about how the North East has become �a region of many wounds�. �We have hurt one another and the region has become a land of many killing fields, and there is a feeling of accumulated hurt that needs to heal,� he said, joining the call by the organisers for setting up of a North East India Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate into all forms of deaths, disappearances and acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the North East in the past seven decades.
Jarjum Ete, former chairperson of the Arunachal Pradesh Women�s Commission, spoke on rising violence against women in her home state, as well as her efforts for women empowerment. She also spoke on the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women which she attended along with a few other women from the North East.