Atlanta: GA State Senator, Indian Americans and allies protest violence in Manipur
Atlanta, Georgia (August 15, 2023) – Georgia Senator Sheikh Rahman joined Indian Americans and allies on Sunday at a protest and vigil, demanding an immediate halt to the ongoing violence gripping India’s northeastern state of Manipur, which has left over 150 dead and 50,000 displaced.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu,” said Senator Rahman, addressing the protesters gathered outside the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. “It is very important that we stand up for minority issues… [when] minorities are suffering all around the world.”
The brunt of the violence in Manipur has impacted the predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo tribal community, leading to the destruction of thousands of Kuki-owned homes and hundreds of churches. Over the past few months, the Kuki-Zo have been the victims of extreme brutality, including sexual violence. Several of these crimes have been filmed and circulated on social media.
The vigil was co-organized by the North American Manipur Tribal Association (NAMTA), the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), the Ambedkar International Center, Ambedkar Association of North America (AANA), Hindus for Human Rights, and members of the Sikh community.
Protesters carried placards with slogans such as “Bring Rapists to Justice” and “Women’s Bodies Are Not Battlefields,” referencing a viral video that showed the horrifying assault of two Kuki-Zo women, who were stripped, paraded naked, groped by a mob of men and then gang-raped.
“Even as we speak, the state-sponsored ethnic cleansing is still ongoing… and it is just the beginning,” said Khai Samte, representing NAMTA. “Let this be our first step towards fighting for justice for minorities like us, and for everybody everywhere [in India].”
“There is utter silence on Manipur [from the Indian government], which is actually provoking more violence,” said Sandeep Chavan, representing the AANA. “We Ambedkarites all over the world stand for the Kuki-Zo, Muslims in Haryana, and everyone who is facing injustice.”
“The ongoing violence in Manipur is not just a concern for the Kuki-Zo or the Christian community, but for everyone who believe in the basic human right to live without the fear of being gang-raped, murdered, and driven out of one’s home,” said Naushad Ghilzai, president of the IAMC Atlanta chapter. “We call upon the US government to take a strong stance against this violence and urge the Modi regime to restore peace in the state.”
“Both the central and state governments have failed to take any accountability or responsibility for communal violence throughout the country,” said Romita Verma, representing the advocacy group Hindus for Human Rights. “We strongly condemn the continuing acts of violence against minorities in Manipur, Haryana, and everywhere else in India.”