CHRO

Electoral_violence_and_intimidation_in_Chin_State.pdf

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

7 November 2010
Electoral Violence and Intimidation in Tedim Township, Chin State

[Chiang Mai, Thailand]  The Chin Human Rights Organization has received several reports of electoral violence and intimidation in Tedim Township, northern Chin State.

This afternoon, in Buan village, close to Tedim town, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) agents in campaign uniforms stood at the gate of the polling station, checking people’s voter registration documents.  They asked villagers waiting to cast their votes if they intended to vote for the USDP.  Those who said yes were allowed into the polling station, but those who said no were turned away by the USDP party agents.

Villagers who were refused entry to the polling station reported the incident to agents from the Chin National Party and Chin Progressive Party.  The agents went to the polling station to complain, and a fight broke out.

At 5pm yesterday afternoon, USDP organizer Go Lun Mang went to the house of a local resident and told him and his family that there was no need to go to the polls, as he had already voted in favour of the USDP on their behalf. When the family objected, and said they would still vote for the party of their choice, Go Lun Mang told them that soldiers from a nearby army camp (LIB 269) would come and arrest them.

On arrival at Sakollam polling station in Tedim town this morning, the local resident and his family members found that their ballot papers had already been used.  The resident reported that theirs was not an isolated incident.

On 5 November, the USDP branch in Tedim town summoned all village tract clerks in the township locality and ordered them to tell villagers in their respective areas to vote for the USDP.  In Chin State, village tract clerks are government appointees who oversee all local government staff in the area.

-ENDS-

For a PDF version of the press release click the link below or scroll down to view the text
Burmas_electoral_process_marred_by_HRVs_in_Chin_State.pdf
Click here for the full version of the briefing

MEDIA STATEMENT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

6 November 2010

Burma’s Electoral Process Marred by Human Rights Violations in Chin State

[Chiang Mai, Thailand] The Chin Human Rights Organization today raised serious concerns about human rights violations and the electoral process in Chin State and Kalay Township in Sagaing Division, where many ethnic Chin live.

Since the electoral laws were passed on 8 March 2010, the organization has documented ten cases of forced labour and portering in Chin State.  Most recently, in October, police officers ordered local villagers in a remote area of Thantlang Township to carry their belongings from village to village while they surveyed possible polling station locations and collected information to compile the voter registration list.

“The use of portering is so endemic in rural areas of Chin State that officials think nothing of ordering it, even while they are on a mission related to Burma’s so-called democratic electoral process,” said Salai Za Uk Ling, CHRO Program Director.

In an election briefer published today, CHRO also highlighted the lack of secret balloting in advance voting, forced membership of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, and inadequate election preparations.

“In Kalay Township there are not enough polling stations to cope with the number of registered voters, in breach of the Union Election Commission’s own guidelines.  This could lead to overcrowding and compromising of the secret ballot on polling day. In Cinmual ward, Falam Town, an army checkpoint is one of the designated polling stations.  How can people feel free to vote for the party of their choice, if soldiers are watching them?” continued Salai Za Uk Ling.

Portering and forced labour are two of the most pervasive human rights violations in Chin State.  Since the organization was founded, CHRO has also documented numerous incidents of religious persecution, land confiscation, torture, arbitrary arrest, extra-judicial killing, and rape.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

1.      According to the Polling Officials’ Manual issued by the Union Election Commission, one polling station should be established per 300 registered voters.  In Kalay Tsownship, Sagaing Division there are 60 Chin villages, which are home to 76,000 ethnic Chin registered voters.  There are another 110,000 Burmese voters, making a total of 186,000 registered voters in the area.  However, there are only 151 designated polling stations, making an average of more than 1,200 voters per polling station, four times as many as issued in the UEC guidelines.

About the Chin Human Rights Organization

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) is a non-governmental, non-profit advocacy organization legally registered in Canada. It was formed in 1995 on the India-Burma border by a group of Chin activists committed to promoting democracy in Burma, and documenting previously unreported human rights abuses being perpetrated against the Chin people by the Burma army and local authorities of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).  CHRO is the primary rights-based advocacy organization for the Chin.

 

About the Chin people of Burma

Around 500,000 ethnic Chin live in the northwestern area of Chin State in Burma.  The Chin are ethnically very diverse. The six main tribes of Aso, Cho (Sho), Khuami (M’ro), Laimi, Mizo (Lushai), and Zomi (Kuki) can be further broken up into at least 60 different sub-tribal categories. The Chin speak more than 20 mutually distinct languages. Despite such diversity, the Chin are unified through a common history, geographical homeland, traditional practices, and ethnic identity. The missions of the American Baptist Church starting in the late 1800s served to further unify the Chin people through religion. In a country that is predominantly Buddhist, the Chin are 90 percent Christian with most belonging to the American Baptist Church.

