Rhododendron News


Human Rights:


New Buddhist Pagoda Being Built in Chin State with Forced Labor

Burmese Army on the Rampage of Extortion


District-wide Eviction Left Hundreds of Chin Refugees Shelterless in Mizoram

Chin Refugees in Another District of Mizoram To Be Evicted in January 2003

Ignored Chin Refugees In New Delhi:

The Case of Pu J Lal Kung

The Case of Ms. Cer Cin Sang (Mikhaing)

The Case of Ms. Tha Hlei Sung ( Sungsung)

The Case of Mr. That Ci Lian

The Long and Winding Road to Asylum

Refugees and Displaced Persons

Letter & Press Release:

CHRO’s Letter to Chin Churches and Communities Overseas


Facts & Arguments:

Mizo Hnahthlak (or) Mizo Group By R. Vanlawma




New Buddhist Pagoda Being Built in Chin State with Forced Labor

November 20, 2002

Chin Human Rights Organization


A small Christian village in northern Chin State is the site for a new Buddhist pagoda being built by the Burmese military regime, State Peace and Development Council SPDC, as part of a program to promote Buddhism in a region where the inhabitants are predominantly Christians. Construction of the new pagoda is ongoing at Lentlang, a small village in Tiddim Township, which is located on a major trade route between India and Burma. Authorities are forcing all commercial vehicles mostly operated by Christians passing through the route to carry sand, bricks and other materials needed for building the pagoda at Lentlang.


At least about 10 to 20 small trucks are passing through the border trade route every day, and the trucks are made to transport construction materials from nearby villages of Haimual, Rihkhawdar and Malsawm, without any compensation for their services.


The pagoda construction project was initially supervised by Lieutenant Moe Kyaw Hein from Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion 269, jointly with officers from the local immigration and police forces. However, since the beginning of 2002, the task was taken over by Light Infantry Battalion 266 after they failed to meet the projected date of completion. The officers in charge of the project were reportedly severely reprimanded by higher SPDC authorities.


Residents of Lentlang village, according to available information, are all Christians.


The construction of a new pagoda in Lentlang is among several Buddhist pagodas the military regime has built across Chin State since early 1990s. In 1997, the regime constructed a pagoda at Rih Khawdar village, just eight miles away from Lentlang village. Christians were forced to build and contribute money for the construction of the pagoda. Upon completion of the current construction, the pagoda is expected to stand much taller and larger in size than the one that was built at Rih Khawdar five years ago.


While building new Buddhist pagodas in various parts of Chin State often by using Christians as forced laborers, since 1997 the Burmese military regime has ceased to give Christians permits for building any new church buildings in Chin state.



Burmese Army on the Rampage of Extortion

December 19, 2002


Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 266 based in Ruazua town, Southern Chinland is collecting chickens and goats from villagers in the township. Each village is being asked to provide two chickens and two goats to the army so that the battalion can raise them in the army farm. Each village is also being asked to provide 4800 Kyats to the army to cover the cost of raising the chickens and goats.


Ruzua acquired a township status in 2002, becoming the tenth township headquarters in Chin State. As part of the development project for the newly created township headquarters, the Burmese army had used extensive forced labor and extortion.


The extortion was the result of a meeting decision within Light Infantry Battalion 266 on November 21, 2001. Chaired by its commander Lieutenant Colonel Ngwe Toe and attended by all gazette and non-commissioned officers in the battalion, the meeting made a number of decisions including the creation of an army farm, to build a Karaoke Hall, and to fence the army camp.


The army has already collected about 200 chickens and 50 goats from the Chin villagers all for free. One chicken is worth Kyats 1300 to 2000 and a goat is worth Kyat 8000 to 13000 at the present market rate in the area.





District-wide Eviction Left Hundreds of Chin Refugees Shelterless in Mizoram

Aizawl, November 23, 2002


Chin refugees in parts of Mizoram may all be chased out as soon as before Christmas. According to CHRO source, District Authority of Lunglei, the second biggest town in Mizoram state of India has decided to drive out all “foreigners” before Christmas. The “foreigners” includes immigrants from other Indian states who illegally came to Mizoram state in search of better economic opportunities, and Chin refugees from Burma who sought sanctuary there to escape persecutions in their homeland.


Chin refugees are the main targets for the ongoing campaign against the foreigners in the district of Lunglei, and many of them have already been evicted not too long a go. Although only those living in the town were targeted, a district-wide eviction is now being implemented in Lunglei area.


In June 2002, a meeting was held in Lunglei town in order to make decision on how to drive out all the foreigners from the district, and the district authorities are now implementing the decision made in that meeting. The meeting was attended by several social and organizations such as Young Mizo Association ( YMA), Members of Village Council, Mizo Hmeichhia Insuihkhawm Pawl ( Mizo Women Union ), Mizo Upa Pawl ( Mizo Senior Citizen Association, Young People Conference ( YPC), Young Adventure Club ( YAC ), Consummer Association, and Tualchhung Kohhran Committee (Local Religious Committee). Local units of Mizo National Front, the political party currently controlling the state government, and Mizo People’s Conference also endorsed the decision.


The decision to expel foreigners was signed by Chair person. Secretaries of each of the thirteen organizations attending the meeting also signed the order.


The decision warned local house owners to not rent out their houses to Chin refugees.


It is estimated that there are about 1,500 families of Chin refugees in the whole Lunglei district including 600 to 700 families who are in living in Lunglei town itself. A few of them who are able to afford some money have managed to escape to New Delhi to seek protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office. However, most families are forced to seek sanctuary elsewhere in Mizoram State, where they are likely to risk other security problems.


Influx of Chin refugees into India northeastern States have steadily occurred during the last decade since the Burmese military junta began expanding its military establishments in Chin State that resulted in a range of human rights abuse against Chin civilians. Due to close cultural, linguistic and religious ties with India’s Mizo people, Chin refugees who escaped into India have previously been able to live along side the local Mizos without much security problems. However, they are frequently caught in campaigns against foreigners resulting in mass arrests and forced repatriation of hundreds of Chins to Burma.


India has not recognized Burmese refugees nor does it allow UNHCR access to the border region where most refugees are concentrated. Instead, since 1995, it has closed down refugee camps along Mizoram border, and many Chin asylum seekers have been forcibly repatriated to Burma in the years that followed. Currently, an estimated 500, 00 Chin refugees are now living as illegal immigrants in Mizoram.



Chin Refugees in Another District of Mizoram To Be Evicted in January 2003


December 19, 2002


Eviction order has been issued to Chin refugees living in part of Dampui village of Serchip district, according to information provided by a Chin refugee living in the area. The order came from the district authority, stating that all Chin refugees residing in northern part of Dampui village must evacuate the area before January 3, 2003.


On December 1, 2002, the village chairman of Dampui summoned all Chin refugees living in the jurisdiction and informed them that they must evacuate the area no later than January 15, 2003. Any refugees who do not leave the area before the specified date will be fined 500 Rupees per month up to three months, and anyone who fails to leave the area after three months will be handed over to the Mizoram Police, the order said.


The order also said that the refugees stay in the jungle during the month of December and that they would be allowed to come to the village only on Sundays to buy foodstuffs and other basic commodities.


No shops or businesses are open on Sunday in the whole Mizoram state since it is a holiday for Mizo people who are mostly Christians.


The order further forbade worship services for Chin refugees after January 15, 2003. The Lai Christian Fellowship, a place where Chin Refugees in the area conduct worship services in their own language, is not to be shut down.


The Chin refugees’ repeated appeals to Dampui village authority had met with no success.


There are about 80 Chin refugees including families currently living in Dampui village, after they fled military repression and religious persecutions in Burma. Most of them are making their living as casual laborers. The eviction of Chin refugees is part of a larger effort to get rid of “foreigners” from Mizoram state when the campaign was intensified in 2000.


Ignored Chin Refugees In New Delhi


The Case of Pu J Lal Kung


Name : Pu J Lal Kung

Sex : Male

Ethnicity : Chin

Religion : Christian

Marital status : Married

Family members : 5

Date of interview: 16/11/2002

Place of Interview: Janak Puri, New Delhi

Date of arrival in India : 15/11/1999



CHRO: Tell us about your life in Burma?

Lal Kung: I was born on 18th March 1957 at Kalay valley, Hakha lay, Sagaing Division, Burma. On 14th October 1980 I got married to Hram Mem(Par Mawii). We have 4 children. We lived in Tahan, Kalay, Sagaing Division, Burma. I am a farmer. We had 5-acre wide paddy field. In January 1995, for the construction of Kalay-Gangaw rail way, the military junta took all of our fields without giving even one kyat for that. This is the only way of earning our lives and when we lost our field I became jobless for a moment. So we shifted to Chin state in 1996 for our further survival. We made a rest house, sold food and meal in between Thlua Lam village and Hraing Khan village of Thantlang Township. This is the way where the merchants travel to Mizoram, India.



CHRO: What made you unable to stay in your country?

Lal Kung: First of all, the military took away our 5-acre paddy fields without giving any penny to us, which was the main source of our livelihood from our ancestors. Then, having no idea what to do next, we shifted to the Chin State in 1996. On the road between Thlua Lam village and Hraing Khan village which is the route used by the merchants to India, we run a rest house for the passers by. We sold food and also let them use to stay at nights if it was inconvenient for them to go further at nights. As you know, since it was the only road to go to India and vice versa, the CNF also used that road and used to have a food at our shop. Since they were fully armed we were also afraid of them and did what they asked us to do without any complaint. Life was steady till the beginning months of the year 1999 by doing that business. But, on the end of 1999, the military army came to know about the CNF using our house for shelter. They started accusing us that we supported the CNF and member of CNF. They would oftenly came to our house and making threats to us in various ways. But soon after their warning, the CNF also came to our house and asked for food. Having no option left, we gave them as they might harm us too if they were not pleased. Then, when the military people knew that incidence, they really got frustrated and beat me. The worst thing they did was burning our rest house in our sights only. Then they arrested me and led me to Thantlang to imprison me on that day itself. It was 14th November 1999. But, by God’s sake, I found my way to escape from them on the way. I ran to the border side and got to Sangau village, Mizoram, India. In my absence, my family left in there was tortured by the military asking my where abouts. When they couldn’t bear it all, they joined me where I lived and we were united again in Sangau village, India.



CHRO: Since you were a foreigner did the local people and the authority give any trouble or harm to you when you were living in Mizoram?

Lal Kung: We moved to Zawlpui from Sangau when my family could join me. There was no harm in the first. We had lived in harmony with the local people. But when we made the sugar cane field and got success in that, they became jealous and tried to find faults on whatever we do. We were hard workers since Burma and knew how to do well in farming. Our farm had become the most successful one, which gave the best result in our village. It was almost Rs.80000 that we got from our farm per year. We got a more comfortable live gradually and that made them feel jealous of us. So, they started complaining to their village council that we were foreigners and that is why we could not made or use any of their farms or did any kind of business on their land. The villagers destroyed all of our sugar cane plants and drove away us from their village. They started discriminating us. They also found faults on our religion. We are the only United Pentecostal Church believers and since they are Presbyterians, they said that we could not use the ration card, or the cemetery if something happened to us. They told us that we could not find wood from the forest and that we could not take any advantage of their land. On some nights, the youth drunkards throw stones to our house and that affected my wife’s health. She soon became too weak and suffered a heart disease. So she was taken to the Hospital and for her operation, she needed a bottle of blood donated. But there was none who wanted to donate her blood. At last, we begged the Indian soldiers and when the empathy was there in their hearts, that soldiers donated their blood to my wife. Then the YMA president Lal Dong Liana and Lal Rin Puia Chairman of the Village Council gave a warning to us that stated that we had to leave here by 15 of June. As we had nowhere to go, we came to Delhi on 21st April 2002.



CHRO: How is your refugee status now?

Lal Kung: We arrived to Delhi on 21st April 2002 and we instantly reported the UNHCR and gave the application. We were interviewed on 27th July 2000. We received the rejected letter from UNHCR on 27th August 2002.


CHRO: How do you survive now? Are you employed now?

Lal Kung: It was incomparable with the urban life and the village life. It is really tough to earn our lives here. Since we don’t know Hindi and English, nobody wants to give us jobs though we approach everywhere which seem to have a vacant place for work. I sold vegetables among our community. And sometimes we got assistance from our Church, the UPC. That is the way we are living here till today.


CHRO: How do you think of the UNHCR when you have been rejected?

Lal Kung: I feel really desperate and disappointed. At the same time, I feel really sad and think that there is no right for us. Though we didn’t commit any sin, we were chased by the army form our home country and then again drove away by the Mizos. There is no one to rely on. Sometimes I really wonder what goes wrong with the world now? There is no justice in the world today. I do feel dejected, depressed whenever I think of our family future. Our future is totally dark. I was really taken aback that even though I could show the proper documents that we received from the Mizo Authority that we couldn’t stay there any longer. What I want most is that the UNHCR would take into consideration of our case deeply so that we may be able to be recognized as refugees.


CHRO: How do you feel about your security?

Lal Kung: Whenever I see the polices, the soldiers or whosoever who wears the office uniforms, I really got scared and run away from them immediately as we were constantly tortured by them in Burma and in Mizoram. We don’t feel secure, as we know that we can be deported at any time by the Indian authority. This makes me feel insane.


The Case of Ms. Mikhaing


Name : Mikhaing (Cer Cin Sang)

Sex : Female

Ethnicity: Chin

Religion : Christian

Marital status: Single

Date of Interview: 13/11/2002

Place of Interview: Janak Puri, New Delhi

Date of arrival in India: 16/May/2000


CHRO: Tell us about your life in Chin state, Burma?

Mikhaing: I was born on 13/02/1978 in Hakha Township, Chin state of Burma. I passed my Matriculation in 1996 from Basic Education High School, Hakha. After that I served as a clerk in SPDC Office in Thantlang more than tow years.


CHRO: Why did you leave from your own home country?

Mikhaing: Because I distributed both UNLD magazines that were all about democracy and human rights concern and Chin state Constitution drafting which were written by my uncle Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong and Pu Lian Uk (MP) who are exiles in the west. I got the magazines on 08/05/2000 through Chin Development Committee (CRDC). I distributed to each and every person of Democracy activists in Than Tlang Township. When the MI came to know all these things, they immediately came to our house and found the magazine under my bed. Pertaining with this, my mother was imprisoned, as they could not arrest me. The military MI has been trying to arrest me since then. Therefore, I fled to Mizoram State of India to seek my safety.


CHRO: How do you feel about your physical security?

Mikhaing: I do not feel good. Because I’m afraid of the local people and I know that I could be deported back to Burma by the Indian authority. In 2000,many Chin refugees were sent back to Burma by the Indian authority. I am leading a difficult life here because our landlords and our neighbors do not like visiting. Since we do not have work, we would like to visit each other. We would like to share our sufferings among our community. However, neighbors’ complained about us and we have to move from one place to another every now and then. Once a stone fell down in front of our room. Our neighbor accused us of throwing a stone. So, we were afraid and we moved to another apartment. At one house that we rent about 5 months back, we were unfairly accused by our landlord that we were stealthily use the electricity for cooking meals though we didn’t use it at all. He took away all the electricity appliances with him and beat severely whom I live together, Salai Za Ceu Lian and Salai Tluang Val Lian. Till now we haven’t been given back our appliances. He told us that we have to pay Rs.2000 for those appliances if we want them back. On the very next day we shifted to another house, as we were drove out by him. Whenever we want to go shopping at the market, we must have a male to accompany us otherwise some guys would try to tease us in an improper ways. So, life is not easy at all.


CHRO: Tell us about your indefinite hunger strike in front of the UNHCR?

Mikhaing: On May 30,2000, I submitted my application for refugee status to the UNHCR. I was interviewed only on October 6,2000 and I received rejected letter by post on November 13,2000.And again I submitted appealing letter. Then I waited for six months. I made so many calls to the UNHCR Office and asked for the result. No response was there on my request. So, I was so clear that the UNHCR did not process our cases properly. They ignored our cases along with other 24 people.


On May 8,2001, we began an indefinite hunger strike in front of the UNHCR office in 14, Jor Bagh, Lodi Road, New Delhi. Since we did not have refugee status for 6 months, there is no reason for us to stay in New Delhi. We stayed with friends who have financial assistance from UNHCR. We were lying before the UNHCR office silently. We were not allowed to use UNHCR’s restrooms.


On the seventh day of the hunger strike, I was too weak and felt stomach pain. On the eighth-day, Two of my friends and I lost our conscious and were taken to the hospital named All India Institute of Medical Science by the police. When I was there, I had three injections on my right arm and was put on three drips. Then I felt stronger.


As soon as I was discharged from the hospital on the next day , I again joined the demonstration. Chief of Mission of UNHCR, Mr. Mahiga told us to stop the hunger strike and to go back home. We told him that we had no home to return. We asked him to protect us. Then, the local police came to us and forced us to stop our demonstration on May 16,2001. All refugees in New Delhi also joined one-day hunger strike in supporting our matter. All Burmese Student League (ABSL) took us to their office, as we have no home to return. We stayed more than one month at there .On July 9,2001, I was interviewed again and rejected again on 19, July, 2001.After receiving rejected letter from UNHCR, I went to their office to meet the officer but I could not meet them. I wrote so many applications but still now I receive no response from them. My mind goes blank whenever I think of my future life.


CHRO: How do you survive without getting financial assistance from UNHCR?

Mikhaing: When I think of my survival in here, I wonder God’s love to me even though I do not deserve. God provide me food and cloth through my friends from our community in here. I stay along with my friends those who get SA from UNHCR. I lived at the various houses shifting one after another whom I knew from Burma itself. I lived at Pu Tawk Cung Ling’s house for 3 months and then again shifted to Salai Tin Mg Win (BU 618) and lived there for 5 months. At the present I am living with Salai Za Ceu Lian and Tluang Val Lian.


CHRO: Do you want to return to Burma?

Mikhaing: Definitely, I do want to. But then when it is so sure that you would be arrested and tortured, what is the use of returning home??


CHRO: How do you feel about being rejected by UNHCR?

Mikhaing: I am so sad and feel hurt inside. What I knew about the UNHCR is that it is the place, which give refuge and shelter to the people who have been forced to leave his or her own country, home, etc for political or religious reasons, or because there is a war, shortage of food, etc. And then why I was rejected when I am a refugee? I feel that there is no justice on earth at all because even the UNHCR people neglect us. If they see us in their own eyes how the junta torture and how we suffer in Burma, they would be very sorrowful and sympathize us. The only question that I want to ask them is if they put themselves in my place, how would they be. Even though I am a refugee, I was not recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR. Therefore until and unless they recognize me as a refugee, I would fight for it till I get. You know, nobody wants to be regarded as refugee in the world. But why we keep on asking that?? Because there is no other choice left for us. We need protection.



The Case of Ms. Sungsung


Name : Tha Hlei Sung (Sung Sung)

Sex : Female

Ethnicity : Chin

Religion : Christian

Marital status : Single

Date of Interview: 13/11/2002

Date of arrival in India : 17/01/2000


CHRO: What made you flee from your home country?

Sungsung: My father is the president of the National League for Democracy and our basement is their office. I am also the staff member of the party. In September 1999, UN GS Mr.Desoto arrived to Burma. When they came to know of his arrival, Pu Cin Sian Thang (Zomi National Congress), Khin Tun Oo (Shan National League for Democracy) and Dr. Saw Mra Aung (Arakan) met him in Yangoon, the capital of Burma. They were arrested when the MI knew their secret meeting with him. With connection of their arrest, NLD and People Representative Committee stealthily wrote the statement and they sent that book to our office too. I received that book in my hand and the MI knew that I had that one. They came to our house and searched for that book thoroughly and found it. I was not at home when the MI came to our house and my father was arrested. After I was searched by the junta for a long time, I fled to India by the help of my friends.


CHRO: Do you hold any legal protection from UNHCR now?

Sungsung: No. I arrived to New Delhi on 17/01/2000 and I gave them the report on 20/01/2000. I was interviewed on 09/03/2000. I was rejected on 21/09/2000. I wrote the appealing letter and was called again for re-interview on 09/11/2000. Since then I don’t get any response from the UNHCR about my status. I wrote so many applications, called the office several times and sent fax every now and then to them, but I am totally neglected. Till date I am not informed that whether I get the refugee status or I am rejected. That is why, I myself is not sure that I got refugee status or not. I do not know where I stand now.


CHRO: Could you tell me about your hunger strike in front of UNHCR office?

Sungsung: Pertaining with my status, I didn’t get any information from the UNHCR for a long time. I just got upset for their behaviors and I started hunger strike on 08./05/2001 no matter what. After participating in hunger strike, I was again called for re-interview on 05/06/2001They told me that they would send my result by post, but till now I didn’t receive any letter from them. No matter how I tried to contact them, they just ignored me and don’t take any action on my case. As a result from that hunger strike, now I have the permanent stomach pain.


CHRO: How do you survive without getting any financial assistance from UNHCR?

Sungsung: When the other people are trying paths for getting smoother lives, but for me, I wonder how would I eat today and tomorrow. Being a girl from the other side, it is very tough to get a job over here. Besides that, I have difficulty in languages i.e., in Hindi. Salai Za Ceu Lian (BU-434) and Salai Tluang Val Lian (BU-519) sympathize me a lot and let me live with them without giving any penny to them.


CHRO: After you left your home country, do you get any news about your family?

Sungsung: After I left my home, I got two letters from my family through traders. Other than that, I could not contact my family. I dare not do that because it is quite dangerous for them if they receive any communication from New Delhi. If the military junta knows that, they would arrest my family. Therefore, I cannot make any contacts with my family.


CHRO: How do you feel about the UNHCR when you are just ignored?

Sungsung: I really feel sad that I am ignored for more than two years. I came here just counting on the UNHCR that they are the ones who would take care of the refugees. But things are different. Life is too difficult in here. There are a big gap and difference between the local people and us. The way we eat, the way we lead our life styles, culture, religion, language and to make thing worse we are disdained and bullied by the local people. Whenever I think of my situation that I was an ignored person, I really couldn’t bear. There were times that I got too much depressions and tensions for my life. If I lead my life just like that for another one year, it would surely affect my mental and physical health. I wish that the other fellow would not suffer like me, I wish that the UNHCR would not repeat the same thing like the way they treat on me.


The Case of That Ci Lian


Name : That Ci Lian

Age : 22 Yr

Sex : Male

Ethnicity : Chin

Religion : Christian

Marital status : Single

Date of Interview: 10/11/2002

Place of Interview: Janak Puri, New Delhi

Date of arrival in India : 12/04/2000


CHRO: Tell us about your life in Chin State, Burma?

That Ci Lian: I was born on 27/12/1980 in Thantlang Township, Chin State. I am the fifth son of Pu Than Cung and Pi Par Men. I passed my matriculation in 1999. After I had passed my 10th, the university student leaders and I strongly against the military for there were so many human rights violation in Chin State.


CHRO: Why did you leave from your home country?

That Ci Lian: I have left my country because of my insecure life in there. On 27/04/2000 Command Commander Hla Myint Tun was supposed to have a round to Thantlang Township. So, some of the youth and I planned to make a poster and paste it in front of their office. The poster was all about the human rights violations in Chin state like the junta destroyed the Cross, our sacred symbol, order for banning of construction of churches. When we had a secret meeting for that issue on 26th night, the news broke out and the junta came to know about our plot. The soldiers came to the house where we hold the meeting and tried to arrest us. Somehow I could manage to escape from their hands but three of my friends were arrested.


CHRO: How is your status now after you had fled from Burma?

That Ci Lian: I arrived to Mizoram on 12th April 2000. When the YMA arrested the foreigners, I again set forth to Delhi and I got here on 14th May 2000. As soon as I got here I sought a legal protection from UNHCR and was interviewed on 09th August 2000. I was on the pending state for months, 9 months to be exact. When my result was not known for a long time, I did hunger strike demonstration for seven days. It affected and was called again for re-interview but soon after I was rejected. Since then I am neglected by the UNHCR office though I tried several ways like making a call to the office, lodging appealing letters, sending faxes for taking my case into their consideration. But it was all in vain.


