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The Areas Are Marked in Blood

Gunshots and echoes
More gunshots and more echoes
Guns have no echoes

-- Haiku Shots, From Home Is Where the Mountain Is
Political map of Southeast Asia in 1997; IMG: www.zonu.com

A pattern of violence is visible across Southeast Asia—sporadic in some parts, the condition is pathetic in some areas across the region


Let us start with a naked truth and a bare lie. We are in the largest democracy in the world. You can count it again and it is still the biggest, because of no other reason than just a high population arising from intentional disregard for the human marvel called condoms. Maybe there are also other reasons too. And when it comes to ground reality, we are little different from the military junta in Myanmar which nearest town is hardly three hours away from my native place in Manipur.

We are in India but are located around the gateway to Southeast Asia. At first glance, we are lost in never-ending conflicts while the likes of Bangkok and Hong Kong are only a few steps away from becoming one of the global economic giants. Deeper down the entire region is marked in blood though. Or in another word, there is a pattern emerging from the issues that plague the entire region.

WHY IT MATTERS        Closer home the lives are set on an artificial political entity termed as the Northeast India. With the geography so plain, we are more connected to the eastern neighbours, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, a few pockets of China and some other Asian countries. The connection is physical as much as it is culturally and historically. Our Mongoloid looks say it all—maybe politically incorrect it is, but who cares for the truth. To the west, we have the Indian states, with Assam having the most prominent Indian-looking faces of Aryans, Dravidians and all.

Power is in the gun, presumably
A couple of centuries ago, Ipu Khongnangthaba, a futurist, predicted one fine day, the western gate will be closed and the front will be opened. Now people are talking about the merits and demerits of the Indian Look East Policy, which has been supposedly developing from the last two decades or so with the advent of post-liberalised economy.

Truth be told: we have been adjusting and adapting into the Indian national consciousness from the last three hundred years after Hinduism sucks into every bone marrow that it comes into contact with. The direct political union, however, came only in 1949 after the controversial Merger Agreement. And for the last six decades, not years but decades, there has been an armed struggle against the union.

The problem is now more complicated than some crises in hell because of countless fractions within the armed organisations, the rise of extortionist bastards, the government’s hopeless policies to contain insurgency and the ever increasing number of thugs. We can also include the intentional action of the government because they are reaping some bloody benefits from all the crises. If those conflicts are not enough, we have territorial issues with the neighbouring states, migrants’ issues, institutionalised corruption and of late, the Myanmarese incursion into the Manipuri territory. If we were monkeys, the National Geographic would have made an interesting show on us on territorial pissing.

The volatile condition and unpredictable scenarious make an indelible impact on the minds of the natives. Conflict is written large on our existence. So sometimes, it’s funny to see the policemen with sticks in some parts of the mainland India, and it’s also funny how the people pee in their pants when they heard anything relating to the cops. Because since birth we have been seeing, if the cops and armies do not arrive with machine guns and tear gases and shells, ours lives are incomplete. We are always out on the street, secretly wishing that they should shoot at our butts instead of acting like gods, errr…dogs that are ever ready to bark and bite following their masters’ whimsical orders.

Once we felt sorry for a neighbor, B—, who was hospitalised after he was caught for irritating the commandos with catcalls during some curfews. The cops really thrash people badly. You might say he deserved it, but that’s not the point. The point was the root cause: the long arms of the law further abused by the state. A few days earlier then, the law-enforcers had killed a woman after blaming her for carrying hand grenades, assault rifles and fleeing while frisking though the whole world knew she was dragged away from her bed in the middle of a night, was raped and was shot at a point-blank range.

We know we are traumatised by the prevailing gun culture. But no one bats an eye when our siblings and friends and neighbours would pay a lifetime’s saving even for a low-ranking police job. At the end of the day, we keep blaming each other and the government offers employment only in the army and the police.  It seems like all the problems of the universe manifests here in our backyard, but believing it will only reveal how we are stuck in a compartment called the backward region. This is also perhaps the reason why other people blame us for partisanship and ethnonationalistic craps.


A face of Southeast Asia for cultural promotional stuffs (The Royal Ballet of Cambodia)
This image was originally posted to Flickr by dalbera at http://flickr.com/photos/72746018@N00/5068738233. It was reviewed on 28 October 2011 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0. IMG: Wikimedia Commons

HOW IT LOOKS    A cursory glance shows the bigger picture. A large chunk of Northeast India is filled with political and military filths: Multiple fights for sovereignty, statehood and autonomy plus regular outbreaks of social unrest and a horde of ethnic conflicts. This is as well peculiar to most of the regions in this part of the world.

Even in Manipur, with a population of little less than three million, there are 33 officially recognised groups and many of them are fighting with several political motives—some of which are overlapping as well.

In numbers, for the record, the Javanese of Indonesia are counted as the largest group with roughly 86 million heads.  

Yet the problems are not measured only from reasons and plots that are unique to the region. As mentioned, the resistance is against the union of India, whose population is only next to China. Alternatively, the issues and threats are truly global in nature. Myanmar seems like the worst hit.

For all these years, the Myanmarese military has been like a pile, just like the disease of the derrière. Still they are being truthful and are much better than being in a corner of the largest democracy, where the army can make a call which the highest civil authority has no guts to do. We should admit it is just comparatively better. All of them are just from the same block. From the last couple of months the Myanmar army has been rekindling the bygone, memorable Awa shitstorm by putting up fences along the border, flouting all the rules. As usual while this region burns, some Indias are busy at the Pakistan border, some others at Leh/Ladakh and a few others at Tawang and elsewhere. 

Back again, across this part of the globe, the problems range to those of the Islamists in Indonesia, fighting against the hegemony of the United States. Then, there are reports of humanitarian crisis in the Philippines, the Karens fighting for the right to self-determination in Myanmar, clashes between Thailand and Cambodia, maltreatment of non-Malays in Malaysia and so on and so forth. All of these are, so to say, so acute at the global level.

At the heart of these issues are the corrupt regimes, inept governments and military cronies. No wonder, sedition and rebellion are the orders of the day. There can never be a one-size-fits-all solution. Any attempt could be at best a mere generalisation of the complicated headaches and other ills of each region and country. Ironically, the people are bearing the same amount of pain in the ass from cruel and hopeless governments. But then we have to find ways to reach some common destination. Understanding the problem, I presume, is one little direction sign on the way.
A screenshot from the Vision of Humanity
IMG: http://www.visionofhumanity.org

Intervention is undoubtedly so vital but we have no oil to attract the global powers. In recent times Myanmar has become an exception, for instance, because of geostrategic reasons. It sounds so fanciful, isn't it? It simply means the countries have found something in common and now they can be bed-partners, making love for the sake of national growth gifting each other national resources, no matter how much they backbite each other.

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES     Would you say these kinds of problems, such as an entire region regardless of political boundaries having unsolved issues, are but common across the globe? You might not be wrong. It’s all conflict everywhere. In this country alone, the examples are so apparent.

See the Red Belt that runs through the southern, central and eastern India, which are grappling with the Maoist rebellion. Further north, the Kashmir issue is likely to continue, and then there are Afghanistan and Chechnya and all. Similar patches of affected regions are found across North Africa plus South and Central America. If we are at the centre of the universe, surely the world is going hell, but it is not.
 
The Institute for Economics and Peace, earlier this year, published the Global Peace Index. It documents that: ‘The index has again been topped by Iceland with the ten highest ranking nations in the GPI being all relatively small, stable democracies. Nordic and Alpine countries are particularly well represented. Asia-Pacific is also represented at the top, with New Zealand at 3rd and Japan at 6th.’ It adds, ‘ while the most peaceful region of the world continues to be Europe,’ and much to our pain that, ‘the least peaceful region is South Asia.’

Probably, the sense of peace deficiency lies in its report again. Since 2008, it is mentioned that 110 countries are reported to be struggling with lesser peace, while only 10 has seen an improvement over this half-a-decade period.

To use a native expression, what do these folks in Iceland and Denmark eat that they are so peaceful?

Even if the issues are different and the solutions are varied as much as the number of countries, we are living in one of the worst parts of the world. And in this least peaceful place in the globe, we are in a badly affected place called the Northeast. In this region, Manipur, Nagaland and Assam are the Wild Wild West kinds of state.

This piece is from Manipur.

Some of us are looking forward to the transnational highway that will connect India to the Southeast Asian countries and beyond after cutting through Myanmar and Thailand.

Still none changes the truth and the lies. It will be too naïve to believe that mundane politics that reeks of greediness and criminal craps can change our lives. We can hope for some tangible solutions through awareness and realisation and a bit of political consciousness. 

Violence continues to play a major role in the contemporary state’s core activities of war making, state making by marginalising or eliminating claimants to its territory, of providing protection for its citizens, and extracting from society and the world at large the necessary means to carry out the first three activities. Political violence comes into play when citizens resist state repression and demand their social, economic, political and civil rights Violence has been a key feature in the formation of all exiting nation-states and in national movements for new ones. As the state becomes more technologically developed, the process of state making becomes more sophisticated. Social disciplining and control, for example, focuses less on physical punishment and more on mind and genetic control.

-- On the Geopolitical Economy of Violence in Southeast Asia
by Erik Paul

Check
On the Geopolitical Economy of Violence in Southeast Asia by Erik Paul
http://sydney.edu.au/arts/peace_conflict/docs/working_papers/Geopolitical_Economy.pdf
The Vision of Humanity (Institute for Economics and Peace and the Global Peace Index)
http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/indexes/global-peace-index



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