NAGA STORY: The Other Side of Silence
A Film Review
Duration: 64 minutes
The Naga Story features India’s Naga peoples’ movement against extinction for over more than a century of struggle. The Nagas are a conglomeration of more than 30 distinct tribes that border the northeast Indian subcontinent. Their appearance, traditions, lifestyle and religion are very different from the rest of the people in the Indian subcontinent, but they bear close similarity to Southeast Asian people. After the British occupation in India during the early 20th century, the Nagas wanted to stand as an independent nation.
However, despite their efforts, Naga was declared a part of India in 1949. The Nagas then organized themselves politically and militarily and fought for independence. The Nagas’ struggle for self-determination in the next half of the century was characterized with oppression, exploitation and severe human rights violations by the Indian government, all of which were unheard by the outside world. Up to this day, the Nagas are still fighting for the respect of their collective rights and for independence.
Human rights abuses have been shown on the film due to heavy militarization in the area during the last five decades. The people were deprived of their rights to live. They were treated as animals, with women and even men being raped and tortured by Indian soldiers. Village people have been killed for no apparent reasons; men, women, and children alike. Anybody watching the film would be disgusted and outraged by the inhumane abuses committed to indigenous peoples.
The experience of the Naga people is not far from the experiences of most indigenous peoples in the world. Common to all indigenous peoples in the world are the lack of recognition of their human rights, collective rights to land and self-determination and the neglect of their health, socio-cultural and economic development needs by their respective governments. Development, on the perspective of indigenous peoples, should address their needs without compromises that could be detrimental to their ways of living.
The indigenous peoples who have nurtured and preserved the remaining biodiversity of the world are faced with thorny situations that pose threats to their ways of living. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples never cease in struggling for their existence. # Sarah Dekdeken/CPA-PIC