Cities across the United States witnessed a significant gathering of Indian-Americans on August 12th and 13th, as part of a national weekend of solidarity with the minority Kuki-Zomi tribes in Manipur. The Kuki-Zomi tribes, predominantly Christian, have been facing a distressing situation of ethnic cleansing orchestrated by the majority Meitei tribes, who are predominantly Hindu, allegedly at the behest of the Indian government. The Indian-American protestors in cities including Washington D.C., Boston, Detroit, Houston, Portland, Chicago, Dallas, Tulsa, Atlanta, and the San Francisco Bay Area, have united to condemn the ongoing mass violence and call upon global leaders to take a stance.
The crisis, which has been unfolding for more than three months, began on May 3, 2023, when reports emerged of targeted violence against the minority Kuki-Zomi tribal people in Manipur, India. Radicalized groups from the majority Meitei community have been allegedly perpetrating a pogrom of ethnic cleansing, resulting in the loss of lives and displacement of thousands. The toll includes 120 confirmed deaths among the Kuki-Zomi population, many of whom were reportedly subjected to torture, immolation, and rape.
In addition to the loss of lives, over 6,137 tribal homes have been burned and looted, with more than 355 churches razed to the ground. The attacks have extended to over 197 villages, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Particularly alarming is the reported brutality towards Kuki-Zomi women, who have allegedly been paraded naked and subjected to gang rape by radicalized Meitei mobs driven by malicious propaganda. These attacks have forced more than 41,425 tribal individuals into displacement, confining them to temporary shelters with no access to essential services like healthcare, education, or livelihood opportunities.
To raise awareness and demand justice for the Kuki-Zomi Christian community, the North American Manipur Tribal Association (NAMTA) organized a Global Week of Action from August 12th to 19th. This week saw Indian-Americans from various backgrounds, including Ambedkarite, Sikh, Muslim, and Christian organizations, uniting against the ethnic cleansing in Manipur. Many protestors drew parallels between the ongoing crisis and the historical experiences of their own communities under the Hindu supremacist regime.
Protests took place in various cities across the United States during the week of solidarity. In the Bay Area, organizations held rallies in Oakland, Palo Alto, and Fremont, urging congressional leaders to take immediate action. Protestors in cities like Dallas and Washington D.C. pointed out the disturbing similarities between the current situation and the 2002 Gujarat genocide, where thousands of Muslim minorities were reportedly killed with tacit official support. Chicago protestors highlighted the disturbing trend of targeting women as a key component of mass violence. Moreover, many participants across states criticized the Indian government for consistently exploiting religious differences to foment violence against minority groups.
While the Global Week of Action has concluded, organizers and participants have vowed to continue their solidarity efforts. Florence Lowe of NAMTA emphasized the crucial role of international voices and states in speaking up against the crisis. NAMTA and its members are calling upon the U.S. Congress and world leaders to intervene in Manipur, India, with the aim of ending violence against the Kuki-Zomi people, ensuring justice for the victims, and supporting the Kuki-Zomi people's quest for self-determination and autonomy.
The series of rallies and protests held under the banner of "Rally for Justice – Tribal Solidarity Against Ethnic Cleansing of Kuki-Zomi Christians in Manipur, India" were observed from August 12th to 19th in various cities across the United States, including Detroit, MI; Houston, TX; Portland, OR; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Tulsa, OK; Atlanta, GA; San Francisco, CA; Washington D.C.; and Boston, MA. The events drew attention to the grave situation faced by the Kuki-Zomi community and aimed to pressure world leaders and the Indian government to take immediate and decisive action.