CHRO_calls_for_intl_support_for_country-wide_COI_on_Burma.pdf

20 October 2010                            
Media Statement: For Immediate Release

CHRO CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR
A COUNTRY-WIDE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON BURMA

[Chiang Mai, Thailand]: The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) today warmly welcomes the report of Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, and urges the international community to support a country-wide commission of inquiry into gross and systematic human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity in Burma.

In his report, the Special Rapporteur notes that while it is primarily the responsibility of the ruling government to address these problems, such responsibility falls to the international community if the ruling government fails to assume it.  Article 445 in Burma’s 2008 Constitution effectively enshrines impunity for past and present human rights violations, leaving little or no possibility for justice and accountability for such crimes within the domestic legislative framework.

The Special Rapporteur also notes that human rights violations which could constitute crimes against humanity include forced labour and religious persecution.  In its recent submission to the Universal Periodic Review process of Burma under the Human Rights Council, CHRO documented more than 70 incidents of forced labour since 2006, some involving orders to 40 villages at a time.  

The persistent, widespread and systematic denial of religious freedom in Chin State may amount to religious persecution.  Harassment, inhuman treatment and torture of Chin Christian missionaries are ongoing, particularly in remote areas of Chin State.  Deliberate destruction of Christian infrastructure like crosses and churches has been widespread in Chin State, carried out or ordered by the local authorities, most recently in the Mindat area in July this year.

CHRO Program Director Salai Za Uk Ling said, “We warmly welcome the renewed support for a Commission of Inquiry by the Special Rapporteur.  However, ideally the mandate and terms of reference for such a commission should be country-wide rather than focusing on a specific geographic area.  People all across Burma, including in Chin State, want justice and accountability for the human rights violations they have suffered.”

To date, 13 countries have expressed support for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.  

“We urge the international community to support a country-wide Commission of Inquiry.  An inquiry with such a mandate would do more to support a national reconciliation process in the longer term,” added Salai Za Uk Ling.

-ENDS-

Contact:    Salai Za Uk Ling
Program Director
[email protected]
Tel: +66.89.218.0793 (Thailand Standard Time)

Background

Approximately 90 percent of Chin State’s population is Christian, making it the single largest Christian-concentrated state in a predominantly Buddhist Burma. Christianity was introduced to the Chin people by the American Baptist Missionaries in 1889 and has since become an integral part of Chin identity. Increased militarization in Chin State since the time of the popular uprising in 1988 has led to a dramatic increase in human rights violations against the local population, including forced labour and religious persecution.   Since 1994, the regime has destroyed nine Christian crosses in Falam, Hakha, Kanpalet, Mindat, Matupi, Paletwa, Teddim, Tonzang and Thantlang Townships. In some cases, Buddhist religious infrastructure such as pagodas, monasteries and statues have been built on the very sites where Christian crosses were destroyed, sometimes with forced labor exacted from the local Christian population. The regime has also prohibited the construction and renovation of Christian churches.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.    The 13 countries that have expressed support for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Ireland, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia and France.
2.    On 24 July 2010 a 23-foot high concrete Christian cross in the Mindat Township area, southern Chin State, was forcibly destroyed by direct order of the authorities, including the District and Township level Peace and Development Council, the District Religious Affairs Department, and a Mindat abbot from the Hill Region Buddhist Mission.
3.    To download CHRO’s individual submission to the Universal Periodic review process on Burma, please visit http://www.chro.ca/action-alerts/advocacy-a-campaign.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4 February 2010

Contacts:    Victor Biak Lian
Tel: +60-102168001 or + 66-8153-00702
E-mail: [email protected]

Salai Za Uk Ling
Tel: +1-807-252-5418
Email: [email protected]

CHRO Lauds Malaysia for Plans to Issue IDs to Refugees, Urges to Implement Further Protection Measures

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) welcomes the recent statement by the Malaysian Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam regarding plans to issue identification cards to UN-recognized refugees. This initial measure, if followed through, will provide greater protection to refugees and ensure their security well-being in Malaysia.

For years, refugees fleeing from oppressive governments in the region, the vast majority of who are from Burma, have suffered gross human rights violations in Malaysia. The harsh immigration policy has increased their vulnerability, resulting in the indiscriminate arrest, prolonged detention, abuse and deportation of refugees and asylum seekers.

Salai Bawi Lian Mang, CHRO Executive Director said, “While this new policy initiative is laudable, concrete measures should be taken by the Malaysian government to ensure that the rights of refugees and asylum seekers are well protected. The new policy should also provide latitude for asylum seekers who are not yet documented so that they can enjoy protection while in the process of getting recognized.”

