BURMESE REFUGEES IN MIZORAM AND
i. The assessment trip
ii. Strength of the Assessment
iii. Limitation of the Assessment
B. BURMESE REFUGEES IN INDIA
C. BURMESE REFUGEES IN MIZORAM
ii. The 17th July incident in Mizoram
iii. Repercussion of the eviction
iv. Initiatives taken by Mizoram Government
v. Present situation of the Chins:
e. The camps
vi. Potential local organizations
D. BURMESE REFUGEES IN DELHI
iii. Subsistence Allowance
vi. 12th November 2003 incident
vii. The camps
viii. Relationship between Burmese refugees and Indians
ix. UNHCR’s implementing partners
x. Potential local organizations
We express our gratitude to Inter Pares (Canada), BRC (Thailand) and Norwegian Burma Committee, for their concern and interest on the Burmese refugees in India. Their financial support made the trip to Mizoram possible.
We are thankful to TOM General Secretary E. Deenadayalan for his support, advices and suggestions. The contributions of Sanpai and other colleagues of TOM are deeply acknowledged.
We would like to thank Far Em Sung (Emi) and Paul Sitha who made previous arrangements for our stay and meetings in Mizoram and for accompanying us to all our field visits. We are also thankful to Khuang Cin Par for her support and encouragement.
Finally, we deeply express our whole hearted gratitude to the different committees, associations, organizations and elders in Mizoram and Delhi for sparing their time and providing all the valuable informations for which this report is the product.
Victor Biak Lian
Dr. Achan Mungleng
The situations of the Burmese refugees have got the attention of many international Organisations. However the Burmese refugees in India is not much known. When a Conference on Burma was held at Ottawa, Canada from 9th to 12th of October 2002, a meeting of the Burma Donors Forum took place. In this meeting, Chris Lewa from Forum Asia – Thailand, was invited to speak on the situation of the Burmese in India. As a follow up of the meeting, it was decided that Victor Biak Lian would go for preliminary assessment to Mizoram.
Victor Biak Lian, Refugee Coordinator, Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO), did preliminary needs assessment of the Chin refugees in Mizoram in the month of November 2002 (8th to 14th). During the trip he met different groups, organizations and churches of both Mizo and Chin communities. From his study, it was felt that there was a need for humanitarian assistance, capacity building such as educational programme, health care, organisational management training, gender training, Refugee Rights training etc for the Burmese refugees. Based on these needs, recommendations were made for both short and long term action. Some organizations / committees having concern and working on the issue of refugees were also identified.
A year later (6th to 7th November 2003), a regional conference on Protection of Refugees from Burma took place at Chiang Mai, Thailand. In this conference, on the second day during the workshop on “North Eastern Situation of India”, discussions on how to develop a strategy in support of Burmese refugees in India took place (Thirteen people participated in the NE workshop). The constraints, obstacles as well as the opportunities and potential in this area were discussed and it was decided that there was a need for assessing the situation in Mizoram, especially after the 17th July incident, and the best way forward was to task a small group of people to go to Mizoram in the next few months to review the situation. This group would then report its findings and recommendations to a small gathering of international NGOs at a meeting in Delhi on the 18th and 19th of February 2004. Thus, the need for assessment trip was developed during the conference.
i) The assessment trip:
The assessment trip was undertaken for 15 days from 2nd Feb to 16th Feb 2004. The Team comprised Victor Biak Lian (CHRO), Dr Achan Mungleng (The Other Media – India), and K. Suttiphong (MAP – Thailand). The team was assisted by Khuang Cin Par (Wife of Victor), Emi of Central CWO and Paul Sitha.
The assessment was based on four framework:
1. To review the local political context
2. To identify the needs of refugee groups and required resources
3. To identify people and organizations with experience in the region
4. To identify possible mechanisms for delivery of assistance to these groups, especially with respect to accountability.
The Team visited Aizawl, Sihmui, Lunglei, Lawngtlai, Champhai, and Zokhawthar. Meetings were held with the different groups, organizations and church both from the Mizo and Chin community.
The strategic meeting took place on the 17th and 18th of February 2004. A short brief report of the trip to Mizoram was shared with the participants. During the strategy meeting, it was felt that was a need to do assessment on the Burmese refugees in Delhi. The assessment took place from the 19th to 26th of February 2004. The assessment in Delhi was conducted by Dr. Achan Mungleng and Victor Biak Lian.
ii) Strength of the Assessment:
Out of the total member team, four (Victor, Khuang, Emi and Paul) belong to Chin community. The strength of the assessment lies in the ability to understand the problems of the refugees as an insider. Since people knew us, we could relate to them at ease. There were no apprehensions from the Chins in informing us about their problems and situations. The presence of Victor made things easier as he is well known to them and is well respected. Victors’s wife, Khuang was back to Mizoram after almost ten years. Many of her friends and relatives invited us for lunch and dinner. It was in course of such informal gatherings that help us to collect many informations. The seemingly unending long journey on the vehicle while traveling from one place to another serves as the place to share, discuss and debate the situations not only in Mizoram, but in the northeast India, Thailand etc.
iii) Limitation of the Assessment:
Though the trip commenced on the 2nd Feb, the actual work starts on the 5th afternoon (visited Sihmuii Camp straight from the Aizawl Airport). Reaching other parts of the state like Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Champhai were tiring. It took one whole day (7th February) to reach Lunglei from Aizawl (235 Kms). From Lunglei to Lawngtlai (9th February) it took three hours (100 kms approx). The journey from Lawngtlai to Champhai took us more than a day. We started on the 10th February morning but could not reach Champhai on that day itself. We hold the night at Khawzawl and reached Champhai the next day (11th February) at around 11 am. We covered 192 kms for our journey back to Aizawl from Champhai on 12th February. We left Aizawl on the 15th morning and reached Delhi on 16th afternoon. Therefore, due to the limited time in the field we could not collect detailed information about the situation of the Burmese refugees in Mizoram, the different Chin organisation and could not meet the local Mizo organizations except the MZP.
B. BURMESE REFUGEES IN INDIA:
There exist a large number of Burmese refugee populations in India. They are mainly concentrated in the North-eastern States of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and Delhi. It has been reported that there are more than 50,000 Chin refugees in Mizoram (The Mizoram State Government recorded only 9363 ), large number of Chin refugees in Manipur, 6000 Naga refugees in both Manipur and Nagaland states, around 100 Kachin refugees in Arunachal Pradesh. Delhi also hosts a sizeable population of Burmese refugees. There are 1452 Burmese Refugees in Delhi of which 805 are recognized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office while the remaining 647 are asylum seekers from Burma who have not been recognized as refugees by the office of UNHCR.
C. BURMESE REFUGEES IN MIZORAM:
Mizoram is a mountainous region that became the 23rd State of the Union in February 1987. It was one of the districts of Assam till 1972 when it became Union Territory. Sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great strategic importance in the north-eastern corner of India. It has a total of 630 miles boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The Mizos and the Burmese, specially the Chin belongs to the same ethnic group, the Chin-Mizo-Kuki tribe. Relationships between the two have existed since time immemorial. Both the groups have accommodated each other in times of difficulties. During the period of disturbance in Mizoram, many fled to Burma. It was the Chin who gave shelter to them. In the report written by the MZP, it states,
“The Mizo speaking or Lusei/ Lushai happens to be those of Mizo origin who migrated to Myanmar in the hope of improving their means of livelihood in a country which was at the wake of independence. These people returned back to Mizoram in the later years”.
Also in the words of the Chins, “The Mizos not only came and stayed in Chinland but they came along with the names of their village and they stayed in the Chinland giving Mizo names to the area where they put up” This is substantiated by the fact that presently in Chinland there are villages named Tahan, Haimawl etc. Both the Mizos and Chins have exhibited kinly attitude towards each other.
Inspite of the brotherly affinity, the relationship between the Mizos and the Chin have fall apart over the years. The Mizo claim that since they belonged to the Chin-Mizo-Kuki tribe, they co-exist in cordial relationship with the people of the state. The Burmese Refugees were not considered to be of any nuisance or threat prior to 1995. Differences of any kind was not shown to them, and in fact, they rarely had any problem in getting themselves listed in the electoral rolls. Neither do they have any trouble in acquiring a ration card too.
However, among the Burmese nationals who had voting rights in the state, not less than 95% belongs to the Mizo National Front (MNF) party. (Not only Burmese, but most of the people, who migrated to Mizoram state happen to be the supporters of the MNF party). MNF (Nationalist) later known as Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP), a party, which emerged out of the MNF in 1997, had the support of good number of these Burmese nationals. At present, no less than 95% of the Burmese Nationals who had voting rights in Mizoram belong to either the MNF or ZNP.
In 1995, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the Mizo Students’ Association launched a massive campaign of ‘Chakma Foreigners Quit Order’. As a result, large number of Chakma refugees (the ‘vote bank’ of the Congress Party) left the state. The Congress party suffered heavy losses due to this Quit Notice. The Congress party lost three constituencies in the Assembly Election of 1998, which it had always retained in the previous elections through the votes of the Chakmas. They urged the MZP to take measures in driving out the Burmese Nationals too, stating that they were of the same status as that of the Chakmas – Foreigners. However, the MZP made it clear that they will not take measures to drive out their “own brothers”. Therefore, in order to drive out the Burmese Nationals, the “Vote Bank” of Mizo National Front (MNF), their arch rival, the Congress convinced the Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest and most powerful and influential organization in the state, to take steps in driving out the Burmese Nationals. The YMA took rigorous measures in attacking the Burmese Nationals basing their movement on the slogan ‘Foreigner is Foreigner’. The YMA being the largest Organisation, not a single political party could afford to go against its wishes and then lose its favour.
The Mizos further claim that since the Burmese refugees hail from an economically poor country, which is under a tyrannical rule of a military regime, on coming to Mizoram, many of them tend to enjoy the freedom and liberty which they could not in their country. MZP reports,
“The hope and desire to make more money lures some of them to pursue activities, which are considered improper by the society and the government, such as drug peddling and other evil deeds (prostitutions). The increasing involvement and indulgence of the Burmese Nationals in such criminal activities gradually infuriates the people of Mizoram such that it reaches a certain level wherein the people of the state could not maintain their sympathy towards their ‘brothers and sisters’”.
