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Shooting Poverty: April 6th
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Shooting Poverty: April 6th
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ViewChange: One Good Idea
Renu Takhellambam lost her husband to gun violence on the night of their second wedding anniversary, a result of a lack of international control in the weapons trade. She now works with family members of victims of armed violence, and fights for measures to prevent others from experiencing her pain.
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Produced by Oisten Moskvil Thorsen and Lucas Gath. Directed by Chandam Netraj.

Find out more about the Control Arms Alliance's campaign for an arms trade treaty..

Find out more about Oxfam International.

Learn about Oxfam's Shooting Poverty film contest.

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Segment 1

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Shooting Poverty and Drewstone Productions Presents
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A film by Chandam Netraj
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April 6th
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Manipur is a small state in northeastern India renowned for its untouched natural beauty. It shares its national borders with Myanmar.
RENU TAKHELLAMBAM
My name is Renu Takhellambam. I was born in the Moirang district of Manipur. My husband was born in Kwakeithel Ningthemkol, Paite Veng, Imphal. We have a five-year-old son. It was on Good Friday eve, April 6, 2007; my husband went out to buy a roll of film for our still camera. We were planning to take photographs at church and also for our son’s forthcoming birthday. Not long after, I heard the sound of gunfire. I was restless. I was worried about my husband because he wasn’t coming back. No one had the courage to tell me that my husband had been killed. He was killed on the charges that he failed to stop during a Police Commandos pursuit. The very next day we organized a general strike and formed a JAC (Joint Action Committee). It was devastating to me. We had been married for only two years. And now I am in this condition, having to support my son alone. Even my parents have disowned me because I chose to marry a Christian (inter-caste marriage).
BABLOO LOITOGBAM [Director, Human Rights Alert, Manipur (HRA) Manipur, India]
When you take away the husband, the life of a widow becomes extremely difficult. The burden of bringing up a child alone is extremely heavy. And worst of all, they are often stigmatized as “family of the terrorist.” Every year we see more than five hundred people executed in the name of counter insurgency, counter terrorism natures.
BINALAKSHMI NEPRAM [Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI) New Delhi, India]
Twelve Indians are killed everyday because of gun violence. Out of that, here in Manipur, three to four Manipurians are shot dead daily.
VOICES
Don’t Kill Civilians
BABLOO LOITOGBAM
Many of the unmet human needs, for decades together have resulted into a kind of protest, a militant protest using arms, calling for a revolution, or independence, or sovereignty. Therefore, in the process of repressing this uprising, brutal force has been used. As a result, the rebels gain legitimacy. Therefore, there is more militancy and more army. More army and therefore more militancy. This cycle of violence has been going on over and over.
TH. RADHESHYAM SINGH [Superintendent of Police, Imphal East, Manipur, India]
These are arms that are seized by us during our operations. These weapons are coming from different countries across our border. We have a border with Myanmar that is very porous. Myanmar has an open market for arms and ammunition. Arms traders get these arms from Myanmar and bring it across the border. They are used in illegal activities such as extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and ambushes on security forces.
BINALAKSHMI NEPRAM
As a result, women like Renu and countless others in Manipur as well as in different parts of the world, are suffering as a result of the fact that nobody at the international level is taking any steps to control this. These are the weapons with which wars are fought everyday. Look at a grenade for example; if you would check a grenade found in Manipur, you would probably find it’s Chinese made.
TH. RADHESHYAM SINGH
We have these grenades; they are the latest models of grenade. Chinese grenades. There are plenty of these in Myanmar and the arms traders bring them to Manipur for the insurgent groups. These types of weapons are made in China. Made in Austria. Made in USA. However, it doesn’t come straight from the United States, it comes in from Myanmar.
BINALAKSHMI NEPRAM
The United States of America, who probably has never heard of Manipur before, would be surprised that their M16s are a favorite among our insurgent groups. Every day in newspapers, you see weapons captured from insurgents or terrorists by our state forces. Most of our armed groups, including underground, own only 0.2 percent of the entire arms arsenal of the world. It is the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council who produce 88 percent of the world’s weapons. These governments are responsible for this irresponsible arms trade and it is there that they should try to make a difference. Every year, three hundred widows are created in Manipur.
WOMAN 1
I have been left alone with two young children. Our land is currently under mortgage. We have been living day to day with no real means of livelihood.
RENU TAKHELLAMBAM
I am currently working as a native evangelist. My in-laws have been very supportive of my work. We have formed an association for families of victims of armed violence (EEVFAM). This association helps people who have had family members killed. I am currently serving as the president of the association.
RENA TAKHELLAMBAM
We should take the signatures of all the members.
WOMAN 2
What type of family do you belong to?
WOMAN 3
I belong to a nuclear family.
WOMAN 2
How old was your husband when he was killed?
WOMAN 3
He was thirty-three years old.
RENU TAKHELLAMBAM
Young widows like us seek comfort by coming together and sharing our woes.
BINALAKSHMI NEPRAM
Renu’s story is a testimony to the fact that women in Manipur have strength in them to come out of trauma and fight back for peace and justice.
RENU TAKHELLAMBAM
April 6th is our wedding anniversary. Exactly two years after our wedding date, my husband was killed. We bonded and we parted on April 6th. This day is a landmark for me because it gave me the push to organize this important association for the victims of armed violence, and to create strength to fight for the peace and justice we deserve.
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What will be on Renu’s mind when April 6th comes? April 6th comes every year. Help control the arms trade by showing that armed violence affects us all. Share your story. Add your voice.