We would like to encourage the Malaysian government to continue holding discussion and consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant parties so that an appropriate solution can be found to better protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia.

To show its new commitment, it is important that the Malaysian authorities refrain from further actions to round up and indiscriminately arrest refugees and asylum seekers while the new policy is being formulated.

The CHRO hopes that this new policy will lead to greater recognition, as well as, respect for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers within Malaysia.

Chin Human Rights Organization

2930 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 200-36, Berkeley, California, US 94705

Tel: +1.510.332.0983

www.chro.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Victor Biak Lian

Ottawa, Canada

Tel: +1 613.796.9514

E-mail: [email protected] com

 

Amy Alexander

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tel: +66.85.23.02. 609

E-mail: [email protected] com

 

CHRO RELEASES NEW REPORT ON FOOD INSECURITY IN BURMA’S CHIN STATE

 

9 July 2008

Ottawa, Canada: The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) released a report today highlighting the increasing shortages of food in western Burma’s Chin State. The report, entitled, Critical Point: Food Scarcity and Hunger in Burma’s Chin State, finds that as many as 200 villages may be directly affected by severe food shortages, and no less than 100,000 people or 20 percent of the entire population of Chin State may be in need of immediate food aid. While the immediate cause of food insecurities in Chin State is rooted in the cyclical flowering and dying of bamboo in the area, the continuation of severe human rights violations and repressive economic policies by Burma’s military regime has exacerbated the food crisis- bringing it to a critical point.

 

“This is just another example of the regime’s extreme disregard for the people of Burma. The regime has done nothing to provide assistance to communities in immediate need of food aid. Rather, they are obstructing relief supplies and hindering humanitarian efforts in western Burma,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO.

 

As affected communities are reduced to foraging for edible leaves and roots in the forest, the food crisis in Chin State could potentially lead to high rates of starvation, malnutrition, and the rapid deterioration of people’s health. Having exhausted food sources in Chin State, more than 600 people have reportedly fled across the border to India’s Mizoram State in search of food security.

 

“The situation is at a critical point. The people of Chin State are on the brink of starvation. Action must be taken now to respond to this crisis,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang.

 

CHRO makes recommendations for immediate action to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the governments of India and Mizoram, and the international community.

 

###

 

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) is non-governmental, not for profit organization legally registered in Canada with offices in Canada, the United States, Thailand, and India. CHRO works to protect and promote the rights of the Chin people of Burma. For more information, please visit CHRO on the web at www.chro.org.

 

Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Plato Van Rung Mang

Field Officer

New Delhi

Tel: 91-11-991-083-2560

Mai Dawt Chin

Program Officer

New Delhi

Tel-91-11-2561-7368  

REPORT RELEASE:

Chin in Delhi, India Lack Adequate Protection and Humanitarian Support

Delhi; April 3, 2009: In a new report released today, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) finds Chin in Delhi seeking protection as refugees face prolonged wait-periods in extremely poor conditions with very little access to humanitarian relief or services. CHRO calls on the Government of India and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure Chin in Delhi have access to expedient and fair protection mechanisms as well as basic human necessities. 

Waiting on the Margins: An Assessment of the Situation of Chin Refugees in Delhi documents the limited protections available to the Chin community and their living conditions in Delhi. Due to long processing delays at UNHCR, it takes on average more than two years to receive refugee recognition- four times longer than mandated by UNHCR guidelines. As a result, more than half of the Chin population in Delhi have cases pending with UNHCR and are not yet recognized as refugees. Without UNHCR-recognition, Chin are not eligible for essential social services and humanitarian relief provided by UNHCR-partner organizations.

“So many Chin in Delhi live in deplorable conditions- without jobs, without basic amenities, without access to social services,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, executive director of CHRO. “In fact, the Chin are refugees in desperate need of protection, but it takes years to gain protection by the UNHCR. Meanwhile, the Chin are living on the bare margins of society in Delhi.”

Currently, the estimated Chin population in Delhi is 4,200- the largest asylum-seeking population from Burma living in Delhi. Sixty-six percent of the Chin community are unemployed and those who are employed typically work 10- to 12-hour days for less than Rs. 70 (US$1.35) per day. Illnesses are common and access to affordable and quality healthcare is limited. More than half of those Chin who died in 2007 and 2008 succumbed to easily treatable and preventable health problems, such as diarrhea.

Although UNHCR supports several programs to provide for and improve the welfare of the Chin community, many of these programs are inadequate and ineffective to meet the community needs. Access to such programs is limited to UNHCR-recognized refugees and more than half of the Chin community in Delhi are not eligible to benefit from such programs.

