Binalakshmi Nepram’s peacebuilding efforts in Manipur, India

 Binalakhsmi Nepram at Control Arms Foundation of India’s Office Binalakhsmi Nepram at Control Arms Foundation of India’s Office Getty Images

27 January 2020

An interview with Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, on 70-year-old conflict in Manipur, India

Binalakshmi Nepram founded the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network (MWGSN) to assist widows and families affected by the long conflict in Manipur, India’s Northeastern region. She is an activist committed to women’s empowerment and women-led peacebuilding in her country and is currently based in the USA, where she teaches at Connecticut College. 

During her interview for Peace Direct, she underlined the importance of engaging in peacebuilding, especially in the context of the 70-year-old conflict: “I started my peace work because I couldn't stand injustice and oppression. I did this work for thousands of people who have disappeared or been killed […] And I did it for 20,000 women who are now widows”. In fact, Manipur’s conflict has affected thousands of civilians since 1949. State and non-governmental groups have been spreading terror in the region where the military law, lock-downs and military curfews have been imposed. She decided to take action to seek solutions for peace, including through endangering herself and walking in the streets informing people that “living a life filled with guns is not normal”. She revealed “I could be killed by hiring a gunman for $250.  I realized that the cost of taking someone's life could be as cheap as the price of a chicken (250 Indian rupees)”. Although she has now left India, as a peacebuilder, Nepram still faces real threats, including through social media. 

Nepram, now living in the USA, continues to campaign to increase awareness of the situation in Manipur and to highlight the importance of peacebuilding work: “Peacebuilding doesn't happen overnight. It won't always lead to a Nobel Peace Prize. No award is more rewarding than seeing the face of a mother whose two sons were shot dead, smile again”.


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Author: Silvia Luminati; Editor: Aleksandra Krol 

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