Shivani Wangkheirakpam

Role: Human Rights Advocate, Indigenous Perspectives
Acting in country: Manipur, North East India
DTP Program: 24th Annual Human Rights and Peoples' Diplomacy Training for Human Rights Defenders from Asia-Pacific, Nepal 2014
Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and Business, Bangkok 2019

"I learnt a lot about human-rights mechanisms and other essential skills in my first DTP [course] in 2014. They helped me a lot to work for those who have been margionalized by the
process of globalization."

Shivani Wangkheirakpam, a Meitei woman, currently works with Meitei and other Indigenous communities in North East India. Conflicts over self-determination have continued here since Indian independence in 1947. Special laws have enabled impunity for human rights violations. Now, new challenges are associated with increased economic development.

Shivani works with Indigenous Perspectives and communities in Manipur to end the violence and injustices faced by Indigenous peoples at the hands of development. The development of mega dams and highways have uprooted communities, overlooking the rights of youth, women and children. She actively works towards protecting them though advocacy.

"I have extensively been working in Manipur with the communities to stand up against the violence and injustices meted out to indigenous population by various evil forces."

In her work with Indigenous Perspectives, Shivani is focusing on two development projects that are impacting negatively on Indigenous peoples. She is involved in reporting for the Land Conflict Watch (LCW), an independent data journalism project and an online repository of ongoing land conflicts in India. She is also doing research on the impacts of The Trans-Asian Highway, a new transport corridor linking India with its neighbours, and its impacts on land-holders and Indigenous peoples as part of her organization work. Shivani is also critical of efforts by companies and the government to "sell" Manipur for tourism and is part of the research team, publishing a report on the impacts of tourism 'Capturing of Tourism Process in Manipur'. She is working with traditional fishers in Thinungei village, who are resisting the creation of the Thinungei Bird Sanctuary because of its impacts on their livelihoods. Indigenous peoples are often excluded from areas designated as nature or conservation zones- without their involvement in the planning, or respect for their traditional knowledge and ways of life.

Shivani believes DTP's programs have helped shape her advocacy skills in spreading awareness about human rights, particularly those surrounding Indigenous peoples, youth and children.

"I have been actively working towards protecting rights and interest of the vulnerable population by giving awareness and advocacy on key human rights issues... but one best thing I learned is the diplomatic way of lobbying. This one thing helps me in shaping my work better because being an activist this one thing was always lacking behind my work... Now we focus mainly on advocating the leaders of the communities who are directly involved in lobbying with the Ministers and departments."

Shivani constantly applies the knowledge she has gained in our programs in her everyday practice.

"I have been using almost everything; I still open the manual I got every time when I am confused and need referral."

Further DTP's programs have strengthened Shivani's network, which constantly motivate her to actively pursue human rights in India and the greater society.

"We all keep in touch and we all know what each one of us is doing. So, this helps me and motivates me to work harder, making me mentally strong because we all encourage each other."

 

Profile written June 2019.