CHRO: How do you survive without the financial assistance from the UNHCR Office? Are you employed now?

That Ci Lian: Because of my lack of knowledge in Hindi and English languages, I could not work permanent at one place. Because of my different face and look from other Indian it is very difficult to get a job. They didn’t believe me at first. Sometimes I washed the dishes in tea stall. I got Rs.700 per month for doing that. Even in that job, I am sacked if the Indian are there to do that. I live my life without job for several days. At those times, I survived by the helps of my friends from our community who has already got financial assistances from the UNHCR. They would share me from their SA when they draw Rs.1400 each per month. In our locality, there are the night bazaars on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night and I collect the wasted and unwanted vegetables that are thrown by the sellers. This is how I survive here.


CHRO: Do you want to return to Burma?

That Ci Lian: Of course, why not!! This is my ever-wanted wish; this is what I wanted to do first. But there is no question for that because obviously, I would certainly be arrested by the military if I go back to Burma. Oh…I really miss my family.


CHRO: How do you feel about your mental and physical security without having the legal protection?

That Ci Lian: I passed several nights without having a wink of sleep. I am so worried even if my employers scold me because I am afraid that I have no legal documents to stay here. Given the fact that I have no UNHCR Certificate and visa, I can be deported by the Indian government at any time, any second. This make me feel going wild in sometimes.


CHRO: Till now, your country does not seem on the way to democracy and you haven’t got the UNHCR certificate. So, how do you plan for your further survival?

That Ci Lian: There is no way for returning back to Burma until and unless our country gets freedom from the junta. In here also, I don’t say that my life is secure but things are better in here. Anyhow I still can earn my livelihood. Until and unless I am deported by the Indian Government and my country gets democracy, I would fight for my survival. I would always try to get the legal protection from the UNHCR.



The Long and Winding Road to Asylum

Burmese refugees in New Delhi have traveled a hard road in their pursuit of legal recognition. The agency responsible for assisting these asylum-seekers has not made their lives any easier.

By Tony Broadmoor/New Delhi

( Report about refugees from The Irrawady News November 2002)


“The road for a refugee is only as long as you make it,” reads a poster hanging in the lobby of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New Delhi. Outside, over 200 asylum seekers from Burma are protesting in front of the compound, pleading for interviews, for recognition as a refugee, and for a simple piece of paper confirming their status as a “person of concern”, which would allow them to stay legally in India.


Nearly half of the demonstrators say that their asylum applications have already been rejected by the UNHCR for unknown reasons. Others continue to wait for the organization to hear their cases despite arriving in New Delhi months ago.


Asylum seekers, human rights lawyers and Indian activists say that besides the confusing application process, the mission in New Delhi also lacks accountability, offers no support system for refugees whose asylum status is pending—for over one year in some cases—and is trying to implement unrealistic programs of self-reliance for the refugees. To make the recognition process run more smoothly, demonstrators say refugees deserve greater attention and compassion from UNHCR officials. Moreover, they say the influence of the Indian government now pervades all facets of the refugee’s existence.


“Without UNHCR recognition you are liable to be arrested at any time,” says Soe Myint, editor of the New Delhi-based Mizzima News Service, an online newspaper covering India-Burma relations.


The UNHCR in New Delhi recognized its first Burmese refugee in 1990 and now the city is home to the largest recognized urban refugee population in the world, including nearly 1,000 from Burma. The vast majority of the 13,000 recognized refugees in the capital hail from Afghanistan.


But since 1990, much has changed politically inside and outside India, including the more engaging line New Delhi has taken with Rangoon. Also, the UNHCR’s budget is feeling the effects of year-on-year cuts, causing critics to charge that the organization is disengaging from the international stage.


“The UNHCR’s problems are more than bureaucratic,” says Indian human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar, who has been working for refugee rights in New Delhi for nearly 15 years. “They have withdrawn from the international scene due to massive funding cuts.”


The New Delhi mission agrees that this year’s budget of US $1.2 million, down 20 percent from last year, is inadequate and that the cutbacks are having a direct impact on the condition of the refugees. They stop short, however, of acknowledging that they are gradually shifting the responsibility of caring for the refugees to NGOs.


The most conspicuous effects of the budget cuts include a lengthened recognition process for asylum seekers and an increase in the number of rejected applicants, although some blame these problems on the Indian government’s influence over the UNHCR. During the wait, the refugees are at their most vulnerable as they lack money with no opportunity to earn an income. Their financial problems are particularly acute in New Delhi where poverty is already rampant among its homegrown population.


Loom Na, 26, arrived in New Delhi from Kachin State, Burma in August and must wait until the end of this year for her case to be heard. Here, her fate is uncertain, but Loom Na has no alternative to staying in New Delhi as she faces arrest back home for her political activities. She now lives with nearly 30 other refugees in a one-room flat in Vikas Puri slum. Even as a group, it is difficult to pay the $30 monthly rent, and the protracted application process has only added to their financial burden. Some have resorted to scavenging vegetables and looking for handouts at nearby markets. “My security is very important to me,” Loom Na says of her immediate concerns. “But now we are facing a lot of problems. We don’t have blankets, food or facilities.”


But the UNHCR says it is not their responsibility to provide assistance to asylum seekers during the application process. Instead, refugees like Loom Na must ensure their own survival.


“They do what they have to do,” says Wei-Meng Lim-Kabaa, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the UNHCR office in New Delhi. “It is not our concern. Except for their protection concerning deportation… they have to fend for themselves.” She adds that exceptions are made, but that it is difficult to assess the needs of refugees awaiting verdicts concerning asylum status while providing for them during the waiting period drains resources.


Sources in New Delhi say the Indian government has told the UNHCR to curtail the number of recognized Burmese refugees, an accusation the UNHCR categorically denies.


The UNHCR, whose mandate does not cover the India-Burma border in the northeast, agrees that warming bilateral relations may have affected the situation there. In the mid-1990s, refugee camps along the border were disbanded and thousands were repatriated to Burma, but an estimated 50,000 remain. This is not the case in New Delhi, however, which the UNHCR says still holds a “tolerant attitude” towards refugees.


India has not ratified any UN convention on refugees nor have they passed legislation of their own to deal with their burgeoning refugee population. According to a report issued by the New Delhi-based South Asian Human Rights Documentation Center (SAHRDC), this legislative lacunae has “led to the use of refugees as pawns in regional geo-politics” by the Indian government. SAHRDC cites incidents of forced repatriation by Indian authorities to support their claims.


“The Indian government is playing footsies with the Burmese regime and it is affecting refugees,” says Ravi Nair, executive director of the SAHRDC. He adds that the UNHCR has been ineffective in staving off this external influence. “They [UNHCR] are always looking over their shoulder to see what the Indian government and Geneva [UNHCR headquarters] are saying.”


But refugees are not the only group to come under fire since the government’s policy shift. Over the last two years, two prominent Burmese journalists working on Indian soil have been arrested. Although both have since been released, their activities continue to be monitored. Neither has received any support from the UNHCR, says Soe Myint, who was mysteriously re-arrested in April, 12 years after hijacking an airplane with a bar of soap disguised as a bomb—a move he hoped would win international support for Burma’s democracy movement.


“The UNHCR advised me to tell Soe Myint to ease up on his activities,” charges his lawyer, Haksar. “They asked, ‘can’t you tell him to stop?’ As a human rights lawyer I can’t ask a journalist to not write.”


Other critics in New Delhi say that rather than fulfilling their mandate in protecting refugees, the UNHCR is more concerned with maintaining its presence and positive rapport with the Indian government—a relationship they say is not in tune with democratic principles. “The UNHCR is colluding with the government in restricting press freedoms,” says Nair, when asked about the two Burmese journalists. “The UNHCR has nothing to do with bloody protection.”


The UNHCR, however, maintains that they only advise Burmese journalists to keep a low profile so as not to ruin it for the other Burmese here. “We don’t encourage them to take up political activities,” says Wei-Meng. “Why should a couple of people jeopardize the whole community? They are staying here on the goodwill of the Indian government.”


Indian activists say this is a central reason they became involved in helping the Burmese refugees. They say it is imperative to supply refugees with resources to help strengthen their political skills instead of following the UNHCR line, which they say could stunt their political growth. “When the UNHCR does not take the issue of refugees seriously, someone else must become involved,” says E Deenadayalan, general secretary of the New Delhi-based The Other Media, a research group that follows politically sensitive issues. “We have to help sharpen and broaden their political consciousness.”


Refugees who have been recognized by the UNHCR here also say the organization has not been doing enough and that their vision of self-reliance for asylum seekers in New Delhi is unrealistic given the lack of jobs.


Most single Burmese asylum seekers receive 1,400 rupees (US $30) per month; wives and children of married men receive an additional 600 rupees per month. But according to the SAHRDC, some recent arrivals have been denied a subsistence allowance (SA). And as part of the new self-reliance scheme, the UNHCR has been reviewing cases to assess who they feel no longer needs to receive SA. However, critics say the UNHCR has revoked SA without notice, leaving refugees few options to ensure their survival.


“The UNHCR always threatens to take our SA away,” says Dr Ro Ding, an active Burmese dissident in New Delhi. “We all want to work but it is very difficult.”


According to the UNHCR’s policy on refugees in urban areas: “[U]nassisted refugees cannot be regarded as ‘self-reliant’ if they are living in abject poverty and are obliged to engage in illicit activities in order to survive.… Refugees who have very limited access to public services and social support systems cannot realistically be expected to attain self-reliance.”


Critics of the program say that self-reliance is unattainable for most refugees and that it is shortsighted to think otherwise. “They [UNHCR] have done really inhumane things,” says Haksar. “They cut stipends without notice, putting refugees out on the streets, and they are not accountable to the refugees at any point in time.”


However, the UNHCR says they have new proactive programs that remain in their “embryonic” stages that will allow for greater self-sufficiency among refugees. “We don’t want to see people live on handouts forever,” says the UNHCR’s Wei-Ming. “I think we have embarked on a new procedure to cultivate self-reliance.” But when asked whether the agency has been guilty of cutting SA without notice, the Deputy Chief of Mission replied, “I don’t think so…. I don’t know, we are moving towards a new system.”


Nobody disputes that the UNHCR’s job is difficult, but the role the UNHCR is attempting to play is no longer plausible, especially given the budget cuts and resource constraints. “The UNHCR is the only protection a refugee has,” says Haskar.


Whether the UNHCR implements a new scheme to alleviate the refugees’ burden is unclear, but if they fail to do so, the long, hard road for Burmese refugees in India will most likely lead to nowhere.


Refugees and Displaced Persons

(By Human Rights Watch)



A refugee is someone with a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, who is outside of his or her country of nationality and unable or unwilling to return. Refugees are forced from their countries by war, civil conflict, political strife or gross human rights abuses. There were an estimated 14.9 million refugees in the world in 2001 – people who had crossed an international border to seek safety – and at least 22 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had been uprooted within their own countries.



Enshrined in Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right “to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” This principle recognizes that victims of human rights abuse must be able to leave their country freely and to seek refuge elsewhere. Governments frequently see refugees as a threat or a burden, refusing to respect this core principle of human rights and refugee protection.



The global refugee crisis affects every continent and almost every country. In 2001, 78 percent of all refugees came from 10 areas: Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Eritrea, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Somalia and Sudan. Palestinians are the world’s oldest and largest refugee population, and make up more than one fourth of all refugees. Asia hosts 45 percent of all refugees, followed by Africa (30 percent), Europe (19 percent) and North America (5 percent).



Throughout history, people have fled their homes to escape persecution. In the aftermath of World War II, the international community included the right to asylum in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created to protect and assist refugees, and, in 1951, the United Nations adopted the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a legally binding treaty that, by February 2002, had been ratified by 140 countries.



In the past 50 years, states have largely regressed in their commitment to protect refugees, with the wealthy industrialized states of Europe, North America and Australia – which first established the international refugee protection system – adopting particularly hostile and restrictive policies. Governments have subjected refugees to arbitrary arrest, detention, denial of social and economic rights and closed borders. In the worst cases, the most fundamental principle of refugee protection, nonrefoulement, is violated, and refugees are forcibly returned to countries where they face persecution. Since September 11, many countries have pushed through emergency anti-terrorism legislation that curtails the rights of refugees.



Human Rights Watch believes the right to asylum is a matter of life and death and cannot be compromised. In our work to stop human rights abuses in countries around the world, we seek to address the root causes that force people to flee. We also advocate for greater protection for refugees and IDPs and for an end to the abuses they suffer when they reach supposed safety. Human Rights Watch calls on the United Nations and on governments everywhere to uphold their obligations to protect refugees and to respect their rights – regardless of where they are from or where they seek refuge.





CHRO’s Letter to Chin Churches and Communities Overseas


Chin Human Rights Organization


To all international Chin Churches/Communities and Fellowship.


December 18, 2002


Reference: Chin Refugee in Delhi, India


Dear Compatriots,


I am writing on behalf of Chin Human Rights Organization to appeal to your esteemed Church/Fellowship to consider the possibility of making contribution towards assisting Chin refugees in New Delhi, India who are currently facing acute humanitarian crisis there.

Chin refugees started arriving to New Delhi after fleeing persecution under the military regime in Burma to seek international legal protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Although it has been a slow yet steady flight from the Chinland, the massive outflow of refugee claimants from Chinland occurred during the last few months, making it difficult for those already settled in New Delhi as recognized refugees to accommodate all the new arrivals.


Most of these newly arrived Chin refugees have not been recognized as refugees by UNHCR, making them ineligible to receive any form of social and financial assistance provided by the UNHCR Office. Currently, there are at least 400 individuals facing acute humanitarian crisis as a result of not being eligible to receive any form of assistance due to not haing been recognized as UNHCR mandated refugees. Initial assessment conducted by Chin Human Rights Organization shows the need for urgent relief assistance for them to continue surviving while they await their applications to be approved by UNHCR.


Our field assessment shows that most of these refugees are living off the generosity and helps of their fellow recognized refugees in New Delhi, struggling through the most precarious social conditions.


In trying to find ways to ameliorate their situation, we have explored a number of options. We have held a meeting with responsible UNHCR officials to boost their chances of being accepted as mandated refugees. Although we have obtained assurances from the UNHCR Chief of Mission in India regarding his office commitment to making quick and reasonable determination of refugee status for Chin refugees, we obtain no assurance towards helping them with their humanitarian needs while they await this process.


Based on the result of this meeting, and the assessment we conducted among the refugees, we found that there is an urgent and immediate assistance for those not yet been recognized as refugees by UNHCR in New Delhi.


On behalf of the Chin refugees, we therefore implore your kind financial and material assistance in meeting the needs of the Chin refugees in crisis in New Delhi.


If your Church/Fellowship decides to make any kinds of assistance towards this purpose, please feel free to contact us and we will let you know the ways in which you could make assistance to these persons in need.


Thank you for your assistance.




Victor Biak Lian


Interim Refugee Coordinator

Chin Human Rights Organization





Mizo Hnahthlak (or) Mizo Group

By: R. Vanlawma (Zalen Cabin)


The Mizo group of people who occupy the hills areas between India and Burma are called by Burmese as Chin and by the Bengalese or Indian as Kukies. We knew very little about them before they had settled in the hills areas between India and Burma.


According to the book the structure of the Chin society written by F.K. Lehman, Head of History Department of Illinois University, U.S.A., in chapter 1, in AD 1397, we first hear of the Shan fortress city of Kalay (the Burmese Kalaymyo)…we do not know, of course whether the Chin of these plains were, as LUCE has suggested pushed up into the hills” Though he could not ascertain how and when the Mizo group were pushed up in the hills, it appeared that the Shan occupied the area after the Mizo group left the areas. So we can presume that the MIZO groups enter the hills in or about 1400 A.D.


Dr. Lehman also mentioned that “ so Chin have recently resettled the Kalay valley (see Hobbs, 1956)” what Mr. Hobbs meant are those who returned at the Kalay valley from the present Mizoram under Sailo chief who thought that it would be better to live in the areas where is no regular famines called Mautam or Thingtam. In or about 1930 after Thingtam famine, they made habitation at Tahan near kalaymyo and Khampat near the old side of Khampat fortress believes to be the place occupied by the Shan people after the Mizo group left their plain areas.


When they were in Lentlang areas they were divided into many clans, each having its own language and leaders and fought each one another for clan supremacy. So it can be presumed some clans left the areas by crossing Tiau Rivers even before 1600 A.D. The latest group who crosses the Tiau was Lushai clan under at a place called Selesih under the Chairmanship of Kawhla at about 1350 A.D. Some clans who preferred the Sailo chiefs to be their leaders were Ralte and Fanai in addition to Lushai clan. Small fraction of other clans also included in the list, so Selesih was a very of great settlement having a great influence to those who first crossed the Tiau river and easily occupied the whole of the area covered by the present Mizoram. They claimed that all the area from the Tiau river were their territory which the Falam and other leaders of the east. Respected and never offended against the Sailo chief since sailo controlled various clans, the people under them called themselves as MIZO.


The British, who control the whole of India, when they came in contact with the Sailo chiefs did not like to occupy the area but simply make tea gardens in Cacher safe in 1871. But when they put the whole of Burma under their control in 1885, they could not but decide to occupy the hills area between Burma and India. In 1890 they defeated the greatest Mizo chief Lianphunga. They also occupied the present Chin Hills almost at the same times.


Although the Mizo in India sides were known as Kuki the British knew that the rulling clan was Lushai, so they called it Lusei but mispelt it as Lushai. So all of them were officially known as Lushai and the Land was named Lushai Hills.


The British were very lenient to the hill people between India and Burma, in order to protect them from the assimilation of the more civilized plain peoples, they made inner line regulation were applicable to the Mizo areas.


Then after about 50 years of British rule in the Mizo areas second great World War erupted in 1944 Mahatma Gandhi demanded British withdrawal from India, under the pressure of United States of America, Mr. Churchill, prime minister of British Government conceded and promised to leave India, there were some problems which might delay the date of leaving India fully even after the war. One of his points was the problem of the Hills people between Burma and India.


He announced that the hills people between India and Burma were independence before British ruled over them. They were not under Indian, nor Burmese, nor under any government of the world they were Christians at that time, and it would not be fair to leave them under the Hindu or Buddhist rule. The British Government should help them to stand by their own feet before they had to leave them.


The governor of Assam who administered them was given more power to prepare special administration to suit the future; the post of adviser to the Governor was created to be more effective. Mr. Churchill, hoping to get more votes a time the war with the Japanese was gong on decided to called for election in August 1946, but the U.S.A. was suspicious of Mr. Churchill’s, delaying tactic for withdrawal from India decided to side with Labour Party. So, Conservative party, under the leadership of Mr. Chulchill was defeated in that election, in that way his proposal for the Mizo people was over ruled by making by India independent Act 1947.


When the proposal of Mr. Churchill was known to us “I tried my best to organized apolitical party called government creation of Greater Mizoram, by diong away the International boundary of Tiau river between the East the superintendent, Lushai Hills, Mr. A. Macdonald, ICS the in all authority over the district on the 9th April 1946. And the party soon overwhelmingly spread not only in Lushai Hills but in to the Mizo areas of Manipur and Tripura in India.


Then came “the Indian Independent Act, 1947” sponsored by the Labour party under the leadership of Mr. Atlee, the new Prime Minister. In section no. 7 (c) of that Act, it was started that “ any treaties or agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and any persons having authority in the tribal areas lapses.” In that Act instead of helping us for any length of time so as to enable us to become independent in due course, the British government preferred to leave us alone to have the right to self determination.


Our benefactor, Mr. A. Macdonald gave us his advice that the British Government would not be in a position to become independent, any one of the three Government, India, Pakistan or Burma might invade and force us to become satellite. In his opinion it will be advantage to talk to the India Union to join them under the Scottish pattern. Scotland, though they joined England, they are still be enforced without the sanction of the Scottish people. But for




Rhododendron News


Burmese Army Looted Chin Traders

SPDC Troops Forced Women, School Children and Civilians to serve

SPDC recruit USDA member in Chin State

A Chin Refugee Girl Raped

Chin Refugees Face Imminent Crackdown in India’s Mizoram

Burmese Junta uses Forced Labour Freshly in Rakhine State in Western


36 Chin Villages Extorted by Burmese Army

Indian Security Force Arrested a Chin Democracy Activist,Fellow Acticists Fear Extradition to Burmese Military

Press Release by Asylum Seekers From Burma in Delhi

“The refugee situation on the western borders of Burma”

By Chris Lewa, Forum Asia, Bangkok

Delivered at the Canadian Friends of Burma Public Conference

What Chinland with its people is to India

by Pu Lian Uk

Burmese Army Looted Chin Traders


The Burmese troops confiscated two mithans (cattle) and Kyats 100,000 from cross-border businessmen en route to Mizoram on two separate incidents on August 29, 2002 and July 29, 2002 respectively.


The two victims of extortion, wishing to remain anonymous due to security reasons, are from Sumsem village of Matupi township. They said that they were on their way to India’s Mizoram State to sell 5 mithuns when they were intercepted by Captain Myint Lwin from Light Infantry Battalion 50, then commander of Sabawngte army camp. The captain confiscated two of the five animals, and demanded Kyats 40,000 from the two businessmen as a ransom for the three remaining mithuns.


The same Captain confiscated cattle belonging to Salai Khai Kung and Salai Than Uk of Dar Ling village of Matupi township. The captain also demanded Kyats 50,000 from his victims.


SPDC Troops Forced Women, School Children and Civilians to serve as porter


The Burmese soldiers forced 6 women, two middle school children and 67 civilians to serve as porters from 20 September 2002 to 29 September 2002 in Matupi township, Chin State.


The SPDC troops from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 266 forced Chin civilians including women and school children to carry army rations and supplies to and from Ruazua and Sabawngte army camps, situated 80 miles apart from each other.


On 24 September 2002, Lieutenant Colonel Htun Oo and his troops from LIB 266, Ruazua army camp ordered 14 Sawthi villagers to carry army ration and supplies from Ruazua to Sabawngte village. On 25 September 2002, the soldiers ordered 12 Sabawngte villagers, 6 of them were women, to carry army ration and supply from Sabawng to Pintia village. The porters were not paid on both occasions.


On September 20, 2002, Captain Ngyi Ngyi Lwin and his unit from LIB 266 stationed at Ruazua army camp forcibly ordered 12 Sawthi villagers to transport army supplies from Ruazua army camp to Ruamang village. On the same day, 8 Ruamang villagers along with 2 horses were forced to serve as army porters from Ruamang to Dar Ling village. Besides, 12 Darling villagers were forced to serve as porter from Dar Ling to Sabawngte army camp. On their way from Ruazua to Sabawngte, the Burmese soldiers looted 2 chickens from Dar Ling villagers.


On 23 September 2002, Captain Myint Lwin from LIB 50 ordered 17 Sabawngte villagers to serve as porter from Sabawngte army camp to Darling village. When they arrived to Dar Ling, the Captain called 12 more villagers including 2 school boys to transport army supplies to the next village, Tonglalung.


The name of the two school boys are Thawng Sang and Sui Or. Thawng Sang is an 8th grade student and Sui Or 5th grade respectively.


Incidents of forced labor in various forms including forced portering routinely and in large scale occur in remote and rural areas despite orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs which prohibit the use of forced labour in Burma.


SPDC recruit USDA member in Chin State


The State Peace and Development Council SPDC announced in July 2002 that members of Union Solidarity and Development Association USDA and the children of army veterans can apply for passport to go to Malaysia as migrant laborers.


Sources from Chin State said that the SPDC is using this tactic to lure more Chin youths to join Union Solidarity and Development Association and to gain supports of Chin army veterans. USDA is a youth organization sponsored by the military junta mainly to promote its own political objectives.


Increased militarization of Chin State since early 1990s has resulted in widespread human rights abuses by the army such as forced labor, depriving many Chin families of time to make their own living and thus forcing many to flee to neighboring countries. Taking advantage of the hardship of the Chin people, the SPDC is promising USDA members and children of army veterans with a passport, so they can travel to foreign countries as migrant laborers.


A Chin Refugee Girl Raped


On July 20, 2002 at around 10 Pm, a 17-year-old Chin refugee girl Ms. L (Real name withheld to protect identity) living in Sairang Sub-district of Mizoram State, India was raped by a local man. The case was reported to CHRO by a close family friend of the victim.


Ms. L and her family are living as “illegal immigrants” at Sairang village. They were taking a temporary shelter at a nearby village to avoid a crackdown on illegal foreign immigrants by Mizoram State authorities in July 2002, when the girl was raped.


The rape victim reportedly was severely punched and beaten at the time of the rape. When the Chin refugee community leaders from Sairang village reported the crime to the local police, they were told that case had already been settled between the victim’s brother and the perpetrator before the police.


To settle the case, the victim family was compensated 500 Rupees, equivalent of U$ 10.


Though the victim family members are not satisfied with the way the case was settled, they could not do anything due to their immigration status in Mizoram.

“The rape victim’s family arrived to India only a few months ago after fleeing military repressions in Burma and now they had to face this situation,” said a close family friend of the victim.

Chin Refugees Face Imminent Crackdown in India’s Mizoram

Chin Human Rights Organization

July 10, 2002



Chin nationals from Burma who are taking refuge in India’s northeastern State of Mizoram are facing imminent security threat after the Mizo Zirlai Pawl, an influential student body, pressured the state government to take stringent action upon all illegal immigrants living in Mizoram.


July 10 2002 edition of Vanglai Ni daily newspaper in Aizawl reported that the MZP will take all necessary action if the government fails to take action upon the “illegal immigrants”. The MZP indicated July 20, 2002 as a deadline for the government to take appropriate measures.


The decision was made during MZP Central Committee meeting in Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram State on July 9, 2002. The MZP said that they are concerned about the social problems in Mizoram as a result of the increasing population of illegal immigrants in the state.


Vanglai Ni newspaper quoted president of MZP, Mr. Lalchandama Ralte as saying that Mizo people should beware of renting out their houses to the illegal immigrants. Mr. Ralte said that the student body has taken the decision in the interest of the Mizo people in a long run and that the students are ready to face all the consequences for their actions. He persuaded the Mizo people to support his organization’s action.


Illegal immigrants in Mizoram include ten of thousands of Chin refugees who fled political repression and human rights violations perpetrated by Burmese military regime in their home country. An estimated 50,000 Chin refugees are taking shelter in Mizoram state with no status and international legal protection.


Labeled as being the source of societal ills such as drug trafficking and other criminal activities plaguing Mizoram, Chin refugees face frequent arrest and deportation by the state government often under pressure by local youth group, the Young Mizo Association.


In 2000, the Mizoram government conducted a mass-scale arrest of Chin refugees and handed over dozens of them to Burmese military while one of them died in police custody. Reports later surfaced that those handed over to Burmese authorities were given lengthy jail terms with hard labor in Burma’s prisons.


In July 2001, Chin refugee families were evicted from Lunglei, the second largest town in Mizoram, leaving hundreds of them homeless.


Burmese Junta uses Forced Labour Freshly in Rakhine State in Western Burma


Maungdaw, 23 Aug. 02: There was a discussion between the officials of the UNHCR, Maungdaw chapter, with that of the two majors from Nasaka Security Forces in Maungdaw yesterday evening on the use of forced labour in the area bordering with Bangladesh, according to our correspondent.


There are reports of new incidents of extensive use of forced labour in and around Maungdaw in Rakhaing (Arakan) state, Western Burma, which has caused to raise tough arguments between the UNHCR and the Burmese law enforcement agencies including the officials of the military junta.


Beginning 25th July forced labour was extensively used to build a new Nasaka Security Forces camp at Khamaung-hseik village, northern part of Maungdaw. Till 4th August the number of forced labour used stood at 135, men and women.


Similarly, at Kathay model village, under Nasaka Area #2 of Maungdaw Township, seven hundred and three people were engaged in forced labour between 1st July and 28th in construction works of the new model village.


When the UNHCR brought the matters to the notice of the higher administration about the extensive use of forced labour, the Nasaka security forces demanded that they paid kyat 100 a day to each of the ‘workers’. While on inquiry the UNHCR found that the labour was actually used forcefully and without any payment as argued by the Burmese junta officials.


Fresh reports from Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-u and Minbra Twonships have confirmed that the Burmese Army is making use of extensive forced labour for cultivating the military owned agricultural fields in those townships by pressing the Rakhine farmers as forced labour by making use of the cattle of the villagers and without providing wages or food to them.

Source: Narinjara News

August 23, 2002


36 Chin Villages Extorted by Burmese Army Chin Human Rights Organization

August 20, 2002



Thirty six villages in Thantlang township are facing an army decree requiring them to provide money for maintaining an army camp at Vuangtu village. Captain Phu Taw of Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (50) based at Vuangtu village has ordered three dozen villages in the immediate areas of Vuangtu to pay for the expenses of maintaining the camp, according to a local villager.


Among the villages that have been ordered to contribute the money is Tlaungram village, located on the Indian border. Tluangram village alone has paid a total of 320,00 Kyats to the army–50,00 Kyats for the month of May, 100,00 for June and another 170,00 for July respectively. The amount every village has to pay vary depending on the number of the households in that village, as determined by the army.


The army camp is still yet to be repaired and no village has received an order for further payments for the month of August.


In issuing the order, Captain Phu Taw warned that any village that failed to contribute the money would face severe punishment. “All of these villages had no choice other than pay the money because they were afraid of the repercussions,” said one villager. He further said that Captain Phu Taw has only recently been transferred to Vuangtu camp from his previous posting in Gankaw in Magwe Division. During his three month posting at Vuangtu, the Captain has regularly extorted money from the villagers, seized goods and cash from cross-border traders passing through Vuangtu village.


On July 28, 2002, Captain Phu Taw and his troops crossed into India and looted and beat villagers of Daldanle in Mizoram State. They sneaked back into Burma with their loots from Indian villagers.


Until recently, all Burmese army battalions stationed in Chin State have used forced labor to repair army camps. However, since earlier this year, they began collecting money from villagers in stead of using human labor. The following is the list of villages from which Captain Phu Taw demanded money:


(1) La-U (2) LaiLen (3) FarTlang (4) KhuaLiPi

(5) NgaPhaiPi (6) NgaPhaiTe (7) LawngTlang (8) LungCawiTe

(9) LungCawiPi (10) khuaBung(A) (11) KhuaBung(B) (12) HnaRing

(13) KhuaHrang (14) ThangAw (15) FarTlang (16) SenTung

(17) SurNgen (18) TiSen(A) (19) TiSen(B) (20) SurNgen

(21) LeiTak(A) (22) LeiTak(B) (23) ZePi (24) HmawngTlang (25) PhaiKhua (26) CawngThia (27) KuhChah (28) VuangTu

(29) ZaBung (30) HlamPhei (31) ZeiPhai(A) (32) ZeiPhai(B)

(33) TluangRam(A) (34) TluangRam(B) (35) TlangRua (36) HriPhi.


Indian Security Force Arrested a Chin Democracy Activist, Fellow Acticists Fear Extradition to Burmese Military


September 28, 2002, Aizawl: A Chin democracy activist who has been involved in dissident movement against Burmese military regime was arrested on September 26, 2002 on India-Burma border. Hre Tling, about age 35, is now being held at Assam Rifles Regiment (19) base at Farkawn, a small Indian border town. Access to him in custody is being denied and fellow dissidents fear he might be handed over to the Burmese military across the border.


Hre Tling fled Burma in 1988 following a nation-wide democracy movement, which was brutally crushed by the Burmese armed forces. He has been actively involved in India-based dissident movements for restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma. His arrest is now raising serious concerns among India-based dissidents that India will extradite him to Burma, where he will face serious security risk including possible execution.


“If handed over to the Burmese military he could face summary execution, or at best long term imprisonment,” said his fellow activist. “In many cases, the Burmese military has been known to have executed those who have been captured by them,” he said.


Hre Tling’s arrest came in wake of fresh efforts between India and Burma to crackdown on political dissident movements based in their mutual borders. Since mid 1990s, under bilateral agreements, India and Burma have frequently launched joint operations against dissident movements.


In 1996, India extradited Burmese army defectors to the Burmese regime and many of them were later reportedly executed in Burma.

Source: Chinland Guardian


Press Release by Asylum Seekers From Burma in Delhi

October 23, 2002


We, the Burmese asylum seekers, are organizing an indefinite demonstration in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in New Delhi until our appeal for refugee status is met. The demonstration is being taken place from Wednesday (23 October 2002) at UNHCR Office: No. 14, Jor Bagh, New Delhi-110003, India.


We left our homes, nears and dears due to human rights abuses committed by the ruling military junta in Burma. Although we have approached the UNHCR Office for the last several months, we still do not get the recognition and protection from the UNHCR. In some cases, UNHCR has rejected our appeals without careful consideration.


We are exceedingly disappointed over the rejection of our appeals without careful consideration on the information we provided during our interviews and over-delaying of further processing our cases without no proper grounds by the UNCHR.


We are badly concerned for our security because we do not have any legal document or refugee status (of UNHCR), which could lead us to the repatriation to the hands of military generals since India is not a signatory to the 1951 convention on Refugees.


As you are aware, Burma is now widely notorious through out the world for its gross violations of basic human rights under the military regime. The country is ruled by highly repressive, outrageous and authoritarian military regime. Since the armed forces took the State power in 1988 after killing thousands of Burmese peaceful demonstrators, who demanded the end of 26- year old Ne Win-led regime and bring about democracy and human rights in Burma, the gross violations of human rights against its civilians rampantly committed by the successive generals continuously unabated which resulted in thousands of Burmese peoples fleeing our own country.


The violations of human rights under their cruel policy of ethnic cleansing especially in Kachin and Chin areas include forced labor, pottering, forced relocations, extortion, systematic use of rape against women as a weapon of war, religious persecution, forced conversion from Christianity to Buddhism, harassment, torture and arrests of Christian leaders.


All these mentioned problems and the increased political turmoil inside Burma caused us fled our country in seeking a legal protection from UNHCR.

Therefore, we urge the UNHCR officials to consider the following appeals:


1.To immediately recognize us as we believe we fall under the mandate of refugee status enshrined in 1951 convention,

2.To speedily process our cases and declare our result soon,

3.To reconsider all rejected cases and arrange re-interviews soon

4.To treat us equal with respect by interviewing officials during our interviews and cease to intimidate us

5.To brief our date of interview, registrations and bring an end to over-delaying our cases from further processing.

If these demands are not met, we would take an indefinite hunger strike. We would like to request the people of India, international community and the media in particular to intervene with UNHCR urgently.

Burmese Asylum Seekers

New Delhi, India


“The refugee situation on the western borders of Burma

By Chris Lewa, Forum Asia, Bangkok

Delivered at the Canadian Friends of Burma Public Conference

Ottawa – 9 October 2002


Panel One: The current situation


Burma’s borders with India and Bangladesh have received much less international attention than the Thailand-Burma border. A major reason is the difficult access to refugees in these border areas due to policies of the host governments. Nevertheless, outflows of refugees from Burma to India and Bangladesh are no less significant. More than 50,000 mostly Chin refugees have fled to India while up to 200,000 Rohingya refugees are found in Bangladesh in and outside refugee camps.


An essential difference appears when comparing the overall situation along the eastern and western borders of Burma. In Chin and Arakan States, bordering India and Bangladesh respectively, there is little ethnic armed resistance and the military regime does not resort to ruthless counter-insurgency tactics to assert control, as is the case along the Thai-Burma border. Therefore, the worst forms of human rights violations such as massive forced relocation, torture, summary executions, are less frequent, but this does not mean that the situation is noticeably better. Over the last decade, the Burma Army’s presence has rapidly expanded along the western border. The establishment of new battalions has resulted in two significant consequences:


– (1) exaction of forced labour and arbitrary taxation on the local population to build and maintain camps and grow foodstuff for the army, but also for road construction carried out in the name of development, but which mostly facilitate army penetration; and


– (2) military control of the local economy for the Army’s profit, either directly through collection of taxes at checkpoints and from the border trade, or indirectly through the granting of business monopolies on local commodities in exchange for high bribes.


These practices have severely affected the livelihood of already impoverished communities and compelled them to leave Burma. In their host countries — whether in India or Bangladesh –, most of these 250,000 people are not recognised as “refugees” but labelled as “economic migrants”. The root causes behind this forced migration are ignored in order to keep the outflow invisible and to deprive these refugees from protection and assistance. Meanwhile, the two host governments are engaging in negotiations with the military regime in Rangoon to enhance cooperation and improve economic ties.


Let me first address the specific situation of refugees in India and then Bangladesh.




At a rough estimate there are 50,000 Chin refugees in India. Apart from a few hundred who came to New Delhi to seek UNHCR protection, the vast majority have taken shelter in Mizoram State and a small number in the southern part of Manipur State.


Chin State is a remote hill region inhabited by various communities belonging to the Chin ethnicity who are predominantly Christians. Chins are also found in the southern part of Sagaing Division.


Forced labour, arbitrary taxation and lack of education facilities are the main root causes for flight. Chins also experience many difficulties in practising their religion. The military regime regards Christianity as a threat to its control since the only civil society groups active in the region are linked to the churches. Soldiers have prevented evangelists from preaching and imposed restrictions on attendance at religious gatherings. Christians have also been forced to labour on Buddhist pagodas and to donate money for Buddhist festivals.


Chin refugees in Mizoram State have no camp to accommodate even the most vulnerable and they have joined the local labour market, in the weaving industry, on road construction sites, etc. As undocumented migrants, their situation is very precarious. While Mizos are religiously and ethnically related to the Chins, they resent the continuous increase of “foreigners”. Chin refugees have sporadically been threatened with deportation, particularly during election time, when they become scapegoats for the various local political parties. In March 2002, the Young Mizo Association forcibly evicted Chin families from Lunglei District. New elections planned for next year again raise serious concerns that Chin refugees might face another expulsion drive.


India does not allow UNHCR to exercise its protection mandate in Mizoram State where access is also denied to most outsiders. As a result the Chin refugees receive little or no assistance.


A few hundred Burmese activists and their relatives facing persecution have approached UNHCR in New Delhi for protection. Chin represent the largest Burmese urban refugee caseload in Delhi of about 800 individuals. Even though most of them have been recognised by UNHCR as “persons of concern”, their situation in Delhi is also uncertain. So far, UNHCR has provided them with a small monthly subsistence allowance of Rs 1,400 (about US$30) per person and even less for dependents. But over the last couple of years, UNHCR has been threatening to cut this financial assistance in order to promote self-reliance. Lack of education and employment opportunities combined with inadequate and cramped living standards make their lives miserable. The Indian authorities have issued them with residence permits, but denial of work permits makes any attempt at self-reliance almost impossible and illegal . Young Chin people often join Bible schools in the absence of other educational opportunities.




Refugees from Burma in Bangladesh can be divided into 3 categories:


Rohingya refugees in 2 refugee camps (21,500)

Rohingya refugees outside camps in the Southern part of Bangladesh (up to 200,000)

Rakhine urban refugees caseload in Dhaka (50)

Arakan State, bordering Bangladesh, is another remote region along the Bay of Bengal inhabited by two major ethnic communities. The majority group is Rakhine Buddhist, close to the Burman in terms of religion and language, while the Rohingya Muslims are ethnically and religiously related to the Chittagonians of southern Bangladesh and are concentrated in the northern part of Arakan State adjacent to Bangladesh.


The Rohingya Muslims are the group most discriminated against in Burma and they are simply excluded from the nation-building process. They have not been included amongst the “135 national races” identified by the government, and the Citizenship Law of 1982 renders them stateless .


Communal tensions are prevalent between the Muslim and Buddhist communities in Arakan. While this can be explained from a cultural and historical perspective, such violence has been exacerbated by the divide-and-rule policies of the military regime, denying all rights to the Muslim population in order to allow the military to pose as protectors of the Buddhist community.


The Rohingyas’ freedom of movement is highly restricted, as they need permission to travel even to a neighbouring village. Their land has been confiscated to accommodate Buddhist settlers. To date, the government has established 26 “model villages” of about 100 houses in Northern Arakan State. Mosques have been destroyed and Rohingyas are routinely subjected to forced labour, extortion, and constant humiliations. While UNHCR and its partners have managed to reduce the amount of compulsory labour by taking over responsibility for building local road infrastructure, this practice is far from being eradicated. Forced labourers continue to be recruited for army camp construction and maintenance, sentry duty, portering, and especially for such commercial ventures of the military as shrimp farm maintenance, plantation work, brick-baking, bamboo collection and wood cutting.


Currently, there is increased repression against Muslims in Burma. On August 1, the SPDC signed the United States-ASEAN Joint Declaration of Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism. Ethnic cleansing policies against the Rohingya Muslims have been newly consecrated as an “anti-terrorist campaign”.


Bangladesh has been burdened by two mass exoduses of more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees, in 1978 and again in 1991/2. In both cases, repatriation followed in conditions far from conducive to safe return. After gaining access to the Burma side of the border, UNHCR supervised the last mass repatriation but its “voluntariness” was questioned by international relief agencies. At present, 21,500 refugees remain in two camps in Bangladesh without any durable solution in sight. Repatriation has stalled for several years. The SPDC has not expressed any willingness to accept them back, while most refugees do not want to repatriate to Burma until conditions improve to guarantee a return in safety and dignity. UNHCR has recently announced its plan to disengage from both sides of the border by June 2003. UNHCR being the only international organisation with a protection mandate, there are grave concerns that its withdrawal could lead to severe abuses both in Bangladesh and Burma.


The conditions in the refugee camps are particularly appalling. They are managed by Bangladeshi officials and not, as along the Thai-Burma border, by the refugees themselves. Primary education has only been permitted in recent years and capacity building for refugees is minimal. Corruption and violence are common. 58% of refugee children suffer from chronic malnutrition, exposing them to disease and hampering their physical and mental development.


Access to the refugee camps has been denied to new arrivals since 1995 when the mass repatriation started. However, the exodus never stopped. The post-1995 outflow is a constant trickle of repatriated refugees (“double-backers”) fleeing again to Bangladesh and newcomers who are either landless or have had their land confiscated. Starvation prompted their flight but lack of food came about because of forced labour and extortion. This influx seems to be encouraged and at the same time strictly controlled by the Burmese authorities, and concurrently it is rendered invisible by the Bangladesh authorities. The local press reports that as many as 200,000 Rohingya are living illegally in slums or villages in the Southern region of Bangladesh. People living in a shanty town near Cox’s Bazar claim that up to 80% of their population comes from Burma. They are surviving as undocumented migrants without any protection from UNHCR nor humanitarian assistance. The Bangladesh authorities refer to them as “economic migrants” and do not allow any relief for fear of creating a pull-factor. In early June 2002, they declared that “it was taking all out measures to complete repatriation of the remaining Rohingya refugees by June 2003 and had instructed border forces to check further influx from Burma.” Over the last 2 or 3 months the outflow of new arrivals from Burma has again increased significantly due to high rice prices, devaluation of the Kyat, and the strict implementation of land policy.


Stateless, expelled from Burma and unwanted in Bangladesh, some Rohingya are relying on human smuggling and trafficking to look for better living conditions in Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Dubai.


The Rohingya plight can be summarised in these 3 questions a woman addressed to me during an interview: “Who am I? What should I do? Where should I go?”


The Rakhine Buddhists are also a neglected ethnic group in Burma. The Burmese regime has always attempted to forcibly assimilate them. They are also subjected to forced labour. They are tightly controlled and taxed. Whereas very few Rakhine refugees came to Bangladesh, many left Arakan State to search for income opportunities in the urban centres of Central Burma and, whenever possible, on to Thailand and Malaysia. About 50 Rakhine political activists have been recognised by UNHCR as urban refugees in Dhaka. Assistance from UNHCR was curtailed in 1998 and most survive in substandard conditions.


In addition, I must mention the hopeless situation of more than 500 Burmese “released prisoners” detained in Bangladeshi jails. Half of them are fishermen from various parts of Burma, but especially from Mon State and Tenasserim Division, who first came to Thailand seeking jobs on Thai fishing trawlers and were later caught fishing illegally in Bangladeshi territorial waters. The other half are Rohingyas arrested as illegals in Bangladesh. All of them have long ago served their sentence for illegal entry but could not be released because the Burmese authorities are generally not interested in taking them back. As a result, they are languishing in jails, some for more than 10 years.


In conclusion, the western border of Burma and the refugees in India and Bangladesh deserve more attention from the international community, whether for capacity-building, humanitarian assistance or advocacy. Canada and other countries should use their leverage to pressure Bangladesh and India into recognizing and treating refugees from Burma according to international human rights standards.



What Chinland with its people is to India

by Pu Lian Uk


Recently I read an article “In Land of Plenty, Some Swiss Struggle to Get By” by an author, ELIZABETH OLSON in The New York Times. The article reminds me what some people usually told us about some similarities between Switzerland and Chinland as both being land locked and hilly regions in a similar geographical position. So It gives me an idea to write this article in the context of that article thinking that we may get some idea from it


Switzerland, being the highest land mass in the region in the center of Europe, has a dominating position of its surrounding regions. Thus it is a very strategically position in military point of view.


Any forces that dominate that highland have been supposed to have great advantage to others in warfare. The reason why Switzerland was made to be a neutral nation by warring European countries in the past therefore is said due to its strategically position as a highland in the center of Europe. It remains a neutral country till recently. It has become now a UN member.


Switzerland, though a land locked nation, is usually known as land of plenty as it is here written in the heading of the article I mentioned. In Burmese it is said “Lawka-neihban”. Its geographical position, being between the Great-lowland plain and the Lombardi plain in South Europe, is to some people comparable with the geographical position of Nagaland, Mizoram in North East India and the Chin State in the Union of Burma in South Asia.


The geographical position of the three sister States, together with Manipur State, as a single land mass is also a mountainous region Between Ganges-Brahmaputra plain and the Chindwin-Irrawadi plain serving as a defense natural wall. It also is like a bridge between the two plains like the Alps, on which Switzerland also is, serves as a bridge between the Great-lowland plain and Lombardi plain. Not only that the two territories had Similar geographical position, but also geologists even have found out that the two territories have the same type of soil and rock structure.


In fact, this highland embracing ChinHills in continuous to Patkoi range was the lifeline of the allied forces and what is now Republic of India to survive today the invasion of Japanese fascists during World War II. It was from Kohima, Imphal and Chin Hills that the invading Japanese forces were repelled to save India from the war.


British Burma, at that time, was totally occupied by the Japanese forces and the government of British Burma fled the country to Simla in India leaving Chin Hills/Chinland and the whole British Burma under the mercy of fascistJapanese forces. The Chin people who were still loyal to the British and the allied forces resisted the occupying Japanese in guerilla warfare as Western Chin Levy.


Had the Japanese invading forces, who tried to penetrate into Ganges-Brahmaputra valley of British India through Chin Hills /Chin State, were not repelled by the Chin guerilla forces from their territory with the help of the topography of their land, the people of India and the allied forces had to face the brunt of war against the invading Japanese fascists in the Ganges-Brahmaputra flat plain costing many lives and wealth and even the Japanese could occupy the whole British India.


The reason was that it would not be easy to defend the country against the invading forces from the flat plain in the Ganges and Brahmaputra valley. At the same time there were Indian forces led by Mr. Chandra Bose who were fighting in alliance with the Japanese forces against the British and the allied nations. The Burmese or Burman forces were also at that time fighting against the allied force that were sacrificing their lives in defending India.


The governor and the Frontier Areas Secretary of British Burma, who fled Burma to Simla in India during the war declared that the allied nations and India had for this reason owed a great debt of gratitude to the Chin as both knew about the situation of that war very well in this region, (The Economics of the Central Chin Tribes by HNC Stevenson). We hope that the allied nations and India today acknowledge it.


The lifeline of the Republic of India could again be on this highland as it was in World War II if Burma military regime, having no ideology other than militarism to hold on their dictatorship, joins the communist China to invade India to turn it into communist country. The two nations in the past had been once at war for one reason or the other and we can not say that it will not break out again any time in the future.


