Volume VII.No.I. January-February 2004

Rhododendron News

Volume VII. No. I. January-February 2004






Human Rights


Over 200 Household Forced to Work in Road Construction

Villagers Forced to Work In Rih Area

Villagers Forced as Porters

Burmese Army Robed Chin Farmers

Burmese Army Extort Money from Villagers

Extortion of Money by Burmese Police at Sentung Village

Human Rights Violations in Lailenpi Area as Reported By Mara People Party

The Chins In Washington DC Protest Against Burmese Military Junta





Chin Asylum Seeker died During Police Operation



Scholar Section


Human Rights Violations And The Denial Of Minority Rights In Burma



Human Rights vs. Traditional Burmese Political Values

Human Rights and Self-determination

Human Rights, Religion and Nation Building

Denial of Religious and Cultural Rights under Ne Win’s Dictatorship

Religious Persecution under Current Military Junta (A Case of the Chin Christians)




Over 200 Household Forced to Work in Road Construction




December 2003


Saiha: Over 200 households in Rezua town from southern Chin state were forced to work in road construction by the State Peace and Development Council SPDC authority. In the month of November, the authority ordered residences of Rezua town to take responsibility for laying concretes in the town’s major roads. However, as the town residences were busy working at their farm as it was harvesting season, they could not start the road construction in November. Thus, the SPDC ordered over 200 households to finish construction of the road before Christmas. The SPDC issued an order that anyone those who fail to construct their quota in construction of road before the deadline will be severely punished.




The forced laborers have to manage for all the necessary tools and food as the SPDC provide them only cements.




The SPDC granted Rezua village to town status in the year 2002 and residence of Rezua were forced to engage as forced laborers in construction of most of the town’s infrastructures such as school, hospital etc.




[Source: Khawnutum News]




Villagers Forced to Work In Rih Area



Colonel Tin Hla, commander of tactical one in Chin state from the Burma army visited Rih area (India-Burma border) on December 8, 2003 to inspect the progress of India-Burma border trade route which is schedule to be opened soon. The Colonel issue an order before he leaves that every household in the area should send a person per day to construct a hall to celebrate the opening ceremony of India-Burma border trade route.




The army told the villagers that; as there will be many dignitary people along with foreigners coming to the opening ceremony, they wants the construction of the hall to be elegant.


Villagers Forced as Porter



A local resident from Matupi report to Chin Human Rights Organization that Major Thant Yin Oo and his troop from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 266, Sabawngte camp, traveled to Sabawngpi village on January 5, 2004. The Major and his troops forced 14 villagers from Sabawngpi to serve as porters. Some women and under age school children include among the porters.




On their way back from Sabawngte village on January 17, 2004, Major Thant Yin Oo and his troop stole vegetables from the farm along with four chickens from Pu Vel Lei of Sabawngte village. When the villagers complained the stealing of vegetables and chickens to the Major, the Burmese Major told them that they didn’t stole but they just took necessary food from the people.




Burmese Army Robed Chin Farmer



A platoon of Burmese army led by a Lieutenant (name unknown) from the Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 579 based in Kyawk-Daw has seized two buffalos from Pu Tui Hung, 25 years old Chin farmer from Tinlawng village of Matupi township in southern Chin state on December 8, 2003.




The incident occurred when Pu Tui Hung was on his way to sell the buffalos at Paletwa to cover his ailing father’s medical bills. On his way to Paletwas, Pu Tui Hung and the Platoon has met between Hemapi and Hemate villages. As soon as they met, the Burmese army seized the buffalos and arrested the owner. The army then, demanded Pu Tui Hung 100,000/- Kyats for his release and for the two buffalos. The army threatened the victim that if he fails to pay 100,000/- Kyats, they will detain him in Sinletwas army camp for a long time and he will never get back his buffalos.




Pu Tui Hung beg the army to take 60,000/- Kyats, that is all the money he has, and release him with his buffalos as he was on his way to sell the buffalos to cover his ailing father’s medical bill. The army took 60,000/- Kyats from Pu Tui Hung and released him with his two buffalos.




Burmese Army Extort Money from Villagers



According to a Chin farmer named Ngo Bi from Satu village of Matupi township, Sergeant Tin Soe and his troops from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 of Lailenpi camp were posted by the order of camp commander Aung Naing Oo to guard the road between India and Burma to collect money from cross border traders.




On January 16, 2004 Sergeant Tin Soe and his troop seized a cow and four pigs from Ngo Bi and his friend Than Set. The Burmese soldiers threatened Mr. Ngo Bi and his friend that unless they give 25,000 Kyat, they will not get back their cattle. Thus, Mr. Ngo Bi and his friend Than Set had given 25,000 Kyats to the army.




In the other incident at Lailente village on 15 January 2004, the Burmese soldiers extorted 11,000 Kyats from the two girls Cherry May Pan and Thein Sang.




Extortion of Money by Burmese Police at Sentung Village



Dua Chung, a Chin cross border trader from Sentung village report to CHRO that he and his friend has purchased 400,000 Kyats worth knitting wools and yarn to sell in Burma. On their way back from India, Mr. Dua Chung and his friend have met with Police chief Myat Ko Ko of Thantlang police station and eight members of his troops between Sentung and Fanthen village on December 29, 2003.




The police immediately arrested Mr. Dua Chung and his friend with their goods along with two horses that carry their belonging and detained them at the house of Sentung village Peace and Development chairman house. The police threatened them that since the goods are from India, it is illegal and they could face longterm jail term for smuggling foreign goods into the country. Then the police told them that they release them only if they give 50,000 kyats.




Thus, Mr. Dua Chung and his friend borrow the money from Sentung village headman and gave it to the Police.







Human Rights Violations in Lailenpi Area as reported by Mara People Party




1. According to the order issued by Captain Aung Naing Oo of Sabawngte army camp on February 16, 2004, three villages Phaphe, Hloma and Meisakotlah are forced to repair the fence of Sabawnte army camp.



2. On February 9, 2004, Sergeant Kyaw Htun of Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (55) has badly beaten up Pu Kawng Rim from Lailenpi village and robbed 800,000 Kyats from him. The incident occurred at Sau-U village, Paletwa township of southern Chin state.


3. On February 15, 2004 Captain Sein Win of Burmese army, Lailenpi army camp commander, seized two goats, a pig and 6,000 Kyats from Maung Maung and his friends of Aru villagers.






The Chins In Washington DC Protest Against Burmese Military Junta

Chinland Guardian


February 16, 2004


Washington DC: The Chin people from Burma in Washington DC area stage demonstration against the Burmese ruling military junta State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) here in Washington DC today. The demonstration took place in front of the SPDC’s ambassador residence at about 2 PM.


“We come here to condemn and protest against this illegitimate military regime’s inhuman policy of ethnic cleansing, rampant human rights violations and religious persecutions against ethnic nationalities in Burma, especially in our own homeland Chin sate” said Pu Tial Hu, chairman of Chin Freedom Coalition who organized the demonstration.


The demonstration is prompted by the SPDC disapproval of Chin National Day celebration in Chin state that marks 56th anniversary on February 20, 2004.


About 50 people come to the demonstration some wearing Chin traditional dress to show their distinct ethnic identity.


Some placards read such as “Stop Ethnic Cleansing!”, “Stop Religious Persecutions”, “We Want To Celebrate Our National Day as It is” etc.


Even though the Chin people around the world have celebrated February 20 as their national day, the ruling military regime in Burma did not allow the Chin people to celebrate their national day as it is in their own homeland.


The birth of Chin National Day date back to 1948 February 20 the day more than 5,000 representatives from allover Chinland attended a conference to determine their future administration system in their capital town of Falam. The conference abolished feudalism and give birth of democratic system among the Chin people. The event was presided by the newly independent union of Burma’s first president Sao Shwe Thike and February 20 is recognized as Chin national day, official holiday in Union of Burma during the sort live democracy rule from 1948 to 1962.


In 1962 the Burmese military led by General Ne Win stage coup, abolished 1948 constitution and ruled the country in the name of Revolutionary Council till 1974. In 1974 when General Ne Win adopted the new constitution to legalize the Burmese Socialist Program Party, the Chins were granted state hood on January 3, 1974.


Since then, the successive Burmese regimes BSPP, SLORC and SPDC try to replace Chin National Day with Chin State Day.


“In Chin state, the authority never allow the Chin people to celebrate Chin National Day, they always substitute our national day with state day, every body knows that it is not fair but no body dare to speaks up” said Aa Ciang, a Chin woman in her 20s who come to the US as refugee.


Representative of the Chin National Front in the United States said; “Substitution of our national day with state day is totally unfair. It is discrimination against our people. In other words the Burmese military junta is trying to eliminate the existence of our people, and you can call it as parts of the SPDC’s systematic ethnic cleansing”.


Pu Dawng Khan Khup of Chin Freedom Coalition based in the United States said that; “If the SPDC or anybody wants to celebrate Chin state day, they are welcome to do so on January 3, but not on February 20. They can’t replace Chin National day with Chin state day. They have very different meanings”.


“During parliamentary democracy rule in Burma, February 20 is recognized the Union government as Chin National Day and Prime Minister U Nu or the president never fail to send letter of congratulations to the Chin people on this auspicious day” said Pu Lian Uk, member of parliament elect from Haka the capital of Chin state during 1990 general election in Burma.


Pu Lian Uk, independent MP elect who never took office is exile in the United States and now living in Washington DC. Two other Chin PM elect from the Chin National League for Democracy and the Zomi National Congress are also in Political exile. While some Chin MP elect served long-term jail sentence by the SPDC, at least four Chin nationalist parties that compete and won some seats in the 1990 elections are declared as illegal organization by the ruling Burmese military junta.


Apart from political suppression, the Chins are not allowed to learn their own language after grade 2, and they are persecuted for their Christian faiths. Crosses, symbol of Christian faith, planted in all major town in Chin state have been destroyed by the Burmese military regime and replaced with Buddhist pagodas.


According to Chin Human Rights Organization, the Chin people in Burma are suffering rampant human rights violations committed by the Burmese military junta and there are about 50,000 Chin refugees living in Mizoram state of India.






