Interview with Mr. Isak Chishi Swu, NSCN chairman, on recent Indo-Naga peace consultations
“The ongoing Indo-Naga peace process is to put right
the unjust legacy of colonialism and to restore the natural rights of the Nagas
to determine our own future and to put an end to all human sufferings that have
occurred as a result of this unresolved conflict.”
– Statement, Naga Consultation Meeting in Bangkok: 7-11 January 2002
Q: Mr. Swu, you took part in the recent Indo-Naga talks in Osaka, Japan. Could you please share your views on this meeting.
A: Yes, the so-called Naga Collective Leadership met with Indian
Prime Minister Vajpayee and his delegation in Osaka, Japan, on 8 December 2001.We
off course emphasised the uniqueness of the Naga case, and our legitimate right
to self-determination as a natural expression of our history as free peoples.
Right from the beginning the Naga people rejected any participation in the formation
of an independent India, following British-India’s decolonization. It
is therefore not a case of secession or separation from a Union we had agreed
to be part of.
The Naga Collective Leadership welcomes any determination on the part of the Indian Prime Minister and government to settle the issue through peaceful means. We urged the Prime Minister to remove the obstacles put by India by lifting the ban on the NSCN, and to remove draconian legislation allowing the military to act arbitrarily in its oppression of the Naga people. Here I think of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Nagaland Security Regulations. We also made it clear to the Indian delegation that the terms for peace should be acceptable to both parties, and not be imposed by India. We told them that the Naga people would never accept the forced occupation of our territory. The destiny of the Nagas is in their own hands. There can be no lasting settlement if it is not based on a negotiated deal.
Q: Do you sense a serious commitment by India to extend the cease-fire agreement to an eventual peace agreement?
A: In the past, India has not kept its word, but based on the meeting in Osaka and a subsequent meeting with the Prime Minister’s emissary, Mr. Padmanabhaian, in Bangkok on 11 December 2001, we see maturity and statesmanship committed to a peaceful resolution. This is encouraging, but unfortunately a number of cease-fire violations have occurred since then. What is urgently needed is to strengthen the Cease-Fire Monitoring Group with the impartial participation of independent observers.
Q: Please elaborate on the consultative meeting you had with Naga representatives to provide feedback on the talks with India.
A: The Naga Collective Leadership organised a Consultative Meeting from 7-11 January 2002 to update representatives of various Naga people’s organizations and tribes on the December 2001 talks with India. It was a historic meeting attended by more than 70 representatives from various sectors of Naga society. We received their full support to continue our meetings with the Indian government. The Consultative Meeting also expressed full confidence in our leadership, and appreciation for the undertaking that all stages of the political negotiations would involve thorough transparency and consultation.
Q: When is the next meeting to take place?
A: Probably during the first half of February 2002. The exact day and location has not been decided yet.