CHRO

500 new infantry troops are being deployed to Chin State as SAC junta prepares for a major offensive against Chin resistance forces. Fighting have erupted in different parts of Chin State, including in Hakha town where LIB266 have fired rockets into civilian neighborhoods indiscriminately. Hundreds have fled their homes and villages in southern Chin State following the brutal killing of 10 civilians whose bodies were found bound and their throats slashed and stabbed.

Imminent Attacks?

500 new infantry troops are being deployed to Chin State as SAC junta prepares for a major offensive against Chin resistance forces. Fighting have erupted in different parts of Chin State, including in Hakha town where LIB266 have fired rockets into civilian neighborhoods indiscriminately. Hundreds have fled their homes and villages in southern Chin State following the brutal killing of 10 civilians whose bodies were found bound and their throats slashed and stabbed.

Read More

More people are fleeing from multiple villages in Matupi Township and moving towards the Indian border following the brutal summary killings of at least 10 civilians last week and as the military junta reinforces troops into the areas under the Tactical Operations Command in Matupi in southern Chin State.

Summary Killing of 10 Civilians

On January 6 at around 8:30 am, junta soldiers from LIB 140 of Matupi-based Tactical Operations Command arrested seven people who were traveling by motorbikes on the road between Kihlueng and Lunghlaw villages, northwest of Maputi Town. The arrests took place at a location about one mile outside of Kihlueng village. One of the travelers in the group is a 56 year-old villager (Name withheld) who turned away and escaped immediately upon witnessing the arrests of his traveling companions who were driving ahead of him. On the next day at around noon on January 7, villagers discovered 8 dead bodies, including that of a 13-year-old boy whose throat was slashed along the stretch of dirt road between Kihlueng and Lunghlaw. All the dead bodies have their hands tied behind their backs and bore knife wounds to the torso area and slashed throats. Two more bodies were discovered at a location between Kihlueng and Kace, another village in the area north of Kihlueng, the same day.

Among those summarily executed is Pu Tui Dim (55), a former staff member working for CHRO for many years before moving on to co-found Khonumthung News and worked as its Editor-in-Chief. The following is the list of persons who were brutally murdered by the junta.

1. Pu Tui Dim, 55
2. Pa Le Nang, 13
3. Salai Steven, 28
4. Pu La Ring, 58
5. Pu Va Thu, 38
6. Pu Paw Sali, 45
7. Pu Tin Sang, 41
8. U Yezar Aung, 40
9. Pu Lian Ngai, 42
10. Salai Thak Lung, 50

Villagers fleeing the area

Horrified by news of the brutal killings, more than 1000 civilians from at least six villages in the area, including Kihlueng, Kace, Boitia, Ngaleng, Lunghlaw and Tibaw villages have all fled and are taking shelter at Amlai, Rengkhen and Tangku villages. But as troops are reinforced in the areas, the IDPs, along with civilians from their host villages have further moved towards Sumsen and Sabawngpi, which are located closer to the Indian border. Some have crossed into Mizoram, including a witness to the arrests on January 6 of a group of travelers whose bodies were later found.

Troops reinforced

At least 90 truckloads of soldiers, ammunition and supplies are heading to Matupi and have been traveling from Kyaukhtu in Magway since January 9. As of January 11, the troops are on the way between Mindat and Matupi and have met with ambush from local resistance groups from the Chinland Defense Forces. Maputi is the base of one of the two Tactical Operations Command, which has an existing strength of three stationary battalions under its command (LIB 140, IB 304 and LIB 274 based in Mindat). The reinforcement are believed to be from some of the notorious Light Infantry Divisions, which are deployed in swift tactical situation and as a quick mobile combat force.

Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday said that his government would continue to make efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Myanmar nationals who fled their country following a military coup and took refuge in the north-eastern state.

During his interaction with leaders of Myanmar nationals, Mr Zoramthanga gave an assurance that his government will try its best to assist them.

The chief minister said that his government has taken up massive efforts and will continue to do so in the future to help those Myanmar nationals.

Mr Zoramthanga said that he had also urged the Centre several times to provide political asylum to the Myanmar nationals.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Mr Zoramthanga had urged them to provide assistance to the people of the neighbouring country.

Mr Zoramthanga had earlier said that the Centre assured the Mizoram government that it will take measures to ensure that the state government can continue to provide assistance to the Myanmar nationals.

“Though the Centre is very willing on its side, it can’t directly help the Myanmar refugees because India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol,” Mr Zoramthanga had told reporters earlier.

Thousands of Myanmar nationals are currently taking shelter in different parts of Mizoram.

While many live in relief camps or temporary shelters set up by villagers, others are accommodated by their relatives and some live in rented houses.

Most of the Myanmar nationals are from Chin state, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos.

Apart from the government, the NGOs, villagers and individuals provide food and shelter to the Myanmar nationals.

Mizoram shares a 510-km-long international boundary with Myanmar.

The north-eastern state is already home to thousands of Chin communities of Myanmar, who migrated to the state since the late 1980s fleeing the military junta in the neighbouring country.

Mizoram To Continue To Provide Humanitarian Aid To Myanmar Refugees (ndtv.com)

The New York Times

For decades, armed conflict, political repression and targeted campaigns against minorities have forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave the country. Now many more are expected to follow.