For this reason, the Chin Human Rights Organization urges the Indian government and the UNHCR to:

    * Ensure Chin refugees and asylum-seekers have unhindered access to effective and expedient protection mechanisms.
    * Minimize processing delays and corruption that hinder members of the Chin community from obtaining protection and access to crucial benefits and services.
    * Ensure Chin refugees and asylum-seekers have access to: acceptable and appropriate accommodations; stable and adequate sources of income and job opportunities; and quality and affordable healthcare and education.
    * Promote, expand, and improve current humanitarian programs that benefit and serve members of the Chin community.

BACKGROUND

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in Chin State, Burma to escape severe ethnic and religious persecution committed by the military regime of Burma. They arrive in India in search of security and the hope of enjoying basic freedoms. Currently, some 75,000 to 100,000 ethnic Chin from Burma are living on the India-Burma border in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram. As UNHCR has no access and provides no protection to the Chin population living in Mizoram, the only available means of protection in India is to travel some 2,400 kilometers to Delhi. Due to the significant distance and expense of this trip, only a small minority of the Chin population in India is able to make it to Delhi. As of December 2008, the population of Chin in Delhi numbered 4,200.

Full report is available at CHRO web

http://www.chro.org/images/stories/File/pdf/Waiting_on_the_Margins.pdf

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:     Amy Alexander

                  Regional Advocacy Officer

                  [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

                  Tel: +66.85.029.4846

U.S. Senate Releases Report on Abuses in Malaysia, Raids Continue

24 April 2009: Even as the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations publicly released its report documenting the mistreatment of Burmese migrants in Malaysia, the Malaysian authorities continue to conduct raids on refugee neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. CHRO calls for UNHCR to take immediate action to intervene on behalf of detained Chin refugees and asylum seekers.

The Malaysian authorities rounded up and detained some 300 migrants, including small children, during raids in the Imbi neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur late Wednesday night, April 22. Over 100 Chin refugees and asylum seekers are among those arrested, including 14 children and two pregnant women. The authorities have been conducting similar raids throughout the city with increasing frequency during this past month.

In the midst of ongoing raids in Malaysia, half the world away, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations publicly released its report Trafficking and Extortion of Burmese Migrants in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, calling on the Malaysian government to address problems of trafficking and other abuses in Malaysia. The report findings include the involvement of Malaysian officials in the arrest, detention, and extortion of Burmese migrants and refugees; mistreatment of detainees in detention facilities, including whippings and torture; and the transfer of Burmese migrants and refugees to traffickers for payment. Burmese migrants and refugees in the hands of traffickers are subject to further extortion and mistreatment and are at risk of being sold into the fishing or sex industry. The report is based on a one-year investigation by the Senate Committee and includes information provided by NGOs, including CHRO, as well as first-hand testimony from trafficking victims.

“Chin refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia have long been subject to abuse and exploitation by Malaysian officials and their operatives,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO. “We appreciate this initiative by the U.S. government and hope it will put pressure on the Malaysian government to act responsibly towards migrants and refugees living within its borders.”

The 106 Chin refugees and asylum seekers caught up in the raids earlier this week are currently being held in Bukit Jali police station. According to Kennedy Lal Ram Lian, coordinator of the Chin Refugee Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, “No one has been released- not even UNHCR card holders.” More than 10 Chin detainees are UNHCR-recognized refugees awaiting resettlement to a third country. If they are deported to the border, they are at risk of being sold to traffickers.

According to the report, any person involved in the trafficking of migrants and refugees may be subject to prosecution not only in Malaysia and Thailand but also in the U.S. under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Based on the report findings, the proposed recommendations of the Committee include:

    * Investigation and prosecution of persons involved in the trafficking of Burmese and other refugees;
    * Increased assistance to victims of human trafficking in Malaysia;
    * Increased funding to local community leaders and political activists to combat the trafficking of persons from Malaysia into southern Thailand;
    * Consideration of alternatives to detention for refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia;
    * Free and unhindered access for UNHCR officials to all Malaysian facilities where Burmese persons and other asylum seekers are detained;
    * Promotion of refugee protection standards in Malaysia.

The full findings and recommendations of the Senate committee report can be found online at:http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/index.html.

The Chin community represents one of the largest refugee communities from Burma living in Malaysia. For more than ten years, the Chin people have fled to Malaysia to escape persecution, torture, and severe oppression in Burma. In Malaysia they are the constant target of harassment, arrest, detention, and deportation by the Malaysian authorities. They are unable to work, receive an education, access healthcare services, or find acceptable living accommodations.

To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles