Save The Vanishing Tribe, Save the Lepchas of Sikkim
All Concerned Individuals/Organisations
Every Individual Suporting the Cause taken up by the members of the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT)
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Located on the flanks of the eastern Himalayas, Sikkim was a hereditary monarchy till 1975, when it merged with India to become the 22nd state of the country.
That state shares its borders with Nepal in the West, Bhutan in the Southeast and China in the North. Sikkim is a land of dramatic contours with rugged mountains, deep valleys and dense forests consorting with glaciers, raging rivers, lakes and biodiversity hotspot. The state has steepest rise to an altitude over the shortest distance and climate ranges from tropical to temperate to alpine. The variety in elevation gives Sikkim a rich botanical wealth. The worlds highest National Park (Khangchendzonga National Park) is located in this region. There are over 4000 species of plants and luxuriant forests which cover 36 percent of the land. These dense forests are the habitat of a variety of animals, some of which are today threatened with extinction because of change in eco system.
Sikkim has three main ethnic groups, the Lepchas, Bhutias and the Nepalese.
The Lepchas are the earliest inhabitants of Sikkim, The culture customs and traditions of the Lepchas are inextricably linked to their deep bond with nature but changing times and modern development have started disturbing the delicate eco-system with which they have lived so closely over centuries
Here in the Himalayas, the abode of gods, the Lepchas or the Vanishing Tribe, who called themselves Mu-thanchi-Rong-kup, meaning the mothers, loved ones are fighting a loosing battle.
They no longer seem to be their mothers beloved one. Their last refuge, Dzongu (A protected area for the original indigenous tribe The Lepchas of Sikkim) is on the verge of collapse on alien hands with more than six hydro projects spanning the hearts and lungs of the tribe.
Three Lepcha youths affiliated with the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT, a committee consisting of the local people of North and East Sikkim who hail from the affected area, to study and to take action and recommend action to be undertaken to mitigate the adverse impact of the Power Projects) have resorted to an indefinite hunger strike, protesting against the Government of Sikkim to immediately ban all hydro electric power projects in Dzongu.
The indefinite hunger strike by the Lepchas of Dzongu has entered its ninth day while the State government has shown no concern over the entire demonstration. When the authorities turned a deaf ear to all their pleas, they had no other alternative but to resort to an indefinite hunger strike. The participants of the hunger strike share a similar ideology and a common goal, which is to protect their land and their culture.
While there is the need to enhance the economy of the country, there is equal and more compelling need to ensure that the people who get effected permanently in the process of commercialization of their natural habitat should be taken care of so that the democratic values and traditions of our great nation is upheld. In these times no citizen of this country should be subjected and deprived of his fundamental human right to live with dignity, honour and peace. The poorest of the poor must be assured of Justice, Equality and Protection.
It is high time, we as concerned citizens along with the national and international organizations should now come and rescue the Lepchas of Sikkim, already reffered to as The Vanishing Tribe. Let us all unite our voices to prevent their extinction.