Burma

Assam, Meitei Rebels Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

By Chit Min Tun 17 May 2019

YANGON—The Hkamti District Court in Sagaing Region on Wednesday sentenced 24 Assam and Meitei rebels to two years in prison. The fighters are based in Myanmar and staging a rebellion against the Indian government.

Responding to a tip from Military Intelligence, the Northwestern Command of the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) raided the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) in the Naga Self-Administered Zone of Sagaing Division on Jan. 29, and later arrested Assam and Meitei rebels from there.

The Tatmadaw filed a complaint against the rebels under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act. At their sixth hearing, the Hkamti District Court sentenced the 24 rebels to two years in prison.

“We prosecuted them under Article 17(1) because they are rebels,” Colonel Than Naing of the Northwestern Command told The Irrawaddy, adding that the Tatmadaw has not yet decided whether to charge them for illegally crossing the border.

U Aung Htut, chairman of the Naga Literature and Culture Committee, confirmed the guilty verdict but had no further details. Hkamti Police Station declined to answer The Irrawaddy’s request for information.

According to the Tatmadaw, the jailed rebels belong to the Manipur People’s Army (MPA), the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA), the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak.

The Tatmadaw has also arrested five senior leaders of the NSCN-K and charged them under the same law for harboring the Assam and Meitei rebels.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland was founded in 1980 with the aim of establishing a sovereign Naga State. It split into two factions in 1988: the NSCN-K led by S. S. Khaplang, which is based in Myanmar, and the NSCN-IM led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muviah, which is based in India. S. S. Khaplang died in 2017.

The Kuki Youth Network (KYN) held a press conference in Yangon in August last year to discuss what the network said were attempts to distort the history of the Kuki people. At that event, KYN chairman Se Gin said there are at least six Meitei rebel groups based in Myanmar: the PREPAK, PLA, UNLF, UPPK, KYKL and Kanleipak Communist Party (KCP). He said the groups are spread across Leshi, Homalin and the border town of Tamu in Sagaing Region, as well as Mandalay Region.

Speaking in the Upper House in July 2017, lawmaker U Maung Maung Latt from Sagaing Division urged the Union government to crack down on Meitei insurgents, complaining that they were threatening the security of Tamu Township, which shares a 78-mile-long border with the Indian state of Manipur.

He also said there were frequent killings and extortion of civilians, as well as arson attacks and arms seizures in Tamu, all because of the rebel groups.

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