Lifetime Achievement Award - Aram Pamei

Aram Pamei's younger sister receiving the award on her behalf on Eta International Women's Day

HY News 16 March, 2022 04:09 pm IST

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Ms. Aram Pamei was awarded the "Women of Substance" in the Lifetime Achievement Award category by Eta: North-east women's Network on the occasion of International Women's Day held at GM Hall on 8th March.

Embarking on the monumental contributions she has served in many different capacities throughout her life. She has devoted most of her life to working for peace, justice, and equality in society, especially for women and indigenous people. She has spearheaded protests against atrocities by the armed forces, against the construction of Tipaimukh Dam, and justice for rape victims, and conducted numerous awareness programs and workshops on human rights, gender sensitization, and peacebuilding, particularly in Naga areas in Manipur.

She is now 76 years and home-bound due to ill health. 

She has assumed numerous roles and responsibilities as a President, of the Naga Women’s Union, Manipur, 2011 – 2013, Secretary of All Manipur Christian Organization (AMCO) from July 2003 to May 2008, Convener, of Citizens Concern for Dams & Development (CCDD), Co-Chairperson from 1999 – 2004 –2005 – 2006 – 2015, Convener, Committee against Tipaimukh Dam (CATD) from 2001 till date now as Committee on Land and Natural Resources (COLNAR), President, Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC) in 1997, Co-Convener, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) from 1993 – 2001, Secretary, Naga Women’s Union Manipur (NWUM) from 1994 – 2001, Convener, Member of Peace Core Team Manipur (PCTM), Co-convener at Present, Served as Secretary of Association for Development of Indigenous Women & Child Care from 1994 till date, a founder member too.

She has also served as Secretary of the Baptist Women Fellowship of North East-India (BWFNEI) from 1993- 2010, and as Women Secretary, of Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC) from 1978-90 and also taught for 2 years in 1976-77 at Manipur Bible Institute (MBI), Kangpokpi, Senapati District, Manipur

Some details about her contribution:

Ms. Aram Pamei was the first Women Secretary (head of the Women's Department) of the Manipur Baptist Convention (1978-1990). During this time, the infamous Operation Bluebird was launched by the 21 Assam Rifles (AR) in and around Oinam Village, Senapati District, Manipur following an attack of their 21 Assam Rifles Post at Oinam by armed NSCN (IM) on the 9th July 1987. Various forms of torture and suffering were heaped upon the innocent villagers in the name of this ‘Operation Bluebird’. Even the old men and children were not spared. Many youths were given third-degree torture, 15 of them were put to death, several girls and married women were raped and pregnant women were forced to deliver babies in the open ground in the full view of the Assam Rifles personnel. Many properties of those affected villages such as cash, shawls, cattle, etc. were forcibly taken away by the Assam Rifles. Houses were razed to the ground.

Women and children were used as forced labor to carry their baggage and rations as porters. The stronger youths were forced to search for the stolen arms and ammunition of the Assam Rifles in the jungle. There was a total disregard for the human rights of the people. These inhuman acts of the AR continued for six full months. Churches and school buildings in Oinam and its surrounding villages became concentration camps.

Amid this gross violation of human rights Aram Pamei and her colleagues, as representatives of women of the Manipur Baptist Convention, protested and fought against the injustice meted out to the people. They exposed the evil designs of the armed forces by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with the help of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) at the Gauhati High Court against the Assam Rifles. Consequently, the Assam Rifles were after Aram Pamei and her colleagues.

On one occasion her quarter was searched and ransacked by the Assam Rifles. Even the Human Rights Activist Nandita Haksar, a lawyer in the ongoing case, who was sharing the house with Aram Pamei was not spared. She and the then General Secretary of the MBC Rev. Ramkhun Pamei were arbitrarily arrested by the Manipur Police on the report of the Assam Rifles. However, they were released as they have no faults or had not committed any crime.

Aram Pamei is also involved in other social forums. She was the Convener of the Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) from 1999 to June 2004 and as Convener of the Committee against Tipaimukh Dam (CATD) since 2001 and now named it Committee on Land and Natural Resources. She spearheaded the fight for the rights of the indigenous people will be affected by the construction of the Tipaimukh dam. The said construction is going to suffer the permanent loss of many villages and the only existing cultivable land, including the virgin land along the Barak (Ahu) Basin. Aram Pamei and her organizations are actively fighting against such environmentally degrading activities.

Aram Pamei also served as the Honorary Secretary of the Baptist Women Fellowship of North East India (BWFNEI) from 1993 onward till 2009. During her service, the fellowship conducted leadership training for women facilitating them to actively participate in Peace Building at home, in society, community, and for the North East Region as a whole. The BWFNEI has produced a booklet entitled ‘Little Known Women’ during her tenure. She is also a co-founder of the Association for the Development of Indigenous Women & Child Care. This Association was formed to educate women to inform them about their rights, problems, and needs of child care and of helping find solutions by themselves through active participation in the development process. They are taught to use their potential at their disposition. She has been serving as the Secretary of the Association from its inception in 1994 till 2009.

