In Meghalaya, militants blow off woman's head for resisting rape
Source: Times of India,  5 June 2014

SHILLONG: Garo militants blew up the head of a 35-year-old mother of four with a Kalashnikov rifle when she resisted their attempt to rape her in Meghalaya's South Garo Hills on Tuesday evening. They admitted to killing her claiming she was a police informer.

The incident, which sent shock waves throughout the country's only matrilineal state, took place in Goera Rongat village, about 350km east of the state capital. Shaken by what most in the northeast described as "an unprecedented crime", chief minister Mukul Sangma said, "I condemn the ghastly act of militants in the strongest possible word. Every right thinking citizen should condemn it."

"I am shocked at the brutal killing of a woman in Meghalaya for resisting rape," said Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi, adding, "I called up the CM and asked him to ensure the culprits are identified and acted against urgently. Earlier, PA Sangma had called me to complain about the poor law and order in Meghalaya and sought central intervention."

The Centre, Rijiju said, has sought a factual report from the Meghalaya government regarding the incident.

IGP (operations) GHP Raju on Wednesday said, "At least five Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants raided the house of the woman, locked up her husband in a room and attempted to rape her in the presence of their children."

He added, "The militants blew up the woman's head by shooting her five to six times in the head with an AK rifle. Her head was split into two." He said the killing was the handiwork of GNLA militants led by their Chokpot area commander, Kiljang R Sangma.

Founded in 2009, the GNLA has been fighting for a separate Garoland state. As the killing drew widespread criticism, the GNLA, in a statement, said the woman was eliminated because she was a "police source and was responsible for the death of our training instructor, Kram." Kram was killed in an encounter with police in the Chokpot area near Goera Rongat on May 1

Rise in militancy worrying, Meghalaya deputy CM says 
Source: Times of India, 23 May 2014

SHILLONG: A statement from the Meghalaya government on Monday addressed the issue of rising militancy in the state, and the northeast in general, and added that militants were exploiting the region's shortcomings to lure youngsters into their fold.

Addressing an "Anti-Terrorism Day" function at the main secretariat here on Monday, deputy chief minister R C Laloo said there had been a rise in insurgency activities in Meghalaya. The event marked the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

"Insurgent activities, especially in states like Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya are increasing. The Union government has been fighting insurgency in the northeast for nearly five decades now," the deputy CM observed. The event was attended by state home minister Roshan Warjri, PWD minister Sniawbhalang Dhar, chief secretary W M S Pariat, DGP P J P Hanaman and other top government officials.

Admitting that people in the northeast had many grievances, Laloo said militants were exploiting these to attract young recruits. "Terrorists mostly recruit young people as it is easy to brainwash them," he pointed out.

Laloo admitted that Meghalaya had its "share" of violence and banned militant outfits. "Many precious lives have been lost and people have been living under the shadow of fear. There is a constant threat of being kidnapped or killed by militants and terrorists," he said.

He also added that the increase in militant activities had adversely affected trade, commerce and economic development. He said the common people had been worst-affected by insurgency. Urging people to oppose all forms of terrorism and violence, Laloo emphasized on peace and harmony in the state.

He underscored the need for measures to wean away people, especially the youth, from the path of terrorism and violence.

"Terrorism continues to inflict pain and suffering on people all over the world and fighting this scourge is in the interest of all nations," Laloo said, after administering the pledge of solidarity to fight terrorism.

'Women Denied Their Due in NE Autonomous Councils'
Source: Express News Service 
HYDERABAD, 12th May 2014

The representation of women in various district councils in Northeastern States is very less, Manorama Sharma, history professor at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, has said. Delivering revolutionary leader Pyla Vasudeva Rao the fourth memorial lecture here on Sunday, Manorama Sharma said councils like Mishing Autonomous District Council, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, Lai and Mara Autonomous District Councils of Mizoram, Lalung Tiwa Council and Rabhas Hasong District Council, to name a few, have very poor representation of women.

She was speaking on “Popular movements and gender relations in Northeast India”.  “In most cases, women are totally absent. Yet, the recorded history of the struggles of these communities for their autonomy shows that women were involved very actively,” Manorama Sharma said. Professor Sharma further added: “When it comes to forming decision-making bodies, women were pushed back to kitchens because the public space belongs to men. Then, will justice be achieved through these ‘autonomy’ movements?” he asked.

“In Meghalaya, in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), the entire list of  members from 1952 to 2007 has only four women members. Of these, one was nominated and the other elected for one term each,” she explained.

Sharma said during the autonomous movements, many women suffered torture at the hands of the state forces. Yet, when the final decision making time came and the famous Assam Accord was signed between the representatives of the movement and the Centre, women were forgotten in Assam, Sharma said.

Professor Sharma said Pyla Vasudeva Rao, a leader of the Srikakulam Armed Struggle and a member of the CPI and later CPI-ML, never failed to follow party instructions, and yet maintained his independent thinking. He did not hesitate to point out when he thought the party was not following the correct line.

“Pyla was a leader of the revolutionary struggle in this part of the country, but the story of his spirit of struggle, dedication and courage should also be made known to other areas, where peoples’ democratic movements of various kinds have taken place or are going on. All such movements finally help in creating areas of sustained struggles of the people and resistance to the oppressive and exploitative structure of the state,” Sharma said.

CPI-ML New Democracy leader Chittipati Venkateswarlu, writer Vimala and Mallepalli Lakshmaiah and others paid rich tributes to Pyla Vasudeva Rao.

Governor inspects Ima Keithel, assures resolution of problems
Source: Kangla Online

Manipur Governor VK Duggal has pledged to take up all possible steps to help improve the three Khwairamband Ima markets on his first inspection of the markets around 11 am on Wednesday.
His visit may be the first time in the history of Manipur that a Governor of the state has inspected the conditions of the three Ima markets which are managed only by women and interacted with the women vendors listening attentively to their problems and grievances.
Governor VK Duggal also inspected the conditions of the lighting system, drainage, fans, toilets and water leakage problems.
He met many women vendors, inquired about their business and listened attentively to their woes.
Surprised at the three Ima market complexes remaining unrepaired even after its inauguration and the first floor of the markets lying vacant till date, he assured the women vendors that all lighting systems will be functional within 10 days by replacing the defunct electric blubs.
He also directed the concerned authority to repair the leakage on the roof of the buildings.
Ibempishak, a leader of the Ima markets, said that the Governor asked her to prepare a detailed report on the problems and inconveniences faced by women vendors and submit it to him on the 16 of this month further assuring her of taking up all developmental works after minutely assessing the condition.
During the Governor’s visit, his Secretary and also the Art and Culture Commissioner RK Nimai, IMC Chairperson N Nimai Sharma and MAHUD Director N Geetkumar were also present.

Militants yet to respond to Manipur Governor’s call for talks
Source: The Hindu
Imphal, February 25, 2014

The insurgents are yet to respond to Manipur Governor Vinod Kumar Duggal’s call for peace talks. During his speech in the Assembly on Monday, Mr. Duggal said that there are 60 armed underground organisations in Manipur. The population of the state according to the 2011 census is less than 28 lakh.

But then the way the underground organisations ignored the invitation does not come as a complete surprise. In the past the underground organisations had ignored the appeals from the government and leaders of the union government for hammering out an agreement through negotiations. One proscribed underground organisation, the Revolutionary People's Front openly said that it would accept not less than independence.

The underground outfits maintain that Manipur had been an independent country before India became a free country. There was the Constitution, the Assembly with elected representatives in Manipur before 1947. The merger agreement was signed by the Manipur King, Budhachandra at Shillong on September 15, 1949. Since he was a titular head he was not authorised by the council of ministers and had no power to sign such an important document. This is the main force behind the armed movement in Manipur.

The Governor said that outfits are hampering the implementation of the developmental works. After being frustrated, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh asked the insurgents either to become contractors or armed rebels. He said that the insurgents are extorting illegal taxes from the contractors and other sections of the people thereby impeding the progress of the developmental works.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 was clamped in Manipur on September 8, 1980 as the foreign trained insurgents gained upper hand. However the Chief Minister had lifted this Act from seven Assembly segments in the Imphal municipal council on August 12, 2004 following some excesses allegedly committed by the security forces.

Women’s role in Manipuri society hailed
Source: Imphal free press
IMPHAL, February 24, 2014

A consultative meet on Empowerment of vulnerable and marginalised women in difficult circumstances in the state of Manipur was held on Monday at the Classic Hotel.

Padmaja Mehta and Rashmi Singh, sr. economic advisor and executive director respectively in the Ministry of Women and Child and National Mission for Empowerment of Women; Surender A Shishak,  deputy director of Social Welfare; Meira Paibi leader Lourembam Nganbi, chairperson of Manipur state commission for women Dr L Ibetombi, Joint Secretary Tribal Affairs Armstrong Pamei and Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network and secretary general of Control Arms foundation of India were the presidium members.

“Poverty is high since 1950 but after development it has reduced but hasn’t properly brought upliftment in the state. Vulnerable groups were considered in the 12th Plan and as a result SCs, STs, OBCs, differently able people, people living with HIV, single women, widows and many others benefitted,” Padmaja said, appealing civil society organisations to help and give awareness about the scheme to many others.

Manipur is located in a border area and trafficking in the North- East is rampant so the NGOs and police personnel should protect them. People should benefit from schemes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and other educational schemes. There should be 33% reservation of women in Panchayats, she added.

Rashmi Singh stated that the ability to bring changes lies in the empowerment of women. Women work hard but don’t get so much money. Women work more in comparison to men but they are paid less. It is time to bring women to the level of men.

“Women should be made aware of their rights. The National Policy for Empowerment, 2001 has provisions on protection of women in the country. Many laws against domestic violence exist. Common platform is needed for the NGOs and people should work collectively,” she said, adding that sharing information with the public is needed for giving benefits to women and society.

“Women are very powerful in the state and they are in the fore front when any crime happens in any parts of Manipur. Psychological empowerment of women is necessary. There are a lot of projects and frameworks in the country but there is no proper implementation,” Amstrong Pamei said, appealing NGOs and civil societies to make people aware of things they don’t know.

On the other hand, Ibetombi said that poverty is limitless in the country and social workers are actively involved in any of the issues.

People should be aware of the schemes of the centre. Many organisations are trying to do so many things but a big communication gap exists in the state, she added.

North-East passage
Source:, June 15 2013

source: timescrest
A campaign aims to correct a grievous omission in school textbooks - the near exclusion of the history of the North-East. 

Binalakshmi Nepram, a 30-something activist from Manipur has traded guns for history. A noted disarmament activist (Nepram is the founder of the 'Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network' and convenor of the 'North-East India Women Initiative for Peace' ) she is presently canvassing the cause of the history of the North-East, which she feels isn't adequately represented in school and university textbooks across the country.

"Every child in India who goes to school knows about the Rani of Jhansi. Why not about the people from the eight states of the northeast who too did something worthwhile to be read about in school books? In our syllabus, the North-East is reduced to only trivia like Cherrapunji is one of the wettest places on earth, " she says, with some resentment. 

Like so many other youth from the region Nepram went to college in the capital in the 1990s. She studied history at Delhi University (a bachelors and then a masters) but pursued it with some indignation - mostly because the history of her part of the country didn't manage even a chapter in her five years of study. "It surprised and even angered me. I confronted one of my professors, the renowned Sumit Sarkar, and he apologised on behalf of the entire fraternity for this miss, which was shocking to my mind, " she says.

But she was able to take up the issue only a yearand-a-half ago, and with a few like-minded friends from the region, founded the campaign called 'Weaving Histories of North-East India'. Much background research has been followed up by talks with local historians about the need for incorporating the region's history into mainstream Indian textbooks. "We have approached all those bodies that make school syllabus because that's where the change has to begin first, " says Nepram. The group has had meetings with the NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training), the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and the ICHR (Indian Council for Historical Research). "We've also met Shashi Tharoor, the minister of state for human resources development, as his ministry is the final authority in approving any changes in the syllabus, " she elaborates, adding that she was greeted with positive responses.

While the CBSE has told them that it was already beginning to rectify its online courses, the NCERT has asked them to prepare suggestions for inclusion in mainstream textbooks by 2015, when it is likely to meet to evaluate school syllabi.

However, the NCERT's response to TOI-Crest is different. MVSV Prasad, of the NCERT's Department of Education in Social Sciences states that, "No specific proposal was sought from any particular group. However, NCERT takes account of representations, suggestions and feedback from various sources as and when the current syllabus and textbooks are revised. During the processes of designing curriculum and developing syllabi and textbooks, the concerned committees consider various issues that are to be incorporated at different levels. "

He adds, "It is unfair to say that the North-East has been ignored from our textbooks. Indeed, the latest NCERT textbooks, developed during 2006-2008, have made extensive references to the region. " Prasad also points out that the NCERT has to focus on the entire nation when developing textbooks. "The North-East region may be eight states but they make up only 4 per cent of the population of the country whereas the region's coverage in the textbooks - not just history but across subjects - is about 10 per cent. However, that doesn't imply that we can't have further coverage. "

It's such 'further coverage' that could pacify ruffled feathers on the subject. Priyam Goswami, a professor of history at Gauhati University and honorary director of the Northeast chapter of ICHR says, "Most of the historical references right now are Brahmaputra Valley-centric. Yet the region is not one homogeneous whole but highly diverse. At places where we can't have whole chapters, we could incorporate the history of the region in a way we do for South India. Since I'm from Assam I could point out certain instances of Assamese history that could be mentioned - reference to Assam in epics, pauranic and tantrik literature;Muslim invasions of Assam in 1206, 1226 and 1257, all of which were repulsed;Buranji literature or the historical chronicles of Ahom rulers (who ruled here for six centuries ); Maidams which were vaults with chambers to bury Ahom kings and nobility;Sankardeva, a Vaishnavite saint/scholar/reformer who had a tremendous impact on Assam and so much more. " She adds that even college books on India's freedom struggle hardly make references to Assam, creating an assumption that the region was not involved at all.

Goswami, however, points out that the coverage of the North-East should not be restricted to just history but should extend to other subjects as well.

The NCERT counters by saying that many such references already exist and suggests that the exercise begin at the state level. "Besides, we get such grouses from all over the country. Whichever part of the country you go to they feel they have not been adequately represented. Certain districts too have similar complaints about not getting enough representation in the state books!" 

Even as the debate about what makes for adequate representation goes on Nepram's group plods on with creating its proposal for the next NCERT meet, which may take place in 2015. "It's not a difficult task as we don't have to begin from scratch. There are quite a few good books only on the history of the region and along with the historians, we have to figure out what is important enough from each state to be given a national platform, " she says.

More tiresome for Nepram's team is, perhaps, handling detractors who, surprisingly, also hail from the same region. "I was shocked that instead of supporting us, some historians are actually decrying our work. Why do they then blame India (sic) for their problems when they themselves don't want any resolution?" she asks.

Some of her critics have even questioned the right of Nepram's team to undertake this exercise. "We are not historians, " she responds to her critics, adding, "we are only facilitating an exercise as a catalyst. "


Manipuri Meitei Culture And Its Impact On Women 

Source :E-pao, May 15, 2013                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                       Dr. M. Tineshowri Devi
An RKCS sketch of traditional Meitei marriage
Introduction The concept of Culture is developed by beliefs, faith, practices, customs, way to live, language, food habits, etc. The Cultural growth gave identity to the societies. Through the generation it has been noted that women are the one who carry the culture to generation to generation at different forms and at different level. Women of Manipur has come under the influences of cultures at various times and contributed to the growth of civilization.

Women in Manipur seem to enjoy greater mobility and visibility than women of other communities in the country. According to census 2011, the sex ratio of Manipur is 987 against all India with 940. Looking at the literacy rate women of Manipur is much higher with 59.70 than the national level 54.28. Thus, it is often cited to portray a picture of equity between men and women in the region and has given rise to the presumption that discrimination against women is not a major concern in the area however, the region under the shadow of conflicts has witnessed a resurgence of patriarchal values, norms which have brought after the Hinduism that affect the Meitei people at large but the impact on women and girls is far greater because of their sex and status in society.

Meitei Women of Manipur in Pre-Hindu period

Manipur presents a unique cultural, ethnic, linguistics and religious profile of India. Before the advent of Hinduism following the event of oath taking known as Nongkhrang Iruppa in 1724 A.D during the reign of King Pamheiba, the Meiteis professed their traditional Sanamahi religion. While the Sanamahi, (the traditional God) trait prevailed over majority of the people in the valley of Manipur particularly among the Meitei.

Looking at the conditions of Meitei women in Manipur, there was a reflection of high status seen among women in pre-Hindu period. During the pre-Hindu period, though the patriarchal concept was there, women status was equally better with counterpart men. In 1715, during the Garib Niwaz (Pamheiba), in Manipur there used to have four kinds of court over and above the king court (Kuchu) which is the highest.

The courts were:
(i) Courts concerning religious matters,
(ii) Court concerning secular matters,
(iii) Court for females,
(iv) Military courts. (Singh, 1978).
Women had their own courtship (no.iii) where the women related issues and family matters were resolved at the Maharani court. Only women who are in courtship took the decisions, if in case, they could not solve the matter then only the matter was being referred to King.

In pre-Hindu period society, women played a major role in religion. This role is evident from the dominance of women in the goddess cult and in 'Umang Lai Haraona', umang 'forest' lai 'diety' haraoba 'to please' (a festival for worshipping Pre-Hindu deities). In this role of priestess is considered much more important than that of the priest (Parrot, 1980).

It was also seen that not only were women who believed to have the power to communicate with spirits and supernatural beings, but women were so central that when a priest performed the rituals of Lai Haraoba the priest usually dressed himself as a priestess. The concept of purity and impurity was not seen much before. So women perform all the deities' duties.

In earlier Meitei society, the title used by women, the first one refers to clans and the later family names or linage. In a patriarchal society, the women's family name or surname is lost at marriage, as the social norms require them to adopt the name of husband after marriage. It's mentioned that the retention of the family name after marriage is one of the rights of being a male i.e., only men have real names. But in Meitei custom, after the marriage woman does not have to lose her family name. eg. Miss Naorem, Rani Devi marries Mr. Irom Shanta Singh, then her name would be Naorem Ningol Irom ongbi Rani 'Naorem (menaing-Rani married to Irom' where Irom is the family name of the husband). It was also seen to have been the Meitei custom for husbands and wives to address one another using their respective personal names.

Women played a very important role, with their participation going away beyond managing economics of the house. When the male head of a family is killed or imprisoned, the mother has to fill in the gap caused by the patriarch's absence. She has to work to bring up the children. It is a necessity that cannot be overlooked. In the old days, since Manipur was often at war to keep off invaders and protect its borders, the number of families with women as the heads was comparatively high. This resulted in women coming out of the house to earn livelihood.

Internal trade was carried on essentially by women in the various open bazaars (market) in the valley. In the market all selling and buying are done by women. And a great number of markets were established during the period of Meidingu Senbi Khagemba (1592-1652) in different places. The women from different places come to this market and all the essential commodities are made available here. The power of the market women of Manipur were demonstrated on various occasions.

The first Nupi Lan-1904 (Women War) as well as Nupi Lan of 1939 are glaring example. It is not only an economic centre but also a political centre as well. In order to developed trade with the people from the hill, a Hao Keithel (Tribal market) was developed at Imphal. The most important bazaar in the valley was the Khwairamand Bazar or Sana Keithel at Imphal. The women's market of Manipur is the only market of women in the north-east region of India and probably could be the only in the world.

Meitei women of Manipur after Hinduism

At the beginning of 18th century, Hinduism entered to Manipur during the reign of Gharib Niwaz (1709-1748). The fact is Vaishnavism practiced by Meiteis in Manipur consequently became a peculiarly Manipuri Vaishnvism in form, adopting aspects of olden culture and modified by it. Further, since Vaishnavism represented a more progressive ideology, it had attracted the attention of many people though it certainly did not grow unopposed.

He destroyed many traditional Lais (Local Dieties) and also burnt many books on ancient literature. The event is still remembered today as the 'Puya Meithaba'. Along with it Garibniwaz took up a numbers of measures to spread Vaishnavism in Manipur. He ordered to discontinue all the ceremonies and rituals of the old Meitei faith and they were substituted by the Hindu ceremonies and rituals. With the advice of the Santidas Mahanta, the king destroyed the image of Sanamahi, the greatest deities of Umanglais (family) of the Meiteis.

Some of the points are highlighted below about cultures, rituals and customs that are affecting directly and indirectly the women status of Manipuri Meitei in Manipur society.

1. Marriage:

Meitei marriage system is very ancient and is believed to have started before 300-400 B.C. Now this tradition has been followed with certain modification of Hindu religion. 'Luhongba'-It is a formal marriage ceremony. Formal rituals are made elaborately at the residence of the bride. Ancestral deity, local deities, sanamahi are worshipped on this day. Both the bride and groom are ritually sanctified on this day.

In the marriage there is a ritual called kainya dhan piba (giving away our daughter), only men (father, brother, uncle or relatives) will perform it where any women (mother, sister or relatives) will not be allowed to perform the duty. In a meitei society, women take the back seat in every public functions like marriage, feasts at home or even at death. There is a concept called ahalna phamen phamgadabani (elderly will take the main front seat for any functions) unfortunately, this ahal (elderly) does not include the elderly women.

Meitei family is patriarchal and patrilocal. Newly married couple usually live with the groom's parents. As a tradition, sons inherit their parent's property equally while girls inherit nothing. When a girl marries, she gets some property in the name of awunpot, which literally means 'gifts given at the time of marriage'. Unmarried and divorcees (women) are allowed to have a piece of land in their natal home to construct a house to stay. Avoidance relationship is also maintained only between the elder brother-in-law and the bride. So, bride is not supposed to say or call directly and cannot even touch him by mistake. This practice shows kind of discrimination and oppression towards the bride.

On the marriage day, the husband dines before his wife and she is made to dine from the left-outs of her husband's plate. The pattern has been changed by taking a spoon of food from the used plate and to continue the dinner from her plate. However, the underlying theme is that woman remains subjugated and but remain male chauvinism.

The life of a daughter-in-law (mou) starts the very day a woman attains "mou-hood". She has to get up early in the morning; no matter it is summer or winter. She is also expected to do all the household chores just to please her husband and in- laws whether she is capable of doing it or not. It is kind of obligatory. It is a kind of oppression and another form of domestic violence towards women.

The condition of a working woman / "mou" is even worst whether she is contributing her energy to the economy of the family. No matter what position she holds in the workplace but in the family and society, she remains as "mou". She is still expected to carry on all kinds of household chores even after a tiring day's work outside and expected to give all her earned money otherwise she will be called as lazy mou and blame her in each of her step. At the same time she is constantly under vigil and attacked at every minor mistake she commits and in-laws will be happy gossiping about the mou to neighbours, locality and relatives. She is subjected to the filthiest, dirtiest verbal abuses and even sometimes heinous physical abuse. She still has to endure all the pain and carry on with her duties.

It is seen that the wife is not allowed to eat with her husband by sharing the same curry or any other eatables. At the same time women's left out cannot be eaten by husband. During her menstrual cycle of 5 days, she is not allowed to enter to kitchen, prepare food and even touch utensils. She cannot even touch her husband's food items. During this period she is not allowed to do any puja. In other times, she is equally prevented from the mentioned activities unless she has taken a bath. All these activities, if conducted, are treated as desecration. This concept of purity and impurity is mainly influenced by the ideology of Hinduism. In other words, the 'untouchable' still prevails in our Meitei society in a disguised form.

It is quite prevailed that being a male should not collect a phanek (wrapper round worn by women) from the clothes line that shows the men's chauvinism. There has been a mixed of religion and other social institutions. When a woman is suppressed by the custom, the act is being prejudiced and the reason put forward is mostly on the man's fate. In other words, her breaking of the defined tradition will lead to the husband's ill luck.

War must only be last resort: Nobel laureates

Chicago: Poverty, a lack of education and arms proliferation present daunting obstacles, yet peace can be achieved if world leaders are more willing to talk and young people are encouraged to get involved, Nobel Peace Prize winners said on Monday at their annual meeting.
Former US President Jimmy Carter and ex-presidents Mikhail Gorbachev of the former Soviet Union and Lech Walesa of Poland were among the Peace Prize winners in Chicago for the start of the three-day World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The summit comes just weeks before Chicago hosts President Barack Obama, also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and foreign leaders for the NATO summit, a meeting that is expected to draw large numbers of anti-war protesters. Obama did not attend Monday's meetings.
Carter said that, as the last global superpower, the US has a responsibility to be a leader in peace efforts and set an example to the rest of the world. Instead, he said, the US is "too inclined to go to war" and is contemplating going to war again, "perhaps in Iran".
War must only be last resort: Nobel laureates
"Humankind has got to say that war comes last" and negotiation comes first, Carter said during a panel discussion with Gorbachev, Walesa and former South African President FW de Klerk.
All agreed that more young people need to adopt the ideals of peace — including human rights, justice and environmental issues — whether it's in the rest of the world or their own communities.
"We need to be reminded of the standards that the Nobel laureates have always tried to achieve... just because in their own communities they saw a need for change," Carter said.
But de Klerk said many are vulnerable to bad influences because of poor education, poverty and unemployment.
"They are vulnerable because they have nothing to lose," he said.
It is the first time the Nobel Peace Prize summit has been held in North America. The Nobel Laureates also toured more than a dozen Chicago Public Schools on Monday.
Former President Bill Clinton gave the keynote address late Monday at the opening night dinner, during which actor Sean Penn was presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award for his work in Haiti.
Clinton said peace isn't just the absence of bad things but also when people make good things happen, and said people could choose a world of peace and cooperation. He referred to his personal experiences with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda while he was president and as head of the Clinton Foundation.
He also said leaders attending the conference had shown courage in the past and must continue to do so.
"You also have to find a way to step into the gap of where we are and where we ought to be," Clinton said.
The Nobel summit — titled "Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights" — runs through Wednesday.
The NATO summit will be held May 20-21 at McCormick Place, and preparations for the meeting of global leaders have been intense. The city has amped up security plans with Chicago police, the Illinois National Guard and state police, as thousands of activists are expected to protest the event. Chicago was also supposed to host the G-8 summit, but the Obama administration moved it to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

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