Champhai : re post

To all the friends, family and neighbours of Ezra and Lian’s Great-Grandma, the mother of Pu B. T. Nghinglova, the wife of Pu B. P. Khuma, Ruth’s “Champhai Grandma”, my Api, I extend my heart-felt condolences on your loss. I mourn the passing of a beautiful soul. We join with you in remembering a lovely lady who will be sadly missed by the Morgan Family.

Originally posted to my personal Facebook page on May 5, 2015

Dear Ezra and Lian,

During World World II, an Allied pilot flying over the Chin Hills during the Burma campaign ran into trouble. He had to make an emergency landing. The only flat land for at least 50 miles in any direction was the rice paddies of Champhai. He safely landed. The man who would be chief of the area greeted him and saw to his welfare. He arranged for his safe transport to the port at Chittagong. For the chief, this was the first Sap (white man) he had ever seen.

Over 55 years later, a tall, skinny Sap with red hair came to visit him and his wife. He had travelled over oceans by planes. He crossed India by train. He rolled over mountains in buses and jeeps. It took over a week. This man came to pay his respects and hopefully win the favour of his family. He impressed the family enough, that within a few weeks, the chief’s son gave his approval for me to marry his daughter (Mommy). According to your great-grandfather, B. P. Khuma, I was the second Sap he had ever seen.

A few years after the war was over, India became an independent country. They began the process of writing a constitution. You grandfather as chief was invited to some of those meetings. The chiefs of the tribes of the Northeast considered whether they should join the rest of India. The British before they left India had contemplated creating a Kingdom of the tribes between India, China, East Pakistan and Burma. However, there was chaos as the British began to lose control and the partition of India began to happen. There were worries about what China would do. The chiefs were assured that 10 years after Independence they could hold a vote to separate or stay inside India. So with that promise they voted to remain inside India. Ten years came and went, but no vote was ever held. This led to much of the unrest in the area until now.

In 1959, the mautam famine due to bamboo flowering hit. (Here’s a video I helped make about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9xj-JcE8ng) The government of India and the state government of Assam failed to send adequate supplies. Over 10,000 people starved to death. This lead to the creation of the Mizo Famine Front, an aid agency. Due to the inaction for years and extreme poverty they became the Mizo National Front. On March 1, 1966, they declared Mizo independence from India. They had about 1 month of success. They captured almost all Indian army and border security forces. Then the airstrikes began.

The Indian air force began bombing and strafing missions on the capital city of Aizawl. All civilians fled into the villages. It is the only instance in Indian history that its air force bombed their own civilian population. The MNF retreated but fought a successful series of surprise attacks launched from small hamlets and villages. To combat the insurgency, in 1967, the Indian army destroyed 80% of every village house and farm in the state. Mizos were herded into internment camps in the major towns and cities. They were cut off from their farms. There was much starvation. At this time, your great-grandfather and great-grandmother had their home and farm burned to the ground. With their children, the clothes on their backs, they fled into the jungle. All they had for food was the leg of a dear and half a bag of rice.

Despite all of this, to some degree, they forgave India. They were two of the jolliest people I have ever met. Their son, Mommy’s Dad, also managed to forgive the government of India. Within a few years, he was a police officer enforcing that government’s laws. When he retired, he was a Deputy General of Police in the state of Maharashtra. Amongst the Mizos, that is the 2nd highest anyone has risen in the police.

Ezra, you have a great capacity for forgiving. Lian, I hope you can follow your brother’s example. Maybe you inherited it from grandfather. Maybe it is the gift of God. I hope you can forgive India for what they did to the Mizos. Someday, you need to talk to your grandfather about this. There is a tremendous power that is unleashed when we forgive and reconcile. It can destroy walls. It can build bridges. It can do the impossible.

We seem to be entering a time of grievances. Hurt people hurt people. This is leading to destruction, fires, pain and death. As you enter your teenage years, many will try to whip you up into a frenzy of rage and righteous anger against the injustices that exist near us. I want you to measure those issues against what your own Mizo family have experienced. Before you pick up pens, placards or pistols to fight, I want you to take the time to see if you can forgive. If you can’t forgive, I want you to explain to me how your grandparents could move past the great evil done to them, but you cannot. If you can’t forgive, I want you to explain to me why you are not in Mizoram ending great injustices still there.