Aram Pamei was also the Co-convener of the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) South Sector from 1993 – 2001 As a fact-finding team, she and her colleagues have visited victims of arms atrocities. For instance, they have visited Khumji Kaiba in 1991, Namtiram in 1995, and Tabanglong in 2000 AD. On the 28th of December, 2000 AD the Security Forces posted at Tamenglong HQs had killed 8 innocent villagers including 2 Meitei chilly traders at Tabanglong, Tamenglong District, Manipur. Human Rights awareness programs in different areas were conducted. At other times they go and personally meet the victims of human rights abuse.

Aram Pamei, co-founder served as the Secretary of the Naga Women’s Union, Manipur (NWUM) for two terms i.e. 1994 – 1997 and 1999 – 2001. During these periods she was involved in building awareness among women about their rights and helping them overcome their fears and feelings of inadequacy and inferiority complex and making efforts to create a congenial atmosphere for attaining peace and understanding among different groups of people on the principle of non-violence and goodwill and NWUM had conducted a host of peacebuilding workshops in collaboration with Henry Martin Institute: International Centre for Research, Interfaith Relations & Reconciliation, Hyderabad.

She has been contributing articles on different issues and subjects such as Human Rights Violations in the Zeliangrong area of North East India, Conflict Resolution through non-violence method, Life Sketch of Rani Gaidinliu, and several others for publication in magazines, souvenirs, and newspapers. She also delivered some talks on the radio on contemporary issues. Her two theses are ‘The Work and Life of Zeliangrong Women in the Church in Tamenglong District’ for her Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) in 1975, and ‘A Study on the Church’s Educational Ministry – Towards a Theological Implication for Church Education of MBC in India’ for her Master Theology (M.Th.) in 1983.

Aram Pamei has labored and worked for the dignity of life, justice, peace, and equality in society.

She has been to many places in the world on different occasions and issues. A list of some of her trips is given here below:

5 Days Geneva Call Workshop: Engaging and Monitoring on Civilian Protection 12 – 16 September 2014 at Phouthawee House 152, Prapokklao Rd., Prasingha Muang, Chiang Mai Thailand, 50200 organized by Geneva Call Thailand.

EIDHR Partners’ Financial and Organizational Workshop 25 – 29 March 2013 at Khun Phucome Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand organized by AIPP.

Partner’s Meeting cum Training on Organizational and Financial Management, Hotel Furama, Chiangmai, Thailand, August 12 – 14, 2011, organized by AIPP (Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact).

Holy land (Israel), Oct. 2010. 10 days visit important biblical places.

Germany, May 2008: The 9th UN Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity – Preliminary Program for COP9, International Indigenous Forum on Bio-Diversity (IIFD), Bonn, Germany 16 – 31 May 2008. Preparatory Meeting – 15 – 18 May 2008.

Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China 27 – 30 June 2007. 3rd Asia Regional Conference on Indigenous Knowledge and Bio-Diversity. Paper on implications of Tipaimukh Mega Dam on Inland Water Biodiversity.

Dhaka Trip 27 Dec 2005 to 1st Jan 2006 on International Tipaimukh Dam Conference –ITDC).

International Meeting on Dam Affected People and their Allies on ‘River for Life’ at Rasi Sallai, Thailand from 28 Nov – 4 Dec 2003.

Philippines, on Foundation Course & Thematic Course in Three Stages: Mindanao Peace Building Institute, from 1 -19 May 2002.

Meeting Festival on International Consultation on Discipleship at Eastbourne, England from 19 to 24 September 1999 with Valley Rose H. Hungyo.

Intensive Training Conference on Reconciliation and conflict resolution – Asia, 26 – 29, November 1996 Chiang Mai, Thailand – co-sponsored by Asian Baptist Federation (ABF).

European Countries Trip 23 Sept to 10 Oct. 1995. Attending seminars and conferences on the issues of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. The trip visited Germany, Netherlands, Brussels, and Luxembourg. The trip is sponsored by the Indian Confederation of Indigenous & Tribal People affiliated with the World Council of Indigenous People, New Delhi.

Asian Conference: Asian Indigenous People Pact on the Rights of the Indigenous /Tribal People, May 17 – 23, 1993. The venue was at YMCA Centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

South Korea: M.Th. Study at Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Third World Leadership Centre, 1982 – 1983.

To Auckland, New Zealand in 1978 on Urban-Rural Mission. This is her first foreign trip.

So, in a nutshell, Manipuri citizens are honored with the "Women of Substance" awards for their outstanding contribution to society by Eta: North-East Women's Network which was initiated in 2021. There are a total of 20 "Women of Substance" Awardees this year. Aram Pamei's outstanding contribution was first foregrounded by Eta: Northeast women's Network on the occasion of International Women's day and the award was conferred by Sophia Rajkumari, chairperson of Eta Nort-East Women's Network. 

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