Massacres in Assam by Joylaxmi Saikia Borah on Human Rights Violations in Assam

posted on the mailing list on Monday, May 12, 1997

At the risk of invoking painful memories, I have to say a few words on the massacres in Assam. The world, which has seen so many massacres, is not especially distressed by the ongoing massacres in Assam. They are taking place in a state with an unfamiliar name, rarely visited by tourists, little known to scholars, possessing very little political influence. If you searched on the map, you would not find it easily. It therefore seems to resemble one of those mythical and imaginary places invented by medieval geographers to fill up the blank spaces of Asia, or still more fanciful maps where the geographer writes across the desert spaces: "Here are Rhinos". When the powers in New Delhi and Dispur decide to send in troops to massacre the Assamese for daring to demand autonomy, the world's ignorance about the place is of inestimable value to them. Since there are comparatively few people who know or care about the people of Assam, fewer still would care about how many are massacred. No international journalists are permitted to see what is going on. The massacres take place quietly, as though in some remote and unknown region where no news trickles out: there seems to be reason why they should not succeed in massacring as many Assamese as they wish. It has particularly become increasingly common for the State to use rape as an effective weapon in its campaigns of Terror. Horrifying news of victims of CRPF/army rape have been brought to light. These women are mostly villagers who have nothing to do with political events. I met many of these women, brutally raped and marked for life with savage toothmarks. The government probably thinks that one million Assamese dead would be sufficient punishment to turn them into docile slaves. However, it has not happened like that. The Assamese continue to fight back, and journalists have succeeded in entering the state. What is happening in Assam can happen elsewhere: both the massacres and the retribution.

Joylaxmi Saikia Borah