A Chin Asylum Seeker died During Police Operation



Chin Refugee Centre


Feb. 17, 2004, Kuala Lumpur


Mr. Khai Tin Mang (age 32 ) from Chin State, Myanmar who fled Myanmar in fear of military arrest and registered himself as an asylum seeker in UNHCR liaison Office here was knocked down by a car on 16 / Feb / 2004 and died on the spot. The victim tried to escape from the police arrest during an illegal immigrants operation conducted by police and immigration authorities at a construction site in Sungai Buluh and crossed the Highway where he was knocked down by the oncoming car. His body was brought by police to Kuala Lumpur and later contacted the Chin Centre.




The CRC members went to KL hospital and identified the body. His body will be buried at KL Christian Cemetery tomorrow ( 18 / Feb / 2004- Wednesday at 1 : 00 PM ) by CRC and CCF members.


Chin Refugee Centre


Kuala Lumpur














By Lian H. Sakhong



Burma’s thuggish ruling elite traffics in drugs and in people—in forced labor, child labor, slave labor. It throws people into medieval torture chambers at the slightest pretext: for owning a fax machine, for making jokes about the regime, for listening to foreign broadcasts. There are some 1,800 political prisoners. Universities have been shuttered for much of the past decade, and poverty has deepened.


The Washington Post, July 16, 2001








When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, Burma was one of the first newly independent countries, which enthusiastically endorsed the Declaration.[1] In fact, the smaller countries in the third world like Burma were very enthusiastic about the Declaration because this was the first international agreement that recognises the equality and dignity of all peoples, regardless of the size of their country, regardless of their geographic or ethnic origin. U Thant, the Burmese Ambassador to UN and who later became the Secretary General of the UN in 1962-1971, said that “the Universal Declaration is the Magna Carta of humankind,” for its provisions constitute “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”[2]




Today, however, we have a military regime in Burma, claiming that the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights are based on Western concepts of government and human nature, that it is a tool of Western cultural imperialism imposed on us, and that it ignores the distinctive cultural values of the Burmese people. General Saw Maung, Chairman of the SLORC, for example, said, “I tell you if anyone wants to enjoy the human rights they have in the US, England and India, provided the country accepts; I will permit them to leave. But in Myanmar [Burma], I can only grant human rights suitable for Myanmars [Burmese] people.”[3] As the regime rule the country under the Martial Law, he also said, “Martial Law is no law at all, but the use of force.”[4]




Present military junta in Burma can best be described as one of the most repressive regimes in the world. After the bloody coup in 1988, gross violations of human rights, including the draconian suppression of political freedoms, arbitrary detention, torture, rape, disappearances, extra-judicial killings, oppression of ethnic and religious minorities, and use of forced labour are continuously increasing. The Index on Human Misery in 1992, therefore, ranked Burma as one of the world’s most miserable countries, estimating that over 16 million of 46 million inhabitants were under the poverty line, and living under insufferable conditions. The year 2003 represented no improvements in human rights in Burma; in fact, the situation of the common people is continuing to worsen. Systematic abuses of economic, social and cultural rights by the regime and army has been continuing to grow as the ruling military junta called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) consolidates its power at all costs.[5]




Since 1991, the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have for 12 consecutive years adopted consensus resolutions condemning the military’s systematic gross abuse of human rights and its refusal to accept the will of the Burmese people as expressed in the 1990 general elections. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has in effect, expelled Burma from the ILO for the regime’s widespread use of forced labour.




Political crisis, civil war and human rights violations in Burma are always related with notorious golden triangle drug trade. Since the 1950’s, unable to repel the Chinese Kuomintang troops and unable to pay local defence forces, the Burma Army authorised militia to trade in opium to finance their operations. In the 1960’s more militia to fight Shan nationalists were raised and again they were paid by allowing them to trade in opium. Worse yet, in 1989, fearing that some ethnic armies would join the democracy movement; the military signed cease-fires with them. In exchange for not joining the democracy movement, some of the ethnic armies, among them is the United Wa State Army (UWSA), were given the right to ‘trade’ without any restrictions. So, until recently, Burma was the biggest producer of opium and heroin. The current level of annual production is about 2,000 tons. However, the drug lords in Burma are now switching from heroin to the production of amphetamines which is more lucrative. The fact that cash can be deposited in Burmese banks with no questions asked and the fact that Burma’s drug lords are now known as successful ‘entrepreneurs’ in Burma’s new economy and live in Rangoon, all point to the fact that the regime benefits from the drug trade.




In addition to drugs, Burma is a major source of HIV/AIDS infection, which will in the long run affect regional stability. Burma after India and Thailand has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in Asia. It is understandable that India with a population of 1 billion has the highest number. Thailand’s HIV/AIDS problem is caused by its rampant sex trade. But through public education and good policies, the situation is slowly being brought under control. Burma’s HIV/AIDS epidemic is mainly caused by drug addiction. It is illegal in Burma to own a needle. Addicts, therefore, share needles. In testing drug addicts in northern Burma over 90% tested positive. The problem is compounded by contaminated blood. When the military requires blood transfusion, the blood is taken from prisoners. There is no screening. The next factor is the fact that more and more Burmese women and girls are being sold into the sex trade in Thailand. When they test positive, they are shipped home without any explanation and the military sends them back to their home villages. There is no information, education or treatment program. The military in Burma is still denying that HIV/AIDs is a problem. The World Health Organisation and other independent sources estimated at least 500,000 HIV/AIDs positive cases in Burma.




Another major problem, which has a bearing on the matter, is the fact that education in Burma has virtually become non-existent. In the past 14 years, universities have been closed for about 9 nine years. This means that Burma does not now have educated people who can help develop the country. Unable to win the allegiance of students, the military has opted for keeping the universities closed and students scattered rather than provide them with an education for fear that they will organise anti-regime demonstrations which could spark nation-wide unrest. In addition to university closures, an even more disturbing trend was reported by the World Bank recently. According to statistics provided by the regime, in 1989 the education budget was Kyat 1,200 per child per year. In 1999, this figure had decreased to Kyat 100 per child per year! The World Bank also reported that half of the primary school-aged children are malnourished and on average it takes a Burmese child 9.5 years to complete 5 years of primary school. This means that Burma is facing an enormous crisis. Without an educated population, how can anyone build a nation? The statistics take on an even more disturbing aspect when it is realised that this neglect of education is a deliberate policy and not an oversight. During the period that the education budget has been declining, the regime has more than doubled the size of its army from 180,000 men to 450,000 men and purchased US$ 1.8 billion worth of arms from China. The question is why because Burma has no external enemies. The only possible answer is that the regime intends to remain in power at all cost even to the extent of sacrificing the future of Burma’s children.






Volume Volume VII.No.II. March-April 2004




Human Rights:


Chin Women forced to Join Myanmar Women Organization Chaired By Gen. Khin Ngunt’s Wife

Forced Labor in Thantlang Town

Forced Labor In Matupi Township

11 Villages Forced to Work at the Army Tea-Plantation Farm

The SPDC soldiers Collect Illegal Tax from Chin Villagers

Burmese Soldiers on Extortion Rampage

Report Yourself to the Authority or Go to Lockup

Eviction order served to residents of Tamu-Kalay Highway




Let the illegal people leave!

How to treat the Burmese in Mizoram


Religious Persecutions:


State-Sponsored Expansion Of Buddhism In Chin State

Interview With Rev. Dr Chum Awi

How And Why The Burmese Army Murdered Four Chin Christians

By Vum Son Suantak


Facts & Arguments:


The Non-Burman Ethnic People of Burma

By Harn Yawnghwe


Human Rights:


Chin Women forced to Join Myanmar Women Organization Chaired By Gen. Khin Ngunt’s Wife


Aizawl-March 22, 2004: Chin Human Rights Organization received a report that women from northern Chin state of Falam, Haka, Thantlang, Tidim and Tonzang townships are compelled to join a the National Working Committee for Women’s Affairs (NWCWA) chaired by Dr. Khin Win Shwe, the wife of SPDC’s Prime Minister and Burmese military intelligent chief Gen. Khin Ngunt.


According to CHRO source, Dr. Khin Win Shwe, chairperson of NWCWA ordered that every woman of age between 10 and 60 in northern Chin state register themselves with their respective township peace and development office to be members of the organization.


Every woman of eligible age is to pick up the application form at the Township Peace and Development Council offices or at Village Peace and Development Council Offices at the rate of 5 kyats. In addition to application form fee, 300/- Kyats is charged as a membership fee.


A few days after Aung San Suu Kyi visited Chin state last year, Dr. Khin Win Shwe visited Chin state in March 2003. The authority has forced the local residents to welcome Dr. Khin Win Shwe.


Forced Labor in Thantlang Town


March 22, 2004: CHRO received a report that starting from the first week of March, Thantlang town resident in northern Chin state are forced to construct the sidewalks for the town’s main street.


Thantlang Township Peace and Development Council Chairman U Luu Tin ordered the town residents to finish the sidewalk of the main street before the end of March 2004. According to the order, any household that does not complete their quota before the end of March will be punished by the authority. Additionally, the residents are to face punishment if their work does not meet the standard set by the township landscaping office.


The authority does not provide any necessary material to construct the sidewalks and the local residents have to purchase brick, stone and cements etc out of their own pocket. Thus, some residents have to spend as much as 100,000/- Kyats to 200,000/-Kyat, in addition to their labor, to construct the sidewalks.


Forced Labor In Matupi Township


March 25, 2004: Over two hundred villagers are being forced to work at road construction between Sabawngte army camp and Darling village. Major Thant Zin Oo, deputy battalion commander of Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268, ordered civilians to repair the road connecting Sabawngte army camp and Darling village in central Chin state. The forced labor started on March 8, 2004 and continued till the day this report is made.


The villages that are engaged in the forced labor are; 40 people from Sabawngpi village, 19 people from Malang village, 15 people from Lungcawi village, 30 people from La-Oo village, 57 people from Darling village, 43 people from Sabawngte village, and 10 people from Hlungmang village. There are 27 women among over two hundred forced laborers. The villagers have to bring their own tools and food to the work site.


The Major ordered the villagers to complete the works before the end of March. However, according to CHRO source, it is likely that the work will not be completed before the end of March as the road between Sabawngte army camp and Darling village is 37 miles in distance and only about half of the works have been completed on the day (March last week) of this report.


This road was first constructed in the year 2000 with forced labor to connect Rezua, Sabawngte and Darling.


11 Villages Forced to Work at the Army Tea-Plantation Farm


March 2004: According to information received from the local villager, eleven villages in southern Chin state near India-Burma are being forced to work in the army tea-plantation farm. The order was issue by Major Thant Zin Oo, deputy battalion commander of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 on January 23, 2004. The order mentioned that any village that fails to obey the order will face the consequence.


No one dare to defy the order and the forced labor work started from the second week of February 2004.


The affected eleven villages who are; Ngaphaipi, Fartlang, Khuapilu, Lauo, Darling, Ruanmang, Sapaw, Tonglalung, Sabawngpi and Sabawngte. Every village has to provide 6 people per week to work at the tea plantation farm owned by the army. The villagers, except for villagers form the forced labor site, have to travel a week-long journey to Sabawngte to work at the farm. They have to bring all the necessary tools and food to the work site.


The forced laborers have to water the tea-plantation farm by carrying water from the stream which is about half a mile away from the plantation farm. Since the Major did not mention the duration of the works in his order, no one knows how long the forced labor is going to take place. It is likely that the forced labor will take place till the end of summer.


Starting from the year 2000, the SPDC started tea-plantation farm in Chin state by using excessive forced labor.


The SPDC soldiers Collect Illegal Tax from Chin Villagers


February 15, 2004: The Chin Human Rights Organization received a report that the SPDC soldiers have illegally collected cattle tax from villagers in southern Chin state.


On January 31, 2004 Pu He Thang of Tinam village in Matupi township was accused of trying to sell three pigs to India without permission and badly beaten up by 2nd Lieutenant Win Sein from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 and commander of Lailenpi army camp. Besides, the Lieutenant had extorted 6,000/-kyats from Pu He Thang charging 2,000/-Kyats per pig of the three pigs he was to sell to India.


The victim explained that because of poverty and economic hardship the villagers have to sell whatever they have to India in order to survive. Pu He Thang was on his way to sell the three pigs when he was intercepted by the Burmese soldiers near Lailenpi village.


On January 28, 2004, 2nd Lieutenant Win Sein and his troop also extorted 2,2500/-Kyats from U Maung Shwe and Daw Ni Sung. U Maung Shwe and Daw Ni Sung were on their way to sell some pigs and goats when they were intercepted by 2nd Lieutenant Win Sein and his troop. When the Lieutenant and his troops threatened to beat them up, the two villagers paid to the soldiers two goats and 2,2500/-kyats at the rate of 2,500/-Kyat per pigs for five pigs.


Burmese Soldiers on Extortion Rampage


March 25, 2004: According to Laise (name changed for security reason) of Satu village near India-Burma border, Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 Lailenpi army camp in charge Lt. Tin Soe and his troop extorted money and domestic animal from the local villagers who were on their way to sell their cattle to Mizoram state of India. In most of the following incident, the Burmese soldiers threatened to beaten up and seize all their cattle if they fail to pay.


On March 4, 2004, Lt. Tin Soe and his troop extorted 6,000/-kyats and two chickens from Vua Chawng and Bi Khe of Aru village. The incident occurred when the two villagers were on their way to sell chicken and pigs to Mizoram state of India.


On March 9, 2004, 20,000/-Kyats was extorted from Lay Maung and Laise by Lt. Tin Soe and his troops by threatening them that 7 buffalos from them will be seized if they refuse to pay the money.


On March 5, 2004, Lt. Tin Soe and his troops extorted 5,000/- Kyats from Cherry May and Zordan from Lailente village.


On March 1, 2004, 5,000/- Kyats was extorted from Khai Lawng of Ruanvan village by Lt. Tin Soe and his troop.


In another incident on February 27, 2004 Lt. Tin Soe and his troop extorted 15,000/- Kyats from a group of eight Thongbu villagers of Matupi Township.


Report Yourself to the Authority or Go to Lockup


March 11, 2004


In the first week of February 2004, a Chin young man named Za Herh Lian of Tahtlang village was arrested on the night he visited Thantlang town and put into lockup for a night and fined 7,500/-Kyat. His crime was failing to report himself to the authority about his presence in the town. Za Hre Lain’s host, Pu Lal Hngak was also fined 5,000/- Kyats for failing to report a guest to the authority.


In a similar incident, Pi Tin Cer, a 58-year-old woman fom Sopum village was fined 5,000 Kyats for not presenting and an Identity Card on February 24, 2004. Sopum village is just 8 miles away from Thantlang town, making their income by selling vegetables to the town. On her way to Thantlang town to sell her vegetables, Pi Tin Cer met with Burmese soldiers who demanded her identity card. The elderly woman told the soldiers she was only to sell vegetables in Thantlang and that she was never required to present her identity card for such purposes. The soldiers then strip-search the woman and took 5000 Kyats which she had kept under her sarong. The old woman then turned back to her village empty handed.


In October 2003, Thantlang township SPDC chairman U Luu Tin had issued an order requiring all residents to report their guest to the authority and that everyone carry their ID card wherever they go. Those who fail to obey the order are subjected to arrest and a penalty of up to 5,000/- to 10,000/- Kyats.


This order has caused many problems in the town. To enforce the township SPDC chairman’s order, the police and Burmese soldiers are conducting random check on every house at midnight for any unreported guest or visitors in Thantlang. Many innocent people have been arrested and fined.


Eviction order served to residents of Tamu-Kalay Highway


Tamu (Burma), March 14: In yet another unwelcome development in Tamu Township of Upper Sagaing Division in Burma (Myanmar), the local authority of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) issued an order to residents of Tamu-Kalay Highway to vacate their buildings within the month of March. The order was intimated in the first week of March on the pretext of extending the highway to an area of 100 feet on both sides. An extension of 50 feet was already implemented 3 years ago.


“It is planned intentionally to hurt the populace sentiments and is a direct encroachment to our legitimate land by the authority,” said a resident over the phone to Kukiforum News Service. The move is an attempt to evict us who have owned the plots for years, said another resident on condition of anonymity. The authority neither makes an alternative arrangement to rehabilitate the residents nor offer any kind of compensation in this regard. However, neither the informant nor the Kukiforum confirm whether the plan is initiated from Rangoon or is a discretionary order of the local authority.


If the order is carried out as served, millions worth of properties will be demolished without any compensation. Among others, it will include Seventh-Day Adventist Church building, Kuki Chin Baptist Association (KCBA) and Kabaw Valley Thadou Baptist Association (KVTBA) run Bible institution, and other highly priced buildings. It is an area dominated by the Kuki ethnic population and the authority is planning to wipe out the well-to-do families of the Kukis, lamented a resident.


It may be recalled that during the time of the Revolutionary Council government in 1967, the so-called infamous “Khadawmi Operation” was launched to evict thousands of Kukis from Kangmang Phaicham (Kabaw Valley). Tamu is a parliamentary constituency in which U Thong Kho Thang, a Kuki MP from United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD) and who is a spokesperson for the party, was elected during the 1990 general elections in Burma.




Let the illegal people leave!


March 9 – 2004


Editorial : VANGLAINI:The Central Young Mizo Association (CYMA) has warned foreigners and non Mizos to leave Mizoram before the 7th of April. As per its slogan “Protect the Land and the Land,” the YMA is poised to evict foreigners and non-Mizos residing in Mizoram State of India without the Inner Line Permit. The YMA also warns against any Mizos who co-operated with the illegal foreigners.


The increasing number of foreigners and non-Mizos living illegally in Mizoram cannot go unnoticed. There are two different groups living illegally in Mizoram: Indian nationals from other states who have no Inner Line Permit and non-Indian foreigners. Anyone found to be illegally residing in Mizoram must be punished. And we do know that there are many illegal people in Mizoram. They are never expelled from Mizoram, and this is the fault of both the authorities and the public. They are freely roaming our streets and no one is reporting their presence. Some Mizos have good relationships with them rather than reporting them to the authority. If we do not rent them the house they will not be here. Somehow, it is understandable that the illegal people found so much freedom because some Mizos rent them their house and some people cooperated with them for benefits. The Mizoram authority arrested a few of them occasionally but never takes action against these people.


The CYMA could no longer keep silence on the increasing presence of the illegal people in Mizoram. So the CYMA has notified these people to prepare to leave. As good an initiative as it is, the YMA’s measures will not succeed if the Mizo youths are acting out on these people out of hatred. Only the YMA will take action on the illegal people. We will again be bringing shame to ourselves before India and the international community if our street youths are acting out blindly.


The Saturday statement of Central YMA said “Mizoram is facing more and more hardships because of the illegal people in the State. The statement also warned Mizoram public to not rent their house and engage those illegal people in any business.


The Central YMA also worn to the Mizoram authority regarding giving the Inner Line Permit to the outside Mizoram people. And said: the people who have got the ILP should do/work only on it’s concern.


The statement said: the people who do not want action taken against them by the CYMA must complete their preparation for leaving Mizoram before the 7th of April.


[VANGLAINI is one of the biggest news paper in Mizoram state]




Central Executive Committee of YMA (Young Mizo Association) had a meeting on 632004 and made a decision on illegal migrants. According to the decision, those who have no legal status in the State would not be allowed to run shops, to sell goods and services in the state. Moreover, the goods sold by foreigners or illegal migrants should not be purchased and Inner Line Permit shall not be granted to foreigners.


Hailakandi district of Non-Mizo Trade Union condemned the collection of taxes from the non-Mizo residents. But LalRoKima, president of MZP(Mizo Zirlai Pawl) denied the collection of taxes from non-Mizo.


How to treat the Burmese in Mizoram


Opinion in a Mizoram Newspaper


The rape of the mizo girl in Vancy Hotel, Aizawl was not the root cause of chasing and deporting the Burmese to their country. It has been long enough for the Mizo to bear our brothers who came from Burma for filthy activities in the state. They came to the state to sell drugs, alcohols and engaged in the activities of killings and thefts.


All the Jails we have in Mizoram are mostly occupied by the Burmese. Some blocks of the capital of Mizoram wanted the Burmese to be deported or chased away from the state but some said the Burmese are our brothers and instead, we should give them protection. Nowadays, many more Burmese came to the state, and if we used violence to stop them from coming to Mizoram, it is not the best or the last solution. Therefore, the government of the state should take immediate action on them.


Lastly, those who came to the state to take temporary shelter for political reasons have to be provided protection by the government. Border security has to be established in border areas in order to stop illegal migration.


Religious Persecution:


Interview With Rev. Dr Chum Awi


Former Secretary-General of Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention and Principal of Zomi Theological College



CHRO: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you did, and your work among the Chin people?


Rev. Dr Chum Awi: I was born in Tikir, a small village of Thantlang township. My mother told me I was born around the end of Japanese invasion of Burma during World War II. I have a Law degree from Rangoon University and had served as a Grade IV Township Law Officer in Hakha and Thangtlang for 4 years. I did my Theological training at the Burma Institute for Theology for two years. I earned my Doctorate degree in the Philippines in 1987.


I worked with the Zomi Theological College for 15 years, first as a teacher and later as its Principal. I left the ZTC in 1992 to receive my new appointment as General Secretary of the Zomi Baptist Convention, the largest religious institution of the Chin living in the Chin State, Sagaing and Magwe Divisions. During this tenure, among others, I was a member of Myanmar Baptist Convention (MBC), its Mission Board, and Development Committee, a member of Myanmar Institute of Theology Board of Trustees, a member of Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) Executive Committee, member of MCC Communication Department, and MCC Theological Association.


CHRO: Were the ZBC’s works or activities ever interfered with or hindered by the government?


Rev. Dr Chum Awi: Being a Baptist organization, the ZBC firmly believes in the principle of “Separation of Church and State.” From the era of the Socialist regime through the times of the SLORC and SPDC, the ZBC has always conducted itself by this principle. Unfortunately, however, the government has always used intelligence to eavesdrop and scrutinize our activities. There were times when we were reported to the authorities. But by God’s grace, such attempts by the government never resulted in the failure of our mission or activities. The SPDC, however, was very keen to use the ZBC for its own political ends. They wanted the ZBC to persuade the Chin National Front to surrender their arms to the government. We rejected the proposition to facilitate ‘Peace Talk’ between the CNF and the SPDC saying that the ZBC would not allow itself to be used for political purposes. This developed into a friction between ZBC and the government.


One of the major hindrances to the work of ZBC has always been the government’s policy to promote Buddhism at the expenses of other religions. This is known as “Amyo, Batha, Thathana” or ‘One Race, One Language, One Religion.’ This refers to the creation of a country based on three Bs “Burman, Burmese, Buddhism.” We as the ZBC do not have the freedom to freely conduct, attend and speak in all our religious conferences. Intelligence operatives are always present in all gathering to monitor our activities. The government favours Buddhists while Christians are discriminated against. As Christians, it is heart wrenching for us to see the destruction, one after another, of crosses on hilltops of Chin State by the authorities. Inside the church, we console ourselves “God will fix everything and change everything when the time comes.”


CHRO: The United States State Department branded Burma as ‘Country of Particular Concern’ for violating religious freedom of its citizens. The State Department’s report says religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims are discriminated against the country’s dominant Buddhist populations. What are your views on these?


Rev. Dr Chum Awi: Besides what I just told you about earlier, preachers and pastors are subject to close scrutiny. The authorities arbitrarily set rules for Christian preachers and pastors to follow. They are often accused of violating these rules even if such violation does not happen. Many preachers have been arrested and incarcerated even though they never violated these so-called rules set by the military. In some areas, pastors and preachers have been even killed. While the proliferation of Christianity is prevented in any possible way, the spread of Buddhism is officially and openly supported by the government. Orphans and other children from poor family backgrounds in rural areas often are targets for conversion into Buddhism. They are lured away from their parents under false pretences only to make them novice Buddhists. Chin Christians have for a long time endured these kinds of injustices. I believe that Burma being designated as ‘Country of Particular Concern’ by the United States is, in fact, a way of God showing us justice for what we the Chin people have suffered. This kind of acknowledgement and attention by the world to our suffering is because people from both inside and outside of the country are risking their lives to speak the truth and God is showing them the way to do it. I believe also that God is using the voice of CHRO to make that happen.


CHRO: What is your assessment of the result of discrimination and persecution against Chin Christians by the military regime?


Rev. Dr Chum Awi: I personally have no knowledge of any Chin Christians converting to Buddhism simply out of fear or being unable to endure persecution by the military. On the contrary, I think that there has been stronger unity, determination and cooperation among individuals and among different denomination and churches as a result of these kinds of persecutions. For instance, despite efforts by the SPDC to impede and obstruct the Centennial celebration of Christianity in 1999, the determination and cooperation of Christian churches had made it possible the event to be grander and more successful than the regime’s own National Student Sport Festival held in Chin State in 1997.



How And Why The Burmese Army Murdered Four Chin Christians


By Vum Son Suantak


A Burma Army battalion (Kha-lah-yah unit) Light Infantry Battalion 89, Commanded by Lt.Col. Thurah Sein Win was stationed in Phailen, a border village at the Burma-India border, in the Homalin district. In July 1993 a soldier from the Army unit disappeared with four rifles, leaving behind a letter saying that he was leaving because he was unhappy with life in the Burmese Army.


Subsequently, the Army unit accused the Christian community of Phailen of buying the arms from the soldier with church funds, to help the anti-Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council SLORC resistance movement, the Kuki National Army. The Kuki are Chin, who live in the Indo-Burma border areas (in the Kale –Kabaw Valley extending to Tamu (Sagaing Division).


The army unit arrested several leaders of the community and kept them in the army camp lock-up. On August 2,1993 they interrogated one of the prisoners, Pastor Zang Kho Let. When the Pastor’s answers did not pleased the interrogators, the army personnel beat him with rifle butts or sticks that eventually broke almost all of his bones after two days of interrogation. They cut open his mouth to the neck and told him “We cut open your mouth so that you will no longer preach”. In the two days that they tortured him, Pastor Zang Kho Let never admitted to using the church fund to help the resistance movement or that he was involved in helping the armed resistance. The soldiers, Non Commissioner Officer NCO’s, and officers tortured the pastor with the intent to kill but he was still alive after two days of their inhuman brutality. When the torturers reported to their Commanding officer, Colonel Thura Sein Win, on the condition of the pastor, the colonel ordered them to tighten a plastic bag over his head. (Thura is an award given for bravery, like the torture of the preacher.)


After Pastor Zang Kho Let died, they dragged his lifeless body out of the school building and shot him. With a bullet wound in his body, the Burmese army unit claimed that they shot the pastor because he was trying to escape. The soldiers brought the dead body of Pastor Zang Kho Let back in the school building and placed together with the leaders of the village community, who were arrested to witness the gruesome state of the body. They were told to feel the bones, which were all broken. They were told, “If you do not tell us the truth and if you do not admit that you helped the KNA, you will face the same fate.”


The headman of the village, Zang Kho Ngam, farmers Ngam Khai, and Thawng Kho Lun

admitted to helping the resistance movement in order to escape torture and death. Nonetheless, they were tortured. It took seven days for the three of them to die; they died a slow death. The soldiers cut and burned their skin. They poured salt directly into their open sores. The soldiers zealously repeated the torture that they had just meted out to Pastor Zang Kho Let. When the two farmers died, the soldiers again dragged the bodies outside of the school building and shot. The Burmese Army buried the headman Zang Kho Ngam alive.


Burmese officers ordered seven ethnic Naga soldiers to carry out the torture of the villagers under their supervision. At that time, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and the Chin (Kuki) community in the neighboring Manipur of India, were at war against each other. The NSCN was an insurgent group, fighting for the independence of the Naga in India. When the NSCN demanded taxes from the Kuki communities in Manipur to support their movement, the Chin refused to support the NSCN. The Chin and Naga were both Baptist Christians. Their quarrel escalated to mass killings during the early 1990s when they competed to control the drug road (Tamu-Imphal Highway). The Chin took control of Mohree, the town opposite Tamu on the Burma side, the main gate of the drug coming from Burma to India. It was a war in which Chin innocent children including babies, women and older people were slaughtered, whole villagers were shot and their throats slashed. Villages were burnt, and leaders of the Chin community were murdered. The Indian government could not control the killings because the Naga had the upper hand and by 1995 over 2000 Chin had been murdered.


The Burmese use Naga soldiers in Burma army to torture the Chin village leaders purposefully exploiting the ethnic conflict between the Chin and the Naga, and the Burmese Army achieved their goal of bringing hatred between the three Union citizens, Burman, Chin and Naga. This is the Burmese way to national unity. The soldiers placed the rest of the village men, whom they arrested, in jail for two years, during which they plundered the village, killing all the domestic animals they could find, including chickens, pigs, and cows. They robbed the church of its fund of over two hundred thousand Kyats.


The Burmese Army’s Project was to settle or force relocate ethnic Burman to the Tamu area because Tamu area had a Chin majority. With these kind of scary and brutal tactics they forced the Chin to leave the area. They created new Burmese villages such as Aungzeya and Bandoola. Chin villagers from the area were forced to build new houses for the Burman, who were relocated from the Monywa and Mandalay areas. They were allotted farmlands that previously belonged to the Chin. The Chin were then forced to leave the area.


The Reasons Behind the Killings


The force relocation and killings are a part of SLORC’s Secretary I General Khin Nyunt’s “ Border Area Development Project,” which is implemented by intimidation, forced labor, forced relocation, and murder. Khin Nyunt, who is Chinese by birth, seeks approval of his own Burmanization by promoting the cause of the Burman through cruel treatment of the non-burman nationalities in the border region. These methods were common practice by General Ne Win, a Sino-Burman, by mistreating the Karens and Arakanese during the Japanese occupation when he was a high ranking officer of the Burma Independence army.


The Burma Army’s brutality in the Shan State during the early days of independence (starting in 1950) was also Ne Win’s attempt to gain the approval of the Burman of his standing in the Burman society. The shan members of parliament protested in parliament but they were hopelessly outnumbered in parliament by Burman members of parliament and Ne Win could carry on his atrocities against the frontier people- the tradition is very well preserved until today.


Other officers of Chinese descent “prove” their loyalty to the Burman by oppressing the non-Burmans. Dr. Nyi Nyi, a Chinese, as minister for education under the BSPP, systematically discriminated against the students from the border regions. Knowing full well that access to education, facilities, and teachers were bad in the border areas, he raised qualification (matriculation) scores for university entrance exam. The higher standards effectively barred students with lower scores from the more prestigious professions such as medicine and engineering. Without making an effort to raise the quality of education in the border areas, the people from the border areas were left with

fewer doctors and engineers due to the education system introduced by Dr.Nyi Nyi.


Qualified teachers assigned in the remote areas resigned from their posts and moved to Burmese cities to open tuition schools to prepare students from the cities and towns for the matriculation examination. Less qualified teachers then replaced the teachers in the border regions. The students in Burman towns and cities therefore command even higher scores. Dr. Nyi Nti launched the education system in his search for approval by the ethnic Burman of his programs against the non-Burman, thereby successfully disadvantaging the people of the border regions, which are populated the no-Burman nationalities.


The Chin (Kuki) in the Tamu areas thought that the Border Region Development Project launched by General Khin Nyunt was a genuine project. Thus they sent an emissary to Rangoon, and approached the father-in-law of Khin Ntunt’s daughter. He was to give Khin Nyunt the message that his men (the Burmese Army had murdered their people and terrorized the Chin. Finding his Border Development Project implementing exactly what he had wished, Khin Nyunt quietly transferred Col. Thura Sein Win. There was no redress for the people killed. Khin Ntunt, of course, received the approval of his boss General Ne Win and his contemporaries, the generals who are all ethnic Burman.


The process to Burmanize the people at the border regions and Buddhistization of Christians is one of the main target of the Border Development Project. Such killing of village elders was the tradition of Burmese Army. They calculate that at least a few angry youth would join the armed resistance groups thereby making sure that resistance movement against the Burmese Army is continued and subsequently giving the Burmese Army a freehand to terrorize the people and thus prolong the military dictatorship. It must be added that the Burman power holders since independence had been instrumental in creating systematic force assimilation by forced Burmanization of the non-Burman nationalities.


The actions of General Ne Win, General Khin Nyunt, and Dr. Nyi Nyi against the non Burman nationalities to gain the approval of the Burman of their Burmanization, were extremely effective in creating suspicion, animosity, and hatred between Burman and other nationalities. This does not mean that the Chinese community is to be blamed for the destruction of national unity. The hard working Chinese and Sino-Burman are the backbone of Burmese economy and Burma needs their drive and energy for Burma’s future development. It is unfortunate that a few bad people could so effective in thoroughly destroying the unity of the whole country.


[Excerpt from the CHRO’s upcoming publication RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christian in Burma]


The Non-Burman Ethnic People of Burma


By Harn Yawnghwe



“Burman” or “Burmese”?


“Burman” and “Burmese” are often used interchangeably in the English language. I will use “Burman” to refer to the majority ethcin population, and “Burmese” refers to all the citizens of Burma.


“Burma” or “Myanmar”?


It has been argued by the military that “Burma” refers only to the majority Burman population, whereas “Myanmar” is more inclusive and therefore, more appropriate because it refers to all the peoples of Myanmar. Ironically, Burmese nationalist fighting British colonialism in 1936, argued the reverse. Therefore, as far as the non-Burmans are concerned, the real question is not what the country is called but what political system will include the non-Burmans.


“135 Races”


The military likes to say that there are 135 races or tribes in Burma implying that it is impossible to cater to everyone and therefore, it is necessary to have a strong military to hold the country together. In fact 65 of the so called 135 races are all from the Chin State, which makes up about 3% of the population and they live in an area that makes up about 5%of the whole nation. In other words, the military is exaggerating the problem.


According to the SPDC, people who speak different dialects are classified as being of a different race. It would be like saying that somebody from Oslo is of a different race from somebody from Bergen. We all have differences but both are of the same race.


In actual fact, all Burmese are from the same racial grouping and they can be roughly sub-divided into 3 major subgroups: Tibeto-Burman, Sino-Thai and Mon-Khmer.


In political terms Burma has only 8 constituent states, not 135: Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayah, Karen, Mon and “Burma Proper or Ministerial Burma” in the center. At this point it should be pointed out that the Burmans are also one of the ethnic groups of Burma. So we cannot really talk about the ethnic people and the Burmans.


Ethnic Nationalities


In the past, the non-Burmans were referred to as the “Nationalities” as in Chamber of Nationalities or the Upper House of Parliament. Burm the word the “ethnic minorities” became used more frequently in international circles. So now, we use the term “ethnic nationalities” or the non-Burman ethnic nationalities to denote the non-Burman.



We do not like to use the term “Minorities”. This is because it gives the impression to outsiders that they are talking about only 1-2% of the population.


It is estimated that Burma today has a population of approximately 50 million people. Burmans are supposed to make up 60% of the population. Therefore, when we talk about the “minority” problem in Burma, we are in fact talking about a problem that affects the lives of at least 20 million people. I think this is more than the population of Norway.


In terms of geography, the non-Burmans occupy 55% of the land area or 371,000 sq kms-slightly larger than Germany (357,000 sq km). The non-Burman problem is Burma is definitely not a “minority” problem.


“Tribes” and “Hill Tribes”


Another favourite of the military is to describe the non-Burmans as “Tribe” or “Hill Tribes”. This implies that the Burmans are the only civilized people and that it is their burden to guide the “Tribes” to a better Burman way of life.


This is actually a gross abuse of historical facts. Arakan and Mon kingdoms prededed Burman kingdoms by at lease 500 years. The first Burman kongdom was not recorded before the 11th century. Then Shan kings ruled most of Burma from the 13th century until the 16th century when Burman kings ruled again. It is also well documented that the Burmans took their civilization and culture from the Arakanese and Mon peoples. Therefore, the non-burmans are not uncivilized tribes that need to be civilized by the Burmans.


Of course, the non-Burmans today are less developed than their neighbours but is this because they ae uncivilized or because they have been systematically deprived of their rights for the last 50 years? For example, a UNICEF study showed literacy in the non-Burman areas to be lower than the Burman areas. Why is this so? One reason is that literacy in Burma is measured in terms of knowledge of the Burman language. In the last 50 years to non-Burmans have not been allowed to teach their own languages. Another factor of course is the 50 year-old civil war in the non-Burman areas.


Burma-a Kingdom or a Union States?


Another major difference in perspective between the Burman nationalist and the non-Burmans is history.


At the time the British came into contact with Burma in 1824, the Burman king ruled over the Arakan, Mon and Karen areas and claimed the allegiance of the rulers of the Kayah and Shan states as well as Assam and Manipur in India. Aftet the Britiseh conquest in 1886, the Burman kingdom(including Arakan, Mon and Karen) was make a part of British India. It later became known as “Ministerial Burma” or “Burma Proper”. Karenni or Kayah State was recognized as a sovereign state. The Shan States which later became the Federated Shan States like the Malay states, became a British Protectorate. The Kachin and Chins wre administered separately as the Frontier Area.


Burman nationalist, therefore, claim that they are the heirs of the pre-British Burman kingdom and that rightfully all of Burma belongs to them. They claim that the British deliberated carved up the country to divide and rule. So to the nationalists, the claims of the non-Burmans for self-determination are nothing buty a product of British imperialism. The non-Burmans, however, claim that by 1886 the Burman empire was crumbling and that the British only took the practical way ort by recognizing their de-facto independence from the Burman king. In any case, after 62 years, the Burmans who lo longer had a king could have no practical claims on them.


The Burmese situation is, therefore, different from Indonesia where most of the inslnds were one colony under the Dutch. The colony then became Indonesia. In Burma a formal agreement was entered into by different entities to become the Union of Burma.


1947 Panglong Agreement

To the Chins, Kachins and Shans, the Panglong Conference and Agreement formed the basis of their current union with the Burmans, not any historical claims of a now defunct empire. At that Conference, General Aung San, leader of the Burman independence struggle from “Ministerial Burma”, and leaders of the Shan, Kachin and Chin peoples agreed to merge their homelands on the basis of equality to form the “Republic of the Union of Burma” in order to accelerate the process of seeking independence from Britain.


1974 Constitution


Based on Panglong Agreement, a Union Constitution was drawn up. The non-Burmans believed they were getting a federal system but in reality, while the Shan, Kachin, and Kayah States and the Chin Special Division were recognized, power was not devolved to the states. At this time, the Kayah or Karenni people felt that they had been forced into a union without adequate consultation and took up arms against the central government. Separate negotiations with the Karens also broke down and they also took up arms. The Mon also joined the rebellion as did the Arakanese although the Arakan, Karen and Mon states were recognized at a later date.


From this you can see that, the non-Burman proplem in Burma stems from a failure of the government of Burma to properly address the basic nostitutional arrangement between the different states that make up the union.




To make matters worse, Prime Minister U Nu requested General Ne Win to form a “Caretaker Government” to prevent the Shan and Karenni states from exercising their constitutional rights to secede from the Union after 10 years if they were not satisfied. This started the Shan struggle for independence. To understand the problem you need to be aware that the Shan State makes up 23 % of the land area of Burma and about 20% of the population.




Following the Caretaker Government, the Shan leaders recognized the need to amend the constitution if the nation was be saved and initiated the Federal Movement. But General Ne Win instead seized power and said he was saving the nation from disintegration. General Ne Win also suspended the 1947 constitution .


As far as the Shan, Kachin and Chin were concerned, the suspension of the 1947 constitution nullified the Panglong Agreement which ound them legally to “Ministerial Burma” and as such, Ne Win had at one stroke set them free and illegally occupied their homelands. This plunged the country into civil war in earnest.




From all this, it is very clear that tho non Burman problem in Burma is not a “minority” problem, it is not a tribal problem and it is not an ethnic problem. I want to emphasos this because when we say ethnic problem, most people think of the fomer Yugoslavia where different ethnic people were killing each other. We do not have that kind of problem in Burma. Our problem is not a horizontal ethnic problem, but vertical one. It is basically a constitutional problem and it can be resolved by negotiations.


It is clear that we do not need a strong army to keep the country together. In fact in Burma, the army has made the problem worse by preventing dialogue and refusing the 8 states to engage in constitutional talks. I trust I have been able to clarify some souses for you.

[“The Non-Burman Ethnic People of Burma” is taken with the author’s permission from The New Panglong Initiative: Rebuilding The Union of Burma]






Rhododendron News

Volume VII. No. III. May-June 2004



Human Rights Violations in Chinland:


Christian Cross Destroyed By SPDC in Matupi

Christian Pastors Forced to Take part at Buddhist Water Festival

Obey the Order or Go to Jail

Construction of Baptist Church Ordered to Halt in Matupi

SPDC Open 2 New Concentration Camps in Chin State

Village Headman and Council Menber Arrested for Failing to Repair Border Trade Road

45 Villagers from Rezua Township Engage in Forced Labor Construction of Kangaw-Matupi Road

Villagers Forced to Work at Army Camp

Press Release:


Burma’s Junta Guilty of Mounting A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians

SPDC Guilty of Persecuting Christians Despite Purported Commitment to Political Reforms




Should the invitees attend the National Convention?


Facts & Arguments:


Conditions For Chinland To Join Reunification Of Federal Union Of Burma

Back Cover Poem:


Our Heart is There But There




Christian Cross Destroyed By SPDC in Matupi


Aizawl: June 6, 2004: Cross planted by Chin Christians near Matupi town in southern Chin State was destroyed by the Burmese soldiers in the early April 2004. Destruction of the order was issued by Colonel Hla Swe, commander of Burma army Tactical Command No. 2 based in Matupi town.


The cross was planted in 1996 by Longvang block Assembly of God’s Church members from Matupi town at the top of mount Lungtak-tlong, which is situated on Kaisi range between Matupi town and Valangpi village.


According to Mr. …..(name withheld for security reason), who belongs to the Longvang AG church, the cross was destroyed during the night and now the site of the cross is reserved by the Tactical Command office to build Buddhist pagoda.


Moreover, a request made by all denomination of Christians from Matupi to conduct Easter Sunday worship service at Bawl-tlang, where a big cross was planted by Chin Christians, was denied by Colonel Hla Swe.


Christians from the area used to conduct worship service and religious activities at Bawl-tlang in the past. However, the Colonel told the town people that the site of the cross at Bawl-tlang is now taken over by Burmese Army Battalion 304 as army camp area and no civilians is allowed to approach the place.


Christian Pastors Forced to Take part at Buddhist Water Festival


Aizawl: June 21, 2004: According to Rev. C……(name withheld for security reason) of Matupi Baptist Association, Colonel San Aung, Commander of Burmese army Tactical no.(2) Chin state, has ordered several Chin Christian pastors from Matupi town in Southern Chin state to participate at an opening ceremony of Buddhist water festival on April 12, 2004.


At lease 15 Chin Christian pastors, most of them are reverend, were forced to take part in the ceremony wearing their Christian religious robe. They were seated with the Buddhist monk at the front raw of the stage where the ceremony was held.


CHRO source said that the ceremony was recorded by Mya-Waddi television station to propagate that Burmese Buddhists are in harmony with Chin Christian leaders. Mya-Waddi television station is the Burmese army propaganda television station.


Chin Christians from the town were forced to construct marquee at the middle of the town to conduct the Buddhist water festival. Besides, every household is compel to contribute 1000/-kyat for the festival.


Young girls are compel to perform cultural dance at the ceremony and one person per household must attend the ceremony.


Rev. C….. further mentioned that it is totally unjust as most of the town residence are Chin Christians and there are only about a dozen Buddhist who are Burmans coming to the town as government servants.




Obey the Order or Go to Jail


Three Chin Christian Pastors Detained One Night for Defying SPDC Order


Aizawl: June 4, 2004: Three Chin Christian pastors in Matupi town were detained by the SPDC authority for a night on April 16, 2004 for failing to obey the order, issued by Colonel Hla Swe of Burmese Army Tactical Command No. 2 of Chin state, to construct the road between Matupi town and Duma village.


The three pastors are Rev. Thuan Ting of Christian Reform Church at Longvan block of Matupi town, Rev. Kui Dim of Matupi Baptist Church at Ngala block, and Captain Dup Ding of Salvation Army church at Longvan block.


The three pastors were arrested by Captain Aung Myint Tun of Matupi police station and detained them for a night at the police station lockup. On the next day, the three pastors were brought to Colonel Hla Swe.


The Colonel ordered the three pastors to get dress with their respective religious robe and meet him again with their uniform. When the pastors come back with their uniform, the Colonel told them to choose whether they wanted to go to jail or engage in road construction. The Colonel warned them that he will not tolerate if they defy his order in the future.


Construction of the road between Matupi town and Duma village was started with forced labor in March 2004. All the town residence and surrounding villages, including government servants, are compels to contribute one person per household to participate in the forced labor. Widows are exempted from the labor if they can pay 4,000/-kyats. 8,000/- to 10,000/- kyat fine was imposed on every family those who are not widow and fail to participate in the road construction.


Construction of Baptist Church Ordered to Halt in Matupi


Aizawl: June 8, 2004: Colonel Hla Swe of Burmese Army Tactical Command No. 2, based in Matupi town of Chin state had ordered to halt construction of Than Dun Baptist Church at Longvan block of the town. The Colonel ordered, by oral, the Church elders to stop construction of That Dun Baptist Church in the last week of March. Source said that no one dared to defy the order even though it is not a written order.


Construction of the church was halted for the past ten years due to problems within the Church. However, the Church elders approached and requested Colonel Hla Swe to allow them to reconstruct the Church in December 2003 and the Colonel gave them permission.


Thus, Christians from Matupi town started the reconstruction of That Dun Baptist Church in January 2004.


Source said that the reconstruction of the Church was reported by the Buddhist monk in Matupi to higher authority and the higher authority ordered Colonel Hla Swe to stop reconstruction of That Dun Baptist Church which he gave permission in December 2003.


SPDC Open 2 New Concentration Camps in Chin State


Champhai: May 6, 2004: CHRO source reported that the Burmese military junta State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has expanded two new concentration camp at Rih town and Lentlang village at India-Burma border trade route in March 2004.


There are about 30 prisoners who are engage in construction of civil hospital at Rih town and another concentration camp at Lentlang village have about 50 prisoner who are engage in construction of road between Tiddim town and Rih town in India-Burma border.


Source said that most of the prisoners are from Kalaymyo prison. They are strictly guarded by both police and Burmese army. Villagers and civilians are not allowed to contact with the prisoners.


The SPDC made two other concentration camps in Chin state at Matupi town and Tlangzar village of Falam township in 1997.


Village Headman and It’s Council Menber Arrested for Failing to Repair Border Trade Road


Champhai: June 4, 2004: “Village headman and it’s village council members of Kaptel village from Tiddim township, northern Chin state were arrested by the local authority for failing to repair India-Burma border trade road between Haimual village and Tiddim town near India-Burma border” said the local villager who cross the border to India side.


The local villager inform CHRO field monitor that the headman of Kaptel village Pu Khai Bawk and village council member Pu Jacob were arrested and detained at Kaptel police lockup. They were arrested for failing to repair their imposed quota which the authority ordered them to repair in the beginning of May.


About 30 villages from the border area were compels to repair India-Burma border trade road since the last week of March this year. However, as most of Kaptel villagers have to cross Indian side of the border to find any job available to support themselves, they have no time to work at road repair to fulfill their quota. Even though the village headman made petition in advanced to the authority about their situation, the authority ignored his petition.


Kaptel villagers are now trying to approach the local authority to release their headman and the village council member.


In March 2004, village headmen and village council members of Phanai and Lungtum villages from Matupi township were arrested and detained for failing to repair Midat-Matupi road.


45 Villagers from Rezua Township Engage in Forced Labor Construction of Kangaw-Matupi Road


Aizawl: June 21, 2004: 30 persons per villages from 45 villages in Rezua tonship were forced to construct Kangaw-Matupi road since March 2004 and the forced labor is continue till this report date. U MW (name withheld for security reason) of Rezua town reported to CHRO field monitor.


Major Kyaw Sein Win of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 50 based in Kangaw, Sagaing Division issued the order that construction of the road must be completed before the end of June. Major Kyaw Sein Win appointed Captain Win Hlaing as in-charge and supervisor of the road construction.


The SPDC does not provide any thing for construction of the road and the villagers have to bring their own ration and necessary tolls to the work site.


Three villages Lungrang, Sawthing and Resa were fined 80,000/- Kyats each by Captain Win Hlaing that their job performance is not satisfactory.


Villagers Forced to Work at Army Camp


Aizawl: April 27, 2004: Sergeant Major Maung Myint of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 55 at Sinletwa army camp had ordered Sinletwa and surrounding 4 village tracks to repair the fence of the camp starting from April 10, 2004. 12 persons per village track have to go to the army camp to repair the fence of Sinletwa army camp.


The villagers have to bring their own ration and tools to work at the camp for seven days. The forced laborers start their daily work at 5 AM in the morning. They were allowed to take their breakfast at 12 PM noon and continue to work till dark. Then they have to cook their supper after dark.