If the highly development and prosperity of Switzerland is at least in parts due to its geographical position, bridging the two plains in the South Europe, this group of sister States as a landmass in South Asia could also have such chance and opportunity to develop like Switzerland if they are free to shape their own destiny politically.


The inhabitants of these sister states are people who have so many similar affinities to be regarded in anthropology as a people in their long history. Even the Chin State by itself with an area, at present not less than 14000 Sq. miles, is larger than many sovereign independent nations the world over.


It was also the plan of the British to keep them as a province under a governor like Assam, Bengal and Burma when the territory was annexed in the late 1900s. The same idea again, to carve out this territory as a province to let them regain their own independence like other nations, was once again repeated under what was called the Crown Colony Scheme soon after World War II.


Nagaland leaders like A.Z. Phizo was said to have such vision before India and Burma became Independence from British. So independence of Nagaland was proclaimed on August 14, 1947 just the day before India and Pakistan proclaimed independence from British on August 15, 1947.


Nagaland Independence issue, though it was made comparable with the case of Algeria round about in 1960s, has not been raised in the UN just only for the reason that India has majority support in the UN (The United Nations and Portugal by Franco Nogueira P. 98). Algeria has now long been a sovereign independent state in north Africa.


At present the ethnic cleansing program launched by the Burmese military regime on the Chin people and their refusing to hand over power to elected parliament has created increased suspicions on the ruling military regime that their prolonging to rule the country is an intension to totally crush the existence of the Chin people and their fellow non-Burman nationalities of the Union.


The unfaithfulness of the Burmese leaders after the assassination of General Aung San for which the Chin people have suffered much in their joining the union, has seriously made in some people idea that Chinland is now forced to declare their own sovereign independent state.


In such cases India, whose democratic ideology could hold the existence of the Chins as a people, may have the option to accept Chin land as a protectorate nation on condition that their foreign relation and defense should be in consistent with Indian foreign and defense policy. This program could also make the Chinland closer to its sister states in the northeast India.


The ruling military regime has discarded the constitution of the Union of Burma in violation of the Panglong Agreement. Chinland, of course, which has never been a part of Burma or Burmese kingdom in their long history before British annexation, has now every right to secede from the Union of Burma in the absence of the Panglong Agreement and the 1947 Constitution of the Union of Burma. .


The Chin Hills Regulation 1896 amended in 1919 in its Section 2 actually defined all the inhabitants of this landmass as a people known as Chins. The Chin Hills Regulation, which is still in force in the Naga Hills in the Union of Burma and in the Chin State in its amendment as Chin Special Division Act 1948 and in some parts of North East India in its context, still recognized them legally as a people.


The Chin Hills Regulation 1896 was proclaimed and adopted by the Governor in Council of British India on August 13, 1896 to be used in administering the people who inhabited this single landmass between the two plains.


Some people even suggested that this August 13 should be observed as a historical day by the inhabitants of these sister states for good or for bad as the Chin Hills Regulation has great impact on them.


As a matter of fact, the Chin Hills Regulation protected the sister states from the over flow of the population into their territory from outside their common landmass. The document, that makes the people outside Mizoram State need to get Inner line permit today to get into Mizoram, is said to have derived from this Chin Hills Regulations 1896.


The inhabitants of this vast territories when they meet in foreign lands outside their common mother landmass always intimately hug each other as a long lost brothers and see and take care of each other welfare showing their instinct closeness of blood relation though they may have their respective minor regional differences.


The population in these states is overwhelmingly Christians to be able to call them Christian States. They are surrounded by extraordinarily densely populated Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists populations. Thus they are like the lonely and remote islands in the deep sea in the midst of the three extraordinarily densely populated religions in the region.


The reason why the British invaders immediately could recognized them as a people was based on their similarity in their native common religion which molded their many similar affinities as a people today and that same native religious faith has today transformed them again to have the same common faith in Christianity. Thus their common faith continues on keeping them today as the same people as before in their Christian faith.


As a matter of fact, 85% in Nagaland, 75% in Mizoram according to what was released recently in an Indian newspaper and 80% in Chin State in their respective states are Christian population.


They may very soon be able to see the need to make cultural exchange by forming a common religion organization in their common Christian Faith in which they can exchange their knowledge and experience to develop their religious faith and other cultural aspects.




Introduction :

Chin People In Burma: An Overview


Human Rights :


•New Township Development Project Left 100 People Forced To Work Daily: 180 Houses To Be Relocated

•Arbitrary Agricultural Policy Results in Forced Labor

•Persecution of Christians Renewed, Junta Coerces Chin Christians to Pull Down Cross

•Denial of Religious Freedom; Christian cross at risk of destructionin Chin State, western Burma

•Police Officer Killed by Own Bodyguad

•Burmese Baptist convention banned on orders of Junta

Action Alert


Facts and Arguments :

THE NEWIN DOCTRINE: A systematic Campaign of Hatred

By Vum Son




Chin People In Burma: An Overview


Before the advent of British colonization of Chinland in 1890s, the Chins were living as an independent nation located within the distinct border demarcations of Chinland. A hilly region, Chinland crossed the borders of what was later to became British India and Burma. Even after it came under colonial rule, however, Chinland remained relatively autonomous of British control until the early 20th century.

In 1935, the British decided to divide Chinland into two parts by making Burma – previously a province of British-India – a separate colony. The western part of Chinland remained under British-Indian control while the eastern section came under the rule of colonial Burma.


As Burma’s independence movement grew under the leadership of Aung San, the Chin decided to participate with him and other ethnic representatives in a constitutional process towards the development of a federal union. However upon Burma’s independence from Britain in 1948, the Chin and other Burma ethnic groups became increasingly concerned that their rights of autonomy and equality as enshrined in the constitution were not being fully respected. Civil war erupted throughout the country over the next decade until the Burma Army’s Chief Commander, General Ne Win, taking advantage of the chaos, staged a military coup in 1962.


Once in power, Ne Win nullified previous efforts to establish a genuine federation. In claiming to safeguard the possible disintegration of the Union, Ne Win isolated Burma from the rest of the world, eradicated all freedoms of expression and association, and instituted draconian economic and human rights policies. After three decades of Ne Win’s rule, Burma became one of the world’s least developed countries in 1988.


During his rule, Ne Win reserved some of his regime’s most brutal repression against Burma’s ethnic minorities such as the Chin who were struggling for autonomy and equal rights. As Ne Win continued his campaign to fully control Chinland, abuses as forced relocations, rape, and forced labour reached massive proportions. At the same time, systematic efforts were made to eliminate the literature, culture, and traditions of the Chin and other ethnic minorities in order to assimilate them into a homogeneous Burman culture. Efforts were also made to impose the Buddhist religion by restricting the practice of other religions, which in Chin State was mostly Christianity.


Chin students participated along with country’s broad student-led uprising in 1988 to topple the country’s dictatorship. Millions of people demonstrated non-violently demanding an end totalitarian rule. The military regime brutally crushed these demonstrations and thousands were killed. A military committee, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), replaced, on September 18, 1988, General Ne Win who had resigned in July, just prior to the peak of the uprising. The SLORC junta renamed the country Myanmar and set out to quell their opponents, by announcing that they would soon hold multi-party elections.


Leaders of the democracy movement continued to be arrested and jailed, and many were killed. Aung San Suu Kyi, who joined with colleagues to form the National League for Democracy (NLD) was placed under house arrest in 1989 in the midst of campaigning for elections.


By 1990, the junta was so confident that the political opposition had been eliminated that they allowed the election to take place. To their surprise, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won an overwhelming victory. The junta annulled the results of the election and intensified repression against its opponents.


Today, Burma continues to be ruled by the military (the junta renamed itself the State Peace and Development Committee or SPDC in 1997) and the Chin along with other opponents of the regime, continue to face a multitude of human rights violations. Under Burma’s military regime, the Chin are not only facing gross human rights violations, but they are also losing their culture, literature, customs, and traditions.


This situation has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis, both inside and outside the country. Current estimates are that there are over one million internal refugees and over two million refugees residing neighbouring countries. Of those numbers, at least 50,000 are Chin refugees residing in Burma’s neighbouring countries.


Over the past year in Burma, there have been some positive developments towards political change – most recently the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in May 2002. Nevertheless, the military junta’s human rights abuses continue throughout the country unabated. Although many Burma observers are cautiously optimistic about the recent political developments, international condemnation of the regime by the United Nations and other institutions remains strong.


New Township Development Project Left 100 People Forced To Work Daily: 180 Houses To Be Relocated

Chin Human Rights Organization

June 9, 2002


The State Peace and Development Council SPDC in Chin State is using forced labor to build a new high school in Ruazua town of central Chinland as part of state-sponsored development program for the new township headquarters, according to CHRO source. About 100 people are compelled to provide unpaid labor on a daily basis to dig an area of one square mile ground where the foundation for the new high school will be laid. The forced labor began in mid May 2002.


In a related incident, about 180 houses are to be relocated to give way for a new army camp to be set up in the area. The SPDC authority issued an order affecting the relocation of the houses.


Located between two major towns, Matupi and Thantlang in central Chin state, Ruazua village became the tenth township headquarters in Chin State in 2002. The application for the township status was made since 1988 so that Ruazua could enjoy government facilities such as high school, hospital etc. “The village had put enormous efforts to meet the criteria for township status and tried very hard to convince the authority by constructing road, water supply, self-support high school etc., all without State support.” According to the local people, they spent about 2 million Kyats to convince the authority and to acquire the status.


However, as soon as Ruazua was awarded township status in 2002, about 100 houses from Old Village Block were ordered to relocate at areas designated by the army so that the Burmese army could build a new army battalion headquarters on the sites. 80 more houses have to vacate their house to allow road extension between the would-be army headquarters and the town.


The SPDC is unlikely, as in all other similar circumstances, to compensate those who are subject to forced labor and relocation, and as a result the affected people may face serious crises.


Arbitrary Agricultural Policy Results in Forced Labor

Chin Human Rights Organization

June 10, 2002


New agriculture policy being implemented in Chinland is adversely affecting the local population. In many parts of Chinland, government servants and ordinary villagers are being required to participate in tea plantation program under the order of the ruling military junta. “Seven villages in Falam township were ordered to participate in tea plantation in the designated areas of about 20 to 30 acres this monsoon season,” according to a local source.


On 12 May 2002, during a visit to Falam town, the SPDC’s Agriculture Minister encouraged the local people to participate in the government’s tea plantation program. The minister said that both the government servants and the civilians must cooperate for the success of tea plantation.


According to the orders of the junta, people must provide free labor for the tea plantation, and any government servants who question or are opposed to the “new policy” will be fired from their jobs.


The authorities designated the surrounding areas of Falam town stretching as far down as the west bank of Manipur River as tea plantation farm.


Ordinary civilians from Cawngte, Tlaisun, Cawngheng, Zamual, Sunthla, Lungpi, and Mangkheng villages were forced to provide free labor for tea planting. Households that could not afford to provide forced labor had to hire laborers at the rate of 300 Kyats per day for male, and 250 Kyats for a female out of their own expenses. However, members of Union Solidarity and Development Association USDA, a state-sponsored youth organization, and other government officials are exempted from the forced labor.


In 2001, similar tea plantation programs were implemented in Matupi and Thanlang townships forcing civilians to participate in unpaid labor.


Burma’s ruling junta officially outlawed the practice of forced labor in 2000 in response to international outcry for its systematic and widespread use of forced labor. Under close scrutiny by the International Labor Organization, the junta maintains that it has “eradicated” the practice of forced labor in the country. However, government’s “development programs” and other counter-insurgency are perpetuating and reinforcing the practice of forced labor in Burma.


Persecution of Christians Renewed, Junta Coerces Chin Christians to Pull Down Cross

Chin Human Rights Organization

June 29, 2002


Christian residents of Matupi, a major town in southern Chinland, are facing mounting pressure from Burma’s ruling regime, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to pull down a symbolic Christian cross they erected 1 mile South of the town.


The pressure came following a visit to the town in March 2002 by Chief of Bureau of Special Operation Major-General Ye Myint who, offended by the visible sight of the 30-foot tall cross, instructed local authorities in Matupi and nearby town of Mindat to pressurize local Christian leaders to dismantle the cross, according to reliable information obtained by Chin Human Rights Organization.


The spectacular 30 foot tall cross was erected by Chin Christian in 1984 and renovated in 2001. Residents of Matupi town had spent about 3 million Kyats to construct the cross.


In a bid to have the cross removed, SPDC closed down the operation of development and humanitarian projects being conducted by Matupi Baptist Association MBA, saying “unless the Association dismantled the cross the authorities would not authorize further operation of the projects.”


The projects include improvement of the town’s water supply system to make available sufficient water supply for residents. The MBA obtained assistance from Japanese Embassy in Rangoon and the project was started in 2001. The MBA bought water pipes from Mandalay. However, the SPDC authority in Mindat town had warned that they would not give permission for the shipment of the water pipes if the MBA continues to refuse to pull down the cross.


In a related incident, local SPDC authority in Mapupi has turned down the application made by 200 households to connect telephone lines to their homes. The authorities said that permission is conditioned by the dismantling of the cross, although every household had already paid to the authorities 85000 Kyats for the telephone connection fees.


To the local Chin community Christian cross represents a symbolic monument of their Christian identity and crosses are erected on higher locations such as hilltops where they can be easily seen by commuters. Available estimates show that over 90 per cent of the Chin populations are Christians.


Since the early 1990’s, security forces have torn down or forced villagers to tear down crosses that had been erected outside Chin Christian villages. These crosses often have been replaced with pagodas, sometimes built with forced labor. Some of these crosses had been erected in remembrance of former missionaries from the United States, while others merely are symbols of faith, according to the United States State Department.


Action Alert

Denial of Religious Freedom; Christian cross at risk of destructionin Chin State, western Burma

Chin Human Rights Organization

Date: July 12, 2002


Facts of the Case:


In March 2002, after a visit to Matupi town by Major-General Ye Myint, Chief of Bureau of Special Operation, and one of the highest-ranking member of Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council SPDC, Chin Christians in Matupi of central Chin state were pressured to destroy a symbolic Christian cross, which has been standing near the town since 1984.


Local Christians have said that the authorities have attempted to destroy the cross since 1997 but a renewed pressure came after recent visit of high-ranking junta’s official. According to the locals, a section of Burmese soldiers under direction from higher authorities attempted to destroy the cross in 1997 but the attempt failed when one Burmese soldier was shot and killed by a fellow member in a fight resulting from drunkenness. Destruction was delayed.


Originally erected as a wooden cross, the cross was replaced as 30-foot tall concrete structure in 2001 by Christians. The refurbished structure was officially inaugurated in 2002. Local Christians say the Burmese soldiers later attempted to pull down the cross again but the 5-foot deep solid foundation of the cross had prevented them from dismantling it when they tried to dig it out.


The cross stands on hilltop one mile south of Matupi where it can be easily seen from most parts of the town. The Burmese army had established an army camp by the site and local people have said that the removal of the cross would give the army a better location for building an army camp.


According to a local Christian leader, the authorities gathered all Christian leaders and ministers at the township SPDC office early this year and were pressured through the day to destroy the cross. The Christian leaders refused by insisting on the authorities to destroy it themselves. “It was then that the authorities decided to apply another pressure tactic”, he said, “because they knew that Matupi Baptist Association MBA was planning to ship water pipes from Mandalay for its water supply improvement project and so the authorities wanted to use it as a bargaining tool”.


The Matupi Baptist Association is the largest religious institution in the area. The association has initiated a development project to improve the town’s water supply system with the assistance from Japanese Embassy in Rangoon. They have purchased water pipes for the project in Mandalay in central Burma. The SPDC authorities had now warned that the shipment of water pipes would not be authorized until the Association had pulled down the cross. Authorities also refused to connect telephone lines for 200 households who have made applications and have already paid required fees, for the same reason.


According to United States State Department, since the early 1990’s, [Burmese] security forces have torn down or forced villagers to tear down crosses that had been erected outside Chin Christian villages. These crosses often have been replaced with pagodas, sometimes built with forced labor. The State Department, since 1999 had designated Burma country of particular concern violating religious freedom.


Relevant Human Rights Standards

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion



Please send faxes, letters, or emails:


Expressing your serious concern about Burmese authorities’ continued effort to destroy one of the last remaining Christian crosses in Chin State


Expressing your concern about persecution of Chin Christians in Burma


Urging the government to respect the human rights of all citizens including the right to freedom of religion





Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt


State Peace and Development Council

Ministry of Defence

Signal Pagoda Rd Yangon, MYANMAR

Fax: 011 (951) 22950

Salutation: Dear General


U Win Aung

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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

Salutation: The Honorable U Win Aung



Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix,


Fax: 011 41 22 9170213

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Salutation: Dear Mr. PinheiroFor more information on religious persecution in Chin State please visit For information about religious freedom in Burma please visit


Police Officer Killed by Own Bodyguad

Chin Human Rights Organization

August 15, 2002 A police outpost commander stationed at Hnaring village of Thantlang township, Chin State, was shot


and killed by his bodyguard on the night of 26 June, 2002. The killer is now absconding, and the Burmese army patrol from Light Infantry Battalions (268) and (50) are on the hunt for him along Burma-India border, a local man who just arrived to Mizoram from Chin State said.


On the night of the incident, the outpost commander Hteey Aung and his men were on duty looking for illegal liquors to be seized from villagers when it started raining heavily. His men suggested they wait for the rain to die down and resume their duty thereafter. Outraged by their suggestion, the commander beat his men severely. Unable to witness his comrades being ruthlessly beaten, the bodyguard shot and killed their commander. He immediately fled the scene leaving his weapon behind. Burmese army on patrol are conducting a rigorous hunt for the absconding killer along Chin State-Mizoram border.


The body of the victim officer was sent to Thantlang Civil Hospital, about 30 miles away, for postmortem and burial on June 30.


According to the source, Hteey Aung had been commander of Hnaring police outpost for about two years. During his two-year posting in the village, Hteey Aung made a fortune from extorting travelers and villagers, confiscating cattle and goods from cross-border traders. He was reportedly saving the goods and money he confiscated for his family. He was reported to have frequently beaten his inferiors, which made his inferiors dissatisfy with him.


Burmese Baptist convention banned on orders of Junta

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide


A three-day Baptist convention for 100,000 people, which was due to be held in Burma, has been cancelled on the orders of the junta.General Maung Aye, Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese army, ordered the Kachin Baptist Church (KBC) to cancel its 34th convention during which they would have elected their leaders. This is the third time the regime has cancelled the event since seizing power in 1962.


The Christian community of the north eastern Kachin State had planned to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the arrival of the first Christian missionary to the Kachin, Ola Hansen, and the 75th anniversary of the translation of the Bible into the Kachin language.


The convention, held every three years, was due to start on April 4 in the Muse township in Shan State, in the north east of Burma. Christians from all over the country were expected to attend.


Permission to hold the event had been granted by both the northern Shan State regional commander and the head of the Military Intelligence Service, First Secretary Lt. General Khin Nyunt.


Local sources suspect that the sudden change in policy is part of an ongoing power struggle between the junta’s top leaders, General Maung Aye and Lt. General Khin Nyunt.


At least 80 percent of the population in the Kachin state in north eastern Burma are Christians. They suffer religious persecution and oppression from the military regime.


The authorities monitor all Christian activities, ban the construction of new churches and prohibit the printing of Christian materials. Christians are also periodically forced to ‘donate’ money to Buddhist festivals.


For the past two years, the United States’ Department of State has designated Burma as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ for violating religious freedom.


The 1974 Constitution of Burma stipulates that the ‘national race shall enjoy the freedom to profess their religion provided that the enjoyment of any such freedom does not offend the laws or the public interest’.


In practice, however, the Burmese junta closely monitors and restricts the organisation and expression of all religions, including Buddhism.


This is partly because Buddhist clergy and religious minorities have in the past been politically active and partly because the regime views religious freedom in the context of threats to national unity.


Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: “The ban on the Kachin Baptist convention highlights the ongoing restrictions on religious freedom.


“The junta, in order to hold onto power, cracks down on different religious groups in its bid to enforce its own single Burmese culture. By restricting the freedom of worship and making its citizens conform to the predominantly Buddhist Burmese culture, the regime is systematically destroying the cultural identity of many ethnic groups, most of them Christians or Muslims.”


THE NEWIN DOCTRINE: A systematic Campaign of Hatred

By Vum Son

Chin National Day Golden Jubilee Journal, Publicity & Information Department, Chin National Front, February 1998, Pp. 191 – 200


The Union of Burma is the amalgamation of formerly independent kingdoms of Arakan, Burma, and Mon; princely states of the Shan and Karennis; chiefdoms of the Chin and Kachin; and independent communities of the Karen. The Union of Burma was formed by the Panglong agreement of the Chin, Kachin, Shan, and the Burman. However, the agreement encompasses the Arakanese, Mon, Karenni and Karen, who were proud nations and communities and who had distinct and unique identities different from the Burman, Chin, Kachin, or Shan.


In the constitution drafted in 1947, Bogyoke Aung San promised the non-Burman equality and autonomy. After the Death of Aung San, however, U Nu and the AFPFL amended the draft constitution, betraying both the letter and spirit of the Panglong agreement. The amendments invalidated the recognition of the formerly proud nations of Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon and the Shan. Therefore, serious trouble was looming for Burma at independence.


Shortly after Burma’s independence in 1948, the Karen, followed by several other non-Burman nationalities, rose up in arms to fight for independence. At the height of the Karen rebellion and underground movement of the communists, soldiers defected en masse from the Burma Rifles and other army units (e.g., the Karen Rifles). Out of the five battalions of Burma Rifles, only about two thousand soldiers were loyal to the union government. Because of the Karen rebellion, the government forced numerous non-Burman holding key positions in the army to retire. Among those forced to retire were General Smith Dun, the commanding officer of the Burma Army, Saw Shi Sho, the chief of the air force, Brigadier Saw Kya Doe, chief of operation, and all Karen nationals, to name a few. These positions were then assigned only ethnic Burman. General Ne Win, a Sino-Burman, and a member of the ” Thirty Comrades” became the Commanding Officer of the Burma Army. He was also made the Defence Minister of the Union government.


General Ne Win became ambitious and requested to be made the Prime Minister. The civilian government dismissed him back to the barracks. Ne Win realized that to become the Prime Minister of Burma or to be able to run the country, he needed to be the commanding officer of a large army, and from that day on he worked on a scheme that eventually made him the oppressor of the peoples of Burma for forty years. That scheme might be called the “Ne Win Doctrine”.


Premise of the Ne Win Doctrine:


To become the ruler of the country as the commanding officer of the Burma Army, the army must be large and strong. The requisite for having a strong army is that the army must have a strong and sizeable enemy.


How could the Burma Army have a strong enemy? The answer lies in the history of Burma and the history of the members of the Union of Burma.


History of Ethnic Conflict


There are no known facts about the ethnic conflicts prior to the Burmese King Anawrahta, who became king in the eleventh century. Long before the Burman descended from the high regions of Tibet and northwestern China to the present Burma in the seventh or eight century AD the Mon had established their kingdom in lower Burma, and the Arakanese in Arakan. Our knowledge of Burman history started with the king Anawrahta because of the aggressiveness of the Burman, who in the course of time attacked and were attacked by Arakan, Mon and Shan. The history of the Thai, Assamese, and Meitei


(Manipuris) describes the immense cruelty of the Burman forces. Because of their notoriety, historians concentrated on the Burman history and unjustly gave little attention to the history of the other groups in the region. This one-sided view of history has had a catastrophic effect on the modern relationships between the ethnic groups because the Burmese military can convince outsider that there is only the history of the Burman and the other people are anonymous.


In fact, there were many ethnic conflicts among the peoples that constitute Burma today. Most notably, the Burman and the Mon engaged in a great contest of power against each other. To a lesser extent, extended wars we fought between Arakan, Burma, and Shan against the Burman. The Karen apparently did not establish a powerful enough system to challenge the Burmese leadership, but they were subjected to high taxation and forced to work for the Burman. The Burman had no interest, authority, or influence on the outlying areas, such as the Chin, Naga and Kachin. In all their wars, the opponents of the Burman know them as most brutal, and most cruel. The brutality and cruelty of the Burmese Army in post-colonial Burma has only carried on the tradition of Burman behavior.


