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    ANONYMOUS The creator(s) of this piece chose to publish their work anonymously. PLAYWRIGHT WEBSITE INSTAGRAM TWITTER Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 LOAD MORE

  • On the Ethics of Climate Journalism

    COMMUNITY On the Ethics of Climate Journalism VOL. 1 INTERVIEW Journalist Aruna Chandrasekhar in conversation with Editor-at-Large Vishakha Darbha ARUNA CHANDRASEKHAR There is an imbalance of power to be corrected—how do you level a playing field where, for centuries, you have oppressed, displaced communities, and always justified it for your own benefit? RECOMMENDED: " How One Billionaire Could Keep Three Countries Hooked on Coal for Decades " , NY Times . By Somini Sengupta, Jacqueline Williams, and Aruna Chandrasekhar. On how the Adani Group lobbied successfully to mine for coal in Australia and subsequently transporting it to India and contributing to energy and climate crises in both India and Bangladesh. SUB-HEAD ​ ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: SHEBANI RAO A Freelancer's Guide to Decision-Making JAMIL JAN KOCHAI A Premonition; Recollected Watch the interview on YouTube or IGTV. SHARE ARTICLE: Interview Climate Change Investigative Journalism Coastal Displacement Anthropocene Parachuting Health Workers Mining Freelancing Power Dynamics Diaspora Diasporic Distance Forest Collective Displacement Evictions COVID-19 Energy Crisis Environmental Disaster Environment ARUNA CHANDRASEKHAR is an independent journalist and a writer from India, currently at the University of Oxford. Her interests in work dwell on themes of corporate accountability, climate change, indigenous rights and resistance, environmental law, energy, conflict, gender and public health. Her stories have appeared in The New York Times , The Guardian, New Internationalist, BuzzFeed, and many other outlets. 22 Aug 2020 Interview Climate Change Chats Ep. 13: On Maldives' Transitional Justice Act 7 Jul 2021 MUSHFIQ MOHAMED Climate Crimes of US Imperalism in Afghanistan 16 Oct 2022 THE VERTICAL Scenes From Gotagogama 23 Feb 2023 THE VERTICAL MORE LIKE THIS

  • It's Only Human

    INTERACTIVE It's Only Human VOL. 1 SHORTS Content Warning: Flashing/strobe lights FURQAN JAWED Like having the imagination to envision oblivion. And make it reality. Special Thanks to: Varshini Prakash. Narration by: Jessica Flemming EDITOR'S NOTE: This multimedia piece, by graphic designer and artist Furqan Jawed, is the result of a collaborative effort, initially conceptualized as a story about the history of advertising & fossil fuel companies’ manipulation of the public across the world. It took place over a number of months, supplemented by reminiscences and stream-of-consciousness ideas by Varshini Prakash, co-founder and Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, as well as exchange with editors Vishakha Darbha & Kamil Ahsan. Furqan plumbed the archives of advertising across a number of decades in India and the United States. The product was, at the time, an unanticipated, serendipitous, and surprising product of an inquisitive but seemingly-directionless collaboration. SUB-HEAD ​ ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: SHEBANI RAO A Freelancer's Guide to Decision-Making JAMIL JAN KOCHAI A Premonition; Recollected Our priority is to meet the needs of people on this planet. Not just workers. Not workers at all. SHARE ARTICLE: Shorts Climate Change Fossil Fuel Companies Advertising Electoral Politics Multimedia Multimodal Sunrise Movement Neoliberalism Performance Art Mimesis Anthropocene Satire Voiceover India United States Archiving Archival Practice Reminiscence Public History FURQAN JAWED is a freelance artist and graphic designer based in Brooklyn. A recent MFA graduate from the Yale School of Art, his practice focuses on the circulation of images and analysing the semiotics of representation within these images in the public and the private sphere. 26 Apr 2021 Shorts Climate Change Chats Ep. 12: On Ambition, Immigration, Class in "Gold Diggers" 21 Jun 2021 SANJENA SATHIAN Climate Crimes of US Imperalism in Afghanistan 16 Oct 2022 THE VERTICAL Universalism & Solidarity in a Post-Roe Landscape 23 Feb 2023 THE VERTICAL MORE LIKE THIS


    PALVASHAY SETHI Palvashay Sethi is a writer and teacher based in Islamabad. ADVISORY EDITOR WEBSITE INSTAGRAM TWITTER Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 LOAD MORE

  • Chokepoint Manipur

    THE VERTICAL Chokepoint Manipur VOL. 2 ISSUE 1 REPORTAGE The many costs of internet shutdowns amid violence in India’s northeastern state. MAKEPEACE SITLHOU On the morning of July 19, 2023, my phone kept alerting me to WhatsApp messages, as it had done during the previous three months following the eruption of violence along ethnic lines in India’s northeastern state of Manipur. This time was different. It was a video accompanied by the following message: “If your blood doesn’t boil seeing this barbaric and inhuman treatment of fellow human being by Meitei goons, your conscious [sic] is equally morally dead. Period.” Before I could open it, other messages started pouring in, asking if I had watched the video. Others warned against circulating it over social media and messaging apps. Meanwhile, the 26-second clip of two women being paraded naked on the streets by a mob of men—groping and molesting the two while walking through paddy fields—had already gone viral. The incident recorded in the clip, however, was over two months old. On May 3, after the state’s highest court recommended that Manipur’s dominant Meitei community be included among the country’s Scheduled Tribe—a constitutional list that guarantees affirmative action for those included—the state’s hill tribe groups carried out mass rallies in protest. The same day, an attempted arson of a Kuki war memorial and the fire set on Meitei villages by unidentified individuals led to state-wide clashes between the Meiteis and the Kuki-Zo tribes. The two women, belonging to the Vaiphei community that is part of the larger umbrella of Kuki-Zo tribes of the Northeast, were assaulted by the street mob a day later. In some ways, these conflicts in Manipur demonstrate the Indian republic’s complicated politics of ethnic identity and claims for constitutional protection. Demands for affirmative action by regionally dominant groups is not unusual in India, as seen with the Pateldars in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharashtra, and, more recently, the Pahadis in Jammu and Kashmir. With regards to the Meiteis, who converted to Hinduism in the 18th century, its socially weaker sections already had access to the constitutionally defined Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes, and Economically Weaker Sections. These categories enable access to affirmative action as well as select government grants and scholarships. The demand to also be included among the Scheduled Tribes was initially a fringe cause within the Meiteis, with the Hindu Brahmins (the priestly caste at the top of the Hindu caste pyramid) of that community least open to the idea of being degraded to the status of a ‘Hao’ (tribal people). However, the project gained steam with the revival of the indigenous Meitei faith Sanamahism in the last few decades. The return to their indigenous roots has emboldened their belief that they were short-changed by the government, which didn’t recognize them as a ‘tribe' after Manipur was annexed by the Indian Union in 1949. The crisis has been further compounded by internet restrictions in place since May 4. Far from the state government’s stated intention to control “the spread of disinformation and false rumours through various social media platforms,” lack of access to the internet has resulted in a flood of