Naga People of Myanmar – separated by politics of Geography

Eastern Nagaland has greatly suffered under the coercive control of the Burmese military junta, and is undoubtedly one of the most forgotten and least developed areas in the whole world. In a land that was forcibly divided by the British, and later annexed by Indian and Burmese forces, development is non-existent.

Naga people were an independent State, each village ruled by its individual chieftain until the British invaded Nagaland. The Naga had no treaty with the British and the British government After the British left, they were separated into Western & Eastern Nagaland, ruled by India and Myanmar respectively. Nagas have been fighting for over decades to be independent and for its people to be given their right and freedom to their independence

Nagaland in India is located in the far north-eastern part of the country. It borders the states of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh to the north, and Manipur to the south. It also contains India’s border with Myanmar to the east. The state capital of Nagaland is Kohima, while the largest city is Dimapur. Nagaland, along with the other states in India’s northeast, has a culture that is quite distinct from the rest of mainland India, leading all of the northeast’s states to have the nickname, “The Seven Sister States” due to their cultural separation from the rest of India.

The word Naga denotes a conglomeration of hill tribes rather than any single entity. Nagas are divided into various tribes, sub-tribes and clans. There are several Naga tribes who live in Mynamar in the Sagaing division opposite Nagaland and several tracts opposite Manipur. The Nagas of Myanmar are known as warriors and are typically hunters by nature, who keep the heads of enemies they killed and hunt for deer meat and wild boar for their food. In fact, Naga women were only married if the man had the skull of his enemy. They live in Myanmar’s mountainous frontier, isolated and away, where they survive mainly by subsistence farming and hunting. Many Naga communities still remain inaccessible and impoverished. Their practices include displaying skulls of animal they have hunted, harvesting opium and other traditional ways of living.

The Nagas in Burma have never received acknowledgement and favours from the ruling military regime. Some of them are forcibly recruited in the Army and continue to be controlled by Burmese authorities. A vast number of Naga people are Christians. However, many missionaries are forcing them to convert into Buddhism because Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country and their resistance and retaliation is met with threats and circumstances leading to them being forced to flee their villages. There are many unreported human rights violations and incidents of religious persecution against them and they hope for a better future. Several negotiations with the Burmese Government have taken place with no result in favour of the Naga people.

In a world, where human rights are guarded and protected, Naga people want the support of the world community to unite as a Nation, where they can be a good neighbor to India and to Burma. They do not want occupation of their land and want to retain the freedom of the Naga people. There are approximately two million Nagas belonging to 27 tribes spread over both Burma and India yet they remain in ethnic limbo, divided between tribal traditions from both Indian Nagaland and the Naga Hills of Burma, and the infiltrations of continued attention from foreign cultures.

Article Published from various sources online