By Sui-Lee Wee

Terrified farmers and families with children in Myanmar are fleeing into India as the military junta that seized power in a February coup continues to seek out and eliminate resistance along the country’s border.

The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has targeted areas that are home to thousands of armed civilians who call themselves the People’s Defense Force. Soldiers have fired rocket launchers into residential neighborhoods, burned down homes, cut off internet access and food supplies, and even shot at fleeing civilians, according to residents.

For more than seven decades, armed conflict, political repression and targeted campaigns against minorities like the Rohingya have forced hundreds of thousands of people from Myanmar to seek refuge in other countries. Many more are now expected to follow.

Aid groups say they are preparing for a flood of refugees, but are concerned that countries surrounding Myanmar such as Thailand may push them back. In Chin State in the northwest of Myanmar, an entire town of roughly 12,000 people has nearly emptied out in the past month. Residents have reported a large buildup of troops in recent weeks, signaling a potential wider crackdown by the Tatmadaw and leaving many people desperate to escape.

After troops burned down his home on Sept. 18 with rocket-propelled grenades, Ral That Chung decided he had no choice but to leave Thantlang, his town in Chin State.

“I love Myanmar, but I will return only if there is peace,” said Mr. Ral That Chung, who walked for eight days with 10 members of his family to reach India. “It’s better to suffer here than to live in fear in my own country.”

In the eight months since the army seized control, roughly 15,000 people in Myanmar have fled for India, according to the United Nations. Catherine Stubberfield, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Asia and Pacific bureau, said the agency has observed some 5,000 people who successfully entered India from Myanmar after recent clashes.

“The brutality in which entire villages are attacked indiscriminately has created a horrific situation in which people are absolutely desperate,” said Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar. “And things are getting worse.”

The refugees say they sleep in forests for days, some of them going without food as they make their way toward India. Once they reach the Tiau River crossing separating the two countries, they take a bamboo raft or boat across to reach safety.

In the tiny village of Ramthlo, Crosby Cung said all 1,000 people who live there were preparing to leave. The villagers, he said, have selected two to three places where roughly 500 people can hide out in the forest until they are ready to head for the Indian border. Last week, soldiers set a neighboring village on fire.

 

“It is really sad to see,” Mr. Cung said. “Leaving your village and fleeing into the jungle is not what we want to do. I want to protect my village so they do not loot and burn down the village. But we, the civilians, can’t do anything. We have no choice but to flee.”

The recent exodus has been most pronounced in Chin State, a stronghold of the People’s Defense Force where civilians have often suffered the brunt of the Tatmadaw’s cruelty. In August and September, 28 out of the 45 people killed in the rural border region were civilians, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

Chin State borders the Indian state of Mizoram and is predominantly Christian. Many of the locals in Mizoram are also ethnic Chin and have close ties to the Chin people in Myanmar, but their patience has been tested by a recent Covid outbreak that Mizoram officials have blamed on refugees.

A district official in Mizoram who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said even though the Indian government’s policy is to keep the borders closed to refugees, the locals are unofficially helping those fleeing Myanmar. If the locals did not provide assistance, the official said, the refugees would die.

Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, warned that the situation facing the refugees would become more difficult over time. “Resources will become increasingly scarce, and there may be pressure to send them back,” he said.

In India, the refugees live in shacks with tinned roofs or plastic tarps overhead. Van Certh Luai, a refugee who arrived in Mizoram after walking for three days, said her family of six gets only three gallons of water a day for drinking, washing and bathing. Mosquitoes feast on their skin. But the family says they are staying put.

“I do not want my three children to grow up in fear,” Ms. Van Certh Luai, 38, said.

The fighting in Chin State started in August, when 150 soldiers arrived in the town and started firing mortar rounds, injuring people and damaging houses. On Sept. 6, the Chinland Defense Force — the Chin arm of the People’s Defense Force — said it killed 15 soldiers.

Rights activists say the junta has targeted Chin State because it is home to the Chin National Front, the first ethnic armed group to throw its support behind the so-called National Unity Government, the organization founded by Myanmar’s ousted elected leaders. The rebel group has also been training thousands of anti-coup protesters who have taken up arms against the military.

Cer Sung said she heard gunshots and bombs falling at around 4 p.m. on Aug. 15 while she was boiling popcorn at home in Thantlang, in Chin State. In a state of panic, she looked for her 10-year-old son, who was watching his favorite Hindi cartoon on television, remote control in his left hand. As she entered the house, fragments of artillery shells started falling between her and her son.

Ms. Cer Sung, 44, recalled seeing the left side of her son’s body go up in flames. His left index finger, the one on the remote control, was blown off. He died on the spot.

“I am angry with the Myanmar army for brutally killing my only son,” Ms. Cer Sung said, sobbing.

She and her family have decided to remain in Myanmar for now, frightened to stay but also scared to find out what life would be like if they were to leave. Other families have scrambled to leave so quickly that they did not have much time to prepare.

Sui Tha Par said she found her husband, Cung Biak Hum, lying on the side of a road with two gunshot wounds to his back and chest after he rushed to extinguish a fire caused by Tatmadaw troops in Thantlang on Sept. 18. His ring finger had been cut off and his gold wedding band was missing, according to family members.

