An interfaith solidarity gathering with the women of Manipur was organised by concerned members of the Indian diaspora in Gadi/Sydney and hosted by Greens Member of the Legislative Council Abigail Boyd in the New South Wales Parliament on August 3.
It was prompted by global outrage after a video showed two women of the indigenous Kuki-Zo minority tribe being paraded naked and sexually assaulted by a mob of men in the north eastern Indian state of Manipur.
Mary Biakmawii Mizo, a member of the Kuki-Zo tribe, made a moving appeal: “I speak to you with a heavy heart, burdened by the weight of the horrors that my people, the Kuki-Zo tribe, have been subjected to in Manipur.
“As we gather in this hallowed hall, let us not forget that there are people back home who are living in fear, their lives marked by violence and despair ... My own mother, a government employee in Imphal, and my sister, a nurse, were forced to flee due to the escalating conflict. Many of my relatives found shelter in relief camps, their lives uprooted, their dreams shattered.
“More than 60,000 members of the Kuki-Zo tribe have been forced to flee, displaced, their homes and churches burned, their lives forever scarred by these horrific acts. They are now scattered across [the neighbouring states] Mizoram, Assam, and even as far as New Delhi, away from their homeland, their culture, their identity.
“Rape was weaponised and lies were spread to target a genocidal campaign against my people. It is a gross affront to humanity itself. This has left the entire community terrorised and devastated.”
Mizo called on federal and state governments to investigate a number of organisations in Australia with links to the Hindu chauvinist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of which Indian PM Narendra Modi and his home minister, Amit Shah, are lifelong members.
“These Hindu extremist organisations, which have been accused of fuelling hate crimes in India, are registered Australian charities and receive substantial government grants,” she said.
“Can we justify funding organisations implicated in such atrocities?”
Dr Haroon Kasim, co-founder of The Humanism Project, a not-for-profit social justice advocacy group of Indians in Australia, told Green Left that public records show several such “fronts” for the RSS in Australia had received millions of dollars in public funding just over the past few years.
“Let us unite in our quest for justice, not just for the Kuki-Zo tribe, but for all oppressed minorities. Let us ensure that our tax dollars do not fund violence, but are used to promote peace, equality, and human rights,” Mizo said.
The gathering also heard from Labor MLC Anthony D’Adam; former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon; Reverend James Jacob; United for Human Rights National Indigenous Coordinator Andrea Nevill; Durga Owen; Philip Immaraj from Narraweena Baptist Church; and Salahuddin from the Tamil Australia Muslim Society.