I hope you choose to free yourself from the need for revenge. You are so young, but there are miracles in your hearts. Forgiving can unleash that power for good. You are small, but with a tiny faith God can throw our mountains into the sea. It is time, my little buddy and my sweetie pie, to see what God will do with it.

Love,

DadOver 55 years later, a tall, skinny Sap with red hair came to visit him and his wife. He had travelled over oceans by planes. He crossed India by train. He rolled over mountains in buses and jeeps. It took over a week. This man came to pay his respects and hopefully win the favour of his family. He impressed the family enough, that within a few weeks, the chief’s son gave his approval for me to marry his daughter (Mommy). According to your great-grandfather, B. P. Khuma, I was the second Sap he had ever seen.

A few years after the war was over, India became an independent country. They began the process of writing a constitution. You grandfather as chief was invited to some of those meetings. The chiefs of the tribes of the Northeast considered whether they should join the rest of India. The British before they left India had contemplated creating a Kingdom of the tribes between India, China, East Pakistan and Burma. However, there was chaos as the British began to lose control and the partition of India began to happen. There were worries about what China would do. The chiefs were assured that 10 years after Independence they could hold a vote to separate or stay inside India. So with that promise they voted to remain inside India. Ten years came and went, but no vote was ever held. This led to much of the unrest in the area until now.

In 1959, the mautam famine due to bamboo flowering hit.  (Here’s a video I helped make about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9xj-JcE8ng) The government of India and the state government of Assam failed to send adequate supplies. Over 10,000 people starved to death. This lead to the creation of the Mizo Famine Front, an aid agency. Due to the inaction for years and extreme poverty they became the Mizo National Front. On March 1, 1966, they declared Mizo independence from India. They had about 1 month of success. They captured almost all Indian army and border security forces. Then the airstrikes began.

The Indian air force began bombing and strafing missions on the capital city of Aizawl. All civilians fled into the villages. It is the only instance in Indian history that its air force bombed their own civilian population. The MNF retreated but fought a successful series of surprise attacks launched from small hamlets and villages. To combat the insurgency, in 1967, the Indian army destroyed 80% of every village house and farm in the state. Mizos were herded into internment camps in the major towns and cities. They were cut off from their farms. There was much starvation. At this time, your great-grandfather and great-grandmother had their home and farm burned to the ground. With their children, the clothes on their backs, they fled into the jungle. All they had for food was the leg of a dear and half a bag of rice.

Despite all of this, to some degree, they forgave India. They were two of the jolliest people I have ever met. Their son, Mommy’s Dad, also managed to forgive the government of India. Within a few years, he was a police officer enforcing that government’s laws. When he retired, he was a Deputy General of Police in the state of Maharashtra. Amongst the Mizos, that is the 2nd highest anyone has risen in the police.

Ezra, you have a great capacity for forgiving. Lian, I hope you can follow your brother’s example. Maybe you inherited it from grandfather. Maybe it is the gift of God. I hope you can forgive India for what they did to the Mizos. Someday, you need to talk to your grandfather about this. There is a tremendous power that is unleashed when we forgive and reconcile. It can destroy walls. It can build bridges. It can do the impossible.

We seem to be entering a time of grievances. Hurt people hurt people. This is leading to destruction, fires, pain and death. As you enter your teenage years, many will try to whip you up into a frenzy of rage and righteous anger against the injustices that exist near us. I want you to measure those issues against what your own Mizo family have experienced. Before you pick up pens, placards or pistols to fight, I want you to take the time to see if you can forgive. If you can’t forgive, I want you to explain to me how your grandparents could move past the great evil done to them, but you cannot. If you can’t forgive, I want you to explain to me why you are not in Mizoram ending great injustices still there.

I hope you choose to free yourself from the need for revenge. You are so young, but there are miracles in your hearts. Forgiving can unleash that power for good. You are small, but with a tiny faith God can throw our mountains into the sea. It is time, my little buddy and my sweetie pie, to see what God will do with it.

tim04

Humanitarian

 

tim47Dear Ezra and Lian,

Sometimes it’s the little things that break us. Sometimes that’s because we are petty. I know I have been. Sometimes doing the little things can make such a big difference. Just doing a good job or saying a simple, “Thank you” can be enough to keep someone from giving up. You don’t know what the people around you are going through. Please be nice to them.