“They shot my husband to death,” Ms. Sui Tha Par said in tears. She is pregnant and expects to give birth next month, she said. After burying her husband, she and her two sons, 11 and 7 years old, decided to leave for Mizoram.

Thousands Flee Myanmar for India Amid Fears of a Growing Refugee Crisis – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Reign of Terror

This document details human rights violations committed by SAC actors during August and September, 2021. Attacks on the civilian population and civilian infrastructure initiated by the State Administration Council (SAC) junta have become increasingly relentless in western Burma/Myanmar since August 2021. Junta soldiers operating in Chin State and parts of Sagaing and Magwe Regions, under the Northwestern Regional Military Command based in Monywa, have conducted a campaign of unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and deliberate targeting of civilian and religious infrastructure.

Reign of Terror

Human Rights Briefing August September

Please download PDF here

Reign of Terror ReportCHRO

BRIEFING : THE NEED FOR URGENT CROSS-BORDER HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE ON THE WESTERN FRONT

September 12, 2021: A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Myanmar/Burma’s poorest state following an escalation of fighting in Thantlang and Hakha Townships, Chin State. This adds to a state-wide health crisis following the new wave of COVID-19 infections and an existing humanitarian crisis in Chin State’s southern townships, where fighting between the Tatmadaw and Chinland Defense Force (CDF) has been ongoing since May 2021.

Briefer_Humanitarian_CHRO

Christians in Annual Admissions  

Persecuted Karen, Karenni, and Chin Christians Not Allowed

Refugee resettlement embodies America’s humanitarian tradition. In a time of increasing tension and conflict, it is essential that America’s door remains open to victims of violence and intolerance who have no other place to go.

The legal basis of the refugee admissions program is the Refugee Act of 1980, which defines a refugee in words that closely track those of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees: “a refugee is a person who is outside his/her country and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of a well-founded fear that he/she will be persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” The Act also allows the President to extend this definition to certain persons still resident in countries he specifies.

Christians Overlooked

Unfortunately, several persecuted communities in Burma with strong historical ties to the U.S. have been overlooked by this policy. The Karen, Karenni, and Chin people are systematically persecuted by the Burmese military government. A very high percentage of these people are Christian and are oppressed because of their ethnicity and faith. These people were our allies in the 2nd World War and fought side by side with our soldiers to repel the Axis forces. They were promised by the British that they would have their own homeland after the war, but it never happened. After the war the Burmese majority–who sided with the Axis–engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day. The situation deteriorated greatly in 1988 when the military took over the government. The Karen, Karenni, and Chin have been fighting for survival for nearly fifty years, and could be considered the “forgotten people.”

Currently more than 100,000 Karen, Karenni, and Chin men, women, and children live in refugee camps in Thailand and India. Thousands more are internally displaced in the Burmese jungle. These internally displaced individuals are cutoff from outside assistance and live one step ahead of roving Burmese soldiers.

In FY 1998 the ceiling for refugee admissions from East Asia was 14,000. In the first seven months of that year, some 4,400 refugees arrived in the U.S., only 86 were from Burma. Most of these were ethnic Burmese.

In FY 1999, 10,204 refugees entered the United States from East Asia. The majority of FY 1999 admissions were from Vietnam. Again, most, if not all the Burma admissions were ethnic Burmese.

Time for Change

It is time for the United States to remember our forgotten allies and specifically include the Karen, Karenni, and Chin refugees and displaced persons in the annual admissions from East Asia.

Please Contact your Congressional Representatives in Washington today.

http://www.house.gov
http://www.senate.gov
Source: Christian Freedom International Website
http://www.christianfreedom.org/campaigns/refugeepolicy.html

REFUGEES

Mr. Tapan K. Bose

The Indian government deal with at both political and administrative level. The result is that treated that under the law applicable to the aliens. In the case of refugees protection, the constitution of India guarantees certain fundamental rights, which are applicable to non-citizen. Namely, the rights to equality( Article 14 ), the rights life and personnel liberty (article 21) and the freedom to practice and propagate their own religion (article 25). Any violation of these rights can be remedied through recourse to the judiciary as the Indian Supreme Court has held that refugees or asylum seeker can not be discriminated against because of their non- citizen status.

The National Human Rights Commission of India ( NHRC ) has functioned effectively as a watchdog for the protection of refugees. The commission has approached the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution and obtained protection from the Chakma Refugees when their life and securities was threatened by local politician and youth leader in Arunachal Pradesh. Relief was granted by the Supreme Court on the basis of the rights aliens under Article 14 and 21.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Ahmeadi in NHRC versus State of Arunachal Pradesh ( 1996 SCC 742 ) speaking for the Court said that the State is bound to protect the life liberty of every human being. He point out that the rights of refugees under the Constitution of India were confirmed by Article 21, which also included the rights to non-refoulement.

India refugees policy is further governed by certain administrative regulation. The standard of humane treatment set by these administrative regulations flowed from the ethos that persons displaced from their home need both protection and economic sustain. The administrative experience of the Ministry/Department of Rehabilitation and the laws adjudicated at the time of Partition contributed towards a refugees policy for India.