Development of the Doctrine


With the mistrust and turbulent history between the Burman and the non-Burman, Ne Win had the means by which to create a powerful enemy that would justify a large army for him to command. Thus, he created the Ne Win doctrine.


Ne Win Doctrine


Create an enemy of the non-Burman by driving them to military resistance. Drive them to military resistance by exploiting the political unrest in Burma.


The political situation facilitated Ne Win’s plan to exacerbate the non-Burman and Burman mistrust. As soon as the Union of Burma was formed, the AFPFL, who dominated the politics of Burma, initiated ethnic conflict. The AFPFL betrayed the Panglong agreement by adopting a quasi-federal constitution. Although the constitution allowed some non-Burman nationalities the status of national states, the constitution gave the power of the state to the central government, which was the government of proper Burma or the government of the Burman. The states were governed by the central government, with no possible self-determination. They were practically the colonies of the Burman. The constitution refused to recognize the Mon and the Arakanese statehood, denying them recognitions as a distinct ethnic group. The constitution also declared the Burman language as the common language, marginalizing the non-Burman nationalities.


Furthermore, when Ne Win assumed the post of Commanding officer, U Nu, the prime minister of Burma, proclaimed martial law in some regions of the Shan state in response to the formidable Karen forces scattered in many parts of Burma including the Shan State. However, the Karen were severely beaten at Insein and were no longer a threat to the government of Burma by the mid-fifties. General Ne Win needed the continuation of the Karen rebellion and other existing civil wars to maintain the strength of the Burma Army. Therefore, the Burma Army units created renewed hatred for the Burman by roaming Karen villages to create victims. Thus began the implementation of the Ne Win Doctrine, making the Non-Burman fear and hate the Burman and leading them to armed resistance.


Implementation of the Doctrine


The main feature of the doctrine was to make the Burma Army above the law wherever there was insurgency or rebellion. The army could do whatever they wanted in the countryside where there were disturbances. But its purpose was never to quell rebellion. The people had no right whatsoever. As soon as the Burma Army came to an area, the people lost their rights to their land, property, and even their own children. Worst of all, they lost the right to their own lives. On the other hand, the officers and men of the army could do whatever they wanted. From stealing the property of the people, beating the people, raping the women, and killing people singularly or en masse, they do not have to report to any other authority. They were not accountable to any law and there was no authority the people to complain to. The Burma Army was an independent entity. The people, if they dared, could complain to the army authorities who had laid out the policies and had drawn up the guidelines for these atrocities. Their policies were to make the people hate them. If there were complaints by the people that meant the people had not learned their lesson. It meant more brutality towards the community.


The army came mainly to dehumanize the people regardless whether they belong to the rebels or not. They were treated as if they were animals. The army was the law. These brutalities produced endless atrocities. And these brutalities and atrocities brought incalculable damage to the army’s credibility and to national unity. The soldiers were seduced by the power of their guns and the tacit encouragement from their superiors. They adhered to the philosophy of being invincible and they created wars where there were none before. The result was racial hatred.


The army usually came to villages fully informed about the people. The Burma Army units usually came after a battle was fought between the rebel group and the Burma Army. They had knowledge about the men from the village who were in the rebellion. Usually the army called all the villagers to a meeting ground usually a football field and executed a popular leader of the community. The person was executed not because he was an enemy of the Burma Army but because the Burma Army had learned that by doing so, they forced the recruitment of youngsters to the rebel army, thereby creating a large enemy for the Burma Army. If Burma Army soldiers had died in the battle with the rebel group, the army unit came to the villages to punish the people of the villages. The army than killed civilians from these villages at least double in number of the soldiers killed at the battle.


The doctrine was to deepen the suspicion and hatred that existed between the non-Burman and the Burman in pre-colonial and British Burma. It was to create hatred among the non-Burman against the Burman because the Burma Army was run by the Burman. Officers and men of the Burma Army treated the population with cruel, humiliating, and degrading inhuman practices. When the army units come to villages they went from house to house and took anything they wanted. They killed domestic animals to substantiate their eager rations. The army encouraged Burman soldiers to marry the non-Burman women. The soldiers were made to understand that to molest and rape women in the “disturbed” areas was no crime. There was no punishment for such misdeeds. The army burned villages and were instructed to destroy and burn Christian Churches and Muslim mosques. During the communist rebellion non-Burman class battalions were sent to areas controlled by the communist. These class battalions destroyed Buddhist temples and killed the people including women and children. The point was to make the Burman hate the non-Burman. The army employed forced labor in disturbed areas, which were created by the Army itself. The army demanded porters from the villages who were not paid. It was forced porter conscription. One of the main reasons for all of this cruel treatment was the forever prolongation of the civil war. Without the civil war a strong Burma army was not necessary. Only cruel treatment of the people guaranteed the continuation of armed rebellion.


Results of the Doctrine on the non-Burman


In all of the civil conflicts in Burma, even during parliamentary democracy, the Burma Army sought military solutions to their problems. Putting an end to the rebellion would have been easy if a political solution had been sought. Instead, the Burma Army was systematically campaigning for hate. The hatred of the military by the people guaranteed the increase of volunteers for the non-Burman ethnic rebellion. After the campaign of hate for 10 years, there was a strong rebellion in Burman that a strong enough army was created to contain the rebellion. Ne Win fostered this strong rebellion by applying the doctrine to each of the ethic groups in Burma.




The Karen lived side-by-side with the Burman in the delta region and had suffered atrocities under Burman kings. During the rule of Burmese kings, the relationship between Karen and Burman was not friendly. Karens suffered under high taxation and racial discrimination. There was always animosity between the two communities. Although living side-by-side, the Karen and Burman seldom intermarried because of the hate existing between them. There had always been a racially motivated segregation between the Burman and the Karen. They stood on opposite sides of the firing line when the Japanese invaded Burma during WW II. They committed atrocities against each other and the animosity between them further deepened. The Karen did not want to be a part of independent Burma. However, they lived intermingled with the Burman and a solution to their problems was difficult to sole. Britain refused to listen to the Karen’s demand for separation from the Burman.


Because the Karen wee honest and trustworthy, the British hired them into their armed forces and civil administration. At the end of WW II, the Karen dominated both of these parts of government. When independence was eminent for Burma after the end of the war, the Karen sought all avenues available to them to separate themselves from the Burman, but they failed. In 1949, the Karen formed the Karen National Defence Organization to protect Karen villages from the Burman. The formation of this organization started the Karen rebellion in 1949.


The Karen and communist defections in the army left only a small army contingent loyal to the government. In other words, the Karen at one time were close to taking the capital Rangoon. The few remaining Chin and Kachin rifles battalions stood their ground and saved the Rangoon government from falling. The Karen were driven out of Insein, a satellite Karen town of Rangoon.


Thus, the Karen situation could explode any time unless they could agree with the Burman terms to build a state together.


General Ne Win and his officers never wanted peace. The Karens could have easily been beaten if a political solution had been sought. The Burmese government refused to discuss the Karen problems with Karen leaders. It was left to the military to solve the Karen problem. The Burma Army could have beaten the Karen rebellion if they had fought with good intentions. Often times Chin or Kachin, forces of the Burman Army had beaten Karen units. When the Chin units thought that they could eliminate the Karen unit, the Chin Rifles were ordered to withdraw and the Karen units were allowed to regroup. The Karen survived with mounting losses in life and material, and Ne Win continued to build his army with the excuse of the Karen threat.


The last stronghold of the Karen at Manaplaw was not attacked for over twenty years because the Burma Army wanted to show that they had a strong enemy. Only when Manaplaw became the second capital of Burma, where all democracy-loving people assembled, and the international media was informed of the brutality of the Burma did the Burma Army feel the need to attack. Manaplaw was not easily taken, but for a two-hundred-thousand strong army to beat a fifteen thousand men army should not be that difficult a task.


Arakan and Mon


Arakan and Mon were independent nations before they were overrun by Burman kings. Because these people were colonies of the Burman for a long period of time, and because they were Buddhists and Intermarried with the Burman. The Burman leadership believed that they were already absorbed into Burman society. The Burman leadership therefore found no reason to negotiate with the people of Arakan and Mon. On the other side, the Arakanese and Mon felt that they had been freed from Burman colonialization when the British gave independence to the Union of Burma. In independent Burma, they wanted the recognition of their unique ethnic national identity and their rights as a nation. But the Burman leadership completely miscalculated the nationality feelings and endeavor of the Arakan and Mon.


Like the Karen, the Mon and the Arakanese had been at war with the Burman before the British came. During those wars, the Burman treated both the Mon and Arakanese brutally. The people of Mon and Arakan regarded the British occupation of their land as the end of Burman colonialization. Ironically, the British introduction of schools and the teaching of Burmese in the schools was instrumental in transforming of the Arakan and Mon society into one much closer to the Burmese society. Although animosity and hatred existed between the Burman and Arakanese, and Mon, they share the same religion and intermarry. The Arakanese and the Mon could have easily been content if the Burman leadership had given them their rightful position in the society of the independent Union of Burman. Luckily for Ne Win, the Burman leadership, beginning with General Aung San, completely miscalculated the nationality feelings of the Arakanese and the Mon. They believed that the Arakan and Mon had fully and completely integrated into Burman society. The Burman leadership did not recognize their unique national identity. Therefore, an insurgency started at the end of 1946, even before independence was attained.


General Ne Win only needed a little push for the Arakanese and Mon to rise up in arms and mobilize their national feelings. Cases of atrocities committed against them as punishment for disturbances quickly intensified the hate of the Burman that already existed from the past. The Burma Army used small uprisings as an excuse to send a large contingent to terrorize villages that were situated in the nearby areas. The Burma Army simply applied the Ne Win doctrine. In response, the Arakan and Mon created an independence movement. General San Yu was the commander of the Burma Army contingent in Arakan for fifteen years before he became the president of Burma under Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Program Party.




The Karenni were independent when Burma was under colonialism, but when Burma became independent, the Karenni became a part of Burma (viz. A colony of Burma). Thus, without proper agreement for equality in the new independent state of Burma, the Karenni would always demand their rights and independence.


Like the Arakanese and Mon, the Karennis fought to regain their independence just after Burma’s independence. Instead of realizing their goal of independence, they were drawn into the Ne Win doctrine. As the Karenni rebellion grew, so did the army stationed in the Karenni State. The AFPFL authorities in Rangoon resorted to a military solution to the Karenni conflict, putting the fate of the people of the Karenni in the hands of the brutal Burma Army under Ne Win. He, of course, immediately applied his doctrine of making the people hate the Burman. Where the Burma Army set foot into any territory was to terrorize the inhabitants. The Karenni were no exception. The government of the AFPFL had created a new front for the Burma Army.




Unlike the Arakan, Mon, and Karen, the Shan had never been completely subjugated by the Burman in historic times. On the contrary, the Shan had at one time ruled to Burman. Historically, Burman and the Shan dealt with each other as equals and there was mutual respect for each other.


The ruling Saophas were mostly well-educated and versed in politics and world affairs.


General Ne Win was able to extend his doctrine to the Federated Shan States when the Karen rebellion spilled over to Taungyi, the Shan capital, in 1950. Then the remnants of the Chinese Koumintang (KMT) forces infiltrated the Shan State from China and gave the government even more reason to send troops there. The placing of most of the regions of the Shan State under martial law by the U Nu government delivered the Shans into the evil claws of Ne Win and his Burma Army, the Tatmadaw. The Burma Army saw the martial law as their god-sent opportunity to terrorize the Shan population. Among the Burma men, the fair-skinned Shan women were a prized commodity to exploit. When the General encouraged his soldiers to marry Shan women, it was like a dream-come-true to the soldiers. The Burma Army gave promotions to those who married ordinary Shan women. Those who married Shan princess were made officers (if the soldier was an NCO). If the soldier was an officer, the officer received a double promotion. The purpose of the marriage policy was not purely the Burmanization of the Shan, but it was rather to reap hatred. The soldier thus hunted Shan women for marriage or for other purposes. They ambushed Shan women on their way to their fields, and if the women tied to run, the soldiers would shoot at them. They killed some women and raped many. Shan women were so afraid of the Burma Army that they hid on seeing army vehicles. A Shan elderly said, “I could bear it when they took away my chicken, pigs, and property. I could bear it when they burned down my house. But I cannot bear it when they abuse my wife and daughter in front of me.” The soldiers commonly looted Shan property and hunted their domestic animals to supplement their meager rations. Prominent and well-loved Shans disappeared without a trace. After ten years of the army presence, the Shan youth could not bear the oppression and degradation. The Shan youth, led by university students, rose up in arms in the late fifties. By then, many non-Burman ethnic groups had stood in arms against the Burma Army. Ne Win had once again driven the Shan to rebel against his army. The Ne Win doctrine was successfully inplemented and was working in the Shan State.


The destruction of Shan society through opium was also mainly the work of Ne Win and the military. The growing of opium and the opium trade may have been started by the KMT and international drug smugglers, but the Burma Army was the authority in the Shan state. Without the tacit approval of the military, the opium production could not have continued. The Burma Army used the excuse that the military could not control opium production in the Shan State because of the Shan rebellion. This excuse was extremely misleading because, as explained above, the military was the cause of the rebellion. The military and Ne Win benefited by the drug trade because they were the main transports of the drug inside Burma. A major aim of the Ne Win Doctrine was to destroy the Shan social establishment. The production of opium and heroin enhanced the implementation of the Doctrine, and Ne Win would apply that part of the doctrine elsewhere.




The Kachin State is rich in natural resources. Many Kachin profited from the large jade deposits, which are found in Kachin land. The Kachin served loyally in the British Burma Army and in post-independence Burma. There had never been problems with the Kachin until 1960. But soon U Nu came to the aid of Ne Win. During the election campaign in 1960, U Nu made an election promise to make Buddhism the state religion if he was given the mandate to govern Burma. He won the election and Buddhism did become the state religion. Because of these events, the Kachin formed the Kachin Independence Organization, initiating a rebellion against the ruling government of Burma. The Burma Army immediately applied the Ne Win doctrine in the Kachin State. By the time the Kachin Independent Army signed a cease-fire agreement after thirty years of civil war, Kachin villages had lost much of their previous relative wealth. Total destruction of the Kachin society and Kachin properties resulted and the Burma Army is in every corner of the Kachin land. The Kachin have traded their rights as human beings and their right to be treated as an equal by the Burman for a cease fire.


Communists and Wa


The Burman communists met the same fate as the non-Burma ethnic insurgency. Chin, Karen, Burman, and Kachin battalions were deployed to fight the communists. As with the Karen, the communists were attacked, allowed to regroup, and attacked again. Within a few years after independence, the communists were no longer a formidable force because, unlike the non-Burma ethnic groups, the Ne Win doctrine could not make the Burman hate the Burmam, perhaps because they understood what the Burma Army was doing. Whenever the communists had a stronghold, the Burma Army terrorized the local people. When the villagers were tired of the harassment from the Burma Army and the taxation of the communists, they simply moved away. Unlike the non-Burman, they did not have elaborate housing and they could easily farm somewhere else. The communist regained their momentum only when they moved to the Chinese border and persuaded the Wa to fight for them. When the Ne Win doctrine was applied to the Wa, the Wa started to hate the Burman of the Burma Army. The racial hatred transferred to hatred of their Burmese communists’ masters. They eventually overthrew the Burman communists and started an ethnic war against the Burman. Because of the huge assistance given by China to the Burma communist party, there were incentives for the Wa young men to join the communists. The price tag was high for the Wa. Almost every Wa household lost a son or a family member in the conflict. After the Wa signed the cease-fire agreement with the Burma Army, the Wa ran drug production and trade under more peaceful circumstances. Due to the Wa rebellion, a powerful contingent of the Burma Army was needed and the Burma Army fulfilled its purpose controlling the drug trade.




Historically, the Chin and the Burman did not have much contact. Their interaction was mostly limited to mutual raiding, including taking war prisoners as slaves. Being in the remote areas of the hills, the Chins were isolated from the valley-dwelling Burman. Consequently, they never dominated one another, or had any other diplomatic relations.


For forty years since joining the Burman, the Chin Hills continued on relatively quietly because there was no reason for the Ne Win army to go there. General Ne Win and most Burman had never been to the chin Hills themselves, and perceived it to be a very primitive areas whose simple inhabitants had neither the ability nor the will to develop their country. However, when Ne Win visited the Chin Hills in 1955 as the commanding officer of the Burma Army, he saw that the Chins were not as primitive as he had thought. Moreover, he realized that the Chins lived in bigger houses than the general Burman. Whereas most Burman lived in bamboo thatch houses, the Chin used wooden planks as walls with wooden floors and corrugated iron or slate as their roofs. Ne Win would wait and find a way to apply his doctrine.


In the late 1970s, the BSPP under Ne Win began to grow opium in the Chin Hills. They had found this strategy successful in the Shan State, where the army had been stationed since 1950. Army officers profited by transporting the drug and were able to addict many of the people by making the drug easily accessible. The Burman then could easily acquire their property.


The growing of opium in the Chin Hills in 1997(???) means nothing less than the ruin of the future of the Chin people. It was reported that heroin is being refined in Tahan, Tedim, and Tamu under the military supervision. This is clearly an attempt to destroy the Chin people in order to be able to control them. Until now, Ne Win was incapable of making the Chin hate the Burman. Soon he will destroy the Chin people as more and more people become addicted to heroin.


The Chins were drawn to the same fate as other ethnic groups in only after the 1988 general uprising against the practice of the Ne Win doctrine in the whole of Burma. Three Chin men formed the Chin National Front (CNF) in 1988 in India. The CNF was formed as an armed independence movement and grew to about fifty members, mostly Chin students who fled to Mizoram in India. The CNF had no money, arms, or supporters in 1988, but its existence was enough to serve as an excuse for the Burma army to destroy the Chin social establishment. In 1980, there was only a Burma Army company in the Chin Hills. By 1995 ten thousand Burma Army soldiers were stationed in the Chin Hills not necessarily to fight the CNF but to instill hatred and fear for the Burman consistent with applying the doctrine.


Results of the Doctrine on the Union


In 1958, after leading the Burma army for almost ten years, General Ne Win felt that his army was strong enough to overthrow the government of the Union of Burma under U Nu. Ne Win’s subordinates gave U Nu the ultimatum that the Burma Army was going to take over power either peacefully or by force.



Rhododendron News




Human Rights:


* Burma’s Junta Arrested Two Prominent Chin Christian Ministers


* Forced Labor Continues In Remote Areas of Chin State


* Force Labor Used to Repair Army Camp


* Professor Gets 7 Years for Protest




* Chin refugees being evicted en mass in Northeastern India


* Translations of Orders & Local News Regarding Chin Refugees in Mizoram State of India


Letters & Press Release:


* Urgent Action Appeal By CHRO


* Chin Youth Organization Letter to Young Mizo Association


Chin Forum Letter to Young Mizo Association


Facts & Arguments:


* Myanmar: The Politics of Humanitarian Aid By International Crisis Groups


* Critique Of The International Crisis Group’s Report By Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe







Burma’s Junta Arrested Two Prominent Chin Christian Ministers


CHRO April 10, 2001


In a renewed effort to curb Christian activity, Burmese military junta arrested two highly respected Christian ministers on Friday April 5, 2002, a very reliable source in Rangoon told Chin Human Rights Organization yesterday.


Rev. Htat Gyi/That Ci and his son-in-law Pastor Lian Za Dal alias Saya Tun Lin were arrested on Friday night in a midnight raid conducted by local officials in their residence at 49th Dagon North in the outskirts of Rangoon city. Local officials also took eight other extended family members into custody, the source said.


Rev. That Ci was arrested shortly after he returned home from the Block Peace and Development Council office to file guest registration for his daughter and son-in-law who were visiting him in his Dagon North residence. According to the source, the local authority turned down the Reverend’s petition for guest registration saying the Township authority would first review his request after which they would inform him of the result. “He returned home believing that he would be informed of whether he was allowed to have visitors over or not”, said the source.


But at around midnight, the local authority raided the residence of Rev. That Ci and arrested all family members in the house on account of failing to file guest registration.


The source noted that although the cause of the arrest is being given as “failure to file guest report”, in the interrogation center Rev. That Ci was asked if he would stop holding worship service.


A member of ethnic Chin, Rev. That Ci had worked as a middle school headmaster and had also worked extensively with the United Nations Development Program UNDP before joining Myanmar Evangelical Gospel School of Theology where he later earned a Masters in Divinity.


That Ci has been reputed for his evangelical works among Burman Buddhists in Dagon North area and as a result the Township and District authorities had warned him several times to stop proselytizing. “Having drawn many Buddists into his church, the authorities had also warned him not to construct a church building in the local area. However, Rev. That Ci always defiantly ignored the warnings saying he did nothing detrimental to the stability of the state”, added the source.


Independent verification of the report by CHRO confirmed that Rev. That Ci and Pastor Lian Za Dal, who is also known among the Burmese as Saya Tun Lin were detained at Dagon North police station for one night, the next two night at a location on Barr street before they were sent to Insein Prison on Monday, April 8, 2002. The whereabouts of the other family member detainees could not be verified. However, the source further suggests that the two ministers could have been released during their initial detention on the condition that they stop preaching, but it was likely that they refused the offer in exchange for their release given the fact that they have now been sent to Insein Prision.


Ethnic and religious minorities have been the targets of persecution in Burma under the military junta, State Peace and Development Council, largely dominated Burman Buddhists. Christians make up only a small percent among the predominantly Buddhist populations in Burma.


The United States State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, two years in a row had designated Burma as Country of Particular Concern, violating religious freedom. The reports specifically cited persecutions suffered by ethnic Chin Christians in Chin State in the western borderland of Burma.


Forced Labor Continues In Remote Areas of Chin State


Beginning January 5, 2000, ten villages in remote areas of Chin State were forced to construct a 20-mile motor road lingking Vuangtu and Ngaphaipi villages, an eye witness told Chin Human Rights Organization.


Section 2 Commander of Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 269 stationed at Vuangtu village issued an order requiring 10 villages located in the surrounding areas of Vuangtu to contribute unpaid labor for the road construction. Headmen of the ten villages were summoned to Vuangtu army base where they were told to carry out the order.


The villages include:


1.Lelai (Lailen)


2.La-ao (La-u)


3.Khipilu (Khuapi lu)


4.Mifawko tla (Farkungtlang)


5.Locitae (Lungcuaite)


6.Ngephetae (Ngaphaite)








10.Ngephepi (Ngaphaipi)


In addition, 235 people from Khuabung village were ordered to particpate in the forced labor. Not only were the villagers ordered to bring with them their own tools and ration during their work period but also were ordered to birng an additional one tin (About 8 Kgs) of rice and other needs for the army guards who supervised the forced labor.


The road construction is part of the Border Area Development Project and extensive forced labor have been used in the process. Although the army claimed that the project is for the development of the area, the roads have been used only to ease movements and communication of the Burmese troops around the area.


Force Labor Used to Repair Army Camp


According to a reliable source, the Burmese army forcibly took 35 persons from Tawngla Lung Cawi village, Thangtlang township to repair the army camp at Sabawngte village from January 3, 2002 to January 16, 2002.


2nd Lt. Mya Myit Soe ordered the forced labor recruits to bring their own ration and equipments for during their two-week stay in the camp. They were aslo ordered to bring one chicken for the army. Dried fish, meat, salt and other spices that the villagers brought with them were confiscated by the Lieutenant.


The laborers who became sick as a result of two weeks of hard work had to travel a 20-mile journey to Mizoram State of India to get medical treatment as the army did not provide them any medicines.


Tawngla Lungcawi is a small village of 40 households. Out of these, two persons in every household were forced to participate in the forced labor.


The Sabawngte army camp is repaired three times a year and all villages in the surrounding areas are forced to participate in repairing the camp on a rotating basis.


Professor Gets 7 Years for Protest


March 18, 2002— Dr Salai Tun Than, a retired professor who was arrested last November for staging a one-man protest against Burma’s ruling junta, has been sentenced to seven years in prison, according to a reliable source in Rangoon.


Dr Salai Tun Than, 74, was sentenced under Article 5(J) of the 1950 State Emergency Act for his solo protest in front of Rangoon’s City Hall on Nov 29. According to the source, a special court in the compound of Insein Prison, where he is currently being held, passed the sentence on Feb 8.


During his protest, Dr Salai Tun Than, the former rector of Yazin University in Pyinmana, Upper Burma, distributed copies of a letter he wrote to demand political reforms. In the letter, he also expressed a willingness to pay a high price for his protest. “It is better to die than to live under the military regime,” he wrote.


The source added that the retired rector, who is an ethnic Chin, is now permitted to receive visits from relatives. In February, he also met with the United Nations’ Human Rights rapporteur for Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.


The source also noted that Dr Salai Tun Than suffers from a serious eye condition that needs to be operated on within the next six months.


Since talks between Burma’s ruling junta and the democratic opposition began a year and a half ago, 243 political prisoners have been released from the country’s gulag. Most of these prisoners had already served out their sentences and were due to be released, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).


Despite persistent calls from opposition groups and the international community for more releases, the regime continues to detain around 2,000 political prisoners, according to AP.


Source: Irrawady News <>







Chin refugees being evicted en mass in Northeastern India


CHRO: March 6, 2002


A reliable source told Chin Human Rights Organization ( CHRO ) today that thousands of Chin nationals from Burma who have been taking refuge in Lunglei District of Mizoram State of northeastern India are being forcibly evicted from their homes.


The eviction is the latest of a series of attempts by the powerful local youth body known as Young Mizo Association, YMA, to clear out all foreigners living in the District of Lunglei.


On March 3, 2002, members of the YMA entered into the homes of Chin refugees and threatened them to voluntarily evacuate their house or risk all their belongings being thrown out. So far 18 of the 29 families living in Chanmary ward have already been forcibly evicted this week. The rest are being told to leave their house within two days, failing which police will be called in to arrest them.


The first eviction started in mid August with 31 families in Ramthar ward being forced to move out of their house. Since then dozens of families from different localities have been evicted. 11 families in Salem ward were removed on September 15 and another 29 families in Farm ward were evicted on 25 October 2001.


A series or eviction notices and warnings were later issued and on March 2, the Church in which the refugees hold worship service was forced to shut down with the threat of dismantling it if they didn’t.


The total number of Chin refugees concentrating in Lunglei District alone, according to the local people, is more than 5000. However, the total population of Chin refugees in the entire Mizoram State is estimated to be over 500,00, although the accurate figure cannot be ascertained.


Chins fled their homeland to escape mass human rights violations and atrocities perpetrated by the Burmese military regime. Documented reports indicate persistent human rights violations including forced labor, rape, arbitrary arrests and executions and religious persecutions in Chin State.


Notice of Eviction from Chanmari Ward YMA




No. CHYMA-1/2001/113


Dated Lunglei,the 21st, Dec, 2001




The Believer Fellowship- 1& 2 Chanmari, Lunglei.


Subject: Notice of Eviction from Chanmari Ward




As you have agreed to our request during the meeting between you and YMA Office bearers from Chanmari ward on 30th September 2001, your fellowship is hereby notified to leave Chanmari ward within the month of January 2002. If you failed to comply with this notification, the YMA Chanmari branch will not bear any responsibilities for whatever happened to you thereafter.


Yours for the Community and the land






YMA Branch, Chanmari, Lunglei




No. CHYMA- 1/2001/107. Dt.29th Sept 2001.




The Secretary,


Believer Fellowship-I & II


Chanmari, Lunglei.


Subject: Notice of Summons


Regarding the above subject, pursuant to the meeting decision of YMA Executive Committee on 28 September night, leaders of the Believer Fellowship-I & II are hereby respectively invited to a meeting with Chanmari Community leaders to discuss matters regarding your fellowship at the following place and date.


Place ; Pu J. Zorema Residence, Chanmari- III, Lunglei.


Date: 30.9.2001 at 3:00 P.M








YMA Branch Chanmari, Lunglei


Copy:1. For copy of the Village Council President of Chanmari, Lunglei for further necessary actions











YMA Branch Chanmari




YMA Letter to Pi Lianbuangi




Pi Lianbuangi, Chanmari – 1


Beloved colleagues,


Greetings to you, first of all, on behalf of the YMA Chanmari branch.


YMA has adopted its slogan of the year “To preserve the people and the land”. In line with this slogan, the Chanmari branch of YMA is launching a campaign of evicting all foreigners residing in its jurisdiction. In this respect, both you and your tenants have been notified that they leave this locality no later than March 9, 2002 (Saturday). To ascertain that your tenants comply with this notice, the community leaders and Magistrate will be taking necessary measures. As the landlord, you are hereby fervently requested to be present at your house starting from 10:00 A.M.


Yours colleague,




Lunglei, 8th Mar, 2002




YMA Chanmari Bbranch




YMA Letter to Pu Buannawla




Pu Buannawla,




Dear Sir,


In conjunction with its slogan of the year, YMA Chanmari Branch, Lunglei, is massively mounting a campaign of evictions of all foreigners residing in its jurisdiction. As you have already been notified, this is to remind you again that you are to leave the locality no later than March 9, 2002.


Dated 8th March, 2002, Lunglei






YMA Chanmari Branch, Lunglei


Lunglei Daily Newspaper




Hard to Evict


Members of YMA Chanmari Branch are busy looking for foreigners living in Chanrmari ward as part of the organization’s campaign to evict all foreigners, particularly from Myanmar. While many of them are complying with the order by leaving their houses, there are many who are very stubborn to obey the order. Surprisingly, these people have valid residential documentations from V.C (Village Chairman) or from some Autonomous District Council proving their legal identity as Mizo. Some of them even have Residential Certificate from the Lunglei District Commissioner. Because there are some people who are willing to give them such documentation, the YMA is unable to do effectively enough to evict them. These people are believed to have invested some money to be able to acquire such documents. If these kinds of illegal activities continue, it will become more and more difficult to ta! ke effective actions in the future. It is quite clear that the people who are issuing these documents to foreigners do not give serious thought to the problem. It is necessary that these people stop their activities for the sake of preservation of our people and land. If we continue to engage in these kinds of activities we will face some serious problems in the near future.




To Be Evicted


Chanmari Branch YMA is taking aggressive action to evict all foreigners living in Chanmari ward, especially from Myanmar, who entered into India illegally. While there are many who are obedient, many of them are very stubborn. Last warning has been given to those who have not moved out two days ago. Many are reported to be possessing illegally-obtained residential documents.




Urgent Action Appeal


Fear for Homelessness/Starvation and Deportation


Chin Refugees in Lunglei, Mizoram State, India Date: 14 March 2002


Chin Human Rights Organization, CHRO has received reports that hundreds of Chin refugees who have been taking refuge in Lunglei District of Mizoram State, India are being evicted from their shelters and houses.


Since August 2001, the powerful local pressure group Young Mizo Association, Lunglei Branch started carrying out eviction of dozens of Chin refugee families living in different localities of Lunglei town. The eviction has left many people homeless including most vulnerable persons such as women and children.


CHRO is concerned that these people who have already suffered persecutions in Burma are being subjected again to deprivation of their basic livelihood, and fundamental human rights. There are also serious concerns that these refugees will eventually be deported to Burma, where they will risk serious human rights violations.


According to reports, members of Young Mizo Association, Chanmari Branch and local police stormed the houses of Chin refugees in Chanmari and other localities in Lunglei and forcibly evicted them from their rented houses. On March 3, 2002, members of the YMA entered into the homes of Chin refugees and threatened them to voluntarily evacuate their house or risk all their belongings being thrown out. So far 18 of the 29 families living in Chanmary ward have already been forcibly evicted in the past week alone.


A widow and mother of 5 children living in Chanmari, was among dozens of families forcibly evicted in the past week. Reports also indicated that the worship places of Chin refugees, the Believers’ Fellowship I & II located in Chanmari Ward in Lunglei were ordered to shut down by the local YMA.


CHRO calls upon all concerned Chin organizations, churches and individuals around the world to act on this alarming situation of your Chin refugees in Lunglei.


Background Information


Serious human rights violations in Burma have forced thousands of Chin nationals to flee to various countries including India. A great majority of those fleeing to India are taking shelter in various parts of Mizoram State including Lunglei. About 50,00 Chins are believed to be living in Lunglei District out of an estimated total population of 500,00 in the entire Mizoram State. Because the Indian Government does not permit United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to function in the region, Chin refugees in Mizoram State has no legal protection either from the Indian Government or from UNHCR.


The State Government of Mizoram, although it has been generous to Chin refugees, has frequently carried out massive sweep of arrest and deportation of Chin refugees to Burma.


Recommended Actions:


Please send appeals to arrive as soon as possible:


Expressing concerns for the safety and livelihood of evicted Chin refugees in Lunglei area Requesting YMA, Lunglei Branch to stop evicting Chin refugees in Lunglei on a humanitarian and compassionate ground Pleading local Mizo churches to intervene in the situation (Remember to be respectful in your tone and also do not forget to mention in your appeals appreciations and gratitude to the people of Mizoram for having been so generous and sympathetic to the Chin refugees)


Appeals to:


1.Young Mizo Association (YMA) Lunglei Branch


2. Secretary Mr. Zo Muan Kima.


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


3. YMA sub headquater Lunglei


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


Phone- 011-91-372-24799


4. YMA, Center YMA office


M.G Road, Ai zawl, 796001


Phone: 011-91-389- 324 966, 011-91-389-326 973


Email- [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Fax- 326 993


5. General Secretary, Center YMA


YMA Road, Aizawl 796001


Ph- 011-91-389-322 869, 011-91-389-326 973


Copies to:


1. Pu Zoramthanga Mizoram Chief Minister, fax no: 91 389 322 245


2. Pu Tawnluaia Hon’ble Home Minister Government of Mizoram, fax: 91 11 301 2331


Chin Forum Letter to Young Mizo Association




Mr. Zomuankima


Secretary of Young Mizo Association (Lunglei Branch) Mizoram


March 19, 2002


Subject: Forced eviction of Chin refugees


Dear Sir,


We have learned from the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) that on March 6, 2002 thousands of Chin nationals from Burma who have been taking refuge in Lunglei District of Mizoram State of North Eastern India are being forcibly evicted from their homes. We are shocked to learn that the eviction is part of the YMA’s programme “to clear out all foreigners living in the District of Lunglei” and moreover it is to our surprise that the actions are carried out under YMA’s adopted slogan “To preserve the people and the land”.


We have no doubt that the YMA is very much aware of the sufferings of the Chins and Burmese in Burma under the brutal military dictatorship ever since 1962. Since the 1988 democracy uprisings inside Burma and following the military crack down on pro democracy activists many Chins have fled to all parts of the world including USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Singapore etc. Not all of them have landed on friendly nations and many suffer still equally brutal treatments in their adopted countries. Some have to stay illegally under fear of detention and deportation or any known kind of human rights violations that they have experienced inside their own homeland while a few of them receive a welcoming hands from these strange lands.


For us, the Chins, the country known as Mizoram is not a strange land since Mizos and Chins are one and the same people only divided by the Indo-Burma border line without our consents. It is due to our unfortunate history that we, the Chins and Mizos are divided under different countries known as India and Burma. The Chins fled their homeland to escape mass human rights violations and atrocities perpetrated by the Burmese military regime. Documented reports indicate persistent human rights violations including forced labor, rape, arbitrary arrests and executions and religious persecutions in Chin State.


In fact the Chins should not feel as foreigners in Mizoram and vice verse. If the YMA leadership is committed to “preserve the people and the land” how could it ignores the plights of their suffering brothers and destroy their livelihood in Mizoram, which is part of the ancestral lands of the Chins as well?


We the CHIN FORUM, herewith, seriously urge your kind attention as to review the policy of your esteemed organisation and earnestly request the leadership of the YMA to stop the evictions of the Chin refugees from Mizoram at least until we gain freedom and restore democracy in Chin State and Burma.




sd/ Victor Biak Lian


Secretary Chin Forum 813-453


Cooper Street Ottawa, ON K2P 0H1,


Canada Tel: (613) 231 4208


Fax: (613) 234 2485


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


Copies to:


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


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


Pu Zoramthanga, Mizoram Chief Minister, fax no: 91 389 322 245 4.


Pu Tawnluaia, Hon’ble Home Minister, Government of Mizoram, fax: 91 11 301 2331




Chin Youth Organization Letter to Young Mizo Association




President Young Mizo Association,


Lunglei Branch Lunglei,


Mizoram, India


Date: March 13, 2002


Re: Appeal for ending mass eviction of Chin nationals in Lunglei


Dear Mr. President,


I am writing to you as Chairman of Chin Youth Organization to convey my deep concern over the continuing mass eviction of Chin nationals from Burma (Myanmar) living in Lunglei by members of your organization.


Reports indicate that since October last year, in conjunction with your organization’s slogan of the year “To preserve the land and the people” the YMA started issuing eviction notices to all Chin nationals living in your jurisdiction and as a result h! undreds of families have been forcibly removed from the houses and left homeless. In many instances in Chanmary Veng (Ward) and elsewhere, helpless widows and children have had their belongings thrown out of their houses by members of your organization. This has tremendously affected the lives of hundreds of families of already helpless and vulnerable men, women and children.


As you are aware, years of persecutions and oppressions they suffered from the Burmese military regime have compelled them, as their last resort, to take shelter in Lunglei District and elsewhere in Mizoram. Because they were already victims of politic! al, racial and religious persecutions in their homeland, the current campaign of eviction your organization is mounting against these people is only adding to the untold suffering they had already experienced in Burma under the military regime.


We sincerely do recognize and share the concerns of your organization in implementing your slogan of preserving the land and the people of Mizoram in India. We understand that the YMA has a strong perception against the presence of the Chin people in L! unglei District, as running counter to its very slogan. However, we believe that the cultural and political survival of the people and the land of Mizoram could never be threatened or even compromised by the presence of Chin refugees in the state. This is due to the simple fact that if we look further beyond so-called international boundary that divid es us as Inida and Burma (Myanmar) today, we are the same people who share the common identity, culture and language. It is only unfortunate that we have been divided by these artificial boundaries we now see in the map as international boundary.


Furthermore, the Chin people who are now taking shelter in Mizoram today are only there for the sole purpose of escaping mass atrocities and sustained oppressions from the Burmese military junta in their homeland of Chin State. In deed, we have been ve! ry lucky to have Mizo people as our next-door neighbor for without your kind welcome and assistance in time of hardship the situations our people have to face would have been unimaginable. This is also true in vice versa when the Mizo people had to go through the similar hardships decades ago.


For decades the Mizo people have been characterized by their Tlawmgneihna or “goodwill volunteerism” and are known for their tradition of “providing good treatment to their guests”. We are in reality temporary guests who are in dire need of protections! and helps of the Mizo people. At a time like this, it is fitting for the YMA as the most inclusive and representative of the Mizo people to show the kind of people that you are known for rather than engaging in acts, which would undermine and compromise such characteristics.


Reports tell us that, forcible mass eviction is still being carried out in various parts of Lunglei and that hundreds of families have been left homeless, including widows other vulnerable persons.


As we are greatly concerned about this continuing trend, we appeal to the YMA, Lunglei branch, in the strongest terms possible


· To seriously review its current policy on Chin refugees and put an immediate stop to the mass evictions on a humanitarian basis;


· To call off all orders of evictions being carried out in various parts of Lunglei


· To take appropriate measures to restore the livelihood of evicted persons in Lunglei District.


Yours sincerely,


Salai Ngun Cung Lian


Chairman, CYO USA




1. President, YMA (Central) for your information and necessary action.


2. Chief Minister, Government of Mizoram, for your kind information and necessary action.


3. Home Minister, Government of Mizoram for your kind information and necessary action.


4. Legal Officer, UNHCR, New Delhi for your kind information and necessary action.




Myanmar: The Politics of Humanitarian Aid




Since the 1988 uprising and 1990 election in Burma/Myanmar, foreign governments and international organisations have promoted democratisation as the solution to the country’s manifold problems, including ethnic conflict, endemic social instability, and general underdevelopment. Over time, however, as the political stalemate has continued and data on the socio-economic conditions in the country have improved, there has been a growing recognition that the political crisis is paralleled by a humanitarian crisis that requires more immediate and direct international attention. Donors face a dilemma. On the one hand, the humanitarian imperative raises difficult questions about the sustainability of international strategies based on coercive diplomacy and economic isolation, which have greatly limited international assistance! to Myanmar. On the other hand, there is widespread concern that re-engagement, even in the form of limited humanitarian assistance, could undermine the quest for political change and long-term improvements.


This policy dilemma raises two basic questions: Should international assistance to Myanmar be increased? And, if so, how can this be done in a responsible and effective way? This report answers the first of these questions with an unequivocal ‘yes’. There should be more international assistance in Myanmar, more resources, more agencies, and more programs in a wider number of sectors. The human costs of social deprivation in Myanmar are simply too large to be ignored until some indefinite democratic future, which could be years, or even decades, away. In the meantime, international development agencies are making a significant difference bringing relief and new opportunities to vulnerable groups, building local capacities, even helping to rationalise policy-making and planning – and they could do a lot more. Importantly! , so far at least, there are no indications that these efforts are having significant political costs, whether in terms of strengthening the regime or undermining the movement for change.


Those who oppose international assistance, or at least are cautious about it, point out that Myanmar’s development for a long time has been hostage to political interests and that any sustainable, long-term solutions would have to involve fundamental changes in the system of government. They are also concerned that the current government will reject international advice and maintain development policies and priorities that are partly responsible for the current problems.


However, these obstacles should be actively addressed rather than left for some future democratic government to tackle. Instead of placing absolute constraints on international assistance, the focus should be on improving monitoring and distribution to minimise existing problems and facilitate more aid reaching people in need. If properly applied, international assistance could in fact serve to promote political reconciliation and build the social capital necessary for a successful democratic transition.


Foreign governments and donors do not face a choice between promoting political change or supporting social development in Myanmar. Both strategies would have to be integral parts of any genuine effort to help this country and promote stability and welfare for its 50 million people, as well as the broader region. In order to facilitate responsible and effective delivery of more international assistance, all the main protagonists, inside and outside the country, need to reassess their positions and do their part to generate the kind of cooperation and synergy that has so far been lacking.






1. Accept that it is not necessary to choose between promoting political change and supporting social development in Myanmar: both strategies need to be part of an integral effort to create stability and improve social welfare.


2. Provide more aid to tackle poverty, illness and the shortfall in education.


3. Work with both local civil society organisations and government bodies to help develop overall capacities for aid management.


4. Strengthen current oversight mechanisms, in particular by setting up an inter-governmental aid consortium with monitoring functions to liase with UN and international non-governmental development organisations (INGO) inter-agency groups in Myanmar.


5. Use aid to attract increased government funding, for example, by ‘matching’ government expenditure in priority sectors and encouraging specific ‘joint-venture’ development projects.


6. Take care that other political tools are wielded with due consideration to their humanitarian and human rights impact – and, for that purpose, commission an impact assessment of all existing and potential future sanctions by a neutral body of economic and development experts.




7. Place a greater emphasis on human development by:


(a) cutting back defence spending and moving more resources to health and education; and (b) reconsidering the current top-down approach to development, which fails to activate all the country’s resources.


8. Facilitate increased international assistance by:


(c) demonstrating clearer commitment to resolving the country’s socio-economic problems by providing more resources and changing policies that do not produce results; (d) minimising the obstructions currently placed on foreign aid organisations in the country; and, (e) increasing the scope for international actors to work with local NGOs.


9. Take more advantage of the wealth of knowledge and development experience outside the country, including in neighbouring countries and among fellow members of ASEAN.




10. Formulate a public plan for international assistance that recognises needs and priorities for expanded humanitarian assistance.


11. Support efforts to strengthen the state’s capacity to formulate and implement policy, in preparation for a smooth political transition.


12. Encourage donors and aid organisations to fund local development NGOs and work with community groups.




13. Expand the UNDP’s mandate in Myanmar to allow it broader involvement in policy issues and administrative capacity building.


14. Use the significant leverage of the UN system with the government to negotiate a framework more conducive to the effective functioning of all aid organisations in the country, including the INGOs and local civil society organisations.


15. Do more to challenge inaccurate official figures and other data, whether overly pessimistic or optimistic, which distort the situation in the country.


16. Work to maintain current standards of accountability of NGOs as their numbers expand and funding increases, for example, by formalising the INGO Joint Operation Principles and establishing an NGO Council, which could service individual organisations and liase with donors and the national government.


17. Be prepared to lower standards of transparency and accountability in exceptional circumstances, viz. where needed in order to reach people in sensitive areas and sectors where security requires full confidentiality.


18. Strengthen coordination to avoid duplication of projects and pool information and ideas.


Bangkok/Brussels, 2 April 2002




Critique Of The International Crisis Groups’s Report


By Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe




N.B. The Executive Summary (pp.1-3) contains all the points and arguments raised in the paper. As such, comments and critical notes of the Executive summary provided herewith, can be regarded as a critique of the whole paper, or as addressing the salient points of the paper as a whole.


ON THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY [referred in the report as “overview”]


[1] First of all, it is not clear in the paper what it means by “international assistance”. In the Burma context, is it in reference only to humanitarian assistance or to development assistance as well?


The two are different international aid categories. The paper contributes to the confusion by making no distinction between them, and by going from one to the other in an arbitrary, confusing, and ambiguous manner.


Development assistance in the Burma context is problematic, very much so. Humanitarian assistance on the other hand will however not be as problematic.


The lack of clarity, gives a strong impression that the paper (and the author or authors) is arguing for development assistance, while using the humanitarian assistance point of reference and context. This is what is most troubling about the paper as a whole.


[2.A] **p.1, col.1 and 2, in the Executive Summary** The paper says that international development agencies (IDAs) are making significant difference to the most vulnerable groups (…etc) in Burma.


The above is a sweeping statement, and which may apply perhaps to the Kachin State, to a certain extent. The people in this state and in Burma Proper are, comparatively speaking, not the most vulnerable. The most vulnerable are population living (or hiding) in areas decreed by the military government (military GOM) as BLACK and GREY areas. There is very little presence of the IDAs there because they are – according to the military GOM — “sensitive” areas, or lacking in security.


The Black and Grey areas are literally free fire zones, and the population are not only IDPs, but treated by military patrols as outlaws, and are therefore at great risk of being killed, raped, etc., at will. They are reduced to living in hiding, and are hunted by the regime’s troops, and whatever meager crops they plant for bare survival are destroyed by search-and-destroy patrols or columns. They live lives that are not better than hunted animals.


[2.B] **Site, as above** The paper says that the assistance provided by the IDAs do not have “any significant political cost” vis-B-vis strengthening the regime or undermining the movement for change.


The above raises this question: What is meant by “political costs”? This is a puzzling statement, even meaningless at a deeper level, and lacks proper or defined context.


One could interpret the statement as saying that the IDAs do not make any difference either way, and more importantly, that they (the IDAs) and the assistance they provide are politically neutral. How true or valid is this statement? Can assistance in a context where the government (or the state) is military-run, military-led, illegitimate, and repressive, and wedded to the status quo – opposed to political change — be politically neutral, or not costly to the movement for change? Or is the paper saying that all things being equal, the people are the only ones gaining the most from the IDAs’ presence and actions? This is not the case (See note 2.A, above).


[3.A] **p.1, col.2** Agree with the paper that there is a need for “fundamental changes” in the system. However, the paper does not talk about this need, although it does constructively, and often obliquely, refers to the flaws of the current system here and there


[3.B] The paper says that the military GOM rejects international advice and maintains “development policies and priorities, which are partly responsible for the current problems.” However, this statement,


(a) understates the destruction to the country and the population wrought by the military GOM’s arbitrary rule and repression (by representing it as “development policies and priorities”). It gives the impression that the military GOM was well-intentioned, but things went wrong, anyhow, and


(b) underestimates what it terms “problems”. They are not problems. They are major crises, and are owed largely to the military GOM’s protracted misrule, etc.


[3.C] The paper states that the military GOM rejects international advice and refuses to change its ways – i.e., to change its “development policies and priorities” (sic). If this is the case, one may usefully ask if there is any point in giving the regime international assistance, even though the bulk of the aid may be intended by donors for the people, not the government? This is a slippery down-slope road to travel.


[3.D] The paper recommends the inflow of international assistance and urge improved monitoring and distribution. To comment, “monitoring” is good sounding, but it is most problematic, all the more so if the IDAs do not have the political will and are moreover fearful of offending the military GOM, or are overly sensitive and responsive to its sensitivities.


[4.A] **p.1, col.2** The paper states that foreign governments and donors should both promote political change and social development. This is a curious statement in the Burma context especially.


What is meant by “social development” is not made clear in the paper, however.


Common sense however tells us that social development is geared to promoting or achieving something better, usually – and more so, nowadays — political change in the democratic direction, or is meant to.


If such is the case, does the paper mean that the goal of international donors in providing development assistance is to promote political change? Or is the paper saying that the inflow of development assistance will result in or bring about social development and thus political change in Burma (albeit in the very long run)? [ NOTE: The thesis that social development (or, as is often argued, economic development) will bring about political change, although generally valid in the abstract, does not always hold true. This is a very slippery and dubious argument.]


The simple fact of the matter is that the military GOM does not want any change, much less political changes, and wants “development” as it defines it – i.e., maintain its hold on power and achieve greater control and repression capacity.


The question that therefore arises is: will the military GOM allow or welcome social development that is geared to political changes in the democratic direction? In this regard, the paper does acknowledge however that the military GOM does not want any kind of development that will erode the status quo it prefers.


[5] **p.2, col.1** The paper recommends that the main protagonists reassess their position and do their part to generate cooperation and synergy that has been lacking. This seems like a “sound good, feel good” statement.


The military GOM – the military regime – do not want to cooperate with anyone inside the country. It only wants to be obeyed and to maintain tight control. It is quite obvious that the military will not cooperate with anyone – including the IDAs and foreign governments – unless forced to by circumstance or is actively pressured.


A question that should be raised but is not, is what will international actors – governments and donor – do to persuade the military GOM to cooperate with the opposition if or when it (the opposition) wishes or agrees to work with the military GOM as a problem-resolving partner? Another question is, to what length will the international actors go in persuading the protagonists to cooperate?


[6] **Recommendation 1** Even though excellent, the recommendations alone, and the inflow of foreign assistance — in the “business as usual” or conventional way — will not persuade the military GOM to go this route. It is not interested in formalizing the current talks, sharing power, nor in including major stakeholders in the political process. What is needed is a firm, focused, and solid international front that does not believe in appeasing the military GOM in the faint or wistful hope that it will become and behave more like a government.


[7] **Recommendation 4** The points mentioned, i.e., the GOM’s need to demonstrate a realistic understanding of the problems; minimize the obstructions currently placed on aid organizations; and increase the scope for international actors to work with local NGOs – these are good points. It is however unrealistic to expect much attention to these points from the GOM in particular, and the military in general, in the current situation, and without firm international persuasion.


[8] **Recommendation 6** Most useful. Perhaps NLD leaders inside have not been approached in this regard, requested a detailed policy paper on humanitarian aid.


It is however not clear in this paper on what is meant by “international assistance”. See #1, above. [ NOTE: Development assistance was provided the previous GOM (of General Ne Win) in the 1970s. The end result was that it appealed to the international community to grant Burma the status of Least Developed Country in 1987, after claiming for decades that it was developing the country. ]


[9] **Recommendation 7** Ambiguous. What is meant precisely by “state capacity”, and which or what kind of state? The context is missing.


In Burma, the state managed by the military – the GOM — is not neutral, not the government of the people, i.e., it is the creature of the military, highly partisan, excludes broader society, and is not public service oriented. “State capacity” is patently defined by the GOM (and the military brass) as its capacity to maintain power and control, etc. It is most inappropriate therefore for any responsible scholar or well-intentioned group to recommend that the NLD and everyone to strengthen the capacity of the current state.


If by “state capacity” is meant serving the public or the people, there has first of all to be a fundamental political change.


[10] **Recommendation 10** International donors – and international NGOs as well – should certainly work with both the state and broader society forces, but it should be on an equal footing and formally/officially as well.


[11] **Recommendation 17** “Be prepared to lower the standard of transparency and accountability…” Why? This recommendation seems directed at encouraging international aid actors to defer tamely to the GOM, and to accept its arbitrary definition of “sensitive areas”, “security”, and “confidentiality”.


[12] **Recommendations 14-18 (excepting the above)** These are excellent. But it seems that there is lacking political will on the part of outside actors to take on these recommendations in a serious and focused manner. The excellent recommendations, #14-18, are more or less, and in varying degrees, negated or subverted by recommendation #17 above.


Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe tutored at Rangoon University’s English Dept. from 1960-62, joined the Shan armed resistance in 1963. He was with the Shan State Army till 1977 and came to Canada in 1985. He went back to school at University of British Columbia to get a Master and a Phd and taught, mostly 3rd year classes, for more than 7 years at UBC and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.


A Test Case for Preventive Diplomacy


(The Burmese Scene)


By Kanbawza Win


The “Hush Hush Talks” between the Junta and the pro democracy movement led by the Burmese Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been going on at a snail pace for more than a year and the UN special Envoy Razali Ismail will soon be on his 7th trip but so far nothing has been achieved. Likewise the International Labour Organization, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights on Burma, the European Union’s Troika mission and several government missions have come and gone with no definite milestone to report. Now it has dawned on the international community that Burmese Junta is very reluctant on dialogue lest their hold on the power may be threatened and exposed their gregarious human rights violations.


In this aspect the Burmese military Junta is somewhat like a “bull”, a drought animal for pulling plough in agricultural Burma. The “bull” is so lazy to pull the plough that some one has to pull him by the nose front while another person has to whip him from the back. Thus in the dialogue process, the Burmese Nobel laureate, together with the exiled provisional government better known as the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the ethnic forces have to pull it from the front, while the ILO, the UN and the Western countries have to baton him from the back to make it move. Even then it move slowly.


Talking to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi instead of wild attack in their media, releasing a few political prisoners and allowing the National League for Democracy (NLD, the winning party in the elections) to open their office in Rangoon are just some small positive gestures responded grudgingly by the Junta to ease both domestic, economic and international pressure. The dialogue have help them to gain some legitimacy for international aid while at the same time consolidated their position such as business deals with neighbouring countries so much so that they hope the international community would eventually have to bite the bullet and accept the status quo.


One can ask of why did the bull move so slowly, the answer is simple, because it is strong having eaten a lot of grass and other nutritious food i.e multilateral corporations and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) led by Malaysia and Singapore under the smokescreen of “Constructive Engagement” have been given tactical support to the Burmese military Junta. Imagine TotalFinaElf alone has to give $400 million annually just for the right to extract oil, not to mention Premier Oil of Britain and UNCOAL of the US. In this age of globalization where more and more power has been transferred from the governments to the big companies whose! sole motive is to make profit, Burma seems to be the test case where the Western moral values have to yield to business considerations.


On the other hand the pro democracy and ethnic leaders have quietly attended the Paris Conference on their way back from Oslo where at the French National Assembly they paint the likely and alternative scenario to the international c



Rhododendron publication – 2002 Jan-Feb

2002 Jan-Feb 2002 Jan-Feb : Rhododendron publication




Human Rights


* Burmese soldiers arrested a dying elderly woman


* Burma’s junta arrested a Chin professor


* Petition to the Government of Myanmar


* Minority Chin Christian Continue to face Religious Discrimination in Burma


Real Life Story


* Tortured voice : A Chin woman political prisoner speaks out


Scholar Section


* Myanmar’s minority conundrum: Issues of Ethnicity and Authority


Chin National Day Message


Human Rights


Burmese Soldiers Arrested A Dying Elderly Woman


CHRO: January 30, 2002


A seriously ill elderly woman was arrested in Thantlang, Chin State on January 18, 2002 after the Burmese army accused her of having had contacts with her son who is a member of the Chin National Front, CNF. Taken into custody with the woman were three other local men who were present at the woman’s house when the Burmese army raided it.


The incident took place when the Burmese army surrounded the woman’s house on a tip-off that an active member of the Chin National Front was visiting her dying mother. The raid in the house turned out with no arrest of the man they were looking for but the army took into custody all the people present in the house.


The elderly woman was seriously ill and was dying but the army took no exception in arresting her. Mr. Bawi Hmung, Mr. Lal Nuai, and Mr. Ni Thang were arrested along with the woman.


Due to the seriousness of her illness the elderly woman was later allowed to be replaced by her daughter, Ms Sung Nawn who volunteered herself to be taken into custody in place of her mother.


All of the arrested were later sent to the 266 Light Infantry Battalion army base in Haka, where they are being detained and interrogated. They are now being charged under Unlawful Association Acts, which carries maximum sentence in prison.


A former woman prisoner who was convicted under the same Acts in 1999 and was detained in the army base in Haka, said that she was systematically tortured and ill treated throughout the course of her detention by the army.


Chin National Front is an armed group opposed to the Burmese military regime. It’s stated objectives include restoration of democracy in Burma and self-determination of the Chin people.


Burma’s Junta Arrested A Chin Professor


CHRO: January 30, 2002


Chin Human Rights Organization, CHRO today confirmed from a reliable source the arrest of professor Dr. Salai Tun Than by Burmese military junta.


The Irrawaddy news first reported the arrest of Dr. Salai Tun Than saying he was arrested for his solo protest in downtown Rangoon against the Burmese military regime.


CHRO contacted Salai Htin Kyaw Than, the second son of Prof. Dr. Salai Tun Than, and confirmed the arrest of the aging professor. However, Salai Htin Kyaw Than said that he was afraid of making contact with his family members in Burma due to possible further backlash from the authority against the family and he does not know about the latest condition of his father.


According to him, the proffessor mysteriously disappeared in Rangoon in late November and was found in the notorious Insein jail two weeks after his disappearance.


Two days before his disappearance, the professor was traveling with his wife from his Rangoon home to his residence at Yesin, where he served as a professor. He came back alone to Rangoon two days later. The next day, the professor left the house leaving his nephew alone at home saying that he was going to downtown.


Later that day the Military Intelligence Service personnel (MIS) came to his Rangoon house and inquired about the past activities of the professor. Meanwhile military Intelligence officials also searched the house of the professor in Yesin.


The professor never comes home since that day. Family members and relatives were desperately looking for the missing professor until they found him in Insein Jail two weeks later.


A Christian and a member of the Chin ethnic group, Dr. Salai Tun Than earned a Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin and had served as rector at the Yezin University of Agriculture in Pyinmana until 1990.


Salai Htin Kyaw Than came to the United States in August 2001, and is now living in Florida.


In the last 14 years, universities in Burma have been opened for less than 3 years. Thousands of students were massacred in 1988 by the Burmese armed forces and student and academic community has been the target of strict scrutiny and arrest under the current junta.


Petition to the Government of Myanmar


[Irrawaddi News Group, Editor’s note: This is an unabridged and unedited copy of the statement written and distributed by Dr. Salai Tun Than in Rangoon in December of last year. The distribution of the letter led to his arrest, and it is believed that he is currently being detained at Rangoon’s Insein Prison. The Irrawaddy obtained the letter from a very reliable source inside Burma.]


January 23, 2002


Citizens of Myanmar, I am Dr. Salai Tun Than, a retired professor, who belongs to a minority race called Asho Chin. I am here to request Myanmar military government five petitions, which are inalienable rights of Myanmar people. They are


No. 1. Hold the multiparty general election within one year.


No. 2. Let the election be held by a civilian interim government as soon as possible.


No. 3. Let the election be supervised by ASEAN and UN officials.


No. 4. Let all the eligible Myanmar citizens who want to contest in the election be able to complete including our military authorities as civilians.


No. 5. Transfer the state power to any winner organization as soon as possible without any condition.


Let me add a remark here. This as that I will be here between Myanmar Independent Monument and Yangon city hall until either the government agrees to my petitions or simply kills me. I am here offering my life for the cause of the rights of Myanmar citizens. I have neither to add nor to subtract from my petitions.


I would like to plead the military government to consider my petitions seriously whether they are just or biased toward anybody or organization except Myanmar people. Perhaps you already have contemplated on granting the matter before my petitions. If it were the case my I utter sadhu thrice and God bless you all. If not convene your military junta and scrutinize my petitions with soul searching intellectual faculties and the love of your country. If you cannot grant my petitions at any rate you simply kill me and I am ready to die for the rights of Myanmar citizens.


Of course many potential intellectuals of high school and university students had already been killed. It is about the time that you kill an old professor.


I am appealing to all armed forces: army, navy, air force, security force and police to consider the fairness of my petitions with concern. If it is for the benefit of Myanmar citizens I want you to act intelligently and courageously like the armed forces Indonesia and the Philippines. Do you still want to kill your flesh and blood who are demonstrating for the rights of Myanmar citizens because the authorities order you so? It is about the time to stop killing your kinsfolk. If you join us you all will be adored by the people. Let us rewrite our tarnished history together.


If you consider that you cannot agree with me, please don’t hesitate. Go ahead and kill me. I will be here all the time. I will forgive my killers from the bottom of my heart.


If we happen to meet together in one of the extensive existences of Sansaya, and if I were a mighty person and you all were weaklings and if I find you naked, starved, stricken with soars and diseases and get lost in the darkness of your existence in tears, may I kindly wipe away your tears and feed you, clothe you, and make you whole form your diseases and soars and give you hope with reality of well being in your lives, May God bless and forgive my killers.


May I appeal to the citizens of Myanmar including Sanghas, students, teachers, labourers, artistes, farmers, intellectuals, doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, judges, housewives and people from all walks of life, please consider my proposal thoroughly and thoughtfully. If you agree with me join me in the demonstration. Go into the streets wherever you are and chant the slogan. I want no one sitting on the fence and the opportunists. It is the fight for our rights and to the finish. The time is now or never. Let us show the military government that we are one and united solidly. Be courageous. Do the right and fear none. But I beseech you citizens of Myanmar. Let us have no violence, no profanity, and no vulgar acts. Don’t break to loot or hit anything. We had been trapped once on looting the leftover warehouses. Take lessons ! from this and let us not be trapped again. Looters, violent people, abusive people, and people showing vulgar acts are not ours. Avoid them I plead you. Demonstrate in the streets though you may be in tens, hundreds, or thousands. Do not tardy! let us act now. I trust that you all will dare to continue demonstration with boldness even after my death. If you are stopped by the authorities on the way to join me please reason with them to join us. If the authorities release prisoners and send intoxicated and drugged people please explain the reason with them what we are fighting for. Let them join us willingly. It is better to die than to live under the military boots without freedom. The lives you lost will not be in vain. Later Myanmar historians will honour you indeed. Don’t be insecure and afraid. Righteousness is on our side.


Generals, I am doing this on my own accord. No one urge me or bribe me or threaten me to do this, either underground or aboveground, individually or in groups, within the country or overseas. I am accountable for myself — no one else.


You all will see that I am wearing a doctorate gown, which I earned it. It is not to brag but to prove that I am a genuine old professor and I want to use it as a shroud for my dead body.


May I request ASEAN officials to convince or military government not to stay in power without consent of the people. If the military government holds the general election soon enough as requested their exit will be graceful. Otherwise their fate will be unimaginable and ASEAN’ s non-interference policy will be soiled and jeopardised. Likewise I would like to request the UN officials to intervene as you did in Yugoslavia before much lives are lost especially after my death. Myanmar people especially youths have suffered enough.


Again I would like to appeal Myanmar media people to carry on your duties normally and inform the people of Myanmar and the world what is actually happening now. It is your cardinal duty to defy the government’s order courageously to report the truth. Let us also chant the slogan of our petitions, the leader will say ” hold the multi party general elections” and the mass will respond ” within one year. Within one year.” The leader will say, ” let the election be held by” and the mass will respond ” the civilian interim government, the civilian interim government”. The leader will say ” let the election be supervised by” and the mass will respond ” ASEAN and UN officials, ASEAN and UN officials”. The leader will say ” let any eligible person be able to contest in the election” and the mass will respond ” including generals as ci! vilians, including generals as civilians”. Lastly the leader will say, ” transfer the state power to any winner organization without any condition” and the mass will respond ” as soon as possible, as soon as possible.” That is all for the slogan.


I thank you all and may God bless Myanmar people richly. The right of the people must be victorious indeed.


Minority Chin Christian Continue To Face Religious Discrimination in Burma


[CHRO Note: Burma is ruled by highly repressive, authoritarian military regimes. Since 1988 when the armed forces brutally suppressed massive pro-democracy demonstrations, a junta composed of senior military officers has ruled by decree, without a constitution or legislature. The most recent Constitution, promulgated in 1974, permitted both legislative and administrative restrictions on religious freedom, stating that “the national races shall enjoy the freedom to profess their religion, provided that the enjoyment of any such freedom does not offend the laws or the public interest.” Most adherents of all religions that are registered with the authorities generally are allowed to worship as they choose; however, the Government has imposed restrictions on certain religious activities and freq! uently abused the right to freedom of religion.


The following incidents are evidences of restriction imposed on religious minorities by the Burmese military junta.]


In 1993, Christians belonging to Assembly of God (AG) in Kalaymyo, Sagaing Division started the construction of a big church in Taung-phi-la block of Kalaymyo. The township authority ordered the minister and church elders to stop the construction without any reason given, which was still under way in 1997. The construction of the church was halted.


Even though, we made repeated appeals to the ministry of religion to continue construction of our church, we have not received any response from the authority,¡̈ said Mr. Pa Tling (name changed for security reason), 54 years old Chin, who is one of the church elders.


Since we do not get any response from the authority, we approached district level authority to get permission to finish construction of our church,¡̈ he said.


In order to obtain permission, the AG church had to offer bribes to all level of authorities with varying amount of money. 50000 Kyats ( Kyat is Burmese currency ) to the chairman of Kalaymyo District Peace and Development Council, 50000 kyats to the chairman of Kalaymyo township Peace and Development Council, 30000 Kyats to the head of department of municipal, 5000 Kyats to Taung-phi-la block Peace and Development Council respectively.


Only after they paid the bribe, did they get oral permission to continue construction of the church. However, they were told to cover the building of the church with mats and other materials so that commuters from the street would not see the church building.


(Note: CHRO obtains a picture of the church building being covered)


Similar restrictions were suffered by Christians in Kankaw, Magwe division, which is not very far from Kalaymyo.


In Mintha village of Kankaw towship, Magwe division, a big Buddhist seminary was constructed with the support of the SPDC authority while Christians were prohibited to construct church in the nearby town. Though there are only seven students in the monastery seminary, they have build 9 buildings in the compound. In addition to not being subjected to restriction, the monastery was built with the State support.


Another tales of religious discrimination against Christians was reported in Thaungman village of Salin township of Sagaing Division. Christians in Thaungman village have constructed a church in their village in 1997.


In September 9, 2001, the village authority issued order decreeing that Christians in the village must stop conducting worship service in the church. Since then, Christians in Thaungman village had to stop conducting worship service in the church fearing the village authority. Although they have written to the Ministry of Religion to get permission to worship at their church, they have not gotten any response from the church.o


Mr. Lalliana, 52 years old Methodist missionary from Tahan, Sagaing division on September 29, 2001, reported the incident of Thaungman village to CHRO field monitor.


Real Life Story


Tortured Voice


A Chin woman political prisoner speaks out


Chin Human Rights Organization : January 2002


[CHRO Note: Ms. Ni Cia, a 23-year-old Chin woman and a former political prisoner in Burma, is currently seeking asylum in Malaysia under the United Nations’ auspices. While awaiting her status determined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Kuala Lumpur, she faces precarious situations there. She has been arrested more than one occasion by Malaysian police on immigration charges, a typical and daily experience encountered by most Chin refugees from Burma in Malaysia, who lack international legal protection.


Before fleeing Burma, Ni Cia was arrested in 1998 and convicted to two years in jail under Section 17(a) of Unlawful Association Act, for having associated with activities of the Chin National Front, an armed opposition group fighting against the Burmese military regime. After serving out her sentence in Kalay prison, she fled to Malaysia in July 2001.


In the following interview conducted by Chin Human Rights Organization, Ni Cia recounted how she endured the systematic method of torture employed by Burmese military regime on suspected members of oppositions as well as her experience in Burma’s prison. Currently more than a dozen Chin women are serving political sentence in Kalay jail under similar conditions.]


CHRO: When and where were you arrested?


Ms. Ni Cia: I was arrested on December 4th 1998, Friday at Cong Thia village, Thantlang Township, Chin State.


CHRO: What was the reason for your arrest?


Ms. Ni Cia: I was arrested because the Burmese troops learnt about my contacts with members of the Chin National Front, CNF. My friend, (Ms) Men Thluai and I have been helping the activities of the Chin National Front by giving them information about the movements of the Burmese troops around our village as well as in many other types of activity of CNF. We were responsible for carrying out rural development projects put forward by the CNF as well as shopping necessary goods and commodities for CNF activists, which are only available in larger towns.


I was a private teacher at a middle school. I was visiting a friend when a group of Burmese soldiers accompanied by a local village council member who would identify me appeared at the door out of nowhere and arrested me.


CHRO: What happened after your arrest?


The Burmese soldiers immediately escorted me to Thantlang town on foot. Shortly after we departed our village it started to get dark. My hands were tied to my back. They wouldn’t shed flashlights to my way and I would stumble several times along the journey. Whenever I stumbled and fell down, they would call me a bitch, and spit on me and call me by all kinds of abusive languages.


We arrived Thantlang town at 6:00 in the morning after traveling on foot overnight. After two days of detention in Thanthang, military intelligence personnel came up to me in the morning and tied my hands up and loaded me into an army truck. I was seated on the floor of an army truck surrounded by 30 armed men. I was being taken to Haka. Since the road was unpaved and rough, I would fall to the floor whenever the truck shook. Since my hands were tied up, I was unable to get up easily after being thrown to the floor by the movement of the truck. I injured my rib from this and it hurt a lot. Sometimes my sarong (Skirts) got unfastened and I became half naked in front of 30 men surrounding me. They would lift my skirts up with their gun barrel and ask me how many times I have sexually entertained members of the CNF or if I was a concubine of a CNF man.


Upon our arrival in Hakha, I was handed over to the local policewomen. I overheard them calling the 266 Army Infantry Battalion and soon afterwards I was blindfolded with my hands and feet tied up and being loaded into the waiting army truck. I did not have a clue as to where I was being taken. The next thing I remember was when my blindfold was removed and I found myself in a stone cell with no single hole or ventilation. It was in fact an army base in Rungtlang. (Rungtlang or mount Rung is located above Haka town) Then I started to feel severe pain in my ribs. When I asked where I was, they responded me by saying that I was such a stupid person who thinks herself so brave as to rebel the government and that I was in a place of no return.


CHRO: What happened afterwards?


Ms. Ni Cia: They started torturing me in that cell. There were altogether seven people interrogating me. Each one of them used different technique of torture. While my hands remained tied up to my back, they put a plastic hood over my head and tightly secured around my neck and I began to suffocate. Only after I began to feel unconscious and fell to the ground did they poke a hole in the plastic hood around my nose with their cigarette lights. Afterwards they tied up my feet and my hands to the front, and they let me do sit-ups until I fell to the ground from exhaustion. Each time I fell down, they started grinding my toes and my fingertips with their military boots to the floor. The pain was agonizing.


Later, they gave me an electric shock. After that they beat me all over my body with a 3-inch thick wooden stick. There were bruises all over my body and I was soaked in blood. They kicked me and punched me all over my body.


They made me take a bath with icy water in the middle of the chilling December night. They even burned my checks with their cigarette lights. Afterwards, they threw me into a dark pit. It was chilling inside the pit after being soaked in water.


The torture went on for 7 days and I was deprived of food and sleep during the whole week. I caught a fever on the seventh day and by that time my body was soaked with my vomits. When they try to start torturing me on the seventh day, I just fell unconscious from my weakness and pain. The next thing I knew was I had been transferred to the local Police station, which has no separate facility or cell for women. My interrogators and torturers were all men all along.


CHRO: When and how did you end up in Kalay Prison and what sentence did you get?


Ms. Ni Cia: It was on January 20, 1999 that the verdict was reached by the judge. I appeared in court nine times before being sentenced to 2 years in prison. I was convicted under so-called Section 17(a), which is something related to armed insurgency. This sentence landed me into Kalay Prison on February 2nd 1999.


CHRO: Did you feel that you were treated differently or discriminated against because of your being a Chin woman?


Ms. Ni Cia: Throughout the course of my interrogation and torture, as well as in the prison, what they always emphasized was “You Chin people are uncivilized beings who from your ancestors do not know how to dress up properly, and who shamelessly dare to oppose the army’s authority”. During one of my interrogation sessions, they made me strip naked and they let me mimic the way a traditional Chin man would dress in pre-colonial period.


In the prison, women prison guards on duty treated non-Burman ethnic women differently. Even Burman inmates would look down upon us and would always use abusive language to us. We weren’t supposed to talk back to anything being said to us or we risked beatings and whipping.


CHRO: Did you have to work in the Kalay prison?


Ms. Ni Cia: We have to work all the time in Kalay prison. We work on sowing and harvesting crops. On those occasions, we were taken out to the fields. But most of the time, we work inside the prison compound. We took care of vegetable plantations; we cleaned the prison facilities, cells and the like. Sometimes the women guards would make us wash their underwear and materials that they had used for their menstrual purposes. Until 9 p.m. at night we did knitting and embroidery works.


During the summer when the temperature got really hot, we were made to kill 500 flies (insects) per day per person. We were caned 20 times if we failed to meet the designated number of flies to be killed. The women political prisoners weren’t usually let work outside of the prison but men inmates with similar cases have to labor in worksites other than the prison compound. Under the burning temperature, these men inmates are forced to work without rest and without proper meals. We often heard that 3 to 5 prisoners were dying everyday under those conditions. There might have been many Chin men prisoners. This thought just makes me heartbroken.


CHRO: What kind of food were you given in the prison?


Ms. Ni Cia: What can you expect? What a prisoner gets is the worst possible kind of food one can imagine. For breakfast meal we were given rice, which was the kind of rice we would normally feed pigs with, and a tiny bowl of watery pea soup. The rice is mingled with half unprocessed grains and small bits of stones. Before we could eat the rice we had to separate stones and unprocessed grains from the rice. What’s left after doing that was just a tiny amount of rice. For dinner, they gave us the same sort of rice with sweet potato leaves cooked in a huge metal barrel. Sometimes they would give us rice soups for breakfast. The soup was so watery that it looked just like water that had been used for washing up the rice. It was too salty. We were fed twice a day.


CHRO: How was the medical care when you get sick in the prison?


Ms. Ni Cia: There is no proper medical attention at all. Only after we became seriously ill, would they give us some pills. It did not help at all because it was usually too late for the medicines to have any affect on us. Another problem was that we did not have enough water. We were allowed to use only ten small cups of water for bathing. This was only when we have enough water. But when water got scarce we are allowed to use only six cups of water. Due to this we contacted all kinds of skin diseases. When we got sick or caught a fever, there are no enough blankets to keep us warm. What we had was a sheet of blanket just enough to cover our body. We would cry and moan from sickness and the guard would scold us and accuse us of pretending sick just because we were too lazy to work.


Apart from yourself, how many Chin women were or are still there in Kalay Prison. Could you please tell us their names, from which areas, town or district in Chin State they are originally?


As far as my knowledge goes, there are approximately 25 Chin women inmates in Kalay prison. A few of them were released while I was there. I don’t know about all of them but the following are people that I remember as far as my recollection goes.


1- Dawt Thluai Ling (Haka, Chin State)


2- Khuangzi (Loklung, Chin State)


3- Sai Cer (Tlangpi, Chin State)


(These three women are political prisoners arrested in connection with CNF)


4- Mah Sui (Tidim, Chin State)


5- Hoi Ngeih Dim (From Tidim, Chin State)


6- Sial Cing (Tidim, Chin State)


7- Nu Dim Alias Khun Nu (From Tidim, Chin State)


8- Man Suan Dim (From Tidim, Chin State)


9- Nu Ngeih (From Tidim, Chin State)


10- Ma Biak (From Tahan, Kalay township, Sagiand Division)


11- Nuam Cing (Tidim, Chin State)


12- U Hrang (Falam, Chin State)


13- Khun Nu (Falam, Chin State)


14- Sui Nawn Sung (Dong Va, Chin State)


15- Ni Zi (Lung Hnam, Chin State)


16- *Sai Sung (Bungkhua, Chin State)


*Ms. Sai Sung came in just before I was released. She has two children, 9 and 11 years old. Her husband was arrested before she was. Both of them were arrested for sympathizing and collaborating with the CNF. Their children are being taken care of by a very old couple in Thangtlang. At the time of Sai Sung’s arrest, she was forced to take off her clothes and paraded naked in front of the Burmese soldiers. While was being escorted by the soldiers from her village to Thantlang town, she was forced to wear only her underwear all along the one-day journey on foot.


In addition to the names I just mentioned, there are several other women whose names and original places I cannot remember. Their sufferings are beyond anyone’s comprehension. More or less their cases have to do with some kinds of political activity. The above 16 women are those that are facing particularly difficult situations. They have either no close relative to support them or no one to look after their children. Most of them are serving out prison terms ranging from a minimum 15 to 35 years. They have no hope for outliving their prison terms. They just want to die now than going through a slow and painful death. They are very weak and depressed because they all have children and family to think about. Most of them are suffering from high-blooded pressure from depression and vitamin deficiency. They have no access to medical attention and their sicknesses worsened du! e to lack of nutritious food. In fact, the foods they eat obviously make their sickness worse. It is really heartbreaking to even think about their conditions.


CHRO: How do you plan to move on?


Ms. Ni Cia: Without legal protection, I am vulnerable to arrest and all kinds of police harassment here in Malaysia. I am constantly in fear for my safety. I don’t know how long I can hide before being arrested again and possibly sent back to Burma.


Scholar Section


Myanmar’s Minority Conundrum: Issues of Ethnicity and Authority


David I. Steinberg (Georgetown University )




The issue of the status and authority of the one-third of the population of Myanmar (Burma), composed of diverse indigenous non-Burman peoples, remains the most intractable of the problems facing the Burmese state since independence in 1948.1 The sharing of political power in some manner acceptable to the local populations, and social and economic equity among these diverse peoples are all related to, but even more fundamental and difficult of solution than, the issue of the political form of government that has bedeviled the state for decades. Burma-Myanmar has been on the brink of fragmentation because of the diffuse, often antithetical, perceptions of these issues by one or more ethnic groups since independence. The desires for independence from the British, dependant on minim! al titular ethnic unity, and the forceful leadership of General Aung San whose role was accepted by most minorities, were the factors that initially succeeded in bringing these groups together at the Panglong Conference in February 1947 that forged the fragile cohesion that existed on independence. An effective answer to the minority issues is still sought, and its amelioration or solution may provide signals and models for approaching some of the more delicate other national issues that transcend ethnicity.


The unity of the state has been a primary goal of the military SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) and the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council). The concern over this goal is, however, not a product of this relatively new incarnation of the military. Since independence, the Burmese military have fought for the unity of the state; more specifically the 1958 and then 1962 military coups were carried out with the avowed purposes of preventing civil war and upholding this unity.


The problem of internal unity has had external dimensions. As the Burmese military has been preoccupied with national unity, senior staffs have been suspicious of the role that foreign nations and peoples have played in fomenting national fragmentation and disunity. They accurately can point, and do so continuously in the controlled press, to history to support their present concerns. They correctly charge that the British employed the ‘divide and rule’ policy of administratively separating some of the peripheral minority areas from Burma Proper (where most of the Burmans lived).2 More important, however, has been recent history, when each foreign power, unofficially and often clandestinely, at one time or another has supported for their own and diverse purposes, political or ethnic rebellions involv! ing minority peoples. These included some unofficial British encouragement of independence for the Karen, Chinese assistance to the Burma Communist Party,3 United States covert support to Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang) troops that retreated into Burma in 1949-50,4 external Muslim support to Muslim rebels in the Arakan, Indian connivance with Naga and Chin rebels on that frontier, and Thai assistance at various national and local levels to a wide variety of ethnic and political rebellions located along its long littoral. It is no wonder that Burmese authorities have viewed with great suspicion the roles that foreigners have in the past played in interfering in their country, have projected these same roles into the present, and fear that they may exist into the future. Present internal administrative policies are in part likely to have been formulated with this in mind.


These past problems, severe in themselves and sufficient to cause suspicions, were however aggravated by seven additional and important factors:


[1] Some of these peoples had significant Christian percentages of their populations in contrast to the overwhelming importance of Buddhism among the Burmans.5 This aroused the sympathies of some of the external Christian communities and sects that helped propagandize the plight of these peoples and gave them moral (and perhaps financial) support.


[2] As the military, especially in the period of military rule under the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP: 1962-1988), insulated the state from the outside world, the minority groups were more in touch with external affairs and foreign elements for both weapons and moral support than was the central Burmese government. Thus they made their case to the court of world opinion while the military regime became more introverted, isolated, and more xenophobic. This naturally increased suspicions that foreigners were once again aimed at dividing the country.


[3] The Burman majority is the only major ethnic group that does not have ethnic kin in other lands across the arbitrarily demarked colonial borders; this creates a sense of international ethnic identity Burmans lack.6 In traditional Southeast Asia, boundaries in the modern sense did not exist. Power radiated out in concentric circles from the center and states could be associated with more than one suzerain group, and pay tribute to them. The colonial powers extended administrative control to borders that lacked ethnic, geographic, or other considerations, thus creating some of the problems states in the region today face.


[4] The military, perhaps without central authority and on the whims of individual local but exceedingly powerful military commanders, have treated the minorities, among whom they were stationed and whom they administered, with disdain for their cultures and often religions.7 Charges of human rights abuses and forced porterage by the military in border regions are widespread.


[5] The hill (minority) areas were climatically suitable for the production of poppies from which opium, morphine, and heroin were produced, thus giving those engaged in this trade the means to purchase arms and the motivation to keep the central government at arm’s length. Opium production was introduced in the colonial period, and until 1959 opium was legal in the Shan State and sawbwas (local maharajas) received revenues from its use.


[6] The natural resources of the hill regions, such as jade and timber, provided lucrative means to sustain local populations in rebellion.


[7] Foreign missionaries and then international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), some of which had religious origins, were extensively involved with the minorities both because they often were animists and more susceptible to Christian conversion, and then because poverty was exceptionally high and health standards low in those regions.


All of these factors have increased mutual suspicions.


However accurate the perceptions of foreign support to various diverse minorities may have been in the past, the situation has vastly changed since the earlier period of Burmese independence. It is now accurate to maintain that no foreign power wants to see the break up of the Burmese state. The balkanization of Myanmar would create conditions of potential chaos in that country, a pivotal state that has become the nexus of real, but unstated, regional rivalry between India and China. Without question the instabilities created would spill over into the region and exacerbate these obvious, if unadmitted, rivalries. There would likely be increases in refugees and illegal immigration, expanded epidemics and health problems, and an even greater trade in narcotics and trafficking in women.8 In a sense, the! past perceptions of the Burmese leadership have been erroneously perpetuated into the present, creating suspicions that no longer are grounded. These perceptions, however inaccurate they may be, markedly contribute to the difficulty of resolving these issues.


As foreign perceptions have also changed, most minority aspirations have also undergone major shifts. Where some minority leaders in the past had publicly advocated independence, some UN trusteeship, most now do not do so. They have instead argued for some form of local autonomy or federal authority, although the word ‘federal’ seems anathema to the military who equate it with virtual independence and the eventual effective break up of the state.9 Independence of any of the regional groupings within Myanmar would not be economically sustainable, and could lead to the kind of ‘ethnic cleansing’ we have witnessed too frequently in other areas.


Yet the old acquiescence of the minorities to Burman domination is now more problematic. As Burman nationalism has understandably grown, so has ethnic nationalism, a phenomenon that is evident worldwide. This means that minorities are likely to demand more from the center as they see their brethren having more autonomy and doing better across the porous borders.


This paper will consider only the issue of the indigenous minorities of Myanmar. The status of the non-indigenous minorities, more specifically the Indian (all those from the subcontinent) and Chinese communities, are not discussed here although their previous and present positions in the economy have strongly and negatively affected Burman attitudes toward foreign economic exploitation and suspicions of the role of foreigners in that society. The colonial period Burmese economy was essentially under foreign control, which was a highly significant factor in the political legitimacy of socialism–getting the economy once again under Burman control. The Indian community occupied a most important position in the colonial and pre-independence period, but since have been replaced in the last decade by the ! Chinese as the single dominant foreign economic influence in the society. Suspicions and prejudices against these groups so intensified that in 1984 a nationality act was passed that relegated inferior status to all those minorities that could not establish residence in Burma before 1824 (the beginnings of colonial influence through the First Anglo-Burmese War and the importation of Indian labor and Chinese immigration). Although the importance of these communities should not be underestimated, they represent a different issue except where Chinese influence has deeply penetrated the ethnic minority groups along the Chinese frontier. Yet the overwhelming and obvious Chinese presence and wealth are potentially explosive and should not be ignored either by the leaders of Myanmar or foreign observers.


State Goals


The goal of national unity of the SLORC/SPDC government is thus conceptually appropriate, proper, and potentially in the interests of the peoples of that country and in those of the neighboring nations. In Myanmar, the role of the military is not now to protect the state from external enemies10 (the function of the military in most states), for such enemies are presently nonexistent, but rather to enforce internal security and preserve internal unity. Although military functions may be different from those in many other countries, the problem the state faces is not in its goal, but rather in the means employed by the central military authorities and their regional commanders to reach that goal. One essential conclusion of this paper is that the military government through its policies and actions is ! undercutting, even destroying, the possibility of attaining its own goal of long-term national unity toward which it struggles. Yet over a longer period the reputation and efficacy of the military will be determined by its ability to attain national unity. This disconnect between goal and its realization is a critical issue facing the military authorities that is obscured by their (presumed) view that the situation is essentially under control for the shorter term through the cease-fires, the amelioration of many active rebellions, and a greater government presence in the periphery. This is likely to be illusory.


That admittedly strong statement needs explication, for on the surface the SLORC/SPDC can point with considerable pride to the changes it has brought about in the minority regions. There is now a wide array of cease fires with diverse minority peoples; the bloodshed has stopped, but it had continued for decades, in some areas even over two generations, and this is not easily forgotten. This has brought some relief to some of the minority peoples, and has further served to strengthen the military in its control over the state as a whole, for it has freed its troops to deal with the remaining insurgencies that have become weaker and more ineffective. Some infrastructure has been built where little existed before, providing access to previously isolated regions, and there now is a concerted effort to ad! minister regions that were essentially beyond the control of the central government almost since independence. The creation of a new ministry, the Ministry of Development of Border Areas and National Races under an August 1993 law, is part of the process. As access has been strengthened or created, so has the responsibility of the central authorities in direct or indirect management increased.


Yet these new conditions of relative tranquility remain fragile. The cease fires have not solved problems–they have sequestered them for an indefinite period, but such armistices are likely to collapse without major changes and improvements in the economic and social conditions of these peoples, and in the political arrangements that must be made to provide some locally defined degree of justice in the majority-minority relationships.


If the minorities in some cases have relied on foreign moral support, the Burmese government has in part not been candid in its portrayal of minority issues. Under the BSPP military government, the state downplayed minority issues in such international United Nations fora as ECAFE (later ESCAP), claiming that there were no such issues. Later, under the SLORC/SPDC it has averred that there were 135 ‘races,’ all of whom had to be dealt with in some appropriate manner and for whom the old administrative structures did not work.11 Both approaches grossly exaggerated the issue but from opposite points of the spectrum. The figure of 135 ‘races’ is actually a pre-World War II designation of a linguistic map that includes languages and dialects of such languages.12 There are actually far fewer ethnic groups,! and ‘race’ is not an appropriate scientific term to apply to this diversity. Many believe that the military in differing periods has used the minority issue–either dismissing it or overemphasizing it–as a means to perpetuate its direct control.


The formation and expansion of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) create another element of social and political control by the Burman military-dominated group over minority peoples. With between about 15 million members, it is a military attempt at mass mobilization that increases the tatmadaw’s capacity for action toward its desired ends. Although it is Burman lead and completely controlled by the military, its membership has been extended to minority regions.


Majority-Minority Problems


There is a profound lack of trust between the majority and individual minority groups that has become exacerbated over time. In their efforts to maintain national unity, the tatmadaw has engaged in actions that have lengthened the distance between majority and the minorities, and thus made more tenuous the relationships between Burman and most minorities. These actions may have been in response to varied stimuli such as perceived internal threats to the state sometimes encouraged from foreign sources, attempts to ensure internal military hegemony over all centers of power within the state, and an essential disdain of minority cultures and peoples. These actions include:


Elimination of the limited local minority autonomy under civilian rule (1948-58, 1960-62).


Direct administration of local government in minority areas by military personnel.


Treatment of minority areas as virtually foreign occupied territories.


Elimination of significant minority leadership in the upper echelons of the tatmadaw.


Lack of official recognition of education in local, non-Burman languages.


Restriction of the avenues of social mobility for minority peoples.


Lack of respect for local religious practices in certain minority areas (especially the Chin State).


Arbitrary confiscation of land.


Lack or transfer of central economic resources to minority areas commensurate with their believed contribution to the national income (through exploitation of natural resources).


Support of military units foraging off the countryside and the confiscation of land for military and military-owned agricultural purposes.


Forcing villagers to be removed to alternative, military approved sites and in some areas creating ‘free-fire’ zones.


Forced porterage of military supplies in the minority areas where fighting is endemic.


If mutual trust is not forthcoming, major points of tension could intensify these past problems. For example, the minority groups involved in the cease fires have not surrendered to the Burmese authorities. They still are allowed to retain their weapons and can engage in their traditional agricultural pursuits. But when, for example, a new constitution is promulgated, and before elections can be held, the minorities are supposed to surrender their weapons to ensure the fairness of such voting. It is highly unlikely that this will happen beyond some token release of arms. The levels of trust do not now exist, and are unlikely to exist in the future without significant changes in the administration of minority affairs, to encourage the withdrawal of such weaponry . The surrender of! arms by minorities around the world under various peace plans has not worked, and it is highly unlikely that it would occur in Myanmar, where ethnically related insurgencies have continued for so long and distrust is so high.


The military have promised to deliver to minority areas increased access to education, health services, and employment opportunities. Yet the budgets allocated to such activities are highly limited and inadequate to accomplish the intended purposes. These budgets seem mainly to be the reported reallocation of previously determined national sectoral budgets (education, health, etc.) to these areas, but the total national budgets for such services are already grossly insufficient for the needs on a national basis and have deteriorated in real and per capita terms over the past decade, let alone in the minority regions.


Thus mutual levels of suspicion, inflamed by historical precedents and recent activities, require the deft handling of negotiations at least to meet the minimal set of requirements of all sides. There is no evidence that there is either this political will or interest.


The situation becomes more complex when the role of the National League for Democracy (NLD) is factored into the already complicated equation. The NLD, although in alliance with a number of minority parties especially the Shan NLD, is essentially a Burman party. It has through the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) called for ‘National Reconciliation’ at a March 6-7, 2001meeting close to the Thai border. It supported making public the secret dialogue between the SPDC and Aung San Suu Kyi that started in October 2000 and that continues at this writing, and wants the minorities brought into the dialogue process but at a later date because the present dialogue conditions are too fragile. It sees a staged set of consultations: intra-ethnic (to ensure t! hose representing a minority are legitimate), inter-ethnic, and national. It recognizes that although minorities are considered as ethnic entities, they are internally split with factional problems that must be overcome. Yet the government and the NLD share a common attitude: each demands from its adherents a kind of orthodoxy that makes dialogue far more difficult.


Current Dilemmas


Many observers outside Myanmar have been encouraged by the private dialogue that has taken place from October 2000 between members of the SPDC and Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). The United Nations Special Representative, Ambassador Razali Ismail, has been active in pursuing this welcome initiative, and his involvement in Myanmar has so far been positive. He was in Myanmar in early June, and is expected to return to Yangon in July. Yet there are many who remain skeptical about the potential for success (even the use of such a term is certainly defined by the interests of each of the parties) for a number of reasons, most obviously because it is highly unlikely that the military will give up essential power, although cosmetic changes s! eem possible, even likely. Important as well has been the lack of inclusion of minorities in such a dialogue. This has been a concern of Ambassador Razali as well, but at this writing there seems to be no action on this issue; while the opposition feels it is premature, perhaps the government would rather attempt to isolate the NLD (and, of course, its leadership) from the minorities. This is of importance to the minorities because the NLD is essentially a Burman party, what is left of it after being decimated by the military authorities. Although it is true that in the 1990 election the NLD overwhelmingly won, they were in alliance with a series of minority political parties as well.13


In the early period following the establishment of the SLORC, the NLD position (or more accurately that of Aung San Suu Kyi) seems to have been that the solution to minority issues could be easily resolved following the re-institution of democracy in that country, and thus discussion of specific minority questions should be delayed to some later date.14 That seems to have changed. As the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) has attempted to draft possible constitutions for the state, acts that the military have said to be illegal, the National Convention that the SLORC convened to draw up a new constitution with a highly select group of delegates and in a manner that was heavily scripted and controlled, has floundered on the issues of minority representatio! n and power under such a new configuration.


As the issue of a new constitution is sporadically debated,15 the state organs of information have leaked certain guidelines on minority rule that are likely to be enshrined under a new constitution, whenever it may appear, led by the military authorities. The first is that the former minority ‘states’ (Shan, Kachin, etc.) are inappropriate as pivotal administrative entities because they are inaccurate descriptions of ‘race,’ as these areas contain many minority groups, not only the ethnic group for which the state was named (the Chin State is an exception). Second, that in order for some of the most important cease fires to continue, some groups with concentrated ethnic populations within contiguous townships would have a degree of local autonomy called ‘self-administered zones.! ’ Most important among them are the Wa, who are the best armed and most difficult to contain. Others are said to be planned for the Naga, Danu, Kokang, Pa-O, and Palaung peoples.


This is an effective but short-term strategy. This provides such groups with local autonomy that they have never legally had since independence, and at the same time it defuses power to such a local level that it has no national impact. The model for such activity may be drawn from the Chinese ‘autonomous regions,’ where limited local authority rests with minority groups but real power is lacking. The Chinese model may appear to more savory than the Russian model, which the Burmese may view as having led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. If the British engaged in a ‘divide and rule’ policy, so it can be charged that the military is intent on a similar approach but using more modern methods. Yet the Burmese authorities will be able to explain to the outside world that in fac! t they have granted more autonomy to minorities than any previous civilian government, and this will be at least accurate in part, although misleading as a whole.16 This, the tatmadaw may claim, should satisfy foreign critics who harp on human rights.


The levels of distrust between the majority and minority ethnic groups are part of a series of such apprehensions about the sharing of power. They are part of the pattern of problems that include a tendency of the central government (civilian and military alike) to deny effective authority to any potential peripheral political, ethnic, or social grouping.17 Although these tendencies are simply that, and can be overcome, it makes compromise more difficult.


The minority issues are further complicated by internal divisions among some minorities and fighting between some of them. The Karen National Union, the oldest extant rebellion in the state, has for years been led by Bo Mya, an anachronistic leader who is evidently out of step with the younger Karen rebel leaders who would be prepared to make compromises with the SPDC.18 In the recent (spring 2001) disputes between the Thai and Myanmar authorities, there seems to have been an attempt to pit one minority against another. As the Wa, supported by the SPDC, have moved and continue to plan to move 50,000 families (perhaps 200,000 people) south toward the Thai frontier from their traditional home areas close to the Chinese border in the Shan State, this has




To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles