Myanmar Naga Separatists NSCN-K Expel Three Accused of Splitting From Group

By Nyein Nyein 30 July 2020

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), an ethnic Naga separatist group based in Sagaing Region, in northwest Myanmar, expelled three senior members on Wednesday for contempt against the council, after the trio announced they had split from the group.

The Naga separatist group currently refer to themselves as NSCN, but are also known as NSCN-K (Khaplang) in Myanmar. It is currently led by Yung Aung, who is the nephew of the late NSCN-K founder SS Khaplang. The NSCN formed a Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN), which administers areas under the control of the NSCN/GPRN.

The move came a day after the three announced they had split from the NSCN and renounced Yung Aung as their leader.

The NSCN-K said in a statement on Wednesday that it had expelled Lieutenant General Niki Sumi, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Naga Army; Lieutenant General Nyemlang Konyak, General Staff Officer-1 of the Naga Army; and Starson Iamkang, a former minister on the council. Starson Iamkang is often referred to as Starson Kilonser (“Kilonser” means “minister” in the Naga language.) It said they were expelled for “organizing illegal meetings without authorization from the party, failing to report to the council headquarters despite repeated callings, heavy misappropriation of party funds and encouraging and spreading ‘isms’ and divisive policies within the party.”

Lt-Gen Niki Sumi is on the most-wanted list of India’s National Investigation Agency, which is offering a reward of 1 million rupees (about 18.2 million kyats) for information on his location.

“Today, due to the above reasons, their expulsion becomes a necessity to save the party and our national struggle from further destruction,” NSCN-K’s Ministry of Information and Publicity said in the July 29 statement.

It said any party members conniving with the expelled officials would automatically have their party membership terminated.

Major Chue Hlaing Thong, a spokesman for the NSCN/GPRN, told The Irrawaddy that the three failed to communicate with the central council and misused funds collected in India amounting to over 20 million Indian rupees (about 364.3 million kyats).

He added the three conducted meetings without a mandate from the council and dismissed repeated warnings to stop.

The NSCN-K’s headquarters in Taga, in Sagaing’s Naga Self-Administered Zone, was raided by the Myanmar military in January 2019. Since then the NSCN-K’s members have moved to the border region where different Naga groups are based.

The NSCN-K members are not yet able to return to Taga as the Myanmar military still occupies the area, Maj. Chue Hlaing Thong said. Some NSCN-K members were arrested and charged with helping Kathae/Meitei and Assam rebels against India with training and shelter. The military accused the group of violating the bilateral ceasefire it signed with the Sagaing regional government in 2012.

The military detained 11 NSCN-K members, including those leading the peace negotiations with the Myanmar government, and charged them but released them. Soon after the release, the NSCN-K last November expelled a group of members, accusing them of “continuous effort to propagate and encourage the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), which is completely against the political principles of the party.”

The NSCN-K has said it doesn’t want to sign the NCA—rather it seeks an independent Nagaland overlapping India and Myanmar for the Naga of both countries.

NSCN-K has seen factions split away each year since its founder SS-Khaplang died in June 2017. In 2018, NSCN-K split into two factions, one led by its impeached chairman, Khango Konyak, who is of Indian origin, and the other by Yung Aung.

Ethnic Naga live in both Myanmar and India, and numerous factions have been led by various leaders based in both countries.

“All of the Naga tribes are with us, sharing our efforts to achieve independence. In the meantime, we don’t discriminate between east or west Naga, [referring to Naga living in Myanmar and India]. While we are trying to reach our goal of an independent Nagaland, [the three who were expelled] are doing anti-party activities, creating dissension and sharing divisive policies based on ‘isms’, which is tribalism and nationalism,” the spokesman said.

Apart from its name, NSCN-K, the NSCN group and its leaders are not well known to the Myanmar public, though they took part in peace negotiations under the previous government led by then President U Thein Sein.

The two Naga army generals Niki Sumi and Nyemlang Konyak, and minister Starson Iamkang, were not among the peace delegations that have met with the Myanmar government in the past.

Note: This story has been updated to correct Major Chue Hlaing Thong’s rank and to remove a photograph showing non-Naga personnel.

You may also like these stories:

Myanmar’s Remote Naga SAZ Has Only Two Doctors for Its 130,000 Residents

Western Myanmar’s Remote Naga Area Braces for COVID-19