fake news and rampant disinformation, where genuine footage documenting violence has often been depicted as ‘fake’, and where unverified rumors have been deployed to instigate sexual violence. In a civil conflict where the state government has unabashedly shown its loyalty to the majority ethnic community and the federal government has maintained the status quo, both physical carnage and the information wars are far from even-keeled. In this, Manipur has proved to be another troubling illustration of the Indian authorities’ habit of curbing internet access in regions seeing widespread conflict, where a choked information ecosystem has helped the powerful and hurt the politically weaker sections facing majoritarian violence. Background of the May violence In the months leading up to the May violence, a concerted campaign was already being led by Manipur’s Chief Minister Biren Singh, who hails from the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against the minority Kuki-Zo tribes, who were peddled as the key culprits of the underground drug industry and portrayed as ‘illegal immigrants’ from neighboring Myanmar. Although the Kuki-Zo tribes make up only 16 percent of the population, Singh had been stoking majoritarian Meitei sentiments of the tribes’ “sudden” decadal growth, particularly in the wake of the refugee crisis from coup-hit Myanmar, with no recent census data to back it up. This is despite the neighboring state of Mizoram, where the dominant population has stronger ethnic ties to the Chin refugees, bearing a much greater brunt of the refugee population. In light of the Meitei’s dominant demographics (they are over 50 percent of Manipur’s population) compared to their relatively smaller territorial spread (they occupy roughly 10 percent of the state that is in the valley), the chief minister preyed on the community’s insecurity over limited resources and supremacist notions of cultural superiority. By all accounts, viral, unverified social media messages and rumors of Meiteis being beaten, killed and raped in the Churachandpur hill district in part triggered the attacks in the valley. Subsequently, civilians, senior government officials, politicians, and judges belonging to the Kuki-Zo tribes from the valley were targeted. This led to retaliatory attacks on the Meiteis in the hill districts, although in much smaller numbers compared to officials and families from the tribes in the valley. Internet connections across the state of Manipur were switched off a day after violence broke out, which has killed more than 180 people thus far—with casualties growing by the weeks—and displaced more than 70,000 from their homes and localities, reducing them to ghost towns. A police complaint filed on May 18 in response to the public assault against the two women furnishes some details about the incident. An armed mob of up to a thousand persons belonging to Meitei youth organizations entered the B.Phainom village in the hill tribal district of Kangpokpi, where they vandalized and looted personal property. Seeking to escape the violence of the mob, five residents of the village, including the two women, fled to the forests; they were later rescued by the state police, only to be apprehended by the same mob that snatched them from police custody. “All the three women were physically forced to remove their clothes and were stripped naked in front of the mob,” the complaint noted, adding that “the younger brother who tried to defend his sister’s modesty and life was murdered by members of the mob on the spot.” Even before the video of the attack on the two women in Kangpokpi appeared on social media, the incident had been reported by two online news portals—on June 1 by, Newsclick , and on July 12 by The Print —as part of the coverage of the sexual assaults during the Manipur violence. However, it was finally the graphic video that brought national attention to the state like it hadn’t in the last three months. Kaybie Chongloi, a Kuki journalist based in Kangpokpi District where the incident took place, told me that no one knew of the existence of the video until the previous day when a driver noticed Meitei men watching it on their phones. “He had asked them to share the video via Bluetooth, and that’s how we got to see it for the first time,” said Chongloi. By the next morning, he added, the video had been widely shared across WhatsApp and social media platforms. It also compelled Prime Minister Narendra Modi to finally break his silence on Manipur, almost three months after the v iolence, calling the crime “ an insult to the entire country. ” Skewed media landscape Since the outbreak of violence in early May, a steady stream of photo and video footage has appeared on social media, showing private residences and villages being burned down, even capturing the collusion of state police in these incidents. Meanwhile, pieces of disinformation have been shared by verified Twitter handles of socially influential figures with global platforms. This includes, for example, Licipriya Kangujam, a young climate influencer managed by her alleged ‘con man’ father , and Binalakshmi Nepram, a women’s rights activist and recent scholar-at-residence at Harvard University. On May 4, soon after the violence started, Kangujam shared the video of a burning residence saying “illegal immigrants are burning the houses of our Meitei indigenous community in Manipur”. Hours earlier, however, Tonsing S, a Kuki-Zo scholar at Michigan University, had already shared the same video, showing a Kuki-Zo residential locality in the state capital of Imphal, from where his family had recently been displaced. Kangujam has also shared videos showing disruption and mayhem, which she squarely blamed on ‘illegal immigrant’ and ‘poppy cultivating’ Kukis. Meanwhile, although seen advocating for peace on national television, Nepram has also been culpable in spreading misinformation, with a clear prejudice against the Kuki-Zo tribal groups. This includes sharing fake news on landmines allegedly placed by an armed group in a Manipur village, despite the information being debunked as false (reverse-image lookup found that the photos used in the story were from Jammu and Kashmir). She has not yet removed the tweet. More generally, Meitei-owned outlets and journalists from the community, who dominate the media landscape in the state, have been accused of being compromised , heavily toeing the state line, which is against the Kuki-Zo tribes. Apart from the accounts of these well-known personalities, several blue check-marked accounts have surfaced on Twitter since May, thanks to Elon Musk’s new policy on paid accounts which abandons its previous verification process, which have furthered disinformation campaigns. Take, for instance, a right-leaning website with the twitter handle @dintentdata that shot to limelight during the Manipur violence ostensibly as a “fact checker”. Its origins and ownership are unknown but the account has toed the Manipur state government’s narrative, as illustrated in a thread that called Kukis “illegals” migrating from Myanmar who had weaponized themselves to target the Meitei community. In the initial weeks, the running narrative on illegal immigrants and the Myanmar crisis dominated the coverage of the violence in mainstream Indian media outlets like Deccan Herald and India Today as well as in international publications like The Diplomat and the Washington Post . Unequal internet ban As I reported for Nikkei Asia in July, vast amounts of disinformation have emerged from the Manipur crisis not only because of an internet ban but due to its uneven nature: it has offered privileged access to businesses and media close to power, mostly in the valley. Dedicated internet services remained selectively available to particular