Ratika Yumnam (Leika)

Coordinator Research & Advocacy at Indigenous Perspectives

Active in Country: India (North-East – Manipur)

DTP Alumna: 2016, 25th Annual Program, Sri Lanka 


DTP has been especially crucial in helping me grow as a human rights activist and as an individual too. The DTP is not only an institution but also a family to me. Over the course of the training, we have forged solidarity and friendship, which would last more than a lifetime. The DTP family is something I can be assured of having my back in times of need. And that’s essentially what my experience with this wonderful program is.

Leika participated in DTP’s 25th Annual Program in Sri Lanka in 2016. She has been actively engaged in defending the human rights of Indigenous peoples and the environment in Northeast India. As a Meitei woman, Leika has been working with other Indigenous Meitei people through the All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen Union Manipur - regarding the conservation of the sacred Loktak Lake of the Meiteis of Manipur valley from aggressive tourism policies by the government and also the private businesses.  This is one of a number of developments, including dams, road developments and an airport expansion that are negatively impacting on the rights of Indigenous peoples in North East India.  Leika is also involved in peace initiatives, through Youth Peace Workshops, documenting of human rights violations and lobbying of decision makers.

Prior to the DTP training program, Leika did not have any formal training in human rights and found gaps in her advocacy skills. Through the program, Leika gained a deeper understanding of human rights issues across the globe, and how to utilise the UN mechanisms to address human rights issues.

I found the program extremely enriching and it has certainly helped me in building my capacities as a human rights defender… Because of the program, I am better informed as to which tools to use in terms of making an effective strategy for advocating human rights and mitigating its violations.

Following the DTP course, Leika was invited to participate in the UN’s 5th Global Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. The program was held from 14th-16th November 2016. The highlight of the Forum was her meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. She also met other DTP alumni at the program and conversed on various business and human rights issues in the region.

 The DTP solidarity is strong across the region and often it is delightful when I bump into other alumni during meetings or workshops. We have a lot to thank DTP for! - Educating us on the various mechanisms at the international level regarding indigenous peoples' rights and the various platforms where we can address our concerns”.

To read about Leika’s experiences at the 5th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, you can access her Statement to the Forum on the issue of cultural appropriation by big business.



Profile written January 2017