The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 12

sTorIes oF PeaCemakers

Women Rising:

Training for Peace in North East India
by Lee McKenna

editor's note: Since 2013, Lee McKenna has been working with the
Peace & Justice Officers of the Council of Baptist Churches of North
east India. Lee traveled to North east India last spring to lead the first
Conflict Transformation training in what will be a three-year project among
women in a war-ravaged area. With thanks to Atungo Shitri and Malthyus
Sangam-facilitators of peace among insurgents, with students, educators
and, now, with women leaders of the seven Baptist Conventions-she
shares below her reflections from that experience.

N

orth East India has been disrupted by civil war for decades; more than 600,000 people have been killed and
hundreds of thousands displaced. the Washington Post named
it one of the six most under-reported zones of conflict in the
world. the seven states of the tiny northeast region are-unusual for India-mostly christian and tribal. they consider
themselves '"mongolian" and racially distinct from the largely
caucasian Indian mainland.

the decades of violence in the North East were preceded by and, in some ways, rooted in the Partition of 1947-48,
which exploded into a "mutual genocide" amongst Hindus,
Sikhs and muslims. the carnage was intense, characterised by
massacres, arson, kidnappings and "savage sexual violence"1
with 15 million uprooted and between one and two million
killed.
having re-categorised Indians over their 300-year occupation into boxes that broke down centuries of shared traditions
and co-existence across religions,2 the British Raj was succeeded by a newly independent government too pre-occupied to
fulfill earlier promises of autonomy in the North East.
to years of agitation, the government responded by sending in heavily-armed troops. Insurgency movements formed
and then, as is so often the story, they fragmented into factions,
turning their weapons on one another, distracting them from
the real cause of their suffering: Delhi's policies of nepotism,
neglect and militarisation of the region.

S

***

o how is it that the most christian part of India is also the
most violent? For some, the answer to that question is all
too obvious, in a world in which many see religion as the root
cause of all evils. one convention president and pastor had the
answer for me: "Our tribal identity supersedes our Christian
identity," he said to me over morning coffee in the Garo Hills.
So, "Love your enemy" gets lost as the key signpost of biblical
interpretation.
Sort of like us.
turning the Bible into a tool in our peacemaking toolbox
is not easy. Some say it's not worth the trouble. the hebrew
testament, in particular, depicts many stories of inter-tribal
one-upmanship that seem right at home in North East India:
my god is better than your god; my tribe better than your tribe,
my clan better than your clan, my story better than your story;
my rights trump your rights.
the result of the use of scripture as a recruitment tool
for violence, invasion, mass atrocities, apartheid or civil war
Left: Women in North east India engage in a Conflict Transformation
exercise. Imagine 85 women chasing balloons around the room!
Photo courtesy of Lee mckenna.

12 Baptist Peacemaker

Oct-Dec 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017

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The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 2
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The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 12
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 13
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 14
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 15
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 16
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 17
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 18
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 19
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 20
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The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 31
The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 32
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/38-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/35-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/35-3
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/35-2
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/35-1
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-4
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-3
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-2
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-1
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com