businesses in the valley and government offices, with the approval of the home department. Notably, in the midst of an internet ban, members of Manipur-based right-wing Meitei groups, such as Meitei Leepun and an armed militia, Arambai Tenggol, have been posting inflammatory hate speech on their social media accounts. “Refrain from creating chaos at Imphal, we can no longer attack them here,” announced Korounganba Khuman, the militant leader of Arambai Tenggol, on his Facebook account. Written in Meitei Lon, he added, “We have a plan, which you'll hear about in two days’ time. Let's work together on this. Let us fight with all our might for our land and identity.” No action from the state government has been initiated on such open invocations of violence against the Kuki-Zo communities. Meanwhile, Meitei Leepun’s founding leader Pramot Singh went on national television (in an interview with veteran journalist Karan Thapar in The Wire ), threatening to “blow away” the tribals from the hills. In the past, Singh has been associated with Akhil Bhartiya Vishwa Parishad, the student wing of the Hindu nationalist militant outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Both groups—Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun—have been openly endorsed by Chief Minister Singh and Leishemba Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur and a member of the upper house of the parliament. On July 25, Manipur state authorities lifted the ban on broadband services while retaining several severe restrictions. This included blocking social media websites, virtual private network (VPN) services and WiFi hotspots, while allowing for the physical monitoring of subscribers by concerned officials. Those seeking to access the internet under these conditions were required to sign an undertaking agreeing to the enforced monitoring by officials. After nearly five months of ban, mobile internet access was resumed by the state government on September 23, only to be soon suspended for the next five days amid protests after photographs showing the allegedly deceased bodies of two missing Meitei students surfaced online. The state government confirmed their death in a statement, but their bodies remain missing at the time of the publication of this story . A marketing professional from Imphal Valley, who asked not to be identified, said that in the early days of the internet ban, people were resorting to all sorts of loopholes: machine SIM cards used for digital payment (apps like Paytm and Google Pay), Vodafone VPN ports, and international E-SIMs like Airalo . “People would use SIM cards bought from other states, since Vodafone sim cards sold out in Manipur very fast at a going rate of INR 2000,” he said, speaking from an undisclosed location in the Northeast that he and his family have moved to temporarily. The IT company where his wife works had put her on leave during the shutdown weeks and was threatening layoffs to employees who wouldn’t come online. Sources from the area told me that local broadband providers in both the hills and the valley did not comply with the government order to switch off internet services. SAAG has accessed a copy of a state-government order that notes the “misuse of additional connection on whitelisted/reactivated” internet lines and reports of “accessibility of internet facility” in the Kuki-majority Churachandpur area. No such order was issued against any centers in the valley, even though the government eventually put a curb on all these loopholes. For five years, India has been leading the global record for the highest number of Internet shutdowns in the world with at least 84 cases recorded in 2022 , far higher than the war-hit Ukraine, which saw 22 shutdowns imposed by the Russian military after their invasion of the country. According to Software Freedom Law Centre ’s internet shutdown tracker , India has seen a total of 759 shutdowns since 2012, with Jammu and Kashmir experiencing the majority of the bans, and Manipur featuring fourth on the list. In June, a joint report on internet shutdowns in India, released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Internet Freedom Foundation , a digital rights advocacy group in India, found that the Indian authorities’ decisions to disrupt internet access were “often erratic and unlawful”. The report cited a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology report that concluded, “So far, there is no proof to indicate that internet shutdown [sic] has been effective in addressing public emergency and ensuring public safety.” Meenakshi Ganguly, the HRW South Asia director, told me that while authorities have the responsibility to contain the spread of incitement to hate or violence, and to combat disinformation, simply denying internet access can end up further stoking fear and divisiveness. “Without access to credible information, internet shutdowns risk the spread of rumor-based retaliatory attacks, perpetuating the cycle of violence,” she said. Missing outrage The role of fake news and disinformation in instigating violence, including sexual assaults, against tribal women in Manipur has been well-documented . However, despite videos of these incidents floating online after the breakout of the violence, neither local nor national media reported on it or verified and pursued these leads. Several weeks before the infamous Kangpokpi video of the two women being paraded naked was out, another clip of a Kuki-Zo woman begging Meitei women to let go of her was doing the rounds. Speaking in Meitei Lon, the Meitei women are seen instigating men to rape 29-year-old Nancy Chingthianniang, who was later interviewed by the UK-based Guardian , a few weeks before her video went viral again. She lost her husband and mother-in-law to the mob. Chingthianniang herself was beaten black and blue until she passed out. Seeing the video of herself instantly triggered her. “I felt scared like I was back in that moment even though I was not raped,” she told me over the phone. When asked how she felt about these videos of herself and the women paraded being circulated online, Chingthianniang said it was for the better. “Hoi ka sa, eh; I'm glad that it’s out,” she said. “Now people know what these Meira Paibis (Meitei civic activists known as ‘women torchbearers’) really did to us.” While the public responses to the viral Kangpokpi video was welcomed by the Kuki-Zo community, especially as it led to the swift arrest of at least seven of the accused, the heinous crimes against the community have not seen similar reactions. On July 2, two weeks before the Kangpokpi video was released, photos and footage of a severed head perched on a fence went viral on WhatsApp groups, shocking members of the Kuki-Zo community. The head belonged to David Thiek, a resident of Langza village in the foothills of the Churachandpur tribal hill district. He had been defending his village on the day when an armed militia from the valley attacked it. Thiek’s head was severed off and his body burned down to ashes, the remains of which were draped in the traditional shawl of the Hmar tribe that he belonged to. A few days later, Sang Tonsing, a 24-year-old social worker from the Kuki-Zo community living outside Manipur, saw the screenshot of a photo posted by a Twitter account titled ‘Nongthombam Rohen Meetei’ (now deleted) with the caption, “Killing of meetei by kuki militants [sic]”. The photo showed a man, his face digitally obscured by red brush strokes, holding a machete in one hand and a severed head in another. A copy of the photo downloaded from Twitter shows a time stamp of 5.45 p.m. on July 2, 2023. Suspecting the severed head to belong to Thiek, Tonsing and a group of other social-media savvy friends attempted to verify the photo, beginning with reverse