India, refugees are register under the 1939 Registration act, which applicable to all foreigner entering to India. Under the 1946 Foreigner Acts, the Govt. is empowered to regulate the entry, presence and departure aliens in India, though the word “ alien “ itself is nowhere defined. Entry as also governed by the passport Act 1967. Entry can be restricted if a person dose not have a valid passport or visa, though the Government can exempt person when so desires. These procedure are linked at this stage to individuals who enter India without a valid visa or any other document. Though it is related to illegal migrants, the exemption provision is applicable to refugees. Besides, refugees in developing countries, unlike those in the west ( barring those from former Yugoslavia ) usually descend in large numbers. Under these circumstances, refugees become an administrative to oversee the relief and rehabilitation process rather than to supervise who stays or dose not stay.

As mentioned previously , the government of India alone determine refugees status and has no specific legislation to deal with refugees. Prof. Saxeny of Jawaharlal Nehru University maintains despite this lacuna India dose apply in practice certain articles of the 1951 Convention. This includes :

. Article 7 as India provides refugees the same treatment as all aliens.

. Article 3 as India fully applies a policy of non – discrimination.

. Article 3A no penalty is imposed on illegal entry.

.Article 4 as religious freedom is guaranteed.

. Article 16 free access to courts is provided.

.Articles 17 and 18 provide wage-earning rights and as work permits have no meaning and refugees do work, this article is complied with.

. Article 21 freedom of housing allowed and refugees need stay in camps. Freedom of movement as guaranteed to aliens except in certain areas where special permits are required for aliens but also all Indians.

. Article 27 and 28 the issuing of identity and travel cards.

However, many activists have contested the assertion of Prof. Saxena. They point out that the majority of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and almost all Jammu/Chakma refugees were forced to live inside camps. Severe restriction were imposed on their freedom of movement. The asylum seeker from Burma were arrested and jailed and that 1995-97 approximately 5000 Chin/Burmese were pushed back. They also point out that as the government dose not issue “RESIDENCE PERMIT” to all refugees, they are unable to open bank account, rent house and set up any business. India educational institutions do not give admission to refugees. As a result young refugees unable pursue their academic career.

India is not a party to the 1951 UN Refugees Convention or its Protocol, its domestic laws have not been found to be in conflict with international laws. While it can be justifiably proud of having followed a program of humane treatment of different refugees, with respect to refugees rights, there is still an absence of assistance and opportunities. To protect the refuges by means of the activists approach has its own limitations.

Judicial Interpretations: Case Law in India

In India, the judiciary has played a very important role in protecting refugees. Court orders have filled legislative gaps and in many case provided a humanitarian solution to the refugees` problem. In India court have allowed refugees and intervening NGOs to file case before them. Further they have interpreted provisions of the Indian Constitution, exiting law, and in the absence of seekers. Given below is a summary of the type of protection that India court have provided to refugees.

Physical Security

India courts have decided in a number of cases that the Constitutional protection of life and liberty must be provided to refugees. In the cases of Luis de Readt ( 1991) 3 SCC 554 and Khudiriam ( nos. 1994 Supp. (1) SCC 615 , the Supreme held that Art. 21 of the Constitution of India , which protects the life, and liberty of Indian citizens are extended to all, including aliens.

Below are some of the most important decision of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the National Human Rights Commission versus State of Arunachal Pradesh case restrained forcible expulsion of Chakma Refugees from the state ( Civil WP No 720/95 : 1996 (1) Supreme 295 ). The Supreme Court in its interim order on November 2 1995 directed the State government to ensure that the Chakma situated in its is territory are ousted by any coercive action, not in accordance with law. The Court directed the state government to ensure that the life personnel liberty of each and every Chakma residing with the state shall be protected. Any attempt to forcibly evict of driven them out the state by organized groups shall be repelled by using para-military or police force and if additional force are required then the state should take the necessary steps. The court also decide that the Chakma shall not be evicted from their home except in accordance to the law; the quit notices and ultimatums given by other groups should be dealt with in accordance with the law; application for their Citizenship be forwarded and processed expeditiously ; the pending decision on these application shall not be evicted.

Non-Refoulement and Right to Refugees Status:

In a number of cases in India Court have protected the right of refugees where they are substantial ground to believe that life would be in danger. There are case where the courts have order the life of refugees who are in danger be safeguarded and have allowed them to be granted status by UNHCR.

In Zothansangpui verus State of Manipur ( C.R No.981 of 1989) The Gauhati – Imphal Bench, Guahati High Court ruled that refugees have the rights not to be deported if their life was in danger.

The case of U.Myat Kyaw versus State of Manipur ( Civil Rule No. 516 of 1991 has contributed substantially to India’s refugee policy. It involved eight Burmese, aged 12 to 58 years, which were detain for illegal entry at MANIPUR central jail, Imphal. These persons had participated in the democracy movement, voluntarily to the Indian authorities and taken into custody. Cases were registered under section 14 of the Foreigners Act for illegal entry into India. They petitioned for their release to enable them to seek refugee status before the UNHCR in New Delhi. The Gauhati High Court, under Art.21 ruled that asylum seekers who enter India ( even if illegally ) should be permitted to approach the Office of the United Nation High Commissioner to refugee to seek refugee status.

Deporting on grounds of National Security and Criminal Activities

The Court has ruled that refugees can be deported on the grounds of national security. Under the foreigner Act of 1946 if they were found indulging in activities undesirable and prejudicial to the Security of India. The High Court of Delhi at New Delhi ruled that International Law and Conventions cannot be applied to refugees indulging in criminal activities. They can be repatriated or deported.

Right to Leave (Return)

The Court has upheld a refugee’s right to leave the country. In Nuang Maung Mye Nyant versus Govt. of India and Shar Aung versus Govt. Of India —— of 1998 , the courts ruled that even those refugees against whom cases were pending for illegal entry should be provided exit permits to enable them to leave the country for third country resettlement.

Application of International Laws for the protection of refugees

This included conformity with International Conventions and Treaties , although not enforceable , the government was obliged to respect them. But the power of the government to expel a foreigner is still absolute . Art. 21 guarantee the right to life for non -citizens. International Covenants and Treaties which effectuate the fundamental rights can be enforced. The principal of non-refoulement is encompassed in articles so long as it is not prejudicial to national security. Under Art 51 ( C ) and 253 international law and treaty obligation are to be respected, as long as they are consistent with domestic law.

AND LIBERTY CURTAILED  

(The statement of Burmese nationals on Guam seeking asylum in the USA)
By Rev. Dr. Hre Kio

Burma: Burma, placed between Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand, with a land mass of 261,789 square miles, (678,033 sq km) known as “the rice bowl of Southeast Asia” in the early 1900s, got its independence from Britain on January 4,1948 after a long struggle for freedom. Independence came first from the United Kingdom; second from the Japanese wartime occupation and then again from the British colonial rule after the II World War. The independent Burma chose to follow the path of Parliamentary democracy from its inception with two house-organs: the Upper House of Chambers and the Lower House of Nationalities. The Prime Minister was leader of the government and the President was head of state.

Since independence, democracy developed and grew in Burma since independence and after three general elections (1951,1956, & 1960) democracy appeared to be taking firm roots in the country. In spite of its inevitable flaws, democracy proved to be a better system not only in the process for governing the people but also in terms of peaceful change of hands as to who are to be entrusted with the power to rule. By 1960, Burma was called “the rising star of the Southeast Asia” particularly in the field of economic development whose progress was significant and dramatic.

“The Iron Curtain” fell: On March 2,1962, based on dubious reasons, the democratically elected government of Prime Minister U Nu was removed by force by a bloodless military coup and the state power was passed into the hands of the Revolutionary Council headed by General Ne Win. This military and totalitarian regime has ruled the country of Burma with iron hands and cruel tactics for the last 38 years. This socialistic system of government introduced a one party system – The Burma Socialist Program Party. Its name was changed to SLORC – State Law and Order Restoration Council in 1989, and after ten years to SPDC – State Peace and Development Council. “Burma” was also changed to Myanmar – the name pro-democracy movements refuse to use. All foreign missionaries were forced to leave the country in 1964.

All is not quiet at the front: During these 38 long years of tyranny, the people did not sit with passive resignation. They did do something to achieve freedom and democracy. When the people time and again demonstrated against tyranny, the army quelled them with force. Gen. Ne Win boasted, “When the army shot, it shot straight.”

Five months after the coup, on July 7, 1962, university students demonstrated against the government. Soldiers were ordered to fire on the students. Official count put 16 students dead, while generally it was claimed that over 100 dead was more accurate. The tragedy culminated when the authorities dynamited the Rangoon University Students’ Union building and reduced it to rubble. Many believed that the building was full of students, all of whom were killed in the blast.

In the summer of 1974, the meanness of spirit was shown by the authorities over the funeral of U Thant, retired Secretary-General of the United Nations. The University students took over the funeral arrangement of U Thant when they saw the disgraceful arrangement prepared by the military. This action resulted in the deaths of a good number of students at the hands of the soldiers.

Again in 1976, soldiers quelled the strikers of dock-workers when they demonstrated against the new rules introduced by the government. The authorities never revealed the number killed, but the estimate was close to 50.

The largest uprising against the government took place in August 1988, (code named 8.8.’88). It affected the whole country, and participating in the demonstrations led by University students were people of all ages from all different strata of society: farmers, laborers, civil servants, including members of the armed forces, Buddhist monks, Christians, Muslims, intellectuals, professionals, businessmen, small traders, housewives and artists. Their one and only demand was to change the authoritarian rule of military dictatorship which had impoverished Burma intellectually, politically, morally and economically. And on September 18, the military authorities ordered fire on the weaponless civilian demonstrators, and “the army shot straight.” Thousands, including children, were cut down, by bullets from the army’s rifles and tanks. Hundreds were buried in mass graves with many wounded still alive. The army never revealed the locations of those graves to the public. The peoples’ hopes were crushed to the dust once again.

Eleven years later, on September 9, 1999 (code named 9.9.’99), a demonstration and uprising was secretly planned, again led by university students, and pro-democracy movement leaders and some Buddhist monks. However, the Military Intelligence agents were ahead of the game; they launched a pre-emptive strike, throwing many of the leaders into prisons where they languished without proper trials and legal representation.

In all these series of struggles for democracy, one thing is clear: students have been at the forefront of the movement for democracy. As a result, they suffered the most as well. Those who fled the country for fear of imprisonment and torture and reached Guam for safety and asylum are mostly young people reflecting the reality of the tragedy in Burma. Each one can tell his or her own story of the struggles they went through.

The World is not silent either: The United Nations General Assembly has more than once passed resolutions condemning Burma for its actions on its own people, its human right abuses and its restrictions on political and religious activities. The US government has passed sanctions against new investments in Burma and strictly banned travel to the USA by the Generals of Burma. The European Union has time and again passed strongly worded resolutions condemning the actions of the Burma government and even refused to sit at a meeting with ASEAN ministers if any minister from Burma participated in the meeting. The EU also banned travel to their region by any military leaders from Burma. The International Labor Organization imposed sanctions against Burma in November 2000. This ban against Burma was based on Burma’s government consistent and long practice of forced labor at all levels of society.

China has been the main supporter of Burma’s military rule for years in terms of moral and material support. Last year India joined the club even to the extent of forcibly returning Burmese (mostly Chin) refugees from Mizoram, India to Burma, right into the “jaws of death.” The ASEAN policy of “constructive engagement” has not been successful. It is constructive mainly to the leaders of Burma’s military junta; it is disruptive, even destructive, to the common people and movement of democracy within Burma, because it prolongs the life of a ruthless regime.

The United Nations in 1987 designated Burma, once called “the rising star of Southeast Asia” as one of the 12 poorest countries in the world. Burma, one of the richest nations in Asia in terms of mineral resources such as jade and rubies, including the largest teak forest reserve in the world, has been mismanaged by the generals into one of the poorest nations on earth. This is a crime the government has committed against its own people. Its cruel practice of widespread use of forced labor and forced contribution of money to the building of Buddhist pagodas, involuntary relocation of people targeted primarily at the ethnic minority, military offensives against civilians forcing them to be porters, threats and intimidation, destruction of crops and livestock, forcing Christians to sell liquor even though their religion forbids its sell and consumption, rapes, torture and summary arrest and executions have been well known for a long, long time. The government has denied all these cruel practices for many years, but the people inside the country know very well that the government is not telling the truth.

The result of general election voided: After the 1988 people’s uprising, for fear of the people and in an attempt to pacify them, the military government announced a general election to be held in May 1990. Political parties were required to register to the Central Election Commission office in Rangoon. Over 200 parties registered with the government. The National League for Democracy was one of them, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Gen. Aung San, the hero of Burma’s independence. Gen. Aung San was assassinated by his political opponent U Saw, five months before independence.

The general election of May 1990 was regarded as the fairest and freest election in Burma’s history. The result of the election showed that NLD, led by Suu Kyi, received 82% of the seat in Parliament. This massive support of NLD by the people was a landslide victory for MS Suu Kyi, although she herself was barred by the government to compete for a Parliament seat. This election demonstrated both a disfavor towards the military government whose favorite party was named “The National Unity Party”, and a favor towards Ms Suu Kyi, as a leader of enormous ability, of quality, charisma and integrity. MS Suu Kyi was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1991, and recently the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, in November 2000, the highest civilian award that the US government can offer.

The military government cruelly refused to hand over power to the leaders elected by the people, and thereby the will of the people, 82% of the voters, was voided by the generals. For them “power resides at the barrel of the guns.” They betrayed the will of the people to whom they had made a promise that they would relinquish power to whoever was the winner in the general election. It is next to impossible to convince those who have acquired power forcibly of the wisdom of peaceful change. The realization of that wisdom usually occurs when it is too late. In Burma, tragedy of national proportion awaits! All political parties are extinct now in Burma, and the only party (the NLD) too is on the verge of being annihilated by a slow process of eliminating its members. Its leader Aung San Suu Kyi is now virtually under house arrest. Religious discrimination: Burma is comprised of many language and ethnic groups who are minorities in the land. Minorities like Karens, Kachins and Chins have converted to Christianity, and therefore in Chin, Kachin and Karenni States, the majority of the populations are now Christians. This situation brings particular difficulties for the people. The military government, comprising purely of the Burmese, who form the majority in the whole country, about 75%, dictates what should and should not be done in these “Christian” states. What is ethical and moral does not count for the Buddhist authorities in power. Religious discrimination and persecution is amply visible, in Chin State and elsewhere. A few examples will suffice:

Christian Church building permission is impossible to obtain from the authorities throughout the country.

Those who have started building are forced to stop. (Eg: Chin centenary building in Hakha – the capital of Chin State; United Pentecostal Church in Hakha; Zomi Theological dining hall in Falam; Church of Jesus Christ church in Falam; Kachin Church in Pakan; Roman Catholic hall in Pakan; Salvation Army church in Khampat.)

Christian crosses planted on the top of the hills are forcibly removed by the order of Col. Than Aung in Kanpalet, Thantlang, Hakha, Falam and Tiddim townships, very often using the very Christian hands that had planted the crosses in the first place.

It was Col. Than Aung who declared publicly, in Chin State, that Christian pastors are his number one enemy, accusing them as pro-white faced colonialist stooges.

Christian institutions are removed: Revival School of Theology in Maymyo; Lisu Bible School in Maymyo; Lisu Christian school in Mogok.

Churches in Mogok town are forcibly painted black, or face being removed.

Lai Baptist Church’s worship in Insein, near Rangoon was interrupted by soldiers in uniform and the church was closed.

Those who persisted in constructing their church building are beaten severely. (Eg: A Salvation Army pastor in Khampat beaten by an army captain – beaten so badly he needed hospitalization.)

Those who persisted in preaching the Gospel faced torture and death. (Eg: A Naga preacher-evangelist in Homelin township of Sagaing Division was falsely accused of aiding Naga underground movement, was beaten to death and his body was dragged down the street to intimidate the villagers.)

These kinds of activities are going on currently in Burma, without being noticed by the world at large.

Racial discrimination: This is a policy the Government in Burma has been practicing for over 50 years, although it is not what they preach. Space and time does not allow detailing all the incidents that have occurred in Burma on the ethnic minorities for so long a period. These incidents took place not in the capital city of Rangoon, but mostly in the States (Chin, Kachin, Shan and Karen States). A few examples will suffice:

There is no minister in the government from people with ethnic background. Even top civilian jobs with authentic power are not open to them.

Soldiers from ethnic backgrounds are not permitted to be promoted over the rank of major, nor are they permitted to attend Military Academies. Some Christian officers have been told point blank: “If you remain Christian, you remain a captain; but the moment you confess to be Buddhist you jump to the next rank.” Most of the time, Christian officers choose to remain Christian.

Those minorities who had been ranking officers in the army and police are slowly eliminated from the services. One of those officers is in Guam and he can testify his experience is asked. Another unwritten regulation in the armed forces policy dictates that:

A soldier who converts a Christian to Buddhism will be promoted immediately;

Any Buddhist soldier marrying a Christian lady will be promoted to the next rank;

A Buddhist soldier having children with a Christian spouse will be promoted to the next level in rank.

Any Buddhist soldier marrying an ethnic girl who is a graduate and the daughter of a chief will be awarded with an increased salary of K1200/- a month.

Any Buddhist soldier’s salary will be increased by K1000/- a month if he marries an ethnic girl who is a college graduate.

In many districts in minority areas, the government ordered not to teach their minority languages in government primary schools. And no private schools are allowed in the country. All Christian schools have been nationalized since 1965. This effort of the government appears to be a basic and yet fundamental attempt to Burmanize the whole country and eliminate all 130 ethnic groups. It is a miracle that after 50 years of this kind of systematic campaign by the military government there are still ethnic groups existing at all in Burma. The vast majority of those of us who fled to Guam are from various ethnic groups.

In these States, mentioned above, soldiers forced young men to carry their equipment and rations in the areas where fighting took place between the government and the anti- government forces. These young men are called “porters”. Day after day, the porters were forced to serve as “shields” – forced to go ahead of the platoon of soldiers to get shot by the enemies. When the porters were sick and weak, or suffered exhaustion due to heavy loads, they were left behind to die a slow death, or even were shot dead. Young women’s fate, when they served as porters, were worse: they faced both being raped and be shot. No wages or compensation was paid. This kind of abuse had occurred in Burma for the last 38 years without being noticed by the world at large.

Private car owners in these States constantly faced the highhanded demand from the solders: their cars – mostly truck and jeeps – were taken by force by the soldiers (since the soldiers lack military trucks) for days and weeks moving them in all sorts of conditions and environments. Usually the private cars never returned in good conditions. Most of the time the cars were left behind in the jungle. There was no compensation paid by the soldiers nor any apology offered.

A driver’s license could be taken away, or being slapped on the face for passing over the military officer’s car.

This kind of inhumane practice was widespread and has been going on for many years.

Physical abuse and mental torture: It is a tall order to attempt to detail all the incidences of physical abuse and mental torture that the government has used against its opponents which they call “the enemy of the state.” We will mention a few:

The “opponents” were arrested usually in the middle of the night unexpectedly,

“A few minutes of questioning” always resulted in months or years of imprisonment. Tortures take different forms:

Meals (usually rice) were mixed with sand,

Pins were pushed between the flesh and fingernails,

Prisoners were forced to kneel on sharp pebbles until their knees bled,

Inmates were put naked in the open to be “feasted” by malaria carrying mosquitoes,

Simple drops of water on the head for hours turns into horrifying and deafening sounds to the victim, Plastic bags were placed to envelop their heads for a period of time until the victim becomes unconscious, and then he/she was released for a time to recover, The prisoner was placed in an empty barrel and pushed around by trucks for hours,

Those arrested or transferred to another location were bagged into gunny bags and tied at the top, to be sat upon by soldiers on moving trucks,

Hot and pointed iron rods were pierced through the flesh of the thighs,

A rat was placed in a pot which was attached to the prisoner’s stomach; when the pot was made hot the rat dug into the stomach in an desperate attempt to escape,

To break their will, prisoners were placed without food or water for days,

Their four limps were stretched out and tied to four corners of the room,

Prisoners were put in dark room for days, making them virtually blind for days,

Prisoners usually became “mentally disturbed” when they were hung upside down, their legs tied to the ceiling and their heals beaten slowly with an iron rod, Inmates were threatened constantly to be shot, a mental torture that keeps them constantly awake, making sleep impossible.

