The protests were held against violence in Manipur, in response to a horrific video showing an extreme attack on two young tribal women in the state.
The US states of California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts witnessed protests by Indian-Americans and allies during the weekend to condemn the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur, which has traumatized and displaced thousands and left hundreds of ordinary citizens dead.
These protests were aimed to demand justice and speedy action in response to a horrific video released last week, showing an extreme attack on two young tribal women in the violence-hit state.
Indian-Americans and allies assembled on the steps of Oakland City Hall, in California, to raise the issue in a protest organized by advocacy groups, such as the North American Manipur Tribal Association (NAMTA), Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), and Ambedkar King Study Circle.
“They chased us out of our homes. They burned our homes, our properties. They’ve left us broken and everything we own reduced to ashes,” said a founding member of NAMTA, Niang Hangzo. “We want the House to bring this issue and discuss it like the EU (Parliament) has done.”
This issue becomes prominent with the European Parliament adopting a resolution, calling on Indian authorities to take necessary measures, stop the violence in Manipur, and protect religious minorities, especially Christians. India has called this resolution, an interference in its internal affairs.
IAMC organized a protest and candlelight vigil, in Iselin, New Jersey, where people from diverse faith and ethnic backgrounds joined together under the banner of NAMTA, the National Association of Asian Indian Christians, and local churches.
“If those two women could be dragged and paraded, it could happen to any other woman, no matter what religion,” said Pastor Prem Kankanala of United Telugu Christ Church.
“Let us be united and raise our voices to protect women and to protect minorities,” he added.
Several Indian-Americans and allies came together in Boston, Massachusetts, in solidarity with the victims and urged President Joe Biden’s administration to intervene and call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put an end to the rising levels of violence in Manipur.
A senior Biden administration official in response to the protests, stated that the US is “shocked and horrified by the video of an extreme attack on two women in Manipur.”
“We convey our profound sympathies to the survivors of this act of gender-based violence and support the Indian Government’s efforts to seek justice for them,” Vedant Patel, Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department, said.
The violence erupted on May 3 after the Kuki-Zomi community protested in response to the Meitei demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The majority Meitei account for about 53% of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40% and reside mostly in the hill districts.