(A Report by Government of Mizoram on the involvement of Burmese Nationals in criminal cases enclosed as Annexure –II)
During the trip, the following allegations on the Chin refugees by the Mizo and the response by the chins were recorded.
Allegation by the Mizo Response from the Chin
1 Enrollment for voting rights and issue of Ration card Provided by Village Council President and political parties
2 Drugs trafficking The Mizos are also involved
3 Alcohol The Chin workers are hired by the Mizos
4 Prostitute There are few Chin involved in such activities but whenever a Mizo girls involved in such activities are arrested, it is reported that they are Chins.
5 Loss of forest products. The Chins gather the forest products and sell it in the market They gathered the forest products from the deep jungle and sell it to buy food to survive.
6 Mizo people becoming jobless Most of the Chin refugees are engaged in menial jobs like road and house construction, maidservant, working in the farm, selling vegetables, and other daily waged labour. The Chins involved in business and teaching are very less.
7 Lack of participation in social activities like death, etc The Mizos looked down at us.
8 Does not assimilate Mizo culture and language We want to keep our identity alive through our language and culture.
9 Establishment of Chin churches Being refugees, they feel shy, embarrass, and could not afford to attend the Mizo Church, as the standard of dressing is too high. Speaking and singing in one’s own dialect gives us the sense of belongingness
10 Collect money from Mizoram and took back the money to Burma
II) THE 17TH JULY INCIDENT IN MIZORAM
On 17th July 2003, it was alleged that a nine-year-old Mizo girl was raped by a Burmese Nationals at Hotel Vancy in Chanmari locality of Aizawl town. The true identity of the rapist is still in question. It has also been reported that the rapist is a Mizo. His parents left for Burma during the disturbance periods in Mizoram and came back to Mizoram again. However, this incident led to anti-Burmese attitude among the Mizo. As a consequence thousands of Burmese Nationals were driven out of the Mizoram state. It was also alleged that prior to the rape incident, this hotel had earned bad reputation. The incidence of the rape that occurred in the hotel added fuel into the fire, which eventually led to its destruction by the people of Chanmari within a short period of time after the rape occurred. The destruction of the hotel was quickly followed by an ‘order’ to all the Burmese Nationals within Chanmari to leave the locality. This movement caught fire in no time and various other localities of Aizawl city too gave ‘Marching Orders’ to the Burmese Nationals within their respective localities to leave. The movement gained a rapid momentum and soon covered the whole state.
It has been reported that the ‘Quit Notices’ were mainly initiated and propagated by the respective Village Councils (VC) and the YMAs of various localities/towns/villages, with YMA playing the most active part in the movement and arousing the sentiments of the people. At the recently concluded YMA General Conference held at Thenzawl, the President of the Central YMA or (YMA General Headquarters) in his speech on 2nd October 2003 even expressed his words of gratitude upon the expulsion of Burmese Nationals from the state and further mentioned his appreciation to Chanmari locality for taking the first initiative.
III) REPERCUSSION OF THE EVICTION:
The incident led to overwhelming changes in the normal life of the Burmese refugees for worst. Before the incident, the Burmese refugees were called ‘Burmami’ meaning ‘People from Burma’ by the Mizos. But after the incident, the Mizo started calling them ‘Ramdangmi’ meaning ‘Foreigner’. This term were used earlier only for the Chakmas. This term not only reflects the identity of being an outsider but is also derogatory in nature.
Many Burmese Nationals lost their lives. Though the local organization did not kill the people directly, many died in the process of the eviction. Narrating some are:
a) Mr B L from Matu Township, Chin State, was residing near Sairang village in Mizoram. During eviction, he had to leave Mizoram. On his way to Burma he got to know that his entire family in Burma have died. So he came back to Mizoram. But again he was constantly pressured to leave Mizoram, he could take it anymore, so he took the extreme step and committed suicide.
b) In another incident while crossing the border Tuipi River, a pregnant mother drowned along with her 6 year old child.
c) Another pregnant women (Burman) went back to Burma and she delivered the baby before reaching Tiddim Town but the baby died due to unavailability of medical treatment.
The Sihmui refugee camp that housed 108 persons and Vawmbuk refugee camp that housed 75 persons came into existence due to eviction .
The Sihmui Camp was formed when the Burmese Chin refugees staying in and around Aizawl, Khamrang, Sairang and Tut were forcefully evicted. Since they could not go back to Burma, they got together and stayed at three vacant houses at Sihhmui village, which is about 20 kms away from Aizawl.
The Burmese Chin Refugees staying at Vawmbuk camp are those who were evicted from their house in Aizawl. When they were forced to leave, they went and requested the Chairman of Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO), an ex-Mizo politician. He offered the premises of the Highland Engineering building that housed his workshop (Newslink 3rd August 2003). They stayed there for sometime but again they were evicted. On reaching Seling, they requested them not to deport them at Zakhawthar but at Lawngtlai. So from Seling to Lawngtlai they were taken by a private bus service called “Mizoland Travel” owned by a Chin. They went to Lawngtlai but again the central YMA told Lawngtlai YLA (Young Lai Association) to evict them from Lawngtlai. Therefore, they left for Saiha. They were taken to Saiha by Mizoram State Transport bus accompanied by Lawngtlai police. But here again the Saiha youth and Village Council (VC) did not allow them to stay so they were again taken to Vawmbuk. They were accompanied by the Saiha Magistrate and Saiha police. From Vawmbuk village they walk down till the border Tuipi River still accompanied by the Saiha police. The police saw to it that all the 75 members crossed the river in their presence. After all of them had crossed the river, the police went back. This was on the 9th of august 2003 and by the time they crossed the river it was around 4:00 / 4:30 in the evening. When the police were out of sight, the people crossed the river and came back to Vawmbuk and since then, they set up the camp.
During the eviction, it was reported that by July 30, 1320 (552 males and 768 females) Burmese Chin Refugees crossed Zakhawthar border (Newslink dated July 30), 1572 (668 Males and 889 Females – Newslink dated July 31) by 31st July and by 19th October, 2003, 8245 persons (4498 men and 3747 women) had crossed the border (MZP report).
Displacement took place on a large scale in the state. The main displacement occurred in Aizawl and other relatively big towns. Many families who could not find place in other places and could not go back to Burma, took refuge in the jungle (Newslink dated July 29).
IV) INITIATIVES TAKEN BY MIZORAM GOVERNMENT:
On July 29, the state Home Minister came out with four-point statement in connection with the eviction. The initiatives taken by the government are:
1. Police check gate at Zokhawthar has been strengthened and mobilized to function 24 hours a day to prevent illegal entry by Myanmarese
2. All District Commissioner / Superintendent of Police have been instructed to conduct census of Myanmerese illegal staying in Mizoram and report to the Government within a month.
3. In addition to Zokhawthar Border gate, Border check gates have been established at Bairabi, NE Khawdungsei and at Kanhmun to prevent unauthorized entry.
4. Border Management Cell in the Home department has been set up.
If one closely looks at the measures taken by the state government, the nature of the measures is more for the security of the State and the Mizos and not for the refugees who were being forcefully evicted.
The state government claims that several meetings were held with the Church Leaders, local NGOs like YMA, MUP, MHIP, MZP etc and made appeal to them not to take the law into their hands. But no action has been taken against the organizations involved in the forceful eviction inspite of knowing the fact that YMA and Village Councils took the main lead in evicting the refugees. Their involvement in the eviction cannot be denied. This is supported by reports in newspapers, the “Quit Notice” paper served to the refugees and other documents. There are also cases of violently evicting the innocent Burmese Chin refugees.
V) PRESENT SITUATION OF THE CHINS:
The Chin refugees often become the targets of different political groups and are frequently threatened with deportation, arrest or eviction. The first batch of refugees was sent back from India to Burma in September and October 1994. Atleast 1000 refugees were expelled from India in 1994 over a one-month period. Again in 2000 Indian authorities arrested and deported thousands of Chin refugees.
In 2001, many Chins were forcibly evicted from their homes and left homeless in Lunglei district. In March 2002, it was reported that Chin refugees again were evicted from their homes by the YMA in Lunglei District. It was reported that Mizos entered the homes of many Chin refugees and told them to leave their homes or their possessions would be destroyed. In June 2002, it was reported that the local authorities of Lunglei town initiated a campaign to expel all foreigners from Lunglei district as a result of pressure from the Young Mizo Association. Local home owners were instructed not to rent to Chin refugees and evictions continued through to 2003. In Dampui village of Serchip district, the district authorities instructed the Chin refugees to vacate their homes by 15 January 2003 or they would be placed under arrest. The authorities also prohibited church attendance after the same date. CHRO)
Since the 17th July eviction, the security of the people has gone from bad to worse. The people are living under constant fear of being evicted again. In Lunglei district, the situation seems to be the most affected. The concept of the Identity Card initiated by the refugee Committee themselves due to the failure of security by the State government reveal the intensity of the situation. Even during normal life, the refugees in this district on their death are not buried in the local Mizo cemetery but at Riang Vaite Thlan (meaning lonely grave) located deep in the jungle. There used to be three Chin churches before but at present there are no Chin churches. During interviews, we found that the word “discrimination” was used only in Lunglei and not in other places of Mizoram. The people told us about children being discriminated in schools. Some of the Chin women who used to survive by selling vegetables in the market are now barred from selling in the market. They therefore sell the vegetables and from house to house.
The security of women is also of great concern. There are many women working as housemaids. They are sexually harassed by their owner. There are many unreported cases of unwanted pregnancies by the owner. The women normally get the child aborted quietly as they cannot turn to the law for justice and the fear of the social stigma attached to such incidents. It is the Burmese Chin refugees women group who helped them .
Most of the Burmese Chin refugees are engaged in menial jobs. They survive by doing odd jobs like road and house construction, working in the farm, selling vegetables, weaving and other daily waged labour. Many women work as maidservants. There are also few business persons and school teachers.