image verification on Google and TinEye. The photo appeared original. Tonsing then began scanning the local Meitei news channels, particularly Mami and Elite TV, since these channels had extensively covered the chief minister visiting the Meitei-dominated Bishnupur district in the valley, bordering the Kuki Zo villages that were attacked. That is when he noticed the same outfit as was worn by the man in the photo: a dark-teal-colored full-sleeved t-shirt paired with brown track pants and a camouflage tactical vest. “There was no way that another person could be wearing the same exact outfit,” he said. But that wasn’t their only lead. The person seen on the news clip, whose outfit matched with that of the assailant in the photograph, was eventually tracked on Facebook. He was identified as Mairembam Romesh Mangang, the public relations officer or the security detail of S Premchandra Singh, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of Manipur’s legislative assembly who represented the Kumbi constituency. Tonsing said that they instinctively thought to check the accounts of those associated with the MLA of Kumbi, since it was close to Langza village, where David was killed. “Secondly,” he added, “Kumbi is known to be a hotspot of Meitei insurgent groups where politicians conduct their financial dealings with underground groups.” The screenshot is now part of an investigation into the incident where members of the Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun are among the accused. SAAG reached out to Premchandra Singh, the MLA of Kumbi, who did not respond to the request for comment. (This piece will be updated as and when he responds.) While Tonsing and his friends may have made a plausible case of identification, what remains unexplained is why that photo was leaked online. His guess is one of three scenarios: one, someone from one of the Meitei-run WhatsApp groups carelessly uploaded it; two, there may still be whistleblowers among the Meitei groups who want the truth out; and three, which he thinks most likely, is that this was an attempt to manipulate the narrative in their favor as victims rather than perpetrators of the crime. Either way, he’s certain that more videos would surface once the internet ban is fully lifted. “Nowadays everyone’s got a smartphone and they are filming videos when they go to burn villages. Since these are mobs of 5000-odd people, they can’t control what people are shooting”, said Tonsing. Meanwhile in the valley, there have been news reports, albeit unverified, of missing Meitei individuals being tortured and killed in viral clips. In early July, hours after two cousins—27-year-old Irengbam Chinkheinganba and 31-year-old Sagolshem Ngaleiba Meitei from Kakching District—had gone missing, a video began circulating which showed two men being slapped and kicked, before being shot from behind. A BBC report noted that another video showing the shooting of a man surfaced two months later. While neither of the videos has been independently verified, the families of the missing two have identified the two men in the videos as Chinkheinganba and Ngaleibav. Similarly, the parents of a young teenager , who went missing along with her friend near the hill district, have identified their daughter in a clip that showed a girl being beheaded, allegedly by Kuki assailants. However, when SAAG checked the video, the perpetrators were speaking in the Burmese tongue, and not any of the languages or dialects native to Manipur. Videos connected to both of these disappearances surfaced only after the clip of the naked Vaipehi women made headlines. In our post-truth era, the conflict is not limited to violence in the buffer zones, but is also a war of perceptions on social media where fake news, morphed footage, and decontextualized information often seek to compound the confusion. Majoritarian manipulation Manipur is a state now divided like never before. Ethnic fault lines have always run deep, sometimes deeper and thicker than bloodlines despite enough instances of intermarriage between communities. The murder of a 7-year-old Kuki boy in early June, alongside his mother and his maternal aunt, en route to a hospital through the valley is emblematic of this. Even though the boy’s mother and maternal aunt belonged to the Meitei community, the mob made up of Meira Paibis and other Meiteis did not spare them and set the ambulance on fire after the murders. Local media operating out of Imphal and dominated by journalists from the Meitei community —or owned by politicians of the same community—did not report this incident, just as they ignored several other stories like the seven rape cases registered to date . Forget the tyranny of distance between New Delhi-based national media and Manipur, newsrooms based in the valley often don’t go and cover neighboring hill districts. In the present crisis, where Manipur’s Chief Minister Singh stands accused of orchestrating the violence against the Kuki-Zo community, with the majority-controlled media not covering the hills, and given only a partial lift on the internet blackout, the scales are tipped heavily against the minority tribes. In early September, in a report on the media coverage of the violence, the Editors’ Guild of India lamented how the Manipur media had turned into “Meitei media” and held the internet ban responsible for the media being overly reliant on the state’s narrative. Shortly after, two police complaints under sections of defamation, promoting enmity, and criminal conspiracy were filed against members of the Guild’s fact-finding committee. Meanwhile, rather than working to gain the confidence of the Kuki-Zo communities as their political representative, we instead find the chief minister getting into a late-night spat on Twitter, asking a Kuki-identifying user if they are from Manipur or Myanmar. As violence continues unabated in the “ buffer zones ” between the hills and the valley, where both communities live in relative proximity, rumors and disinformation remain rampant on both sides. In the din of contrasting narratives laying the blame exclusively on the other side, Spearcorps , an official Indian Army account on Twitter, has emerged as a neutral line for updates on the clashes. After days of speculation over the women-led civil-society group Meira Paibis aiding armed rioters to attack tribal villages by creating road blockades, the Spearcorps posted a tweet noting that “Women activists in #Manipur are deliberately blocking routes and interfering in Operations of Security Forces.” The post went on to appeal to “all sections of population to support our endeavours in restoring peace.” This new normal is especially significant in a state that has a long history of confrontation with the Indian Army, which stands accused of many human-rights excesses through the application of a special martial law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Naturally, the dominant Meitei community, its representative media and the state government see the army as biased in favor of the tribal groups, and accuse the armed forces of assisting Kuki "militants" . When I spoke to a source in the army who has been monitoring the security situation in Manipur, he argued that the neutrality of central security forces was evident in their assistance in the speedy evacuation of Meiteis from the hill districts. The only time that the local media had ever portrayed them in a positive light, he said, was when they reported the “rescue” of five Meitei civilians from Kuki “militants” (notably, Meitei attackers are often called ‘miscreants’ in these reports). “Except that it was the Kukis who had handed over the Meitei civilians to us in good faith,” he told me. But that detail never made it in any of the Meitei-run press. With