I had gone through a lot when I got back to Canada from India in 2008. I won’t go into details, but you can read my company’s internal posting at the bottom to get a glimpse of that. I was still in the midst of trying to get desperately needed food through Indian Customs and delivered. However, my “vacation” was over and I had to go back to work.

When I got back to work, I found out my locker had been given away. My lock had been cut off and all its contents thrown out. Where I work, especially in 2008, lockers are a big deal. There were more employees than lockers. So, there was a constant effort to take lockers from those who had left the company or no longer needed them. There was a whole elaborate procedure to follow. This was supposed to protect guys like me. You had to receive 30 days notice of pending loss of a locker. A copy was supposed to be sent to your manager. A union representative was supposed to present when the lock was cut off and the locker opened. None of that happened in my case.

I was gone for 5 weeks. I emailed the manager in charge. I told him he never followed the procedure. I copied the message below. I said, “Do you even read the internal website? It told everyone who works here, I was out of the country. Obviously I couldn’t respond to the paper notice on my locker. You didn’t even follow the procedure.” I never got apology of any kind or an acknowledgement that they had made an error. Not even, “I’m sorry.”

This little thing just added to my despair. It was just one more reason to give up trying to make a difference. It wasn’t the final reason. It wasn’t the main reason, but it was a factor. In some small way it lead to the second biggest mistake of my life.

This notice appeared on my employer’s internal website. I’ve edited this notice to remove both the name of the company I work for and the charity I used to volunteer with. Designated with X and Y. If both organizations choose to publicly associate with me, they are free to do so.

X Applauds Tim Morgan’s Global Humanitarian Effort
Submitted by: Public Affairs
Thursday May 15, 2008

Tim Morgan, humanitarian and Nuclear Operator, is representing X’s commitment to strengthen local communities – only he is doing it half-way across the world.

Situated deep within the bamboo jungles in one of the North Easternmost regions of India, sits Mizoram—a remote and mountainous region nestled between Bangladesh and Myanmar (previously known as Burma). Virtually cut off from the world, including the rest of India, Mizoram has been ravaged by a famine, which began in 2006 and is currently affecting about three million people.

Tim Morgan has spent many years donating his time and volunteering to have food and supplies shipped from Canada to India. Morgan serves as the Director of the Mizoram Project for Y which is a non-profit organization that has two objectives: “justice education in the Global North and transformational development in the Global South.” The Mizoram Project delivers essential food and supplies to areas most in need, educates people about new and beneficial farming practices, introduces HIV/AIDS awareness programs and creates much needed Malaria detection clinics. As part of the Mizoram Project, Morgan will be working with a team of students from Wilfred Laurier University and members of local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), to help the Mizo people. Traveling to India, the Mizoram Project team will spend about three weeks this May assisting in the distribution of food rations to the famine affected areas.

The famine in Mizoram, also known as “mautam” meaning “bamboo death,” is currently the number one issue facing the local population. Approximately every 48-50 years, the dominant bamboo species flower simultaneously. Although this display may be beautiful, it can become deadly: the bamboo flowers produce fruit which leads to an explosion in the population of rats. Once the fruit is eaten, the rats turn to eating up the food stores of the local people and a famine ensues.

The last time Mautam occurred (1958-1961) 10,000 people died from sickness and starvation. Afterwards, government response led to an armed insurgency which ended in 1986. Today, the current Mautam, which began in 2006, is affecting nearly three million people and although the famine has been occurring for over a year, this story has only begun to grab world headlines recently.

This month, Morgan and the story of the Mizo people will be featured in a CBC television report about the Mizoram famine on Sunday, May 18 at 10 a.m.

 

Champhai

tim04

 

Dear Ezra and Lian,

There was also a second reason I went to the police station on Thursday, June 24, 2015. I also know about the smuggling of enriched uranium from India to Burma.

Around April, 2001, I gave a private interview to a RCMP liaison officer at the Delhi High Commission. I gave her all the details I knew about enriched uranium smuggling from India to Burma. It was her intention to pass the information to the Indian authorities. I told her, if I wanted to do that, I would just tell my father-in-law who was an Inspector General of Police (top cop for a city the size of Toronto). The police and local authorities were in on the smuggling. Why tell their colleague?

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I sent this information to the FBI through a website. No one ever followed up on it. It probably got lost in mountains of data at that time. I would be willing to give another interview to the RCMP or CSIS if anybody there is interested.

In the Middle East, they are entering a new stage in the race to get nuclear weapons. I believe it’s important that world knows, potentially there is a stockpile of enriched uranium in Burma or that India is a potential supplier. This time it is my intention to pass this information on to any international police, government or non-government agencies that are mandated to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Any government that is under nuclear threat, I would talk to them.

What I know kids, isn’t much. It all came from a 30 minute conversation that haunts me still. It’s where I probably made the worst decision of my life.

Shortly after I married Mommy on Sept. 8, 2000, we had a wedding reception in Champhai, Mizoram, India. This is where your mom’s father is from. Most of his family lives there. It is very close to the Burma border and the only crossing from Mizoram into Burma. A man introduced himself to me. He said he was one of Zopari’s (Mountain Flower) cousins. Which really means he’s from the same Bawlchim clan as Mommy.

This man chatted with me briefly and then he asked me what my profession was. I told him I was a nuclear operator. Then he asked me if I wanted to buy some uranium. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He gave me a price. He told me there were truckloads of it just outside of the town. He said let’s go there now. I kept asking him questions, trying to buy time while I figured out what to do. His answers seem to be totally innocent. Like he thought this was a chance for him to make some money. Here I was a nuclear worker in this completely out of the way place, just exactly at the same time as there was a big supply of nuclear fuel from the nearby state of Meghalaya (a few hundred miles away). I won’t give you the details of our conversation. That’s for the professionals. He believed this was highly enriched uranium, but his description of what was in the trucks sounded like low enriched uranium used in commercial reactors.

This guy had me totally convinced there was a significant quantity of uranium for sale. The buyers in Burma wouldn’t mind if I picked up some. This guy was convinced it was totally legitimate. After all, he said the Champhai District Commissioner and the police knew about it. They had seen the trucks and were protecting them.

I had to make a decision. This guy wanted to take me right then to go see it. I could not imagine any scenario where I could do that and live to see the next day. Mommy was with me. Auntie Beth and our friend Sarah were in Mizoram as well. Your grandpa was a really powerful man, who could order a serious investigation if anything happened to me. Still, that would have been on the Indian side. I was sure somebody from the Burma side had to be there protecting their delivery. If they saw me, they would have shot me on sight and I felt anybody connected with me. My would-be uranium peddler seemed to be oblivious to the seriousness of what was happening.

I told the man I was just an operator and not a buyer. I couldn’t afford those prices. I said goodbye and walked away. Then I started wracking my brain for ideas. Do I call your grandpa? No, the police are in on this. I would be putting him and his career at risk. Do I call overseas to the Canadian police? No, we were in a restricted state, with restricted mobile phone usage, near the border. Do I try to contact the CIA? No way, I had already once been accused of working for the CIA. That put me in an Indian jail for sure. Good chance all calls were monitored by the Indian government and they may have been involved. At the end of the day, I just played it cool. Like nothing happened. I didn’t change our schedules. I didn’t tell anybody until we got to Delhi months later.

Maybe someday, someone will have mercy on me. They will tell me I met Mr. X. He’s always fooling with people. He has an amazing ability to lie and memorize information. He can tell great fictional stories. Maybe someone from the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation will say it was just a test. Some paranoid local bureau chief wanted to trap the son-in-law of an IGP. I passed the test and kept his family’s honour. It would be a huge relief. That person would have my immense gratitude. That’s very unlikely to ever happen, though.

Long after you are adults and I’m an old man, I will probably be in the Lushai Hills and the Chin Hills. I might be helping farmers grow more food. I might be working in an orphanage, setting up malaria clinics, helping feed starving people or teaching in a school again. Really though, I will be there with an ear to the ground, listening for tales of a lost, dangerous treasure; a Pandora’s box. I would love to spend all my retirement years fishing on some quiet, Canadian lake. I know I won’t be. I will be chasing a ghost. I will be trying to find some man in the shadows; looking for clues and trails where none exist. I will be trying to stop this nuclear material from being turned into weapons that could kill millions. Mautam will return again before I see or hear anything useful. Please let me go and leave me be.

I will always love you,

Dad