Some of those arrested are turned into forced labor, known as “zebet” who in uniform were regimented into hard labor for months and years, removed to remote areas where neither their relatives nor religious and social workers can see or help them. These prisoners were condemned to die slow deaths. They were often put in chains even while working, and most of them died in isolated parts of the country where medical facilities are non-existent. Often bullock yokes were tied to their neck in pairs, as if they were bulls, plowing muddy fields, making furrows for planting paddies in the rainy season. Many of the “zebet” prisoners collapsed exhausted in the mud. Then they were removed to isolated areas never to be fed any meals, left alone to die a slow death. Their bones were never recovered, nor their graves known. Their number is by the thousands, most likely around 40,000.

Some of us who fled to Guam have gone through some of these kinds of physical torture. (One of us will present his ordeal to you today.) These dangers are some of the risks we will face again if we are forced to return to Burma from Guam.

To flee Burma is a costly and risky business: All of us, who have arrived on Guam have faced the above mentioned types of danger and torture in one form or another as we all have worked and struggled to restore democracy in Burma. We have realized that democracy is costly and can not be achieved easily. We fled from Burma simply because our lives are in danger, and to live in a constant state of fear is most difficult to bear. Since we are all young people, we cannot afford our lives to be cut short. We want to live.

We all have made sacrifices in various forms to come to Guam. Some of us have left our children and spouses back in Burma, and all of us left behind our land, our relatives and our dear friends. We all sold whatever property we had, or borrowed money in order to get Burmese passports and some of us pawned our homes and fields. Some of us have paid the equivalent of $750 (US dollars) to get a single Burmese passport. Some of us have changed our names in order to avoid being detected by the all-powerful MIS agents (Military Intelligence Service agents.) Most of us hid in various homes and different places in Rangoon so as not to be caught by government spies.

We all came to Guam through Bangkok via Seoul, Manila or Taipei; the air ticket from Burma to Guam costs us about $1000 (US dollars.) We all brought along with us US$500 as “Show Money”. (It is quite likely that a few MIS agents might have infiltrated into Guam from Burma pretending to be visitors, in order to observe what we are doing here and what we are up to. We are taking all precautions in all our activities here on Guam.) To arrive on Guam is very costly and risky for us. But we take all those risks in order to save our lives.

The US government had closed the door to Guam on the 10th of January 2001, and this is a tragedy for those Burmese nationals who are actively working for democracy in Burma. Because the only door open for them has been closed, and they have no where to go to save their lives. They are destined to their fate: into the iron hands of the MIS.

Where do we go from here? Those of us who arrived on Guam, we want to say how grateful we are to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service for having allowed us to enter into Guam. We all feel much safer and at peace. We are also extremely grateful to various churches here on Guam and mainland USA for helping us in the form of clothes, beds, cooking pots and pens, tinned food, money and above all their love and affection for us, probably “the unlovable.” We all say “thank you” to you all from the bottom of our hearts.

But our “Show Money” of $500 has run out or is running out for renting houses and for food. Currently, we the Burmese nationals here on Guam number around 1000, are located in various villages here on Guam renting over 70 houses. Friends and relatives both from Burma and mainland USA are helping us, but this help cannot go on indefinitely. A few of us have gotten sick and needed hospitalization, incurring thousands of dollars in debt to the hospital. Over 300 of us have been skin tested, and although some results are positive chest x-rays have revealed “normal lungs” with no active TB disease. Other than these, we have not been a burden to the Government of Guam. We want to take care of ourselves as far as possible. Most of us are high school and college graduates and some of us are doctors, engineers, pastors and teachers.

Having no jobs available on Guam has had a detrimental affect on us. Other than a few men and women, perhaps fifty, who have been working at odd jobs in various villages, we are jobless on the island of Guam. Even for those of us who have received a “work permit”, any paying job is hard to find. Since the unemployment rate is over 15%, it will be a long while until jobs will be available.

Could we dare to make a request to INS? Most of the Burmese nationals arrived here on Guam during the last 7 months. Most of us have submitted our applications asking for political asylum, and some of us have received “temporary permits to stay” here on Guam.

However, during the last 7 months, only 55 Burmese nationals have been interviewed by Immigration officers. If the same process rate continues in the coming days, it will take 8 years to complete processing the over 800 Burmese nationals. Also the result of those interviews conducted in October 2000 has not been announced either, which is a very discouraging and disheartening prospect we are facing in the coming days and months. For us the future is not bright; it is indeed bleak! Can we make a humble request to the US INS to speed up processing our applications?

Our Future: We look forward to the day when we can live our lives with security and peace and freedom. With God’s help, you – citizens of the USA – are our future! Just as God provided the ancient suffering Israelites their Moses to lead them to the promised land, you are our Moses at this time in our history to lead us into the promised land, called the United States of America.

May God bless each one of you in all your undertakings.

Guam. January 24,2001

  • 1
  • 2

To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles