Volume VI. No. V. November-December 2003
Chin Human Rights Organization
• Suu Kyi Suporter Passed Away While on the Run
• Villagers Forced to Construct Army and Police Camp in Rih Area
• Civilians Ordered to Take Militia Training In Chin State
• Order Translation
• Hundred of Women Forced to Take Part in Militia Training
• 3 NLD Leaders in Chin State Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison
• Chin Refugee Died In Police Detention [CRC Malaysia]
• Alarming News From New Delhi: Burmese Refugees Demonstrating Infront Of The Unhcr Office Are Arrested And Brutally Treated By The Indian Police[CFIS]
• Report Upon The Protest Before UNHCR [CRC Delhi]
STATEMENT & PRESS RELEASE
• Situation of Burmese Refugees Worsens After India Detained 44 Burmese Following Police Attacks [CHRO]
• India: Investigate Police Attack on Burmese Demonstrators [Human Rights Watch]
• Indian Government Should Investigate Police Attack On Burmese Refugees [Forum-Asia]
FACTS & ARGUMENTS
• India: The Situation of Burmese Refugees in New Delhi
By Kavita Shukla, Refugee International
• The Situation of Burmese Refugees in India
By Victor Biak Lian, CHRO
Suu Kyi Suporter Passed Away While on the Run
November 19, 2003
Chin Human Rights Organization has received a report that Secretary of Thantlang Township’s National League for Democracy party passed away in a small town in India’s northeastern province where he had been hiding since escaping arrest by Burmese military intelligence. Mr. Than Ngai died of malaria yesterday, 18 November at Serchip hospital in Mizoram at about 8 o’ clock local time.
Mr. Than Ngai headed Thantlang Township National League for Democracy party. The NLD Township office in Thangtlang was reopened along with many other party offices in Chin State when Suu Kyi visited Chin State in April of 2003.
Than Ngai was responsible for organizing a welcoming ceremony for Suu Kyi and her entourage. During Suu Kyi’s brief stay in Thantlang, Than Ngai hosted a lunch for NLD leaders at his house. Suu Kyi later addressed a crowd of nearly ten thousand people who were gathering in a football field despite threats by local authorities that anyone participating in the event would face the consequences.
Soon after Suu Kyi and her entourage left Thantlang, Mr. Than Ngai was interrogated and threatened repeatedly by the military intelligence service. He later fled to India’s Mizoram state for fear of arrest. He was on hiding in rural Mizoram, unable to approach the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi for protection, which has not been accepting political asylum seekers from Burma.
A dozen local NLD leaders from Chin State who have escaped arrest by the military regime are currently seeking protection from UNHCR in New Delhi.
Villagers Forced to Construct Army and Police Camp in Rih Area
September 2, 2003
According to Leilet village headman from India-Burma border area, 30 villages from Falam township of Chin state were forcibly compelled to construct Army and police camp in Tihbual village.
The order to construct army and police camp was issued by battalion commander Major Myint Htun of Light Infantry Battalion 266.
According to the order issued by Major Myint Htun, every household from 30 villages in Falam township have to send one person per household to work at the army and police camp. According to Leilet village headman, the villagers have already worked for three times in this year and they may need to go there two more times before the end of the year.
The army does not provide any necessary tolls and food and the villagers themselves have to bring tools and food to work at the camps.
Civilians Ordered to Take Militia Training In Chin State
September 9, 2003
On August 4, 2003 U Sai Maung Lu, Chairman of Tiddim Township Peace and Development Council sighed and issued order number 3/3-41 (TPC) asking every village in Tiddim Township to send 10 person per villages to take militia training.
The training is scheduled to conduct by Battlion 269 of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion at Kamthok stadium. The training will be lasted for four weeks and schedule to start on August 29, 2003.
This training is the first batch in a series, that will be followed by more trainings. accommodation and food for the trainee have to be supplied by local villagers. It is estimated that the expense for one trainee is about Kyat15,000/ per person.
According to one of the village headmen from Tiddim township, it is miserable situation for all the villages to send ten person per village to take militia training. No one wants to participate in the training but we can not deny the order, said the village headman.
Township Peace and Development Council
Chin State/ Tiddim Town
Letter no. 3/3-41 (TPC)/U 5
Date/ 2003/ August (4)
Block/Village Peace and Development Council
Subject: To Take Militia Training
1. In order to safeguard the security of Tiddim township, Militia training will be conducted by Battalion 269 from August 29, 2003 at Tiddim town. Thus, every village have to send local militia to take the militia training batch by batch.
2. Therefore, as the first batch of the training, you have to send 10 members of core local militia to take the training without fail. Every block/village council members are responsible for accommodation and food for the trainee. Furthermore, you are informed to prepare for the next batch of the trainings.
3. The training schedule is as follow.
(a) Starting date of the training- 29.8.2003
(b) Openning ceremony for the training- 07:30 AM-11:30 Noon
(c) Duration of Training-(4) Weeks
(d) Training Place- Kamthok Stadium
Note: You have to report during office hour on 28.8.2003-12-27
( U Sai Maung Lu)
Cc: Battalion Commander, No. 269 Light Infantry Battalion. Tiddim town.
Hundred of Women Forced to Take Part in Militia Training
190 female government servants were among 450 civilians those who were forced to take militia training in Tiddim that started in late August and ended in September 2003.
According to Saya Pu Kam middle school teacher from Tiddim township who took part in the training the training instructors are from military, police and fire departments and Sergeant Major Soe Win was in-charge of the training. The training was gruelling. The training in-charge frequently shouted us that “we are going to shape you till you meet our standard, we are going to do no matter what” said Saya Pu Kam.
During the conclusion ceremony of the training, which was held in Kamthok stadium, commander of Light Infantry Battalion 269 gave a speech saying that we have to preserve our independence. Followed by Battalion commander speech, Township Peace and Development Chairman U Sai Maung Luu said that this is the first batch of militia training, which is intended for government servants and the next batch, which will be intended for non-government servants civilian, will be conduct in October and after that there will be another batch of training in November.
According to CHRO source, this kind of militia training was conduct in several township is Chin state such as Tonzang, Rih and Falam. In Falam township there was skirmish between the trainee and the training instructors due to the instructor harsh treatment towards the civilian trainee and the training was halted for a week.
3 NLD Leaders in Chin State Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison As Post-May 30 Crackdown Continues
26 June 2003
Three members of the National League for Democracy in Chin State’s Matupi Township, who were arrested by military authorities earlier this month, had been sentenced to 11 years in prison, a local NLD member who just arrived to Mizoram border reported. The 11-year sentence was handed down to each of the three NLD leaders during the second week of June, but it is still unclear as to where they will be sent to serve their sentences.