The Chins refugees staying in Mizoram face many health problems. The diseases prevalent among them are Malaria, Jaundice, Diarrhea, Cold etc. All these are preventive disease however due to lack of timely intervention, many refugees have died. In Lunglei district alone, 30 persons have died of malaria in the year 2002 – 2003.
Like the Mizos, the Chins can also get free (or pay some fee, around Rs 10/-) medical treatment (consultation) in all Government Hospitals. However inspite of the treatment, the refugees could not effort to buy medicines. Therefore, they remain sick for long time. The hospital does not provide free medicines. We were told that, even if they don’t have money, they go to the hospital for doctor’s consultation. Once they get the prescription, they waited till they could get the money to buy the medicine. This “waiting time” period sometimes go on for two/three weeks or a month. Most of the refugees working in the jungle could not make it on time to reach the hospital, as they could not effort to pay for conveyances.
They are prone to al these kinds of preventive diseases, as most of them are malnourished. They work very hard in the jungle, construction site and other places but they could not effort to eat nutritious food.
There is no provision for educational facilities for the Chin students in Mizoram. Their expenses are solely taken care by the parents. All parents want to send their children to school but many could not afford to do so. In Government school, parent still find difficulties since they could not afford to buy the uniforms and books though they do not pay the monthly fees. Many are not in favour of Government School as Mizo language is used the medium of teaching and also because of the low standard of education. In the last matriculation result, no students from Government school cleared the exam. In district like Lunglei, to get the children admitted in Government School, birth certificate is needed from class V onwards. For private school, such document is not required but due to the heavy expenses involved in private school, the parents are unable to send their children to the private schools, though it is highly preferred as the medium of teaching is English and the standard of education is high.
e) The camps:
There exist two refugee camps, Sihmuii and Vawmbuk. Life in these two camps is miserable. The refugees in these two camps lack all the basic amenities like food, health care etc. Since they were evicted from the place where they had with great difficulties managed to restart their lives after fleeing their home country Burma, they have lost all hopes. It was indeed a sad sight in the camps. They are not only worried about the availability of food for the next meal but the fear of being evicted again from the camps and also from harassment by the local Mizo.
In Sihmuii camp on the 26 of December 2003, a Mizo man who was in inebriated condition from Sihmuii entered the Sihmuii camp and harassed the refugees but he was then subdued by the refugees. He went home and came with a gelatin stick and a knife. He slashed two huts with his knife. Then the Joint Action Committee (JAC) leader of Sihmuii arrived on the scene. The assailant knifed a woman on her thigh and tried to set off the gelatin stick but failed. After about 20 minutes the man returned with three of his friends and assaulted the refugees. They attacked one of the male refugees, he was admitted in Aizawl Civil Hospital. The police arrived and arrested one of the Mizo men in the group. The person who started the entire incident fled. He went to the Sairang YMA, collected about 30 YMA members, and came back to the camp in 3 vehicles. They assaulted most of the refugees in the Sihmuii refugee camp. The YMA President and the Sihhmui Village Council stopped them on time. After the incident, four police personnel, including the Second O.C. of Sairang, came and told the refugees to move away as the place was not safe. The police recommended that they refrain from filing an FIR because the YMA, Sairang, would harm them. On 27 December 2003, the main accused returned to the camp and warn them that what had happened was only the beginning. On 29 December 2003, the landlord (who rented out the four huts to the refugees) asked them to vacate the premises, fearing that the YMA would destroy his property, if they do not leave the house. By 31 December 2003, the refugees were given the deadline to leave camp. Some women and children went into hiding in nearby homes and in Khamrang village. That was the second eviction the refugees faced. They have nowhere to go. For fear of persecution, they cannot return to Burma. The plight of the living condition of the refugees in the camps as reported by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) an NGO based in Delhi:-
Their material existence is bare survival. They are malnourished and survive on inadequate rations of rice and dal provided by the Relief Committee. The Government provides nothing. NGOs do not function in the area. Medical assistance does not exist, though it is acutely needed. There are 16 children above the age of five who can no longer avail of any educational facility. Emergency intervention is necessary. We feared that after Christmas the Joint Action Committee might carry out a fresh round of evictions with the support of the government. These fears were validated when the Sihmuii camp residents approached the team, once on 28th December and then again on 31st December, as they had been threatened and given an ultimatum to evict the camp by 31st January 2003. An urgent intervention by the UNHCR and NHRC helped to give them immediate protection.
On the way, the two buses stopped at Lawngtlai, where the refugees spent approximately one month. They were received by the Chin people at Lawngtlai, put up in a church and given food. The Lawngtlai area comes within the Lai Autonomous District Council. The Chins have an affinity with the Lai tribe, so there was a natural bond between the refugees and people of Lawngtlai. Moreover the YMA had no significant presence there. We were informed that the DC, Aizawl, and the YMA, Aizawl, spoke to the DC, Lawngtlai, requesting him not to let the refugees stay there. Thus, they were evicted again and sent to Vawmbuk village via Saiha. Our interviews with the refugees as well as the Chins from Lawngtlai describe this eviction in detail.
On 14 August 2003, the DC, Saiha, was asked to report on the status of these refugees. He recorded that the refugees sent an advance party who saw the Myanmar army at a close distance and, “being afraid of severe punishment and torture” which might lead to their death, they “unanimously resolved to come back to India”. Because of their resolve to stay in India come what may, the refugees were housed at the Tourist Lodge at Vawmbuk village for one month. Here it must be recorded that the Young Lai Association (YLA) and the Vawmbuk Village Council extended support to the refugees.
The Government of Mizoram (Tourism Department) told the DC, Saiha, to remove these people from the lodge. The lodge has five large rooms, adequate to house the refugees and to keep them warm during the winter. With the addition of basic facilities, like toilets and water supply, the lodge would be an ideal refuge. We also found that the lodge is by and large unused.
The Vawmbuk Village Council and the YLA came to their rescue once again, allocating land nearby and providing water. Mr. Suan Tung Parte of the Zo Human Rights Global Networks assisted in setting up a makeshift camp. The DC, Saiha, provided plastic sheets (tarpaulin). An elementary structure was created with bamboo and plastic. When we visited the camp on 24th-26th December 2003, 75 persons were living there. The number fluctuates from time to time as the refugees attempt to find daily wage jobs to keep the camp going. Previously some medical assistance came from Health Care for the Poor, Aizawl, in the form of medicines, and the DC, Saiha, arranged for a visit by a doctor. Food is in short supply and current estimates show that rations will run out in 15 days time. The daily diet was rice and dal twice a day. Medicines were almost finished.
VI) POTENTIAL LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
I) CHIN ORGANIZATIONS
a) Chin Human Rights Organisation
This organization came into existence in 1995. It is based in Canada and registered under Industry Canada as a non-profit organisation. The CHRO field office is based in Aizawl. It was established in 1998. The main object of the organization is to document information on Human Rights violation in Chin states and western part of Burma.
In the recent past, owing to the critical situation of the Chin refugees in India, the organization is compelled to get involved in humanitarian relief and fund raising activities since 2002. The funds are raised from the Chin churches from overseas. The pressure of the needs led to the extension of the service in Delhi very recently (2004).
b) Chin Women Organization (CWO)
The organization is based in Aizawl. It has six branches, Aizawl, Champhai, Sairang, Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Delhi
The organization has been successfully conducting women exchange programme where the women from different Chin groups share information and have discussion on other issues. They also conduct English class, training on human Rights, Women Rights, Conflict resolution etc.
The organization is also a part of the educational programme of the Bracket Foundation. They give scholarship of Rs 1500/- to 30 students for one academic session the Primary and Middle classes.
• To conduct the exchange programme to other CWO branch.
• To involve the Mizo women group in such exchange programme
• To invite experts as resource person in the exchange and training programme
• To give scholarship to more than 30 students.
• To teach Chin language.
c) Chin Women Union (CWU)
The organization was formed in 1997. It is the union of different Chin womens’ group from Haka, Falam, Za Ngait, Tiddim, Lushei, Matu etc.
The organization established a clinic called “Mother and Child Clinic” in 2001. A Chin doctor and two Medics were hired without giving salary. The Clinic did not charge any consultation fee. Basic medicines (first aid, drip etc) were provided free of cost (The members of the Union contributed money to buy the medicine). For one year it was running successfully but the Chin doctor left for another Clinic who were willing to pay monthly salary and thereafter the aftermath of 17th July incident took toll on them. The popularity of the clinic is on the down side since then. However, the clinic is still open with the help of the two voluntary Medics for three days a week. The clinic is still visited by both locals and Chin, both men and women. The most common disease is Malaria and Jaundice.
• To hire a doctor and nurse
• To train some medics
d) Chin Education Project
This project committee’s main office is based in Aizawl. The members of the project comprise representatives from every district. Bracket Foundation funds the project. The project gives educational scholarships to High School and College level students.
• The project currently gives scholarship to 50 students (25 High school students and 25 college students). The High school level is only for Mizoram state while the College level is at All India Level. The selection of the student is based mainly on the financial condition of the family and also on the previous class result.
• To increase the amount of the scholarship
• To provide money to the students attending Government schools for buying uniform and books
• To keep the students in hostels
e) Health Care for the Poor Society
Background: The Health Care for the Poor Society was initially named as “Health Care for Burma”. It was renamed since it was felt that the word Burma would create discontentment with the Mizos. The main office is based in Aizawl and the branch office at Champhai. The project is funded by Bracket Foundation, Medical Mercy and few Mizo and Chin individuals.
Two clinics have been already set up Champhai and Aizawl.
• To establish a clinic at Zokhawthar (the border village). Bracket Foundation has given Rs 1,53,900/- for the purpose that includes the house rent Medicines and Doctor’s salary. This Clinic will attend to the medical needs of the village and the Chin villages situated around the border areas. The Clinic will be open three days a week and the other three days at Champhai
f) Chin Refugee Committee, Lunglei
This Committee was established 5/6 years ago, but it was not very functional. It revived back after the 17th 2003 July incident. The aim and objective of this committee at present is to look into the security of the Chin refugees residing in Lunglei District. As per the committee’s report, there are about 2000 chin in the district.
• Not many activities have been carried out by this committee. As already mentioned before, the intensity of the situation in this district has compelled the Committee to make Refugee Identity card. Till the month of October 2003, they have issued 232 cards. By 19th January, the committee has identified 86 families having 311 members including 113 children. The list has been already submitted to the District Commissioner and the DC had promised that it would be discussed with the Home Ministry of Mizoram.
g) Kalvary Baptist Church, Laungtlai
This Church comprised only the Chin Refugees from Burma. This church is affiliated to Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church Assembly (LRJCBC). As affiliation fee about 50% of the church annual income is given to the assembly. There is 1500 chin refugees scattered in the 188 Mizo villages within Lawngtlai Town.
• The church provides conveyance for the sick person to reach them to the hospital from the jungle.
• The church bought medicines for those patients who could not afford to buy.
II) MIZO ORGANIZATIONS
In Mizoram, local organizations like Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP – Mizo Students Association), Mizoram Upa Pawl (MUP – Mizoram Senior Citizens Association) and Mizoram Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP – Mizoram Women’s Association) are very influential.
a) Young Mizo Association (YMA)
Young Mizo Association (YMA) is a non-political, voluntary organization, established on the 15th June 1935 at Aizawl, Mizoram. YMA is an all-India organization with Branches at Mizoram, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. It is registered under the Societies Act (Act XXI of 1960). This is the biggest, strongest and most influential organization in Mizoram.
Enrolment of YMA members numbered over 2.5 lakh, as on 1.1.1999. YMA has 702 Branches spread all over Mizoram and in the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. There are 50 Group YMA, which are formed by a number of Branches clubbed together. These Groups YMA are formed keeping in view convenience of communication, administration and falling under a compact area, and sharing a common cultural and social features. Sub-Headquarters YMA is established at Lunglei. To co-ordinate the Sub-Headquarters, Group and Branch YMA (every district YMA, then Village YMA), there is an apex body called ‘Central YMA’ with Headquarter at Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. There are sixteen employees and four Research Scholars under the Central YMA
b) Mizoram Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP – Mizoram Women’s Association)
The Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) was established on the 6th of July 1974 and was registered under Registration No. 5 of 1977, Society Act 1860 (Act XXI of 1960). Its Headquarter is located at Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. The MHIP is one of the biggest voluntary organizations in Mizoram. The area of work covers the entire corner of the State. The organization is sub divided into seven (7) sub-Headquarters. These sub-headquarter are further divided into 16 blocks and 700 Branches. These sub-headquarter are named after every District headquarters of Mizoram where its membership is accepted of any women from the age 14 years onwards. A person can become a member of the MHIP on payment of Rs 2/- to its branch in a village. It is therefore a strong social forces devoted solely for the welfare and upliftment of the weaker section of the society, particularly Women and Child section.
The basic principle of the MHIP is based on philanthropic social work with no expectation of any return benefit. It aims at creating a state of welfare in which every individual is cared for irrespective of Caste or Creed. Since its inception, most activities emphasis on upliftment of women and children. MHIP is a mother of all women, the destitute and down trodden women. MHIP take up the issues on discrimination and unjust for the destitute women in general. MHIP seek social injustice in the day-to-day family life of the community within their respective branches/jurisdiction.
(More information on YMA and MHIP are available at http://mizoram.nic.in/more_info/ngo.htm )
c) Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP – Mizo Students Organisation)
This is the apex body of the Mizo Student Organization. It is the second strongest organization in Mizoram. MZP is a part of the larger North East Student Organisation (NESO)
d) Mizoram Upa Pawl (MUP – Mizoram Senior Citizens Association)
The members comprise mainly of elders from different locality / areas of Mizoram who are influencial in the churches and Mizo society.
III) OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
a) YMCA, Mizoram
Since the Mizo are Christian irrespective of the different denominations the people adopt, YMCA can play a very important role being a Christian Organisation.
b) Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO)
The concept that all the Lushai-Kuki-Chin groups are one though they are scattered in different countries (India, Burma) and different areas in India (ie Manipur, Mizoram, Assam) etc have led to the formation of this organisation. Many of the retired Mizo Government employees, educationist, and politician are members of this organisation. This organisation helped the Chin refugees during the forceful eviction.
D. BURMESE REFUGEES IN DELHI
As mentioned earlier, Delhi also hosts a sizeable number of Burmese refugees. The refugees started coming to Delhi after the pro-democracy movement in 1988. Since then there has been constant flow of refugees to Delhi. Many came due to easy accessibility to the office of UNHCR. Delhi being the capital city is also seen as the conducive place for the Burmese to carry on their political struggle. That exist many local Burmese Organizations in Delhi.
In Delhi, there are presently 1452 refugees in Delhi of which 805 (55.5%) are recognized as refugees by UNHCR while the remaining 647 (44.5%) consist those denied refugee status without any written explanation as to the reasons for the rejection and the new asylum seekers. There are 217 children comprising 15% of the total population. There are 174 families in both recognized and asylum seekers comprising 46.5% (679) of the total population. Most of the refugees are ethnically Chin (about 86%), Kachin (6.5%) Burman (4.5%), Arakenese (2.3%), Shan and Naga. Because of their language, culture, and religion, these refugees are unique from other communities of displaced persons in India, and for years they have lived in suburban areas of New Delhi without much hope for a better life.
Burmese refugees are harassed because they lack formal legal status, as most of them do not have residential permit in India. Without formal legal standing in India, they cannot assimilate. Even UNHCR-recognized refugees experience considerable hardship and problems. Many refugees are disillusioned with the UNHCR. They are convinced that official refugee status is only arbitrarily awarded. Refugee groups and NGOs involved in Burmese affairs are unclear as to UNHCR’s criteria and procedures to bestow or deny refugee status. Many Burmese refugees who had fled to India in 1988 but who did not apply for UNHCR status until 1994 were either viewed suspiciously, rejected, or not awarded financial assistance. Some of the refugees did not immediately travel to Delhi to apply for official status because prior to then, they had been relatively secure. Until the crackdowns began, most preferred to remain in Mizoram or Manipur where they could speak the local languages, blend in, work, and be closer to home. (SAHRDC report 1997)
In Delhi, there have been many instances the Burmese refugees have been insulted, harassed, molested, beaten up in the localities where they live. Many groups including the Refugee desk-TOM made complain to the police, UNHCR office and its implementing partners but there has been no protection and intervention.
III) SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE:
From early 1990s to August 1994 UNHCR recognized refugee family receive Indian Rs. 830 + Rs.400 each to first three dependants (wife and two children) and an additional Rs 250/- for each of the remaining dependents as subsistence allowance (SA) from UNHCR.
From August 1994 – February 2003, UNHCR recognized refugee family receives Rs 1400 + Rs 600 to each of the first three dependants (wife and children below 18 yrs), an additional Rs. 450 is given for each of the second three dependants (i.e. the fourth a, fifth and sixth dependent of the certificate holder), and Rs. 250 is given for each additional person in the family.
From March 2003 onwards, UNHCR recognized refugee family receives Rs 1400 + Rs 1400 to the wife and Rs 600 to only three children of the couple (no additional allowance to the remaining dependants)
By November 2002, UNHCR embarked on the termination of Subsistence Allowance (SA) in a phase off manner. The actual implementation of the policy started in 2003 March. The policy is spread over 15 long months. First a letter is served to a certificate holder. Thereafter the receipt of the letter, the certificate holder would receive the whole amount for three months. Then by the fourth month, the SA would be reduced by 30% (30% of 1400 = Rs 960) till the ninth month (six months), and subsequently reduced to 60% (60 % of 1400 = Rs 540) from the tenth to the fifteenth month (six months) and thereafter the SA would be completely terminated.
The refugees recognized after 2003 March, the SA (Rs 1400 + Rs 1400 to the wife and Rs 600 to three children of the couple) was given only for six months and thereafter the SA are terminated.
The SA phase off policy, according to UNHCR were implemented for two reasons;
1. UNHCR is facing severe financial constraint
2. It is strongly felt that supporting able-bodied, young people for sometimes as long as 10 years on a modest SA, has made them dependent to UNHCR. It has deterred refugees, particularly from Myanmar, from making sufficient efforts towards integrating in society, learning languages and picking up skills.
This policy was introduced in order to promote self-reliance. However, though the Indian authorities issued residence permits, the refugees are denied of work permits, which makes any attempt at self-reliance almost impossible and illegal.
The Subsistence Allowance, which the refugees get initially at the beginning of the month from UNHCR, were used for paying the monthly house rent and the rest are used for taking care of the daily needs of the refugees. When the refugees are denied subsistence allowance they are left without food and some of the landlords threaten them of throwing out of their houses, as they could not pay the house rent.
Unrecognized and Asylum seekers do not get any kind of monetary assistance from UNHCR.
The Burmese refugees in Delhi too face lots of health problems. They suffer from weakness, cold, fever, diarrhea, low BP, low haemoglobin, malaria, jaundice, skin infection, gastric, bone pain, muscle pain. They stay in a very unhygienic condition. The inconveniences created by the heat, mosquitoes and unhygienic place invites more disease.
The health clinics and centres frequented by the Burmese refugees are VHAD, DDU Hospital, WRWAB – 1 at Vikaspuri, WRWAB – 2 at Janakpuri, NLD – Vikas Puri, Lok Clinic, LAL’S Clinic, and Rajkumar’s Clinic
VHAD provides health and medical assistance only to the UNHCR recognized refugees leaving behind the asylum seekers and rejected refugees who made up 44.5% of the Burmese population to treat by themselves. The VHAD with too many “Pre-conditions” such as specific timing in a day, closed on Sundays and holidays, dealing mainly simple cases and high expenses involved in reaching the centre (for the refugees staying far from the centre normally spend more than Rs 30/- to reach the centre to get medicine worth much lesser) etc, could not benefit the recognized refugees much. One cannot prevent from falling sick on sundays, holidays or at night.
The refugees can access to the government hospital but normally the government hospital is not much preferred.
The three clinics run by the Burmese provide medical treatment and some medicines free of cost to the all refugees. The clinics do not deal serious cases but only minor ones. Moreover, the clinics are manned only by nurses. There are no doctors in these clinics. Sometimes a Burmese doctor used to visit the NLD clinic at Vikaspuri.
From the many clinics located in the surrounding areas, the Burmese choose the three clinics Lok Clinic, Lals Clinic, and Rajkumar’s Clinic as the Doctors in these clinics can speak Burmese. In all the three clinics Rs 70 to Rs 100 are charged as consultation fee. Since the fee is quite high for the Burmese refugees who do not have any source of income, they could not effort for their treatment in these clinics .
In Delhi there are 217 children below the age of 18 years out of which 174 are students. UNHCR provide an educational allowance of Rs. 2500/- per child annually for primary level to class IV and Rs. 3100/- per child annually for class VI to X to the UNHCR recognized children. This petty allowance was meant for all expenses like – fees, books and school uniform. But the amount is not even enough for school admission. Therefore, the parents had to borrow money from different sources for book, uniforms, monthly tuition fees, transportation and others.
With the SA phase off, the turmoil of the students and parents have increased manifold. It has reported that many students were made to leave the classroom or expelled from the school due to non-payment of school fees.
UNHCR insists that the refugee children should be admitted only in government schools and not in private schools. However, the procedure to get admission is too complicated for the refugees in these schools, the student must pass a test in Hindi language. Another problem for them is that the classes in government schools are taught exclusively in Hindi. This makes it nearly impossible for the Burmese children to succeed in their studies. Moreover, the admission in government schools proved to be a difficult task, as most schools demanded some form of identification like a ration card and the refugee children were often discriminated and denied admission on the grounds that they are refugees and alien. Therefore, it is better for the refugees to go to private English medium school. But studying in private schools is very expensive and competitive. Several levels of fees such as requisition fees, admission fees, annual fees, uniforms, books, and transportation expenses in an ordinary private school cost around Rs. 11,665/- annually for junior high school students.
Very few of the refugees continue their higher education as regular students. Some marginal numbers are enrolled in distance education programme provided by the Open University system under DU, IGNOU etc. This is necessitated by financial constraints and language barrier that the refugees faced that prevent them from pursuing higher education. Those refugees studying in Universities and Colleges have been enrolled as “foreigners” which means that they have to pay higher fees.
VI) 12TH NOVEMBER 2003 INCIDENT
In response to the UNHCR’s decision to reduce the subsistence allowance, around 500 Burmese refugees comprising of approximately 50 children and 200 women hold peaceful demonstration in front of the office of UNHCR from 20th October 2003. Their other demands includes resettlement and concerns surrounding the process of Refugee Status Determination (many refugee seeking refugee status for the past one year and above did not received any proper response from UNHCR office). Representatives of the protestors had inconclusive and, in their view, unsatisfactory meetings with UNHCR’s Chief of Mission following which they continued their peaceful protest. UNHCR’s responded to these meetings by closing the toilets and the drinking water points available for the protestors.
On 10 November UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in New Delhi wrote a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India urging the authorities “to take whatever action is necessary to dispel the demonstrators”. Accordingly, on 12 November, following a verbal warning to the protestors to disperse, the New Delhi police took forceful action to disperse the protestors. There are photographic evidences that indicate excessive and disproportionate use of force by the police in the attempts to disperse the demonstrators. The police used lathis (canes), rifle butts and water canons against the demonstrators. Around 20 individuals were reportedly injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Following the intervention of the police, more than 400 individuals, including 145 women and children, were detained. While most of these individuals were subsequently released, some 44 refugees were arrested on charged. Of these 22 of them were charged with “Breach of Peace and Tranquility, Breach of Public Order and Obstructing Public Official in carrying on his Duty”. Later, they were released in batches following intervention by Human Rights and Civil Society Groups but the remaining 22 were charged with “Rioting” and were charge-sheeted by the Lodi police. Presently all of them have been released on bail in batches by paying Rs 5000 and an Indian surety. (Some stayed for 60 days at Tihar jail) The trial will begin on 13th November 2004.
VII) THE CAMPS
Currently there are six existing camps in Delhi that housed 170 refugees. The Camps no 1, 2 & 3 came into existence after the demonstration in front of the UNHCR office in October 2003. They comprised mainly the asylum seekers who were denied refugee status or their cases kept pending by the UNHCR office. At the beginning, the refugees managed to piled on with their friends and relatives who with great difficulties managed to provide two square meals a day and adjusted in their already unhygienic congested house. But with the implementation of the UNHCR SA phase off policy, situations arise where the host could not even managed to feed themselves. This situation led to the demonstration at the UNHCR office. They left the friends and relatives’ house and camped in front of the UNHCR office. UNHCR with the help of the Indian police forcefully evict them. The refugees came together and started staying together thus leading to the establishment of camps. The camps are rented from the Indian house owner. It is normally one room (around 20 sq feet) with or without kitchen and one bathroom and toilet. The refugees are staying in a very unhygienic condition and with the heat and mosquitoes, the health condition of the refugees is of great concern.
Sl no CAMP NUMBER OF REFUGEES COMMENTS
MALE FEMALE TOTAL
CAMP NO 1
WZ-186, 2ND Floor, Bodella Market
Vikaspuri, New Delhi-18
7 boys-3 girls below 15 yrs) These three Camps came into existence after the demonstration in Oct & Nov 2003. Around 500 Burmese refugees comprising of approximately 50 children and 200 women hold peaceful demonstration at UNHCR Delhi office in response to the UNHCR’s SA phase off policy. Their other demands includes resettlement and concerns surrounding the process of Refugee Status Determination.
2 CAMP NO 2
E / II – 35, Chanakya Place
Uttam Nagar, New Delhi -59
3. CAMP NO 3 (Kachin group)
Vikaspuri, New Delhi-18
4 CAMP NO 4 (Sihmuii Camp)
Janakpuri, New Delhi-58
(10 children, 5 boys-5 girls below 13 yrs) Came to Delhi on 26th February 2004, from Sihmuii Refugee Camp, Mizoram
Victims of 17th July 2003 incident in Mizoram
5 CAMP NO 5 (Vawmbuk Camp)
WZ-186, 2ND Floor, Bodella Market
Vikaspuri, New Delhi-18
23 Came to Delhi on 10th March 2004 from Vawmbuk Refugee Camp, Mizoram
Victims of 17th July 2003 incident in Mizoram
6 CAMP NO 6
(Zomi Refugee Camp)
H. No – 119, Site – 4,
The SA phase-off led to the establishment of this refugee camp.
139 31 170
VIII) RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BURMESE REFUGEES AND INDIANS
The relationship of the Burmese refugees with the Indians is not at best though there are few exceptional cases. Most of the Burmese refugees do not favour the Indians. The website www.refugees.org mentioned, “Because they are Christians and don’t speak the local language, many are unable to find jobs; their children are unable to attend school; and they are not welcomed by the local Hindu community”. Baujard (2001, p 20-21) also reports,
The quasi totality of the refugees with whom I have talked complain about their relations with the Indians. My informants explained to me that they had to change three times of house for the CWO office because the neighbours were complaining about the children’s noise. So the landlords asked them to change place. Otherwise, they are told to change if there are too many of them in a room, or if we do not pay the rent before the 10th of the month, and so on. The Indians look really down at them, as they get them confused with Nepalese. Most of the Burmese normally does not go out to play games since the Indians come and tell them to go back to their home. As a minority group, with different faces (like the Nepalese), without the local language understanding and mastering, with a different culture, and a different religion, they feel common discrimination. We could name it “the fear of the alien or reject of the alien”. It takes its expression in their tentatives to work but also in their everyday life.
However, there are some Indians who are good to the Burmese like Annan, the shopkeeper of Asalatpur, who advances (but with 10 % interest) basic food and items like oil, rice, soap, etc. Some landlords are kind. Obviously the people who have good relationships with Indians are the people who are educated, or who can speak Hindi or English, who have not too much problems (of money) to live. The Chin people who can not speak any other language than theirs, who have money problems, who do not have a large network, are more worried about their relations with Indians, and do not have any Indian friends.
IX) UNHCR’S IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS
There are four implementing partners of UNHCR who implement programmes and work only with the UNHCR recognized refugees.
1. Socio Legal Information Centre (SLIC):
This centre renew refugee certificate.
2. Voluntary Health Association of Delhi (VHAD):
This organisation provides primary health facilities
3. Young Men Christian Association (YMCA):
This organization distributes the monthly Subsistence Allowance and conduct Hindi speaking classes.
4. Don Bosco Asalayam:
This organization Impart training and programmes like Computer and English speaking classes.
X. POTENTIAL ORGANIZATIONS
A. THE OTHER MEDIA (TOM)
The Other Media (TOM) is an NGO based in Delhi. TOM was established in 1992 as a forum to articulate and support dissenting voices of activists, people’s movement and intellectuals for a society based on justice, peace and democracy. TOM since its inception has been involved in two broad trends.
(i) Generate direct/indirect support for various campaigns of struggle based organizations and initiatives and respond to their specific demands of support and solidarity.
(ii) Initiate and sustain direct initiatives on certain critical and crucial substantial political issues that have wider implications, i.e. issues other than those taken up by people’s movements for civil society as a whole.
The basic and larger objectives and methodology of TOM which have been evolved in the process of interaction and involvement are
1. To provide/create a broad based platform on support of struggle-based people’s movements in the sub-continent and issue based campaigns at a national and regional levels.
2. To organize workshops and training programmes. Consultations, conferences and conventions on substantive/political issues around which struggles and campaigns are taking place in the sub-continent.
3. To provide a Forum for debate by formulating, when necessary, a political/ideological framework and opening it up for debate and discussion among movements, who may face ideological or organizational crisis.
4. To initiate autonomous and alternate political processes focusing on important and crucial issues in the sub-continent that are not being touched by other groups and organizations.
5. To engage in research and study on issues that concerns TOM directly in the process of its work or/and while responding to the demands of movements. Campaigns and situations.
6. To engage in production and dissemination of print and electronic materials with a view to generate popular awareness on issues of public concerns. Impact of Globalisation on economy, displacement due to anti people development programmes, environmental and industrial hazards, anti-labour measures like restriction of trade union rights, exploitation through economic oppression of women, issues concerning backward caste and other minorities, human rights, justice, democratic rights and promotion of a peace constituency, In other words the fundamental objective is to promote a system of core values and principles that are vital for building a new society viz; peace, democracy, secularism, human rights, socio-economic and gender justice, good governance etc.
7. To organize tribunals, peoples’ commission, citizens tribunals, fact-finding missions, etc., on sensitive issues of public concerns to generate debate and discussion and for accountability.
Background of TOM’s Work among Burmese Refugees
TOM has been involved in working with Burmese refugees since its inception in 1992. TOM is not only the initiator but also a founder member of Friends of Burma Trust, which was set up to assist the Burmese refugees in India whose plight is pitiable. However, this Trust has not been able to function effectively due to many factors including non-availability of funds since the Government has not responded to application for registration under FCRA. But the individual members of the Trust have been responding to the issues of refugees at various times of need in their individual capacity or as members of other organisations to which they belong.
TOM has also been involved in the debate on the issue of enacting a law-governing refugee not only in India but also in South Asia. As of date there is no such law. Therefore, whenever called upon, the court in India enforces the law of land including fundamental rights guaranteed under Indian constitution.
In the area of refugee protection, TOM has constantly been involved in collaboration with other human rights, democratic rights and civil rights groups both within India and outside. TOM is a partner member of the South Asia Forum of Human Rights (SAFHR-based in Kathmandu) and has jointly organised programmes. A key programme is the South Asian Consultation on Refugees, Displaced Persons and the Stateless – Need for National Laws and Regional Cooperation. TOM is engaged with SAFHR in advocacy and campaign towards influencing the Indian Parliament to come out with an open policy on refugees and enact legislation for protection of refugees.
Since 1992 TOM has taken up lobbying with UNHCR and with other organisation that are involved in legal protection and rehabilitation work among refugees. Apart from this TOM has also been involved in helping with issues related to language courses, higher education, helping refugees organisation in organising workshops, training programmes, seminars and consultation on political issues being face by them e.g.; on federalism, democracy, governance, human rights etc. TOM felt an urgent need to work more closely with the Burmese people so that the organization is better placed to facilitate the process of their empowerment and also to better understand the UNHCR process so as to challenge their policies and practices. Also over the years it became increasingly necessary to respond to the day-to-day problems the Burmese refugee community face. To address this a separate desk for Burmese Refugees was established in 2003.
The Refugee Desk
Since its establishment in 2003, the desk has been involved in many activities. Surveys were conducted on demography, education, health, employment and others. The problems of the refugee community and existing support system (Local Burmese organization, Local churches, community organization) were identified.
The Desk played a crucial role in providing legal representation and assistance Burmese refugees/asylum seekers/newcomers who has been arrested and jailed for demonstration against UNHCR’s polices and practices in November 2003. The desk has been involved in counseling for the refugees. They have been counseled on the policies of UNHCR and the stand of Government of India, issues pertaining to protection, reunification, resettlement, laws of the country etc. The desk hence took up mock interview before the refugees approach the UNHRC office for interview. Application for new arrivals and appeal applications for rejected refugees were prepared. The numbers of UNHCR recognition have increased since the desk’s involvement in counseling. Community outreach activities such as Organising meetings, Visits and expressing solidarity by participating in Burmese programmes, functions, rituals and others.
The desk is involved in documenting the living conditions of the refugees, cases of harassment and molestation by the local people and police, case histories of Human Rights violation in Burma from the refugees, etc.
B) THE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
1. The Chin Community Organization
i. Matu Youth Organization (MYO)
This is the community organization for the Matu of Matupi Township.
ii. Cho Youth Organization (CYO)
This is the community organization for the Cho of Mindat Township.
iii. Seino (Haka/Thanthlang)
This is the community organization for the Haka and Thanthlang of Haka and Thanthlang Townships.
iv. Khumi Youth Organization (KYU)
This is the community organization for the Khumi of Paletwa Township.
v. Falam Union (FU)
This is the community organization for the Falam of Falam Township.
vi. Zomi Inkuan (ZI)
This is the community organization for the Zo of Tiddim Township.
vii. Zomi Union (ZU)
This is the community organization for the Zo of Tonzaang Township.
2. The Kachin Community Organization
viii. All Kachin Students Youth Union (AKSYU)
This is the community organization for the Kachins.
3. The Arakan Community Organization
ix. All Arakan Student & Youth Congress (AASYC)
This is the community organization for the Arakanese.
B) THE CHURCHES / FELLOWSHIP
There are ten (10) Christian churches / fellowship in Delhi. Most of the churches are based on a particular ethnic group and the different denominations.
i. Delhi Burmese Christian Fellowship (DBCF)
ii. Burmese Christian Association (BCA)
iii. Chin Christian Fellowship (CCF)
iv. Living Faith Baptist Church (LFBC)
v. Lai Christian Church (LCC)
vi. Delhi Matu Christian Fellowship (DMCF)
vii. Matu Christian Fellowship (MCF)
viii. Kachin Baptist Church (KBC)
ix. United Pentecostal church (UPC)
x. Seventh Day Church (SDA)
1. Delhi Burmese Christian Fellowship
The fellowship was formed in 1992. There are 400 members including 60 children from all ethnic groups. Burmese language is used. There are different wings under the fellowship such as Youth and Women wing. They also conduct Sunday school classes for children. The income of the fellowship is mainly generated by freewill offerings and tithes. The fellowship run the Chin Centre, providing free computer facilities to other, sponsored two missionaries, one in Delhi and the other in Orissa, provides 300/- to 500/- to its sick members. At present, the S A of 8 members of the fellowship has been already cut off.
2. Burmese Christian Association
The association is formed on 19th September 1994. There are 175 members including 35 children from all ethnic groups. Burmese language used. The church elders elected every year. The income of the fellowship is mainly generated by freewill offerings and tithes. The church sponsored two evangelists. They also provide monetary assistance to its sick members (Rs 200). This fellowship is also a member of the North-east India Christian Fellowship. They participate in the song competitions of the fellowship annual festivals.
3. Chin Christian Fellowship
The fellowship was formed on 20th May 2001. There are 235 members including 40 children. The members comprised mainly Chin community from Haka Township. Haka dialect is used. Most of the members are unrecognized refugees. The income of the fellowship is mainly generated by freewill offerings and tithes. The fellowship conducts Hindi and English classes. They also provide monetary assistance to its sick members (300/-). They had send some amount of money to three orphanage in Chin State (Thanthlang, Haka, Zappa)
4. Living Faith Baptist Church
The Church was formed 19th January 2003. There are 60 members including 20 children. The members are mostly from Falam Township of Chin State. 20 of the members have SA from UNHCR. Their income is through freewill offering and tithe. The Church provided rice and oil to their church members who do not have refugee status.
5. Matu Christian Fellowship
Formed on 21st September 2002. There are 230 members including 65 children. The members of this felowship are from Matu Township. They are mostly those who have stayed in Mizoram before coming to Delhi. Matu dialect is used. Their Income is through freewill offering and tithe. The fellowship collects rice from those members having SA and gives it to those members who do not have SA. It has also provided money (1000/-) to orphans in Burma.
6. Delhi Matu Christian Fellowship
Formed in 1999. There are 50 members including 20 children. The members comprised from Matu Township and mostly those who came to Delhi directly from Chin state (those who have not stayed in Mizoram before coming to Delhi). Matu dialect is used. Income through freewill offering and tithe
7. United Pentecostal Church
The Church is formed in 1998. There are 107 members including 25 children from all ethnic groups. Burmese language is used. Most of the members are S A terminated. 21 of them are not yet recognized under UNHCR. The income is through freewill offering and tithe. The church provides 300/- to its sick members
8. Kachin Baptist Church
Formed in 2002. There are 90 member comprise only of Kachin community.
9. Seventh Day Adventist
The church was formed in 1999, there are 60 members comprised all ethnic communities. The Church runs a primary school at Janak Puri. They also provide relief (food, clothes, and blanket) to the poor and needy refugees. They also organized training on health.
10. Lai Christian Church
Formed in 2000. There are 130 members comprised mainly of Haka / Thanthlang Township. The Church organized Hindi, English and Tailoring classes. They also provide relief to the refugees
C) OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
Some of the potential local Burmese organizations are:
1. Chin Refugee Committee (CRC)
Formed in 14th January 1996. The committee functions with 13 executive members. The Executive Committee consist members from each sub-tribe of the Chin Community. The aims and objectives of the committee is:
i. To provide relief, health and education assistant to Chin refugees in Delhi
ii. To unveil the status of Chin refugee in order to make the world aware of it
iii. To help the Chin Refugees to adopt and practice coherent means of sustainable developments to improve their living conditions.
iv. To give any possible efforts to the Chin refugees and other ethnic groups in order to get legal protection from the office of UNHCR
a. Lobbied for special rappoteur to UNHCR, Delhi
b. Wrote recommendations to deserving persons for education and to UNHCR for refugee status. Helped in translating application for the Burmese ethnic refugees.
c. Distributed pamphlets on health for Burmese ethnic refugees in India (2001)
d. Provided relief to the Chin refugees residing in Mizoram state of India (1996-2002) whenever assistance is available.
e. Collected and compiled the list of all the Burmese refugees of Delhi in September 2003.
f. Provided food and money for bail to the arrested refugees and the other demonstrators staying in urban refugees camps.
g. Provide some financial help to the sick and most needy whenever assistance is available
h. Currently involved in writing a report on “The Deteriorating Condition of Burmese Ethnic Refugee in New Delhi”.
a. To continue provision of relief and other assistance to Chin and others Ethnic Refugees in Delhi whenever some assistance are available.
b. To produce and distribute pamphlets on health and education and refugee rights for Burmese ethnic refugees in India.
c. To conduct workshop on “Human Rights, Refugee Rights and Gender Equality” for the Burmese ethnic refugees in New Delhi.
d. To approach school and university for the education of the Burmese refugee students at subsidized rate (Uttam Nagar Secondary School and University of Delhi).
e. To publish the report “The Deteriorating Condition of Burmese Ethnic Refugee in New Delhi”.
2. Kachin Refugee Committee (KRC)
Formed in June 2002. The committee functions with a President, Vice – President, General Secretary, Vice Secretary, Treasurer, and 20 executive members. The main aims and objectives of the committee is to
i. To help Kachin Refugees to get UNHCR recognition
ii. To create awareness at international level on the situation of the Kachin refugees
iii. To promote education, health care, and social values of Kachin Refugees
iv. To establish self reliance program for Kachin refugees
v. To cooperate with other Burmese ethnic organization in the movements for restoration of Parliamentary Federal Democracy in Burma
The lists of the Kachin refugees both recognized and unrecognized have been recorded. The committee has written to many organizations about the situation of the Kachin refugee in Delhi.
3. All Burmese Refugees Students Parents Committee (ABRSPC):
Since its inception, ABRSPC has been implementing various activities in helping the Burmese refugee children for their better education, schooling and tuition. ABRSPC plays very important role in negotiating with the different school authorities in Vikaspuri, Janakpuri and Uttamnagar areas to minimize the admission and monthly tuition fees for the Burmese students. Many schools are very considerate to the Burmese students. One of the schools, Oxford Senior Secondary School in Vikaspuri provides free admission and tuition fees to 15 Burmese students. Saviour Public School in Uttamnagar waives 50% of the total admission and tuitions fees to the Burmese children. ABRSPC organized award ceremony in May 2002 at Oxford Senior Secondary School in Vikaspuri to deserving students. Since August 2002, ABRSPC has been organizing free tuitions for the Burmese children to study Hindi, English and Mathematics during their free time.
The chin refugees in Mizoram are fearful of the YMA and VCP and not with the State Government. Each passing day, they lived in fear as to when the YMA and VCP will forcefully evict them again. In places like Lunglei, the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC) came out with an I-Card system where it has issued to 311 Burmese refugees. (There are around 2000 refugees in Lunglei town alone). The selections for issuing the I-card are based on the reason for fleeing Burma. The lists of the identity card holders have been submitted to the District Commissioner for further discussion with the Home Ministry of Mizoram. However if one look into the involvement of Mizoram Government for the security of the Burmese refugees in the past, the state has not been able to react and take any action against those involved in the forceful eviction nor was anything arranged for the security of the Burmese refugees.
The selection of providing I-Card based on the reason for leaving the country will not solve the problem of the refugees since there is a need to understand that the so called “economic migrants” as the products of the political situation in Burma.
People are still living under constant fear of being evicted again. Lately it was reported that 7th April 2004 was given as the dateline for all the foreigners to leave Mizoram. Locality like Rahsiveng in lunglei town were threatened to leave the locality by the end March 2004.
There is an urgent need to look into the security of the Burmese refugees at the earliest before forceful evicting takes place again. The NHRC, Ministry of Home Affairs and External Affairs should take strict action against Mizoram Government if they fail to provide security of the Burmese refugees.
In Delhi, Residential Permit (RP) is issued by FRRO (Foreigner Regional Resident Office) under the Ministry of Home Affairs to only the UNHCR recognized refugees. This served as the legal paper. This RP is valid for six months and has to renew after every six months. Since this permit is given only to UNHCR recognized refugees, the asylum seekers that made up 44.5% of the total Burmese population in Delhi are at risk. They are neither recognized by UNHCR nor by the Indian Government. They are the most vulnerable group. There is always fear of arrest, fear of harassment when they are not recognized by UNHCR or Indian Government.
The refugees could barely afford two square meals a day. Many have taken to drinking only soup, as they could not afford to buy food. Many refugees buy discounted vegetables or pick up the thrown away vegetables from the streets after night bazaar for their food. It is also reported that the Burmese refugees have taken food items worth 2,00,000/- from an Indian shopkeeper in Asalatpur on credit. The shopkeeper used to give the food item knowing that the Burmese refugees get some amount from UNHCR. But lately, when he learns that the Subsistence Allowance is being cut off, he refused to give food items on credit. This situation has made the condition of the refugees more difficult.
There are three clinics run by the Chins in Mizoram, the Health Care for the Poor Society at Champhai, Zokhawthar and Aizawl. The Chin Women Union clinic is based in Aizawl. These organizations are supported by Medical Mercy (US) However, from the funding provided by Medical Mercy, the Heath Care Society is in a position to pay only Rs 7000/- per month to the Doctor whereby, the demand of the doctor is 10,000 per month.
The medics at the Mother and Child Clinic run by the Chin Women Union are not paid. They work voluntarily for the people. In places like Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Saiha, there is no clinic run by the Chin Community though the Burmese refugees could access the Government hospitals and other clinics run by the Mizo. It was found that most of the Chins prefer to go to the clinic run by the Chin, as they feel more comfortable. The chin refugees staying in the jungle are the most vulnerable as no medical facilities are available for them.
The Burmese refugees in Delhi have many health problems. There is an acute need for proper health care for all refugees. The three Burmese clinics need to be supported, as the clinics are accessible for all refugees and not limited only to UNHCR recognized refugees and free medical treatment. Also the refugee community feel much comfortable visiting these clinics, as the nurses working in this clinics are Burmese.
Generally speaking, most of the Burmese refugees in Mizoram and Delhi do not live in very comfortable houses. In Delhi they live in extremely tiny rooms in cramped conditions but are compelled to but pay hefty house rents. Usually many families stay together in one small room. They live in extremely unsanitary and unhygienic conditions. The following table shows the accommodation condition in Delhi.
Sl no. Room size Room rent No. of people
1. A one room set is usually 7-8 feet without kitchen, common bathroom and toilet with other tenants. Rs 1200/- 5/6
2. A one room set usually 7-8 feet with separate kitchen, common bathroom and toilet with other tenants. Rs. 1500/- 7/8
3 Two room set including bathroom and kitchen with other tenants. Rs.3000/- 8/10
The refugees lives in constant fear of being driven out from the house. Most landlords are unwilling to host so many people in their houses due to problems of sanitation, hygiene and shortage of water. The Landlord would name all kinds of lame excuses to drive the refugees out of the house and many times the landlord would lock the house at his own will. Failing to pay the house rent on time is conveniently picked up as the weapon to drive the refugees out of the house by the landlord.
Children are the future of a nation. If children of today are deprived of education, the future of the nation is at stake. Giving education to the children is a process of nation building. In Mizoram, due to poverty, many children are deprived of education. Inspite of the free schooling (monthly fees) in Government schools, most of the parents could not afford to send their children to school, as they could not even afford to pay the admission fees, buy uniforms and books. At times specially in Mizoram, the children are stopped from attending school in order to help their parents earn money. To add more, the difficulties in learning by Mizo medium and the standard of education, discourage the parents from sending their children to government schools.
The education fund provided by Bracket Foundation (US based foundation) in Mizoram is not enough when compared to the number of school going students. The assistance on education is benefited by only 80 students while the remaining thousands of students are without any educational assistance.
In Delhi, many students were expelled from the schools for non-payment of school fees. In some school, the children were made to sit for the exams but their results withheld for non-payment of school fees and the result announced only after payment of the backlog monthly fees. In Saviour school, all the Burmese students attending in thus school need to pay 55,000/- to get their result. With great difficulties, arrangements were made and the results of the students declared.
For the session 2004-05, by March out of the total 177 school going students, 146 children were admitted to school by negotiating with the school authority, or other means by the parents (borrowing money from others) while 31 of them were not admitted in any school. At present, June 2004, all the students have been admitted to different schools with great difficulties. However, the successful completion of the course is doubtful since the payment for the monthly tuition fees is not guaranteed
Lives in the camps are miserable. The refugees are helpless and could not do much. The Vawmbuk refugees tried earning some money by seeking work at Saiha Government departments. They worked for three four days but when the local people came to know, they approach the Government department and told them that the work should be given to the Mizos and not to the chin refugees. With no work available to earn money they are left to depend on others to provide food and other basic requirements.
In Delhi too, refugees in the camps are facing great difficulties. Apart from the expenses for basic food and toiletries, hefty amount is being paid for house rent. With summer already here, they are in dire need of proper clothing and shelter. All the refugees including Men, Women and Children face extreme difficulties in adjusting in the single room. Also in these areas where the refugees stays, rooms are rented out without tubes, bulbs and fans. The tenants have to put their own tubes, bulbs and fans. In summer, to beat the scorching heat, they require fans. However, the refugees in the camps are not in a position to buy fan to relieve themselves from the heat.
The churches both in Mizoram and Delhi play a very important role in the lives of the refugees. Apart from the looking into the spiritual growth of its members, the churches are actively involved in providing humanitarian relief to its members and others. As and when assistance was made available to them, the churches distribute it to its members. In times of sickness, the churches provide money for medicines and others.
The role of the Chin churches in Mizoram and in Delhi has to be understood in terms of the situation in which they are in. The church serves as the place for all the refugees residing in different areas and locality to come and worship together in the Lord. It serves as the place for the refugees to meet and share informations about their conditions, share ideas and views on certain issues, receiving and giving emotional support, expressing solidarity and sense of identity.
h) Relationship between the Chin organizations:
There are number of local Chin organisations / associations / committees in Mizoram. Most of the organizations are based on their own dialectical groups or the place of their stay (different districts). However, it was observed that due to distance and limitation of time, co-operation between the local organisations is not very evident. Such kind of non-existing relationship could create gap, misunderstanding between the different organizations that could hamper any development programmes, and thus become a stumbling block to the unity of the Chin.
i) Dissemination of Information:
In Mizoram, it was found that many Mizos are still ignorant and unaware about the situation in Burma. It was felt that there is a need to sensitize the Mizo about the situation in Burma that has led to the exodus of the Burmese to the neighboring countries. The allegation by the Mizo to the Chin as economic migrants needs to be seen in the context as the negative impact of the current political situation. Such dissemination of information can be done through TV, Radio, Newspaper, Pamphlets, Booklets and others. There is also a need to write about the cultural affinity to revive the ethnic relationship between the two groups Mizo and Chin that seems to have lost its hold on the mind of the people in the present time.
j) Documentation and information centre
Many of the refugees could not get access to newspapers, books and other important documents. There is a need to establish documentation and information centre to cater to the needs and demands of both the Chins and Mizo in Mizoram and to the Burmese refugees in Delhi.
k) Capacity building:
There is a need to empower the Burmese refugees by organizing trainings, workshops, and seminars. It will orient and enhance their knowledge on Refugee Law, International Law, Human Rights, Democracy, and Federalism etc.
l) Developing relationship with Mizo:
There is a need to organized seminars and workshops primarily to create platform for both the two groups to come together to discuss and debate on issues like drugs, AIDS, health, education, food security, regional politics in the North-east India, and other issues. And thereafter once a healthy relationship could be established, then issues concerning Burma and refugees can be taken up.
In one instance, MHIP expressed desire to work together with CWO for the Chin women about the molested on Chin women by Mizo men in the state before the forceful eviction took place. However, before anything could be planned, the incident of the forceful eviction took place and since then, MHIP has not shown any interest about this issue. There is a need to rebuild this initiative with MHIP.
a) Immediate needs:
There is urgent need for emergency fund for the 113 refugees in Mizoram and 170 refugees in Delhi in the camps for food, shelter, health care and clothing. For basic food and toiletries, a minimum of Rs 600 (13 US Dollars) is required by a refugee in the camps in a month.
Therefore for one month the amount required in the camps (excluding health care and clothing)
600 X 283 = Rs 1,69,800
+ 5000 X 6 camps = Rs 30,000
For relief in Delhi Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) can be supported, while in Mizoram, the new centre proposed under TOM can take up the initiative.
ii) Emergency fund:
There is a need for provision of emergency fund to the Chin Refugee Committee at Lunglei, Kalvary Church at Lawngtlai and some churches at Aizawl (one church each from Tiddim, Falam and Haka) and the ten (10) churches in Delhi as they are already involved in providing some form of assistance (food, shelter, funeral etc) and health care to the refugees.
b) Long term:
Issues like security, education, capacity building / empowerment (organizing training, seminar, workshop on different important issues, dissemination of information on Burma situation under the military regime, setting up of documentation and information centre, formation of Forum in Mizoram and others are put under the long term plans.
The foremost step to be undertaken for this purpose is to establish a centre in Mizoram
i) Establishment of a Centre:
The discussions in the previous chapters reveal the complex relationships between the Mizo and the Chins. At this juncture, it is important to view the relationship between them in two perspectives,
• as that of a majority and a minority community and
• as that of a superior and inferior community.
Under such circumstances, it is felt that it would be difficult to put the two groups together for a dialogue, as one would prefer to retain its own status and position. It is unlikely that the Mizos would accept any kinds of initiatives taken up by a Chin. On the other hand, the possibility of the Mizo to take up initiatives for the Chin is very low. There are some Mizos who are sympathetic towards the Chins. However; their voices are not heard. Therefore, it is felt that there is a need to establish a “Centre” to take up the initiatives mentioned earlier. The responsibility of centre is to organize trainings, seminars, and workshops in Mizoram, dissemination of information on the Burma situation under the military regime, establishment of documentation and information centre and others.
Most importantly, the centre would lobby with the local organizations (like YMA, MZP and MHIP) and Mizoram Government for the Security of the Chin refugees. There is a need to persuade and convince the YMA and VC to provide security to the Chin refugees. The Mizoram State Government needs to be pressurized
This centre will also be instrumental in the formation of a forum of the local Chin organization so as to establish close relationship between the existing chin organizations in Mizoram. This forum will serve as a platform for all the Chin organizations to come together, share information of their activities, and discuss issues and problems of the refugees and to plan programmes for the refugees to lessen the problems of the refugees.
Once the centre is established many other programmes can be implemented through the centre on different issues like health, education, legal information, youth & sports events, activities for international days (i.e. children’s day, youth day, World Aids day), exchange programmes between groups of students, youth, women etc
The Other Media (TOM) is identified as the most potential organization to extend their Burmese refugee programme and service in Mizoram. The establishment of a “Centre” in Mizoram under TOM is strongly recommended.
• For hiring a Doctor in Zokhawthar, Rs 3000/- per month is required by the Health Care for the Poor Society (HCPS) for the doctor’s payment.
• To hire a doctor at the Mother and Child clinic run by CWU.
• Provision of monthly salary to the medics who have been working voluntarily at CWU (Rs 1500/- to Rs 2000/- per month).
• Storing basic medicine in the CWU clinic. (Minimum Rs 1000/- per month).
• Need to open more clinics at Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Saiha. HCPS can extend their programme to other parts of the state. HCPS need support for such initiative.
• Establishment of a mobile health team to reach to the chin refugees working in the jungle in Mizoram so as to prevent from death due to unavailability of proper treatment.
• To train the potential refugees as Medics and Community Health Workers
• There is a need to support the three Burmese clinics. Three doctors should be hired for the three clinics to give treatment to all the refugees.
There is an urgent need for providing education to the school going children. More students need to be encouraged in the form of scholarships or stipends in Mizoram and Delhi.
• In Mizoram, education should be made available to all the refugee children. More students need to be supported. Support should be extended to the Chin Education Project and Chin Women Organisation.
• In Delhi support is needed for the successful completion of the students going to school. The 160 students in Delhi required Rs 300 /- for monthly Tuition fees in Delhi (the fees is already the special subsidized amount by the school authority for the Burmese students). For this initiative, support should be extended to TOM and ABSPC (All Burmese Students Parents Committee)
(300 X 160 X 12 months = Rs 5,76,000 /- per annum)
iv) Campaigns and initiatives
In Delhi, campaign for the security of the Burmese refugees to the UNHCR office and Indian Government is needed. UNHCR should be pressurized to respect its own mandate and at the same time to be involved in the refugee issue a little more directly and meaningfully. The protection of refugees is solely done by UNHCR in an adhoc manner.
India’s response to the need of the refugees is a much-neglected issue since India is not signatories to the refugee Convention and Protocol. Many Indians are not aware about the democratic movement in Burma. Sufficient work may exist on the Burmese refugee situation in general but there is hardly any concrete information / findings on the existing situation of Burmese refugees in India. There is hardly any work done by Indian groups who have been involved in the issue. There is also a definite need to understand India’s Political position on the refugee issue in general and its current position on Burma. The working relationship of the Indian Government with the Military Junta of Burma, their vested interest that is making the Burmese refugees more vulnerable need to be understood.
This will require field research discussions with a number of political actors, decision-makers and civil society actors in India, as well as research on the economic and legal aspects of the relationship. Hence, it is felt, the importance to bring out a “Position Paper” consisting of a comprehensive overview of all aspects of Burmese refugee situation in India.
Considering the relationship that TOM has established with the Burmese refugees over the years and TOM’s concern on the Burmese refugees in India, it is strongly recommended for a “Position Paper” which can be taken up by TOM. This Position Paper will help to the future work of TOM in the sphere of refugee issue in terms of campaigns & advocacy work at the national as well as regional level. Strong Critique on UNHCR and Indian Government and campaigns to make the Indian Government take the refugee issue seriously and to create Refugee policy can be the outcome. All of TOM’s initiative and work in the future would be based on TOM’s position paper.
1. Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi (2003), “Eviction of Burmese Refugees in Mizoram: A Preliminary Fact-Finding Report”
2. Julie Baujard (2001), “Study on some members of the Burmese Refugees Community of New Delhi, and especially on Chin People: Their Living conditions”, University of Provence and Intern in UNHCR New Delhi.
3. Mizoram State Government (2003) responses to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
4. MZP Report (2003), “Displacement in Mizoram”.
MYANMARESE NATIONAL INVOLVED IN CRIMINAL CASES DISTRICT-WISE
(As reported by Mizoram State Government)
DISTRICT 2000 2001 2002 2003 REMARKS
1. AIZAWL 289 148 122 75 Upto 31-8-03
2. MAMIT 1 1 7 6 Upto 31-8-03
3. LUNGLEI 6 1 9 3 Upto 31-8-03
4. KOLASIB 4 4 7 3 Upto 31-8-03
5. CHAMPHAI 39 17 20 10 Upto 31-8-03
6. SERCHHIP 7 28 33 7 Upto 31-8-03
7. LAWNGTLAI – 2 3 – Upto 31-8-03
8. SAIHA 13 11 17 6 Upto 31-8-03
9. MIZORAM EXCISE DEPT
The case enumerated above includes theft, murder Burglary, Rape, Narco-trafficking, Smuggling of arms, Violation of MLTP Act and other miscellaneous crimes.
DISTRICT WISE STATE OF FOREIGNERS RESIDING IN MIZORAM
DISTRICT MALE FEMALE TOTAL REMARKS
1. 1 AIZAWL
1122 1024 2146 As per DC Aizawl by 16.9.03
2. 2 LUNGLEI
1117 920 2037 As per DC Lunglei by 16.9.03
3. 3 SAIHA
389 297 686 As per DC Saiha by 16.9.03
4. 4 MAMIT
818 232 1050 As per DC Mamit by 16.9.03
5. 5 KOLASIB
221 144 365 As per DC Kolasib by 16.9.03
6. 6 SERCHHIP
408 333 741 As per DC Serchhip by 16.9.03
7. 7 CHAMPAI
1115 892 2007 As per DC Champhai by 16.9.03
8. 8 LAWNGTLAI
212 119 331 As per DC Lawngtlai by 16.9.03
Vikaspuri • Accessible only for UNHCR recognized refugees (Free consultation)
• Refugees complain of the doctor being not very good.
• Medicine of poor quality
(Govt) Janakpuri • Free consultation
• The Burmese community feels that the Doctors do not want to treat them
• No provision of free medicine
Vikaspuri • Free consultation
• Run by a Burmese nurse
• Deal only basic heath care
Janakpuri • Free consultation
• Run by a nurse
• Deal only basic heath care
Vikaspuri • Free consultation
• Run by a nurse
6. LOK CLINIC
Janakpuri • Consultation fee – Rs 60/-
7. LAL CLINIC
• Consultation fee – Rs 40/-
• Run by Doctor couple
• Specialized in Women (wife) and Children (Husband)
• Husband can speak Burmese
8. RAJKUMAR CLINIC Passangipur
Janakpuri • Consultation fee – Rs 40/-
• The Doctor can speak Burmese