such opportunities for solidarity that could have led to a ceasefire on violence and retaliatory attacks now looking increasingly remote, we find the strengthening of the Kuki-Zo tribes’ resolve to settle for separate administration away from the Manipur government. To be sure, the disturbing video of the Vaiphei women may have led to police action after weeks of inaction, and it has alerted the country and the world to the scale of violence. But on the home front, the civil war is nowhere near an end. In turn, it only fueled the war over narratives, where Manipuri social media was suddenly filled with posts asking Meitei women to come out with stories of their defilement. On August 9, the first police complaint of a Meitei woman alleging sexual assault was filed in the valley, in which the complainant said she was assaulted by “Kuki miscreants” on May 3, when Meitei houses in Churachandpur were being burned down. “The delay in filing this complaint is due to social stigma,” the complaint said. In the midst of all the suffering and counter narratives, Prime Minister Modi only took cognizance of the video, which he called “an insult to society,” while undermining the scale and context of the conflict in Manipur by equating it to violence in states like Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Despite the terrible cost that the two tribal women had to pay with their dignity for Modi—and the rest of India—to finally take notice and speak up, he maintained his position as a BJP star campaigner rather than the leader of a democracy. Apar Gupta, an advocate who founded Internet Freedom Foundation, was apologetic in his tone as many have been while talking to me about Manipur, which happens to be my home state. Beyond the scale of violence that the viral video alone has revealed and the sore lack of access to relief and medical aid for the internally displaced, he sharply questioned whose interest the internet ban had served. “I believe beyond this individual specific instance, the internet shutdown has served the function of contouring our media national narrative,” said Gupta. “Manipur is burning, but we don't care.” ▢ SUB-HEAD ​ ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: SHEBANI RAO A Freelancer's Guide to Decision-Making JAMIL JAN KOCHAI A Premonition; Recollected Courtesy of Sadiq Naqvi, from Kangpokpi, Manipur. SHARE ARTICLE: Reportage Manipur State & Media Technology & Majoritarianism Tribal Conflict Kuki-Zo Meitei Indigeneity Scheduled Tribes Politics of Ethnic Identity Constitutional Recognition Social Media Disinformation Internet Crackdowns Media Landscape Internet Blackouts Kangpokpi Unverified Information Gender Violence Newsclick The Print Imphal The Guardian Deccan Herald India Today Nikkei Asia Meitei Leepun Churachandpur RSS Viral Clips Twitter Narratives State Government Narrative Majoritarianism Indigeneous Spaces Politics of Indigeneity Ethnically Divided Politics AFSPA Sister States Modi Meitei Peoples Local vs. National Politics Caste Tribes MAKEPEACE SITLHOU is an independent journalist based out of India and a recipient of several awards, most recently the Rocky Mountain Emmy for a documentary short, A Wall Runs Through It . Her work has been carried by several international and national publications, and she has reported from India, Taiwan, Australia and the United States. 3 Oct 2023 Reportage Manipur Swat Youth Vanguards 24 Feb 2024 MANZOOR ALI Pakistan's Feminist Wave: A Panel 27 Sept 2020 COMMUNITY Disappearing Act 2 Apr 2021 FICTION & POETRY MORE LIKE THIS


    SHAH MEER BALOCH SHAH MEER BALOCH is a journalist who covers Pakistan for The Guardian . His work has been published in The Guardian, The New York Times, LA Times, Dawn, among others. He was awarded the 2020 Kurt Schork Award in International Freelance Journalism. WRITER WEBSITE INSTAGRAM TWITTER Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 LOAD MORE


    RAJIV MOHABIR RAJIV MOHABIR is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017), The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016). He translated I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) (Kaya Press 2019) from Awadhi-Bhojpuri (folk languages from the Indo-Caribbean of Demerara) and received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Award and the 2020 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the American Academy of Poets. His memoir Antiman (Restless Books 2021)was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Nonfiction, and the 2022 PEN Open Book Award. His poetry collection Cutlish (Four Way Books, 2021) was longlisted for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award, amongst other awards. He is currently Assistant Professor of poetry in the MFA program at Emerson College. WRITER WEBSITE INSTAGRAM TWITTER Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 LOAD MORE


    IRENE BENEDICTO IRENE BENEDICTO is an investigative and data reporter with ten years of experience working as a journalist. She has covered breaking news and written in-depth long-form stories, local and international news from eight different countries on three continents, including the political hubs of Washington DC and Brussels, and three investigative data projects on migration, public health, and social inequities. JOURNALIST WEBSITE INSTAGRAM TWITTER Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 LOAD MORE


    MAHMUD RAHMAN Mahmud Rahman is the author of the story collection Killing the Water , and translator of Mahmadul Haque’s Black Ice . He is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. ADVISORY EDITOR WEBSITE INSTAGRAM TWITTER Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 Heading 5 Heading 6 Heading 6 LOAD MORE

  • Battles and Banishments: Women's Encounters with Heroin Addiction in Maldives

    FEATURES Battles and Banishments: Women's Encounters with Heroin Addiction in Maldives VOL. 2 ISSUE 1 REPORTAGE Behind the façade of idyllic island paradise, Maldivians navigate a drug epidemic of huge proportions. A. R. & R. A. MALDIVES HAS a long history of substance abuse. Its 1,192 coral islands lie at the intersection of major historical global sea routes in the Indian Ocean. Historically, traders from all over the world brought all kinds of illicit substances to its shores. Yet the archipelago has never been a producer or manufacturing point for illicit drugs. According to state official reports, it wasn’t until the early 1970s that Maldives opened for tourism, and a steady market for drugs began to develop in the Maldives. As the tourism industry began to boom in Malé, and people traveled from all over the world to enjoy its breathtakingly beautiful beaches, the demand for illicit drugs soared. Malé’s geographic location made it the ideal drop-off point for all kinds of drugs—among them cheap, low-grade heroin called “brown sugar.” Walking down the street, it is common to come across at least one woman high on brown sugar. What gives her away are her vacant expression and comatose demeanor. Even as nearly a third of the country’s population or at least one member in a family struggles with substance abuse, women tend to face greater ostracization and social exclusion. This is not to say that women in the Maldives do not struggle with drug abuse. During a crackdown on Malé’s (in)famous drug cafés last year, police arrested 65 women and 14 children. In fact, many Maldivians would have, at some point, viewed a moralistic YouTube video of such a woman on social media. The women in these videos are meant to serve as a cautionary tale against the wayward social behaviors and tendencies that lead to a life of substance abuse, destitution, and misery. If the social stigma around seeking harm reduction for substance use wasn’t enough, such representations of women addicts end up stigmatizing them even more. The stories of women who end up abusing heroin—or brown sugar, as it is more commonly called—are diverse, yet they share a common thread of desperation, growing addiction, and a feeling of helplessness. One such story is Zulaikha’s (names have been changed to protect anonymity). A 38-year-old Maldivian woman who, in another life, successfully pursued a career in modeling. She now lives on a scantily-populated island of a Northern atoll, but back in the day, she was known for her exceptional beauty and talents in the creative arts. A few months ago, she knew she had hit rock bottom when she walked up to someone on the street and said (in Dhivehi): “Excuse me, can I please have a tenner for food?” The person she had asked for money turned to look at her and they both recognized each other. Zulaikha had gone to high school with them. As her old classmate’s eyes followed a line of cigarette burn marks on her arms, Zulaikha’s face turned ashen. The stories of women who end up abusing heroin—or brown sugar, as it is more commonly called—are diverse, yet they share a common thread of desperation, growing addiction, and a feeling of helplessness. Back in high school, Zulaikha was someone younger students could count on to stand up to their bullies. Her classmates fondly recall her compassionate and empathetic conduct with those younger than her. She stood up for justice and the values that mattered to her the most, and was widely admired for it. But Zulaikha’s adolescent years were marked with notoriety after she began using heroin at such a young age. Soon after high school ended, she gave birth to a child and then checked into rehab. She relapsed several times, after which she moved away from her family’s house and began living with her partner on a Northern island. The man she lived with was physically and mentally abusive. At one point, in a fit of rage, he beat her senseless with a hammer. Despite the constant threat of physical violence, Zulaikha refused to leave her partner, who is also a heroin abuser. Deprived of the care she needed from her family, she insists that she preferred living with the person she also terms her abuser. Zulaikha’s story is like that of several women who, after becoming heavily dependent on substances, are abandoned by their families. People in the Maldives frequently associate women’s addiction with sex work. It is after the drug dependency kicks in that the actual cycle of abuse begins. After women addicts are abandoned by their families, many end up moving in with partners who also abuse drugs and them too. The plentiful supply of drugs in the region, combined with limited support to recover, means that the chances of an ex-user relapsing are high. Stories of women who managed to end their dependency on heroin and rebuild their lives are, in fact, painfully rare. They end up falling deeper and deeper into addiction, while their circumstances inhibit them from breaking patterns of drug abuse. In situations like these, family support is pivotal in enabling women to get back on their feet. Cycles of Addiction As a young undergraduate student in Malé in the early 2000s, Maryam had jumped at the chance to study abroad. The twenty-something was academically gifted and creative, and she believed the experience would open up several opportunities for her. It was during her time abroad with a cohort of heroin users from back home that she began using. She recalls that her time abroad was an incredibly vulnerable period for her. Away from her family and the security of home, she began using drugs experimentally, but soon became addicted to heroin. After returning to Malé, she remained hopelessly addicted. Her dreams and ambitions were no longer possibilities for her, and she became estranged from family and friends. A few months after she was turned away from home, Maryam was using heroin at a café frequented by criminal gangs involved with the drug trade, when the police raided the place and arrested her. Before the enactment of the 2011 Drugs Act, people arrested for drug use were often sentenced to spend as many as 25 years in prison, regardless of the quantity or potency of drugs in possession. It would not be a stretch to estimate that over 90 percent of all criminal cases in the Maldives are drug-related. Shortly after Maryam started serving her sentence in Maafushi prison in 2004, the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami hit. The recently constructed women’s wing where Maryam was being kept suffered severe damage. She incurred several injuries while trying to flee from the tidal swell and was subsequently sent home. After recovering from her injuries, she started using heroin again, but this time around, she was able to rely on her family. Her mother, Maryam recalls, was relentless in her efforts to get her off drugs. Maryam began to alternate between periods of staying clean and abusing heroin. Despite her protestations, her family sent her to the Himmafushi Rehabilitation Center several times to recover. During one of her drug abuse stints, she was arrested for drug possession, but managed to avoid a prison sentence because of her confession. Before the enactment of the 2011 Drugs Act, people arrested for drug use were often sentenced to spend as many as 25 years in prison, regardless of the quantity or potency of drugs in possession. It would not be a stretch to estimate that over 90 percent of all criminal cases in the Maldives are drug-related. Maryam’s recovery at the Himmafushi Rehabilitation Center was slow and interrupted by relapses, but the place was somewhere she could return to safely. This feeling of security and care began to help her thrive at the center. Maryam recalls her spells there as restful. Eventually, she developed a passion for helping other drug addicts overcome their patterns of abuse. She thrived in the company of other women who were also recovering addicts, and collaborated with them on several projects. When she returned to the rehab center for a third time, she decided to put her plans into motion. In collaboration with an NGO for vulnerable women and drug addicts, Maryam worked on building a safe space for vulnerable social groups within the rehab center. She also ran several vocational programs and capacity-building workshops. Things had begun to look up for Maryam. She was doing something that she believed in and regained her youthful confidence. After settling down and getting married in 2010, Maryam gave birth to a daughter. Her life seemed perfect—till it wasn’t. Three years after her daughter’s birth, Maryam’s marriage soured. Depressed and despondent, she returned to using heroin. It wasn’t long till she was arrested during a drug bust for a third time. This time, she was sentenced to imprisonment. “My relationship with my child suffered because of this,” she said sorrowfully. “It’s like I’m a stranger to my own child and there’s no way to gain back the time I’ve lost.” After three years of serving time in prison, she was released on parole. This time around, Maryam’s family decided to send her to India for treatment. She got better there and returned to her family a healthier and happier person. Since her return from treatment, she admits that she still struggles to stay sober and hold on to relationships. Her time in prison had greatly impacted her mental health and made her reticent and reluctant to talk to strangers or new acquaintances. As Maryam continues to attempt to get to know and care for her daughter, she treads a delicate balance of resentment and relapse. Facing a wicked system Zulaikha remembers her stay at Himmafushi Rehabilitation Center differently. A regular returnee at the center, she did not have the network of family and financial support that Maryam relied on, and faced several obstacles along the way. In fact, Zulaikha insists that she did not benefit from rehab in the slightest. She would prefer to stay with a partner she admits is abusive towards her. The reason for that, she elaborates, is that there are no alternatives for women who lack an emotional and material support base in the form of family or wealth. There are no state-run or community-run shelters for vulnerable women looking for a safe space, and neither are there any detoxification or rehabilitation facilities available to them. Most women jailed for drug-related offenses often end up there for refusing to complete their treatment at the rehabilitation facility. Zulaikha remembers the facility itself as lacking the necessary infrastructure and support for recovering addicts. The Himmafushi Rehab Center houses recovering men and women who are supposed to always be segregated. Women are told to stay within the confines of a small compound within the larger Himmafushi Rehab Center and are not allowed any outdoors time. Over at the men’s enclosure, the rehab center organizes outdoor activities and classes, but women are barred from participating in them. Zulaikha’s misgivings about the rehab center have been repeated by several other recovering addicts as well, which suggests that the rehab center is severely lacking in essential facilities for the recovering addicts. Even though the Drugs Act of 2011 mandates separate recovery centers for men, women, and juveniles, so far there has been no work on building separate centers. Hence, everyone gets sent to the Himmafushi Rehab Center. The clinicians and staff at the center follow a Therapeutic Community Program which aims to focus on recovery through lifestyle changes, and not simply abstinence from drugs. Yet the center’s facilities are stretched painfully thin. Prisons too are choked with people arrested for drug possession—almost 99 per cent of all criminal cases are drug-related, after all—and these are the conditions which have forced lawmakers to reform laws pertaining to drug abuse. Yet reform work is painfully slow, hence the problems accompanying drug abuse fester and worsen over time. One of the most frequently cited problems is one of alienation—from care and support networks, as well as fellow recovering addicts. In the 1990s, there were no custodial buildings for women arrested on drug-related charges. So, when Fatima was arrested in Malé and sent to jail, she was put in a small isolation cell with another woman who became the first Maldivian woman sentenced to imprisonment for drug possession. Both women were suffering from withdrawals and ill health, but since Fatima was the younger one, the prison authorities tasked her with caring for her fellow inmate. Fatima’s own condition deteriorated while she tried her best to help the woman in jail with her. The woman was undergoing severe withdrawals and needed medical attention, but none was available. Instead, she died an agonizing death within 48 hours of her sentencing, while a dehydrated and listless Fatima watched her suffer helplessly. The sight is etched in her memory forever, she says. The prison authorities hushed up the matter, while Fatima says she was left alone in the cell to tend to her psychological and physical scars. When Fatima was arrested in Malé and sent to jail, she was put in a small isolation cell with another woman who became the first Maldivian woman sentenced to imprisonment for drug possession. Both women were suffering from withdrawals and ill health, but since Fatima was the younger one, the prison authorities tasked her with caring for her fellow inmate. Life hadn’t always been unkind to Fatima. Her family was wealthy, and she had led a comfortable life. It was the early 1990s and she was barely out of her teens, gullible and eager to explore the world. She jumped at the chance to try heroin with her older friends, thoroughly convinced that she would never get addicted. By the time she became aware of her drug dependency, it was too late. When her family found out about her condition, they arranged to send her abroad for two years to recover. They also made her sever ties with the friends she used heroin with. In 1994, Fatima returned to Malé and, within no time, began using heroin again. That's when everything went downhill, she recalls. Shooting heroin was the only priority in life, she says. Her memories of youth all involve using heroin with friends at restaurants and other places. This was a time when heroin was not that common—this was not brown sugar—and most people were unaware of its effects on people. This is how they got away with using the drug in public and remained socially functional. But it wasn’t long before she was picked up by the police in a drug bust and sent to jail. That is where she met the inmate who passed away from withdrawals. In the aftermath of the whole episode, Fatima was “banished” to an island instead of a prison. Historically, the term “banishment” has referred to the commonly prescribed punishment of internal exile to one of the many Maldives islands. Banishment as punishment was finally repealed in 2015 after the enactment of a new Penal Code. However, for Fatima, the punishment of banishment entailed being sent to live among a close-knit community of locals on an island in the south of the Maldives. There, she suffered from loneliness and isolation. The local people shunned anyone sent there in exile, especially if it was for drug-related offenses. Fatima was neither welcomed nor acknowledged in the community and she lived as an outcast in the eyes of the island residents. “I was scorned and ridiculed,” she recalls. “Women struggling with addiction are not acceptable in this society.” “Back in the 1990s,” she says, “the inhabited islands were destitute places.” The islanders had limited access to drinking water and electricity, and had to struggle to make ends meet. This felt like a rude jolt to Fatima, who had been accustomed to a life of luxury and gratification her entire life. She recalls those days as a never-ending spiral into tedium, with no one to keep her company, save for occasional telephone calls from her family, which she received at the singular telephone booth on the island. Thoroughly bored and miserable, she attempted to find ways to numb her pain, but could not, and that made her desire drugs even more. After her sentence ended, she returned to her family in Malé. There, her mental health deteriorated significantly and she started using heroin again. She began feeling resentful towards her family, friends, and even her daughter. Anger and rage festered beneath her attempts to regain control of her life, and she found herself unable to share her feelings with anyone, even those closest to her. Refusing to give up or give in, Fatima reached out to rehab centers locally and abroad for help in recovering. The experience of treatment abroad was markedly different from back home. She terms the Maldivian rehabilitation program “the Garfield program, since their clients are programmed to eat, sleep and repeat.” At the rehab centers in the Maldives, she adds, recovering addicts are called to a meeting every morning, but the goals or takeaways from that meeting aren’t clear to anyone. While the men were allowed to engage in (albeit a limited number of) activities, the women addicts were left alone in their quarters. The counselors were not properly trained or certified, and most of their clients chose not to open up and be honest about their drug use with them. The way Fatima describes her experience makes it appear as if rehab is a place where one goes to escape a jail conviction, get away from annoying family members, or is just somewhere you can mentally check out and go through the motions day after day. Either way, there is no measurable positive outcome. Her time in rehab centers abroad was quite different. The day was filled with a long list of activities and tasks to complete. The recovering addicts would work hard at these tasks from sunrise to late evening, which included yoga and cooking classes. Fatima says her self-esteem improved greatly during her time there. The clients at rehab (abroad) were encouraged to journal their feelings and experiences daily, she says, and this would help them arrive at new insights into the nexus between their mental health and addiction. Fatima says these activities helped her recognize the obsessive-compulsive tendencies that she has had since her childhood (even though she had never been formally diagnosed). The Scale of the Drug Epidemic There are several detox and rehabilitation centers operated by the government across the Maldivian archipelago, but only two of them are currently being used to help drug addicts recover. Close to half of the country‘s population is below 25 years of age, and at least half of that population is addicted to brown sugar. Such is the notoriety of the Maldivian youth, that the term for youth, which is “ zuvaanun,” has a negative connotation. It is commonly deployed to accuse someone of miscreancy or addiction. Suppose you hear of a road accident caused by a speeding motorbike, or see someone getting mugged on a street: as the average Maldivian, chances are that you will shake your head and cuss at those rapscallion zuvaanun. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, society in Malé was undergoing a radical shift. The islands were opening up to the outside world and people were bringing in all kinds of new (mostly western) ideas and ways of life to the country. The population of the capital city boomed as residents of other islands flocked to Malé in search of higher education and basic services that were boosted by the then-burgeoning tourism industry. They dreamed of a life where they would get greater access to amenities and opportunities to better their lives. Despite the influx of so many people, or perhaps because of it, some communities and generations clung to their traditions and roots. Their children were expected to diligently study, find stable jobs, marry, and spend their lives working and raising a family. Yet the generations growing up in the 1980s and 1990s faced a more tumultuous time. Some call them a generation that was lost in between an unprecedented cultural shift. Combined with the skyrocketing demand and supply of drugs on the tiny islands, it was easy to fall prey to drug addiction. Given the massive scale of the drug problem, it is shocking that there are so few resources to help tackle it. In the centers that are operational, recovering addicts share that medical treatment is lacking, counseling is substandard and ineffective, and that the whole program is woefully incompetent. In February 2021, a client seeking treatment at the Hanimaadhoo Detoxification Center passed away from severe withdrawals after not receiving medical attention. The center was subsequently shut down. Recently, on 14 November 2021, local media reported that a client who had just returned to Malé from a detoxification center was found dead in an abandoned home after succumbing to a drug overdose. The government body tasked with the management of detoxification and drug treatment centers is the National Drug Agency (NDA) of the Maldives. Among journalists and related staff, there is much talk of inaction, incompetence, and even accusations of corruption plaguing this institution. The Sri Lankan counterpart to the Maldivian NDA, the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, runs programs for addicts in 11 prisons, while managing four treatment centers in heavily populated areas. The Sri Lankan drug control body also engages with thirteen private treatment and rehabilitation centers where clients can seek services for payment. Some Maldivian addicts who can afford treatment abroad frequently enroll in treatment centers in Sri Lanka, India, and Malaysia. But most drug addicts are poor and cannot afford to go abroad for treatment. In February 2021, a client seeking treatment at the Hanimaadhoo Detoxification Center passed away from severe withdrawals after not receiving medical attention. The center was subsequently shut down. Recently, the health minister of the Maldives was called to the parliament regarding an enquiry on the obstacles faced in finding solutions to the Maldives’ drug problem. The health minister stated that there was no quick solution to the large issue, and that the relevant authorities do not know the way forward. He mentioned the lack of research on drug abuse as one of the problems. However, he acknowledged that drugs and drug addiction are the most severe twin crises the country is facing today. Change NDA and Hands Together are two movements launched by recovering addicts and members of their families and communities. Both movements have been calling for reforms in the NDA. Though the movements lack numbers in their demonstrations and protests, their members are vocal and persistent. Last year, they submitted a “Change NDA 2020” petition to the People’s Majlis with over 1,000 signatures, prompting a mass inspection of all rehabilitation and detoxification centers being run by the NDA. This petition also resulted in heavy scrutiny of the organization, and the operations of the NDA were shifted from the Gender Ministry to the Health Ministry, with a new chairman appointed. Citizen engagement efforts and advocacy initiatives, along with transnational solidarity campaigns among recovering drug addicts, can help provide the impetus necessary to push the government towards action. It is not enough to rely on the goodwill of authorities who themselves admit to state collusion with drug cartels operating in the region. At present, most detoxification centers in the country are closed and there is no headway in improving the rehab infrastructure and facilities for recovering addicts. While there is talk of the government bringing on board a foreign private company to design a new, more effective rehabilitation and detoxification program, people on the ground know not to put too much faith in these talks of plans. At the end of the day, those who suffer through drug abuse and its related problems rely on the solidarity of family members, friends, and organizations to help them navigate an otherwise incredibly dehumanizing system. ▢ SUB-HEAD ​ ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: SHEBANI RAO A Freelancer's Guide to Decision-Making JAMIL JAN KOCHAI A Premonition; Recollected Artwork "Where do we go from here?" by Firushana Naseem for SAAG. Mixed media on canvas. SHARE ARTICLE: Reportage Maldives Malé Addiction Drug Epidemic Rehabilitation Drug Trade Tourism Maafushi Prison Gender Violence Trauma Intimate Partner Violence Poverty Longform Change NDA People’s Majlis Hands Together Maldivian State Repression Hanimaadhoo Detoxification Center Malé’s drug cafés Dhivehi Brown Sugar Heroin Substance Abuse Relapse 2011 Drugs Act 2004 Tsunami Himmafushi Rehabilitation Center NGOs Prison Structural Frameworks Detention Drug-Related Arrests Zuvaanun National Drug Agency National Dangerous Drugs Control Board Sri Lanka Banishment Police Action Internationalism Class Public Space Low-Income Workers Urban/Rural Humanitarian Crisis Local Politics Health Workers Gender Investigative Journalism The authors of this piece wish to remain anonymous. 28 Feb 2023 Reportage Maldives Swat Youth Vanguards 24 Feb 2024 MANZOOR ALI Bibi Hajra’s Spaces of Belonging 3 Jul 2023 BOOKS & ARTS Chokepoint Manipur 3 Oct 2023 THE VERTICAL MORE LIKE THIS


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