The three are identified as U Aung Thang, 38, secretary of NLD for Matupi Township, U Hla Moe (40), and Salai Pa Thang, 32, who is a local student leader and a final year law student at University of Mandalay.
The NLD member said people are particularly concerned about the fate of the three convicts because they are being held in unspecified location. The sentences were arbitrarily handed down by local military intelligence outside of the court, and their cases were never brought to the District court in Mindat. Mindat town is one of the two District administrative centers in Chin State, located a few miles away from Matupi.
They were arrested by military authorities on June 4 in Matupi, and were taken away to Mindat for interrogations there. More than 20 other NLD members escaped the arrest, and are on the run, and their whereabouts could not still be ascertained.
U Than Sein, an NLD Member of Parliament in exile, says the crackdown in Matupi is part of a larger effort by the ruling military regime to crush the NLD since the May 30 incident (in which pro-government thugs violently assaulted the touring NLD leaders). U Than Sein says he is very concerned that the whereabouts of the three NLD detainees are not known.
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, visited Matupi town on 10 April. Sources say that during her visit, crowds who showed up to greet Suu Kyi were videotaped by an officer of the Military Intelligence Service. Local organizers responsible for welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi then took away his video camera and put him away from the crowd until Suu Kyi left the town. U Aung Thang, U Hla Moe and Salai Pa Thang were then arrested on June 4 and taken away to Mindat for questioning. More than 20 other NLD members have since fled the town and are on hiding.
Translated by CHRO from original Burmese version.
Source: Khonumthung News Group
Chin Refugee Died In Police Detention
Chin Refugee Committee, Malaysia
Mr. Ni Cung, 35 years old is a Chin national who fled Myanmar in fear of military arrest and persecution. He is an asylum seeker to UNHCR. However before he was interviewedby UNHCR, he was arrested by police in May, 2003 and put him in Lenggeng Immigration Camp where hundreds of foreign illegal immigrants were detained. After three months from his arrest, UNHCR officials went to detention and conducted interview for Mr. Ni Cung in August, 2003. Mr. Ni Cung waited his result whether UNHCR will recognize him as a refugee under UNHCR Mandate. Although the UNHCR said that his result will be out within one month from date of interview, his result was not out for three months.
Mr. Ni Cung was serious ill ( Ischaemis Heart Disease ) and the police once brought him to Seremban Hospital. Although the doctor advised the police that Mr. Ni Cung is no more fit to be detention, the police not only ignore the doctor advice but even tore down the letter from the doctor and did not give medicine properly.As his disease deteriorate the police brought him again to the previous hospital on Sunday ( 30 / 11 / 2003 ) but Mr. Ni Cung died a few hour later in the hospital.
We the Chin refugees were saddened by the sudden death of our fellow asylum seeker. Subsequently the Chin Refugees in Malaysia firmly stand to request the UNHCR to deal with swifter intervention especially for detention cases. The UNHCR ought not delay the result of asylum seekers who are in detention.
Chin Refugee Committee
ALARMING NEWS FROM NEW DELHI: BURMESE REFUGEES DEMONSTRATING INFRONT OF THE UNHCR OFFICE ARE ARRESTED AND BRUTALLY TREATED BY THE INDIAN POLICE.
Chin Forum Information Service
November 14, 2003
In the past few days alarming news have been received from Burmese refugee community in New Delhi. The news reaching us stated that on Wednesday 12 November at around 1:00 p.m. local time around 700 Burmese refugees demonstrating infront of the UNHCR office were being rounded up by the Indian police and were taken to an unknown destination in a convoy of trucks. The Indian government’s Defence Secretary Mr. Fernandes, who is known as one of the friends of Burma, and some high ranking Indian Police officers visted the UNHCR office on that day to pursuade them to accept the demands of the demonstrators. The authorities from the UNHCR, according to Zomi Information Centre, subsequently agreed and even issued forms for the refugees. In the afternoon even before the refugees sumbmitted their forms the police suddenly arrived and took them all to an unknown destination. The remaining Burmese refugees are under fear and frustration.
The same source further reported that on Thursday the next day (13 Nov) “Those who had been hospitalized at AIIMS Hospital on the 12th Nov. evening were taken back to Lodhi police station [even though some were under critical conditions and needed intensive treatment] the police did not allow them to stay on in the hospital. Among them was a lady named Sui Cui got severe head injuries. And until late today they were kept at the police station. Two youths Mr. Cung San Uk and Mr. Sangte were seriously injured and in critical condition. Today more than 300 are now in hunger strike to demand the release of their fellow severely injured and needed further treatment”.
A report sent to Lailun news group on 13 November also stated that “the whereabout of 24(twenty four) people is not known. On the early morning of 13th Nov at 1:00am we are sent to Vikaspuri and Janakpuri. After arriving about 200 people return to Lodi police station to claim the remaining 24 and other victims who had been hospitalized. This 200 demonstrators carry on hunger strike till evening. On this same day 13th Nov at 11:00am another 80 refugee demonstrators set out for 14,Jorbagh , UNHCR, however they are arrested and no one knew where they are .
As an eye witness observer, by the name Mr. T. Zul also confirmed the report and emphasized that the peaceful demonstrators “did not hold even a single stick” when they were mercilessly treated by the police. It is learnt that the Burmese refugees have been on strike since 20 October for days and nights protesting against the UNHCR’s unfair treatments and by the time of the crack down the refugees were already staging the demonstrations for 23 days. “Come what may we will continue our protest until our demands are met by the UNHCR” said one Burmese refugee. “Deep frustration regarding the policies of the office of UNHCR, New Delhi and the government of India” was highlighted in their statement jointly issued by All Burmese Refugees Committee and the Chin Refugees Committee based in New Delhi to the Chief of Mission of the UNHCR in New Delhi on 20 October, the day the long strikes started.
Inadequate financial assistance, arbitrary termination of monetary assistance, grossly insufficient educational allowance, ineffective self-reliance schemes, incomprehensible resettlement policy and the plights of the ignored Burmese refugees by the United Nations body stationed in the capital of India, among others, are the reasons of discontent by the Burmeses refugees, detailed in the said joint statement. [Please scroll down for the detail of the document jointly submitted by the two refugee organizations and a reply from the UNHCR]
The Chinland Gurdian also reported on 24 October that “The protest, the refugees say, is a result of arbitrary policies of UNHCR office in New Delhi, which have cornered Burmese refugees to intolerable inhumane conditions. While the agency has partially or entirely terminated the monthly assistance that has been provided to Burmese refugees, it has also rejected hundreds of new refugee applicants on the ground that UNHCR is facing financial constraints and that the claims asserted by Burmese asylum seekers are not credible. This, the refugees strongly disagree. They point out that because of the preconceived suspicion UNHCR personnel have on the motive of the asylum seekers, many refugees were not even asked questions that are relevant to their clams during their interviews. One refugee whose application for refugee status was rejected say that in his interview, he was asked whether he has ever ridden a horse or an elephant, a question he feels is neither relevant to his claim for refugees nor to UNHCR criteria which govern refugee recognition. Many refugees also claim that the interviewing officers often use methods to intimidate them during the interview, hampering the refugee’s ability to say what they want”.
Chin Refugee Committee- REPORT UPON THE PROTEST BEFORE UNHCR
Date: 20.11.2003 10:00 P.M
By: Information In-charge
On dated October 20, 2003 onwards the All Burmese Refugees settling in New Delhi started their long demonstration in front of UNHCR Office in New Delhi. The demonstrators were those who were being cut their Subsistence Allowance of the Legal Refugee Certificate holders living without proper jobs or works for their family survival or own, and the ignored refugees who fled from Burma who were seeking around one year and above without received any proper response by the UNHCR.
On their first date of demonstration, 20/10/03, there were (411) Burmese Refugees who sat in front of the office gate and waiting the positive response under the hot sun. At 5:05 P.M the Lodi Police started beating with their sticks and put them all on the three Swaraj Dump Carrier forcefully that some of the people were injured and blooded. The people of demonstrators of Burmese Refugees were having a strong decision to be brought to the Lodi Place Police Station till 10:30 P.M, and then sent out. Wait continuously without going back to their temporary residences for they have been living without food and support that some were slept beside the UNHCR Office and they continued their second date on 21/10/03. Twenty-six (26) Burmese Refugees of demonstrators were arrested by the police again and sent them out at 9:00 P.M but they went back to the UNHCR and stayed again. The said refugees were brutally beaten by Lodi Colony Police. On the third date 22/10/03 there were around 300 demonstrators at the same place that at 8:00 P.M the police swept them out and called them to the Police Station. The Police were driven them about 3km on foot along the way as like as an animals.
They all stayed around the UNHCR the whole night that many of them were injured by the police threatening. On the fourth date 23/10/03, many of other refugees joined them that around 700 Burmese Refugees were demonstrated from 8:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M. Since the UNHCR Chief of Mission could not give any positive answer for their demands that around 150 demonstrators decided to stay near the UNHCR Office. Around 7:00 P.M the Lodi Police arrested all those demonstrators and sent to Tihal Jail. At Tihal Jail, the police menaced and beaten with a stick to both man and women. Some of the injured protestors were sent to the clinic due to the Local Police in-human treatment. The protestors said officials of UNHCR have called in the police to dissuade them from continuing their protest against the Official allegation that has been confirmed to be true in the past. One of the reporters claimed that the Local Police and UNHCR, Delhi is doing as like as a couple. However, they could not receive all those Refugees that sent them out around 10:15 P.M. But they returned at the same place and stay there for waiting the next day there in the whole night. There has not been any problem till then.
On the fifth date 25/10/03, since it is one of the important Indian festival called Diwali, the police threatened them to go back to their home. However, the demonstrators could not be back due to they have nowhere to go for facing in the condition of uncertain future and especially Subsistence Allowance disrupted by UNHCR, Delhi. On the sixth and seventh date, the demonstrators were gathering behind UNHCR Office. They were continuing their demands. Although, UNHCR Office closed down the water closet and turned a deaf ear to them.
On the eight dates, 27/10/03, hundreds of demonstrators were continuing their demand peacefully before UNHCR. Although, the Office In-charge in Delhi is still sidelining by cheating in many ways to the protestors.
On the dates of protesting the UNHCR during 28,29,30,31,1and 2 with their peaceful demonstration, the assistant of the Chief of Mission told them the demonstrators are not eligible refugee status in accordance with the report of the Burman leader who are in New Delhi that they request to talk tripartite dialogue such as UNHCR Officers, the demonstrators and the so called leaders of Burman. The Burmese Refugees were asking to stop their demonstrations again and again but they have no desire to stop for they clearly understand they are perceived realized the uncertainty and insecurity of their life future thus they claimed their rights continuously staying beside the UNHCR office, New Delhi. They have no water drink and also the toiled were closed that UNHCR officer severally use the local police to disperse the Refuge protestor but after one or two hour later on around 150-300 refugee always gathering together every night and day and slept near the UNHCR office till 12/112003. However the Burmese the Refugee over 600 have been staying protest against UNHCR office peacefully demanding for their refugee status and resettlement in the third countries but the UNHCR office screening their demands by always beating and detaining them by the help of the police.
Unfortunately, on date 12/11/2003 after noon one of the government authority came and had a talk with the duty policeman then around 200 Delhi police and central reserve police (CRP) gather surrounded around the Burmese the refugee protestor. When the Delhi police with the CRP, came they were stand by with their pointing arms and waiting the order to arrest the Burmese peaceful protestors with their police dump carriers and mild lath charger. The policeman still blocked the roadway just before other aided were arrived. By observing the incident on the ground it is found to be a good preparation to arrest the Burmese Refugees.Note- (2:30 -3:15)-incident hours.
When 4:00 P.M sharp the policemen started beating the protestors men, women and children with their cane sticks and forcefully put them to their dump carriers and used their mild lath charges that many of them fall down on the spot and injured. Some of them were shocked with electric current, which is pre-arranged that they were taken out to save their life and immediately sent them home to take medical treatment as per needed. The rest refugee protestors of over 470 were carried with their stand by waiting police dump carriers Swaraj medium vehicles and kept separately into (4) custodies of Police Station such: –
1) In Lodi Police Station-(30) refugees
2) In Badarpur Police Station- (145) refugees
3) In Kalkaji Temple Near Police Station- (170) refugees
4) In Sarita Vihar Police Station- (121) refugees
Some of the injured refugees were admitted to the hospitals, of Apollo Hospital and AIIMS.
Out of those (4) Police Station, three Police Stations such Badarpur, Kalkaji and Sarita Vihar P/S sent back the refugees from their custody mid-night 12:00. (300) of them returned to sleep near the UNHCR office from All Burmese Refugee Committee (ABRC) Office, Asalatpur, Janakpuri and Burmese Community Relief Center (BCRC) office, Bodella, Vikaspuri then reached at UNHCR. When 13/11/2003 around 5:30 am the Lodi police requested to go home but they could not accept that at 6:00am they were taken to the Lodi P/S and reached at 7:00 am sharp. T he police had show the 24 arrested refugees who were injured in the sport of incident.
Those who got seriously injured and arrest Burmese refugee were as follow:-
-No. Name Sex BU/Temp. No. Remarks
1.Dawt Lian Cem M IND 834 Unconscious, Pain in legs, knees, hands and arms
2.Zo Sang M IND 00215 Injured on head, pain in hands
3.Ah Phong M 02IND 1121 Injured both legs and right hand
4.Van Hlei Thang M BU 352 Injured left hand
5.Par Sung F BU 588 Injured left leg
6.Hrang Tin Sung F BU 600 Injured both eyes, legs, neck, right thumb(POB)
7.Thawn Suan Mang M 03IND 234 Injured legs, hands, broken one teeth, swelling at lips.
8.Mang Hmun M Temp.905970 Injured cracked head, toes, swelling all body and both legs.
9.Laphylulu F Beaten on n her mark of previous appendix surgery. Swelling and pain in this particular point which made her unable to stand erect.
10.Nawn Dim F BU – 538 Pain in neck and thigh
11.Mary Van Zing F BU- 821 Beaten on head, pain in all body. In the state of unconciousness.
12.Benhur M BU-674/05 Beaten and pain in neck, shoulders and legs.
13.VanThawng M Pain and swelling in legs.
14.SunCuai F IND-113 Injured mark as pointed iron rod, both legs were cracked tight.
15.Tin Mang M BU- 132 Pains in legs and hands.
16.Biak lal M BU- 492 Injury on the head, 8 stitches, pain on knee.
17.Lian Sang M IND- 167 Pain in ribs.
18.Sui Maung M BU- 401 Broken leg-POB, pain in right hand, shoulders injured on head.
19.ThangLian(Nite) M BU- 168 Marks of pointed iron rod on 4 places, broken legs.
20.Tluang Val Lian M BU- 519 Injury in right leg, POB, mark of pointed iron rod on the left, swelling in the face and back.
21.Sang Tong Khai M 02IND01138 Left leg broken and left hand POB.
22.Di Ram M 02IND01101 Injured 2 places on head, legs couldn’t move,Pain on both hands.
23.R. Johnson M 02IND01102 Broken arms and legs, swelling and pain.
24.John. M Injury on head, broken leg and swelling body
At 3:15 pm, those 24 arrested were taken from the Lodi Police Station and were imprisoned at Tihar Central Jail at 7:30 pm as case filed by the Police. The other demonstrators detained at Lodi Road PS and Kalkaji PS were sent back by the authority with 2 buses. They reached ABRC Office by mid-night.
On the 14th November 2003 the demonstrators being released by the authority (105 in number) returned to the UNHCR Office and continue the demonstration. They were lathi charged and 92 man and 9 women were detained at Lodhi P/S. The demonstrators keep on increasing and gave themselves to the Police Authority to be arrested as their fellow demonstrators.
The Police arrested another 20 demonstrators and send the rest of them back home with 2 buses. R.S Gupta, Commissioner of Police, Delhi declared 30 days curfew with effect from 12th November, 2003 in accordance with the power conferred to him by section 144 Criminal procedure Code 1973 writ with Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi Notification No. U- 11036/3/1978(I) UTL, dated 1.7.1978, prohibiting any form of gathering within 200 metres in and around the UNHCR Office. However, the demonstrators continue their agitation at Jantar Mantar and stay the whole night there.
On 15th November 2003 around 200 refugees continued the demonstration at Jantar Mantar till 4pm. They could hold the demonstration peacefully and return to ABRC office and spend the night there.
On the 16th and 17th November 2003, around 100 demonstrators were staying at ABRC, Chin Centre Hall, Asatlatpur and CWO Office, Janakpuri. On 18th November 2003, around 300 refugees continue their demonstration programme at Jantar Mantar up to 4:00 P.M. At the same time, the detained refugees were to be court at Patiala House Delhi Central Court that their families waited to meet them till 3:30 P.M. At 3:45 P.M, they all are taken out to face the court but they were given the chance to sign before the magistrate.
On 19th November 2003, around 100 refugees demonstrators were staying day and night for their continuation of their demonstration till 20th November 2003.
Situation of Burmese Refugees Worsens After India Detained 44 Burmese Following Police Attacks
Chin Human Rights Organization
25 November 2003
Chin Human Rights Organization has learnt that over 800 refugees and asylum seekers from Burma who have been peacefully demonstrating in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR office at 14 Jorbagh road in New Delhi, India for nearly four weeks to demand refugee status and humanitarian assistance were brutally beaten, arrested and detained by Indian police.
Eyewitnesses reported that on November 12, 2003 at around 3 pm, about 200 riot police from the Delhi Police armed with clubs and water canon came to disperse over 800 demonstrators, who were peacefully assembling in front of UNHCR office for the last 23 days. Without a warning, the police hosed the demonstrators with water cannon and began brutally beating them with clubs. Dozens of protesters including women were seriously injured and several children fell unconscious due to the shock of an unexpected and sudden violence. “A horrific scene of bloodbath” was the _expression one woman described the incident. She was beaten in the neck while her one-year-old child received severe eye burns from water cannon that hit him in the face. Some 25 persons needed to be taken to hospital for bodily injuries including serious injuries sustained in the heads.
Later in the evening, the police arrested all demonstrators and incarcerated them at four different police stations. Detainees say they were tortured in custody and that the police were seen drinking alcohol while they were taking the detainees to the detention place. A picture of a woman who was tortured by police shows severe bruises on her lower body. The severity of the injuries sustained by refugees seems to support the claims that the police were drunk at the time of the incident and that there was no provocation whatsoever on the part of the refugees to invite such police brutalities.
Chin Human Rights Organization is deeply concerned that until today, November 25, 2003, the Delhi Police continues to detain 44 persons at Tihar Jail in the western suburbs of New Delhi. The detainees are among the most seriously injured in the police violence. The detainees have been criminally charged with rioting, but eyewitnesses say the police beat them unprovoked. They alleged the charges are to justify the disproportionate and excessive use of force by the police and to cover up the tortures while in custody. The detainees include both recognized refugees and asylum seekers and CHRO is deeply concerned that India might eventually deport them to Burma where their safety will be seriously jeopardized.
UNHCR staff has not agreed to the repeated requests of the refugees and local rights groups to make legal intervention on behalf of the refugees. This is disturbing given that there were allegations UNHCR staff had invited the police to disperse the crowds in the first place. CHRO fervently requests the Office of UNHCR to take urgent steps to ensure that the 44 detainees have access to legal counsels and to attempt to secure their early release. CHRO also requests the Office of UNHCR to take immediate steps to prevent detained refugees from being repatriated to Burma.
As an organization that has been monitoring human rights situations in Burma’s western region, CHRO has long been concerned about the situations that compelled refugees to come to India. Refugees from Burma continue to cross into India in large numbers, but a very small fraction of that population has access to legal protection from the United Nations High Commissioner office in New Delhi. India has not recognized refugees from Burma nor has it permitted the UNHCR to assess the conditions of over 50,000 Chin refugees who live in Mizoram State. Under these circumstances, both the Government of India and UNHCR consider Chin to be mostly economic migrants. However, this has not been the case as evidence gathered by CHRO over the last several years suggest economic factors are not the main cause of refugee flight from Burma. CHRO believes that the majority of those who have crossed into India have valid fears of persecution in Burma.
Chin account for the majority of Burmese who came to India for protection. Expanded Burmese military establishment in Chin State and northwestern Burma had accelerated the level of human rights abuse among the Chin population. An inevitable consequence of this militarization has been a rapid increase in human rights violations such as forced labor, religious persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention, recruitment for military service and other forms of forced labor for military purposes. Since June of 2003, the Burmese regime has deployed two new army battalions (Light Infantry Battalion 104 and 105) to Chin State. This new deployment adds up to an existing more than a dozen army battalions in Chin State, an indication that human rights situation will deteriorate considerably in the region. The kind of human rights abuses happening in Chin State has direct links to the number of people who have been fleeing to India. With their areas heavily militarized and the Burmese army dominating all aspects of life, the Chin people today live in constant fear for their lives, not knowing when they will fall victims to the Burmese soldiers who constantly intimidate, torture and arbitrarily arrest civilians.
While Chin villagers can no longer find enough time to make their livings due to the army’s constant demands for forced labor for various purposes, villagers live in constant fear of being arrested and tortured when they could not contribute their services for the military. The Burmese army also target people suspected of having associated with anti-government activities and have routinely tortured, arrested and jailed, and sometimes, executed individuals without due process of law. Chin youngsters often become the primary target of conscription for military or militia service and various kinds of forced labor for infrastructure and military purposes. Recent reports from inside Chin State say Burmese army is forcibly recruiting people for militia training from across Chin State. Those refusing to participate in the training are arrested and tortured, or if they escaped, village headmen of the jurisdiction are held responsible and punished.
Religious persecution is a major concern for the Chins who are predominantly Christians. The Burmese army has been actively restricting and punishing those wishing to practice Christianity, while rewarding those who convert to Buddhism. Chin Christian churches and religiously symbolic monuments have been destroyed, while Buddhist pagodas are being built across Chin State often with forced labor of Christians.
Under the Burmese military junta, Chin State has become uninhabitable for the inhabitants. The most productive times of the Chin populace who make their primary means of survival by tilling and cultivating have been consumed by the army’s unceasing demand for forced labor and extortion of arbitrary taxes. All of these situations underlie the primary reasons as to which Chin people have escaped to India and elsewhere for protection.
Since the historic visit by Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to Chin State in April 2003 and the subsequent arrest of the leadership of the National League for Democracy on May 30th, the people of Chin State have been constantly intimidated by the Burmese army for the overwhelming supports they’d shown to Aung San Suu Kyi. The Burmese army arrested two local NLD leaders in Matupi township earlier this year and sentenced them to 11 years in prison while a dozen persons evaded arrest by hiding in the jungles and then later fleeing to India. On November 18, 2003, Mr. Than Ngai, the Secretary of NLD Thantlang Township passed away in India where he had been hiding since escaping arrest by the Burmese military.
Since the sudden influx of hundreds of refugees to India earlier last year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office in New Delhi has expressed doubts as to the reasons of such increase, suggesting that those who approached the Office are motivated by economic reasons. UNHCR subsequently rejected almost all asylum-seekers’ applications for refugee status. The UNHCR has also started phasing out Subsistence Allowance to refugees, leaving the refugees with no concrete alternatives to survive in New Delhi, a city in which they do not speak the local language and where they do not have legal work permit from the Government of India.
UNHCR recognized only one thousand refugees from Burma. The number represents only a very small fraction of the total Burmese refugee populations in India. Over 50,000 Chin refugees are estimated to be currently taking shelter in Mizoram. Without legal protection, they risk frequent deportation to Burma. In July of this year, about 6,000 Chin refugees were forcibly repatriated to Burma. Again in August 2000, hundreds of Chin individuals and families were forcibly pushed back to Burma. Despite the compelling circumstances, UNHCR has said it has not considered advocating for establishing its presence in the Mizoram border.
Asylum seekers from Burma have persistently claimed the doubts that UNHCR staff have on them are preconceived and there is an inherent prejudice in the determination of their status. While the human rights situations in Chin State and in Burma as a whole suggest there are valid fear of persecution, UNHCR should reevaluate individual claims presented by asylum seekers without any prejudgment to ensure that those who have genuine fears for their lives are given legal protection and necessary assistance.
For more information contact:
Chin Human Rights Organization at
Ph: 510-5951872 or Ph/Fax: 613-234 2485
India: Investigate Police Attack on Burmese Demonstrators
Human Rights Watch
(New York, December 2, 2003) — India should undertake a thorough and independent investigation of possible police abuses against Burmese refugees and asylum seekers during demonstrations on November 12-13 in New Delhi, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should also ensure that none of the refugees, including those who participated in the demonstrations, are forcibly returned to Burma, where they would likely face persecution.
On November 12, riot police used water cannons, electric batons, and canes to forcibly disperse a group of 500 Burmese nationals, many already recognized as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who were staging a protest outside the UNHCR office. Many had been protesting since October 20 the decision by UNHCR to cut its allowance for refugees in India from 1,400 rupees (U.S. $30) a month by as much as 60 percent in order to cut costs and promote “self reliance.”
At least 25 of the demonstrators were injured. Many of the injuries were severe, and included head and chest injuries, bruised backs and legs, and broken bones.
“There was no need for the police to use violence to break up a demonstration,” said Brad Adams, executive director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. “It is disturbing that the world’s largest democracy would repress people who have already been victimized in their own country.”
On November 12, police officers detained several hundred protesters at four different police stations. Most were released that night. Twenty-four protesters were sent to Tihal Central Jail in New Delhi and charged with rioting and obstructing the police.
The New Delhi police commissioner declared a 30-day curfew effective November 12 in order to prohibit any gathering within 200 meters of the UNHCR office. On November 13, after more than 100 protesters gathered again in front of UNHCR, police officers arrested another 20 Burmese and sent them to Tihal Jail. In the days following the arrests, large numbers of protesters have continued to gather near the UNHCR office.
The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms provides that law enforcement officials shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and they may do so only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.
Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to investigate and prosecute or discipline as appropriate any police officer found to have used or authorized excessive force. The government must also ensure that those protestors charged with criminal offenses have access to legal counsel; those not charged should be released.
“India can demonstrate to these refugees that in a democracy the rule of law prevails even for the weakest,” said Adams.
Of the 42 demonstrators arrested and charged so far, two have been released on bail. According to UNHCR, 16 of the 44 are recognized by UNHCR as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and another 14 have cases that are pending.
UNHCR has recognized approximately 1,000 Burmese in New Delhi as refugees. The majority are ethnic Chin Christians from northwestern Burma, who fled to Mizoram state in India after the unrest in Burma in the mid-1990s. In recent years new refugee flows have been caused by arbitrary detention, torture, forced labor and religious persecution by the Burmese government, as well as ongoing warfare between government forces and the Chin National Army.
Indian Government Should Investigate Police Attack On Burmese Refugees
FORUM-ASIA (Asia Forum For Human Rights And Development)
For Immediate Release
Bangkok, 1 December 2003
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) calls on the Indian Government to immediately launch an independent investigation into reports about police brutality in cracking down on Burmese refugees and asylum seekers during demonstrations on 12-13 November in New Delhi.
FORUM-ASIA has learnt that over 800 refugees and asylum seekers from Burma, peacefully demonstrating in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New Delhi for nearly four weeks to demand refugee status and humanitarian assistance, were brutally beaten, arrested and detained by Indian police.
Eyewitnesses reported that on 12 November at around 3 pm, about 200 riot police hosed the demonstrators with a water cannon and began brutally beating them with clubs. Dozens of protesters including women were seriously injured and several children fell unconscious due to the shock of the unexpected and sudden violence. At least 25 persons were taken to hospital for injuries, including serious injuries to the head and chest, severe eye burns from water cannon and broken bones. Later in the evening, the police arrested all demonstrators and incarcerated them at four different police stations.
On 13 November, after more than 100 protesters defied a 30-day curfew declared by the New Delhi Police Commissioner prohibiting any gathering within 200 meters of the UNHCR office, police arrested another 20 Burmese and sent them to Tihal Jail in the western suburbs of New Delhi.
Of the 42 demonstrators arrested and charged, two have been released on bail. According to the UNHCR, 16 of the 44 are recognized as refugees, and another 14 have cases that are pending. FORUM-ASIA is deeply concerned that those demonstrators detained at Tihar Jail are among the most seriously injured in the police violence. The detainees have been criminally charged with rioting, despite eyewitnesses report claiming that the police beat them unprovoked.
FORUM-ASIA stresses that the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms provides that law enforcement officials shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and they may do so only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.
FORUM-ASIA urges the Indian government to investigate and prosecute or discipline as appropriate any police officer found to have used or authorized excessive force. The Indian Government must also ensure that those protestors charged with criminal offenses have access to legal counsel; those not charged should be released.
FORUM-ASIA is also deeply concerned that the Indian Government might eventually deport them to Burma where they will be in danger of persecution from the Burmese authorities. FORUM-ASIA calls on the UNHCR to take immediate steps to prevent detained refugees from being repatriated to Burma.[ENDS]
For further information or comments, contact:
Somchai Homlaor, Forum-Asia Secretary General, on +66-1-899 5476
India: The Situation of Burmese Refugees in New Delhi
Maung Maung is a refugee in India from the Chin State of Burma, where he had been active in student government at his university and had organized demonstrations against the military coup of 1988. After the Burmese junta came to power, it ordered the arrest of all student leaders. Fearing for his life, Maung Maung had no choice but to leave Burma in September 1988. He spent four years in the Indian state of Mizoram before coming to New Delhi in 1992. Due to recent changes in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) support, he and his family are finding life even more difficult.
India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no domestic legislation concerning refugees. Refugees in India are discriminated against based on their countries of origin. Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees are granted special privileges, such as travel permits, refugee identity documents, educational scholarships, and fall under the aegis of the Government of India. Other refugees are not so fortunate, and in the absence of national refugee legislation are considered ordinary aliens.
The Government of India has allowed the UNHCR to exercise its mandate over nationals of a few countries, such as Burma and Afghanistan. While UNHCR in India works under constraints imposed by both the Government of India and its own headquarters, New Delhi is nonetheless host to the largest UNHCR-recognized urban refugee population in the world — about 15,000 people. The majority of these individuals are Afghans, but there are also about 1,000 Burmese who have been given refugee status by UNHCR. Those who have been recognized as refugees by UNHCR get residence permits but have no formal right to work or establish business in India. Nor do Indian authorities take any measures that would make it possible for the refugees to integrate with the Indian population.
For more than a decade, UNHCR provided for those it had given refugee status in India by giving them a monthly subsistence allowance to cover the cost of housing, food and daily needs of the refugees. The subsistence allowance consisted of 1,400 Rupees (about $30) per month for the head of each refugee family and 600 Rupees (about $13) for each dependent. In addition, UNHCR also provided an educational allowance, between 2,500 to 3,100 Rupees (about $55-$68) per month per child for all school expenses, a medical allowance and a travel allowance.
In recent times, cuts in UNHCR India’s budget have led to changes that have had a significant impact on the lives of Burmese refugees recognized by UNHCR.
Earlier this year, UNHCR began a program to phase out the subsistence allowance with the rationale that the refugees have the opportunity to find employment in the informal sector and have the potential for self-reliance. Burmese refugees have long pointed out that 1,400 Rupees has been an inadequate subsistence allowance in a city such as New Delhi where the rent for a one-room lodging alone exceeds 1,500 Rupees (about $33) and that the educational allowances have not been sufficient to cover the costs of fees, books, uniforms and transportation. As a result, children often drop out of school. The refugees believe that with the phase-out of the subsistence allowance, they are left with extremely limited options for survival in New Delhi.
UNHCR staff in New Delhi told Refugees International that India is the only country where refugees are given a subsistence allowance. They maintain that this practice has created dependence. The subsistence allowance has prevented the refugees from making sufficient efforts to integrate into the Indian society, learn local languages, or pick up skills. While making changes to the subsistence allowance program, UNHCR is also providing the refugees with computer, vocational and English and Hindi language training programs in order for them to acquire skills that would enable them to work in the informal sector.
According to many Burmese refugees, however, the UNHCR self-reliance schemes are laudable, but not sustainable. The Burmese refugees find the language and vocational trainings to be so basic that they do not provide the basis for self-reliance. They claim that even with basic training, they cannot work in India due to very high competition for jobs and a lack of work permits. Many Burmese refugees also complain of discrimination, harassment and difficulties in getting access to local markets or income-generating activities. According to several of the refugees, even when they have found jobs, they are asked to work 14-hour days and are paid less than their Indian co-workers. As UNHCR provides no job placements following the training, the refugees feel that the training is of little benefit.
Maung Maung is one of the Burmese refugees who are coming under increasing pressure to make ends meet as his subsistence allowance is being cut. Neither he nor his wife has been able to find a job, and their five-member family has been completely dependent on the UNHCR subsistence allowance since 1994. The family shares its one-room lodging with two asylum seekers who came from Burma to New Delhi and who have not received UNHCR recognition as refugees. Food for the seven people consists mainly of soup. Sometimes they collect discarded vegetables from the market to supplement their meals. Maung Maung’s son has had to drop out of school due to the cut in the subsistence allowance and Maung Maung fears that his family may soon have to vacate the room where they live because he will not be able to pay the 1,800 Rupee (about $39) monthly rent.
The Burmese in New Delhi have accused UNHCR of turning down the applications of the majority of those seeking refugee status since the middle of last year. They also say that UNHCR takes too long — from six months to more than a year — to process the applications of the asylum seekers and often does not review the application properly, rejecting those who fled Burma to escape persecution.
UNHCR counters these charges by maintaining that prior to May 2002, it received about 20 requests per month from Burmese asylum seekers, out of which 60% were recognized and 40% were rejected. But from May to July 2002, it received 600 applications from the Burmese. Due to this large increase in the volume of applications, UNHCR has been unable to process the applications at its former speed, and the entire review process has slowed down. UNHCR justifies its high rates of rejection in recent months by saying that it found many of the refugee claims to be lacking credibility and during interviews of the refugee status seekers, it became apparent that many claims were fabricated. UNHCR believes that increasing numbers of Burmese who have false claims are being drawn to New Delhi due to rumors that those granted refugee status by UNHCR in India can then resettle in a third country like the United States or Canada.
UNHCR acknowledges that living conditions for refugee status seekers, during the waiting period while the applications are being processed, are difficult because there is no financial support provided by the organization until a person receives refugee recognition. This has been the case for Pa Thang, who applied for refugee status in October 2003. Pa Thang is from the Chin state of Burma and was interviewed by RI during a recent visit to Mizoram in May. While in Burma, Pa Thang was accused by Burmese soldiers of having links with the Chin National Front, an ethnic resistance movement. He was tied up, blindfolded, and beaten severely with the butt of a soldier’s gun while held for two days.
Pa Thang managed to escape to India, but still has persistent back pain, making it difficult for him to find work. He came to New Delhi with his wife in Oct. 2003 and applied for refugee status with UNHCR. His interview with UNHCR has been scheduled for March 2004. With no source of income and no place to stay, Pa Thang will be dependent for the next five months upon the generosity of other refugees in New Delhi, who themselves are facing cuts in their subsistence allowances. With the arrival of more Burmese to New Delhi from Mizoram as a result of the push backs (see RI’s bulletin Forced Back: Burmese Chin Refugees in India in Danger), there is additional burden on recognized refugees to share whatever subsistence allowances they are getting with the newcomers.
Burmese refugees and refugee status seekers in New Delhi have held several protests outside UNHCR headquarters to demand continuation of the subsistence allowance, an increase in the allowance from the current maximum amount 1,400 Rupees, increases in the educational and medical allowances, and recognition of more asylum seekers. They have also said that if their demands cannot be met, they should be resettled in a third country, where they will have the opportunity to work. Meanwhile UNHCR considers resettlement a very limited option, and provides statistics that out of 20 million refugees worldwide, only 30,000 are resettled. According to UNHCR, resettlement is not the most appropriate durable solution for the Burmese in New Delhi. Resettlement is usually only considered when there is an issue of family reunification or a strong protection concern.
The most recent rounds of protests by the Burmese against the self-reliance scheme began on Oct. 20, 2003 when more than 400 refugees and refugee status seekers demonstrated outside the UNHCR office in New Delhi. The demonstrations continued until November 12, when Delhi police took action against the protesters and dispersed them by hitting them with wooden truncheons. About 400 of the demonstrators, some of whom were severely injured during the police action, were arrested. Later, the majority of them were released, but 45 refugees and refugee status seekers (including six women) continue to languish in a jail in New Delhi under charges of rioting and obstructing public servants in discharge of their functions, because they don’t have the money needed to pay bail.
Refugees International is sympathetic with UNHCR’s position that providing subsistence allowances indefinitely creates dependence. We believe, however, that conditions for self-reliance need to be created before the allowance is cut abruptly. Two critical steps in this direction would be to make the vocational education programs more substantive and to advocate with the Indian government officials to convince them to allow Burmese refugees to work legally in India. UNHCR also needs to speed up the processing time for Burmese asylum seekers
[Kavita Shukla is Advocacy Associate with Refugees International]
The Situation of Burmese Refugees in India
By Victor Biak Lian
Chin Human Rights Organization
Regional Conference on Protection for Refugees from Burma
Chiangmai University, Chiangmai, Thailand
Nov. 6-7, 2003
I am very pleased to have this opportunity of talking about the situation of refugees from Burma in India. I am equally pleased for this rare opportunity of highlighting the condition of the least acknowledged yet one of the most in need of attentions by the international community. When talking about Burma’s displaced persons one is easily drawn to the conditions of those who have been displaced by decades of civil war in the eastern border of the country. But very little attention has been paid to the condition of thousands of people who have been experiencing an equally difficult situation with that of people in Burma’s western frontiers. Burma shares its western borders with India and Bangladesh and much of that frontier is adjacent to India’s northeastern region.
It is estimated that well over 50,000 refugees from Burma are currently living in India. The continuing lack of adequate protection mechanism for Burmese refugees in India makes it impossible to more than estimate the number of Burmese refugees. This is because of the fact that except for those who are able to approach UNHCR in New Delhi for protection, the majority of Burmese refugees in India are afraid to identify themselves as refugees, although careful scrutiny of their circumstances clearly suggest that they could fall within the meaning of refugee definition.
Most of the refugees from Burma are ethic Chins and they are mainly concentrated in India’s northeastern province of Mizoram. After a sudden influx of refugees following the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement in 1998, thousands of Chins have fled their homes to escape repression and systematic violations of human rights in Burma. Currently, Mizoram alone houses at least 50,000 refugees from Burma, while a few thousand refugees are found in Manipur and other areas along the borders with Burma. Neither the Government of India nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi has acknowledged the presence of Burmese refugees in the border areas. As of March 2003, only 1003 individuals have been recognized by UNHCR in New Delhi.
The pattern of refugee exodus from Burma can be divided into two categories: Those fleeing to India in the immediate aftermath of 1988 and those who have crossed into India steadily since the early 1990ies to the present. The first category includes university students and youth who participated in the 1988 uprising and who subsequently fled to India to escape a brutal military crackdown. The second category includes ordinary civilians and villagers who fled various kinds of human rights violations in the form of arbitrary arrest, torture, forced labor and religious persecutions. Chins are predominantly Christians and Burmese soldiers have destroyed Churches, arrested and tortured pastors and evangelists, and have routinely exacted forced labor from Christians to build Buddhist pagodas. Ongoing insurgency and counter-insurgency programs are also major factors for refugee flight from Chin State.
India’s attitudes towards Burmese refugees
India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its related Protocol. While the Government of India initially quickly reacted to refugee outflow triggered by the 1988 uprising by setting up refugee camps for refugees identified in the first category, since 1992, it had withdrawn the camps and cancelled the provision of all humanitarian assistance to Burmese refugees. This dramatic policy reversion had considerably affected the lives of thousands and had increased the vulnerability of refugees to arrest and deportation to Burma.
On many occasions, India has forcibly returned Burmese refugees to Burma. In 2006, India extradited eleven Burmese army defectors some of whom were already recognized as ‘person of concern’ by UNHCR. Due to the lack of legal protection for Burmese refugees in the border, they are easily identified as economic migrants.
Close cultural and linguistic similarity with the Mizos also allow the Chins to easily integrate into the local society, and thereby being able to acquire employment in low-paid job such as weaving industry and road construction etc. Chin refugees often try to keep a low profile of their presence by getting absorbed into local Mizo communities to avoid being identified as “foreigners” or illegal immigrants. While they attempt to keep down visibility among the local populations, they often become particular target of scapegoats for local political parties in times of provincial legislative elections. In 2000, Mizoram authorities forcibly repatriated hundreds of Chin refugees to Burma. Out of hundreds of returnees, at least 87 people were reported to have been arrested and sent to forced labor camps in Burma.
Again in March 2002, the Young Mizo Association, a broad-based social organization ordered the eviction of Chin refugees in Lunglei District, leaving at least 5000 Chin refugee families homeless. Since July 19, 2003, in response to a rape incident in which a Burmese national was alleged to be responsible, the Young Mizo Association started to evict thousands of Chin refugees from their houses in Mizoram. The eviction, which is still ongoing, has resulted in the forced return of over 6000 Chin refugees to Burma. This latest drive of expulsion of Chin refugees is particularly alarming given that both the local communities under direction from the Young Mizo Association and Mizoram authorities have cooperated in evicting and sending back Chin refugees to Burma.
India has still not shown interest in the protection of Burmese refugees. Instead its primary interest since mid 1990s has been to build friendly relations with the military regime of Burma. The obvious consequence of increasing friendly relations between the two countries is that it creates a deep sense of insecurity and vulnerability among the Burmese refugees in India.
The role of UNHCR
UNHCR in New Delhi currently has about one thousand recognized Burmese refugees. This means that only a small fraction of Burmese refugee in India enjoy legal protection in India. Even those who have been recognized as refugees find themselves in precarious situations in New Delhi. UNHCR has provided a monthly financial assistance of Rs.1400 (About 30$) to recognized refugees. However, since March of 2003, UNHCR has cut financial assistance to many refugees saying that the provision of assistance to Burmese refugees has deterred them from seeking means of self-reliance, and that the termination of assistance to old refugees will accommodate new arrivals. Burmese refugees are already living in precarious conditions and it is predictable that they will encounter an even more serious problem once the full termination of their assistance took effect. The Indian authorities have issued them with residence permits, but denial of work permits makes any attempt at self-reliance almost impossible and illegal.
Refugees who have been recognized by UNHCR in New Delhi are treated as urban refugees. And the policy of UNHCR on urban refugees in India generally presumes that refugees can easily integrate themselves into local communities. Local integration is a term that implies that refugees are able to find safety, both physical protection and social integration into the local communities. This has not worked for urban refugees, especially refugees from Burma who for reasons of cultural, religious and linguistic differences have made them unable to achieve local integration. UNHCR in New Delhi hasn’t accepted ‘third resettlement’ as part of its strategy to find durable solution to refugee problem. Neither has it acknowledged its failure with regards to the policies of trying to achieve durable solution through local integration for Burmese refugees. In fact, most Burmese refugees are unskilled and cannot speak the local language, and therefore cannot simple find employment in India where there are already millions of unemployed people.
UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva has said it has not considered advocating for establishment of its presence in the border. This is disturbing given that there are well over 50,000 Chin refugees in Mizoram who are in desperate need of protection.
There are about 400 Chin and Kachin refugees who are protesting in front of UNHCR office in Delhi for 14 consecutive days, demanding for two things. One is to recognize those whose application for refugee status had been turned down. Second is to resettle into third countries. However, UNHCR officials had not response until today instead they call local police to arrest them. When police intervene, kicking, punching, arrest followed and take them away from the office.
In conclusion, there is an urgent need of greater international attention to the conditions of Burmese refugees in India. Protection mechanism needs to be in place for refugees from Burma who take shelter in Mizoram. This will only be possible if UNHCR assumes greater role in the protection of Burmese refugees by advocating for establishment of its presence in the border. India should positively respond by allowing UNHCR access to the border areas and by issuing work permits to Burmese refugees.
The need for humanitarian and relief assistance to refugees in the border areas is no less important. Governments and international donor organizations should seriously look into the possibility of channeling assistance to the most vulnerable and most needy persons in Mizoram. Since evictions started in Mizoram in 2003, nearly two hundred refugees from Burma had gathered in at least two rural villages whose residents have been very sympathetic to the plights Burmese refugees as to provide them with food and shelters. These villages could serve as a jumpstart for providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in the border areas.
 UNHCR’s Chief of Mission Lennart Kotsalainen’s letter to the Nordic Burma Support Groups, 3 March 2003, New Delhi  More information on human rights situations in Chin State is available at www.chro.org  In 1996, six Burmese soldiers from an army battalion based in Chin State defected to the Chin National Army. They later approached the UNHCR in New Delhi and were subsequently recognized as refugees. A high ranking Indian intelligence officer was identified as being responsible for their extradition. Some of the defectors were reportedly executed in Burma.  Amnesty International: PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 20/40/00 UA 234/00 Possible forcible return of asylum-seekers 8 August 2000  Rhododendron Vol. VI No III. July-August. www.chro.org  In a meeting with CHRO’s representative on July 18, 2003, Burma Desk Officer at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva made it clear that the Office of UNNCR has no intention to advocate for establishing a presence in the India-Burma border.