Press Release:


Chin Human Rights Organization


Date: May 19, 2004




Burma’s Junta Guilty of Mounting A Campaign of


Ethnocide Against Chin Christians


Chin Human Rights Organization announces the release of a report entitled “Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians in Burma.” A compilation of facts gathered over the last eight years, the report exposes disturbing evidences of religious persecution against Chin Christians by Burma’s ruling military junta State Peace and Development Council. The report details cases of abuse by Burmese authorities toward one of the country’s major ethnic groups who are predominantly of Christian faith. The Chins inhabit a hilly region of Burma’s western frontier. Over half a million Chins are living in the Chin State and more than 90 percent of them are Christians. The total population of Chin living in the whole of Burma and neighbouring countries is estimated to number 2 millions. This report reveals that the military junta ruling Burma is mounting an active campaign to eliminate the Chin religion, culture and race as part of a policy to ‘Burmanize’ the country.


Since 1999, the United States has singled out Burma as a few countries in the world that violate religious freedom. This report adds yet more evidence to the fact that Burma’s ruling junta, despite its ongoing effort to portray itself as pursuing serious reforms on political and human rights conditions of the country by resuming the stalled National Convention, is responsible for discriminating and persecuting minority religious and ethnic groups in the country.


The 140-page report documents horrifying incidents of abuse by members of the Burma Army, often on direct orders of senior military officials, against Chin Christians. This report also reveals that there is an ongoing effort by the ruling military regime to force-convert Chin Christians to Buddhism, the country’s dominant religion.


The report says that military officials in high command often order the destruction of symbolic Christian crosses planted on mountain peaks by local churches. These crosses are then replaced with Buddhist pagodas or other Buddhist religious statues, often forcing Chin Christians to make human and financial contribution for the construction. This report demonstrates that Burmese authorities are also responsible for deliberately hampering efforts by Christian congregations to freely conduct their religious affairs by denying them permission to hold conferences and worship services and by subjecting Christian activities to strict and discriminatory regulations.


Religion is an important part of Chin society and culture. This report gives clear evidence that Burma’s ruling military regime State Peace and Development Council is responsible for conducting a policy of ‘cultural genocide’ or ethnocide against the Chin people, one of Burma’s distinct society. The report, however, carefully notes that members of the ruling regime, rather than Buddhist religion, are responsible for the persecution of Chin Christians.


For More Information Please Contact;


In Canada: Salai Za Uk Ling (Telephone): 807 577 4903


In the United States: Salai Bawi Lian Mang (Telephone) 510 595 1872


In Thailand: Victor Biak Lian (Telephone) (66) 782 539 41.


Online version of the report is available at




Chin Human Rights Organization


50 Bell Street N.#2


Ottawa, CANADA


ON, K1R 7C7


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




SPDC Guilty of Persecuting Christians Despite Purported Commitment to Political Reforms


Chinland Guardian


By Salai Za Uk Ling


21-May-2004, Ottawa: Even as Burma’s ruling military junta State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) proceeds with the ‘unrepresentative’ National Convention amidst harsh international criticism and opposition boycott, a new report released recently by Chin Human Rights Organization accused the ruling regime of pursuing an active campaign to wipe out one of Burma’s distinct cultural and ethnic groups.


Entitled “Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians in Burma,” the report documents in chilling detail persecution and discrimination experienced by Chin people due to their religious and ethnic identity.


“The ruling military regime is responsible for discriminating and persecuting minority religious and ethnic groups in Burma,” says the 140-page report, adding that such policies are aimed at exterminating the culture of ethnic minorities in Burma. The report adds yet more evidence to what the United States government has been voicing concerns since 1999 about the policies of Burma’s ruling military regime towards the country’s minority religious groups.


The report says that military officials in high command often order the destruction of symbolic Christian crosses planted on mountain peaks by local Chin churches. These crosses are then replaced with Buddhist pagodas or other Buddhist religious statues, often forcing Chin Christians to make human and financial contribution for the construction.


The report demonstrates that Burmese authorities are also responsible for deliberately hampering efforts by Christian congregations to freely conduct their religious affairs by denying them permission to hold conferences and worship services and by subjecting Christian activities to strict and discriminatory regulations.


Christian pastors and church leaders are often the first targets in the regime’s campaign of religious persecution in Chinland. They are often subjected to arrest, illegal detention, abuse and torture, mutilation of body parts and in some cases summary execution.


Christian religion represents the central pillar of today’s Chin society and is regarded by many as a second Chin culture. “Persecuting the Chin because of their religion,” the report contends, “Constitutes an act of cultural genocide against a distinct culture.”


Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Director of CHRO and co-author of the report says, “Evidences we have demonstrate that persecution of Chin Christians is both systematic and well-planned and the idea that Burma’s military regime is serious about democratic and human rights reform is not only questionable but fundamentally erroneous.” He was referring to the stalled National Convention resumed recently in Burma by the ruling State Peace and Development Council.


The report is now available online at Printed copies are also available on request by writing to [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it




Should the invitees attend the National Convention?


By Salai Za Ceu Lian


Chinland Guardian


May 9, 2004: Even if the military generals implement the process of constitution in their sponsored convention by compelling the participants to approve it, we are not going to accept the outcomes as the would-be-seen result is illegal. Indeed, convening the national convention without finding means first to end the internal political crisis is disgraceful and unacceptable agenda that the military regime is embarking on. It is just a FAKE convention.


The idea in behind is a mere illusion of introducing a sweeping reform. It will neither produce concrete results benefiting the country’s political future nor will it pave ways to bring about positive changes politically, which would lead towards reinstating democratic process. The sole purpose of the upcoming national convention slated on May 17,2004 by thuggish regime is to legalize the militarism and defend dictatorial rule through the Constitution.


Once again, they are masterminding the participants in coming convention to nullify the legitimate role of the winning party (NLD) and 1990 election result, which they, the generals, themselves organized it. Strictly speaking, their move with the proposed convention is purely a flagrant breach of the 1990s election outcome and its legitimacy. Before Burma holds the presidency of ASEAN in 2006, the Burmese Generals are attempting to make sure that their draft constitution is fully completed. Unfortunately, the Secretary general of United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan’s expectation to see Burma’s democratic government in the year 2006 would be the year for ASEAN countries to officially recognize the bloody Burmese military regime by empowering them to chair the ASEAN.


By looking at the real challenges facing the country politically at this critical juncture, one could easily draw a conclusion that convening a national convention so as to deal with the Constitution is not first priority for leaders who are in power to work on it. While hundreds of thousands of political dissidents are in notorious prisons throughout Burma’s jails and even the leader of a legitimate NLD Party, Daw Suu, herself is under house detention, the spiraling notion of pushing the agenda ahead to hold national convention is both primary silliness and vicious act of military leaders. Violations of human rights have been unabated in countryside. Beside this, Professor Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma was flatly refused to continue his fact-finding mission inside the country.


If the dictators are sincerely committed to working towards transition of democracy and handing over power to the winning party where the legitimate power is belonged, they must first start holding a genuine dialogue and not kind of previous talk or so-called confidence building that resulted in vague two years ago. They must together work in consultation with the legitimate body in accordance with internationally accpeted norms.


Unfortunately, the proposed convention is a series attempt by the brutal regime to continue the old-fashioned National Concention, which was discontinued in 1996. With respect to the current convention, no sign is indicated from generals that they are going to abandon the six points guideline and 104 points article. No statement is made regarding the freedom of expression for the participants in National Convention to freely share their beliefs and that their expressed concerns be taken into consideration. If the convention is to be convened jointly by winning party- NLD and SPDC, we might have to wait and expect positive outcomes.


However, as the present convention is the one an illegal regime has one-sidedly called and going to dictate it, we, as democrats, both inside and outside the country must denounce it. Untill and unless the regime takes decisive and concrete actions toward handing over political power to the election-winning party and allow all the political parties to freely continue their political activism, there is nothing that we can say about the regime’s committment to a real political reform. Just releasing one or two political prisoners is not a good sign or positive steps either. But this rather is a considerable evidence to suggest that dictators are trying to deceive international community especially western powers so that the imposed s




Rhododendron News

Volume VII. No. IV. July-August 2004


Table of Contents


Human Rights

• Forced Labor at Indo-Burma Border Trade Route

• SPDC Practice Widespread Forced Labor In Border Towns

• Villagers Forced As Porter



• Chin Refugees in Mizoram Face Threat of Deportation


Statement, Letter & Press Release

• Refugees International Letter to Sonia Ghandi

• CHRO’s Statement at the Twenty-Second Session UNWGIP

• Chin Human Rights Organization Mourns the Death of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe


Facts & Arguments

• Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Burmese Chin Refugees in India


Scholar Section

• Burma and National Reconciliation: Ethnic Conflict and State-Society Dysfunction

By Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe


Human Rights



Forced Labor at Indo-Burma Border Trade Route




August 24, 2004


Ever since Rih, a small town at India-Burma border trade route, was granted township headquarters status a year a go, the surrounding villagers have been endlessly forced to contribute their labor to implement various government projects by the authority of the ruling Burmese military regime known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).


Pu M…….(name withheld for security reason) one of the village council members from Khawthlir village complains that 15 surrounding villages have been forced to engage with construction of road and other infrastructure such as hospital, school etc. from mid 2003 to August 2004 accordance with the order issued by U Mya Win, the newly established Rih town administrator in northern Chin state.


Whenever the authority asked for forced labor, one person per household have to pack his/her own food and tools to work as forced laborer.


“Even though we heard that the government has sanction about 20 millions Kyats for construction of this new town project, the villagers never get paid for what they have done” said one of the villages council members from Khawthlir village.


The most recent forced labor lasted more than a week starting from July 12, 2004 to July 18, 2004 including Sunday. The order was issued by Major Maung Myint of Light Infantry Battalion 269. One person per house hold from 15 villages has to contribute their labor to repair India-Burma border trade route between the two villages Haimual and Lentlang. The villagers who are engage in forced labor were not even allowed to go to Church on Sunday July 18.


The 15 villages those who are constantly engage in forced labors are;

Rih Khuathar, Rih Khuahlun, Tio, Khawthlir, Phunte, Thingcang, Saek, Sianlam, Cawnghawih, Khuamual, Hmunluah, Cawhte, Lianhna thar, Lianhna hlun, Haiheng.


In another incident at Tiddim township in northern Chin state, Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 267 forced villagers along the road from Tiddim to India border including Laitui village, which consist more than 500 household were forced to work in road repair for more than a month. One person per household have to bring his/her own food and tools to work as forced laborer.


Those who fail to complete their quota have to pay 4,800 kyats to the authority.


Pu M further told CHRO that whenever a column of Burmese army is traveling around the villages along Indo-Burma border trade route, they never bring their own ration and villagers must supply them with whatever they demanded. The Burmese soldiers take whatever they want from the villagers. They didn’t spare chickens, pigs or vegetables from the farm and they drag villagers as porters whenever they want.


Border trade agreement was signed by the two trade ministers of Burma and India in 1995.


SPDC Practice Widespread Forced Labor In Border Towns



August 5, 2004


The newly established border town Rih residence has been forced to construct streets in the town accordance with the order issued by Colonel Tin Hla, commander of the first tactical command of Burma army in Chin state on July 3, 2004. The order was implemented by township administrator U Mya Win office.


The authority ordered residences of Rih town to take responsibility for laying concretes in the town’s major streets. According to local source, every household have to complete their quota, which is to lay concrete on the street 10 foot wide and 6 foot long, before August 10, 2004.


“It is a grueling job for the town residents” said one of the village council members from nearby village Khawthlir. At the first step, villagers have to carry stones from the nearby stream to lay on the bottom of the street. After that, they have to lay gravel on it and then pour sands over and at the final stage lay the concrete.


It is likely that the town residents will not be able to finish their respective quota before the deadline as most of them have only completed the first step by the time of this report.


Similarly, residents of Teddim town in northern Chin state are compel to engage in extension of the town street and laying concrete since May 2, 2004. U Sai Maung Luu, chairman of Township Peace and Development Council of Teddim town has ordered the town residents that every home owner must complete their quota to repair the street as the standard set by the authority before the end of August.


The order mentioned that anyone who fails to comply will be effectively punished.


As the civilian have to work as forced laborer most of the time, they have no time to work for themselves and it has greatly effect their survivals especially the poor and farmers.


Villagers Forced As Porter




August 5, 2004


Major Win Maung, company commander of Darkhai camp from Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 269 based in Tonzang township northern Chin state has constantly ordered villagers from Tonzang township to carry army supply from Rih army camp to Darkhai camp which is 30 miles away.


Villagers are routinely ordered to carry army supply including ration, arms and ammunition for the whole company. Every village had to contribute 15 horses and 10 persons to serve as porter for every month since the beginning of this year.





Chin Refugees in Mizoram Face Threat of Deportation



August 1, 2004


Chin refugees from Burma in Lunglei, the second largest district headquarters town of Mizoram state in India, are facing threat of eviction and deportation by the Young Mizo Association (YMA). Lunglei branch YMA issued an order in June, 2004 saying that any foreigner who does not have Inner Line Permit must leave the area before the end of July.


On August 1, 2004, the YMA has announced by bullhorn laud-speaker to the public walking every block of the town that the deadline was already pass and all foreigners who does not have Inner Line Permit must leave immediately.


The YMA further warn that they will not be responsible for any consequences that may come up on any foreigners those who ignored the order.


At least three Chin refugees have been arrested and charged them with foreigner case at the date of this report.


Soon after the order was issued, YMA started to collect the list of foreigners in Lunglei area. Again on July 18, 2004 the YMA make public announcement to remind foreigners that they must leave from the town before the end of July.


The YMA said that foreigners are being ordered to leave the area accordance with the government’s rule and regulations. This is not because of the foreigners have bad behavior or any wrong doing.


Most of the foreigners living in Mizoram state are Chin refugees from Burma who fled their home country to avoid rampant human rights violations and economic hardship caused by the rule of military dictatorship in the country.


Statement, Letter & Press Release


Refugees International Letter to Sonia Ghandi


Refugees International recently visited India’s Northeastern State of Mizoram and collected information on persecution of ethnic Chin in Burma by the Burmese military as a result of which the Chin have been fleeing to India for more than a decade. The Chin in Mizoram have been trying to survive by keeping a low profile and assimilating with the local communities, but their situation deteriorated sharply in July 2003, when they were targeted by a local youth group, forcibly evicted from their homes, and in many cases, sent back to Burma, with the cooperation of Mizoram government authorities. Almost a year later, the Chin in Mizoram told RI that the youth group continues to harass and abuse them and they live in constant fear of being deported to Burma where they could face torture and even death at the hands of the Burmese military.


RI has written a letter to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the President of India’s Ruling Congress Party, calling upon the Government of India to become involved in providing protection to the Chin in Mizoram. This letter is copied below.

The Honorable Sonia Gandhi

President, Indian National Congress

10 Janpath

New Delhi 110011


July 28, 2004


Dear Mrs. Gandhi:


I am writing as the President of Refugees International, a Washington-based humanitarian advocacy organization, to express concern for the well being and safety of thousands of Burmese ethnic Chin, who have sought refuge in Mizoram since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising due to on-going violence and persecution in Burma. Ethnic-based politics in Mizoram have led to increasing vulnerability for the up to 30,000 Chin asylum seekers and special action by the central government is required to protect the Chin there.


I am writing to request the Government of India to allow those Burmese fleeing a well-founded fear of persecution to stay in Mizoram and to direct police to allow entry to those fleeing persecution in Burma. We also encourage the Government of India to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist the Burmese so that India does not have to shoulder the sole burden of protecting them or caring for their humanitarian needs.


The current difficult situation for the Chin in Mizoram originated in a July 2003 incident of rape of a Mizo minor girl, allegedly by a Burmese, which resulted in escalating tensions between the Mizo and Burmese communities. About 10,000 Burmese have been evicted from their homes by a local youth organization, called the Young Mizo Association (YMA), with the knowledge of local and state authorities. Several thousand people have been forced to go back to Burma, a country with a well-documented record of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, and up to 30,000 Burmese remain in hiding in Mizoram. Although tensions between the two communities have subsided to a degree since last year, the Burmese are frequently made into scapegoats in Mizoram, especially at the time of elections, as was the case in 2003. Local authorities consider them to be economic migrants, when in reality many of them are seeking refuge in Mizoram due to political persecution or human rights abuses by the Burmese military.


As an organization that monitors the humanitarian and protection needs of refugees, Refugees International (RI) can confirm that the Chin in Burma are maltreated for being an ethnic minority and endure beatings, torture, rapes and executions. According to RI interviews with Chin deported from Mizoram, those sent back to Burma face the danger of being thrown into labor camps and prisons, where they risk torture, illness, and death.


We urge the Government of India to take steps to stop the harassment of Chin in Mizoram and cease pressure on them by local groups to go back to Burma. We are aware that some Burmese are involved in illegal activities, including drug trafficking, and agree that the Indian government has every right to address this problem under Indian law. These individuals, however, should not be confused with law-abiding people who have come to India in search of a safe haven.


An RI team recently visited Mizoram where the Chin refugees remember former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with much gratitude for his staunch support of Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese pro-democracy movement. The Chin recall how under Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s Government, Indian policy was to strengthen the aspirations of the people of Burma for democracy, and no genuine refugees were prevented from seeking shelter in the country.


Now that there is once again a Congress-led national Government, Burmese refugees are daring to hope that they might receive some protection and assistance from the Government of India, along the lines of programs for refugees from Tibet and Sri Lanka. We trust that you will meet the aspirations of these refugees and continue the legacy of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi by supporting those fleeing persecution in Burma.


We thank you for your attention to these matters and look forward to learning more about how a Congress-led Government will take steps to protect the Burmese refugees in Mizoram.




Kenneth H. Bacon



Enc: Refugees International bulletin on situation of Chin refugees in Mizoram


Cc: The Honorable Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

The Honorable Natwar Singh, Minister of External Affairs of India


CHRO Intervention at 22nd Session UNWGIP



Economic and Social Council


Sub-Commission on the promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP)

Twenty-second session

19-23, 2004

Geneva, Switzerland


By: Chin Human Rights Organization

Topic: Conflict Resolution and Indigenous Peoples

Intervener: Kenneth VanBik


Dear Chairperson and members of fellow delegates for Working Group on Indigenous Populations,

First of all, allow me congratulate you for your reelection as the Chairperson of this Working Group. I also would like to thank you for this opportunity to present the plight of my Chin peoples on this occasion.

I am Kenneth VanBik and I represent Chin Human Right Organization.

On the one hand, I agree with you that the root cause of conflict in many indigenous areas is due to the State’s refusal to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. On the other hand, I have reservation on your paper paragraph 18: “the colonization of indigenous territories also negatively affected indigenous peoples in many other ways. Indigenous populations severely diminished in number during the colonial period as a result of forced labour, warfare, malnutrition due to the destruction of the natural environment, diseases and even calculated extermination”

The reason for my reservation is that you did not specifically mention the continuation of such colonial practice in many modern States. Today some States in Asia continues the practice of the colonisers, perpetrating many atrocities against the indigenous peoples, as in Burma. For examples, forced relocations and cultural genocides have been deliberately executed by the military junta in Chin States. By cultural genocide, we mean incidents such as the denial of native language teaching in our own local schools as well as the declaration of Burmese as the only official language in our Chin communities.

Religious oppressions also have been occurring in Chin State. Pulling down many crosses and replaced them with pagodas in Chin hills by the Burmese military regime is a reflection of such religious oppression and persecution.

These kinds of atrocities inevitably lead to violent confrontation and armed conflict up until today.

Due to the above mentioned atrocities and human rights violations committed by Burma military regime, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights decided to nominate a Special Reporter on Burma in 1992 in order to monitor situation of human rights in Burma and submit his/her report to United Nations General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights. The resolution is extended every year and the year 2004is not an exception because the human rights situation in Burma remains the same.

In 1994, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to resolve the conflict in Burma. In that resolution, the UNGA strongly urged to have a tripartite dialogue among the major political players in Burma: indigenous leaders, democratic opposition led by the Noble Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military regime. In order to implement this resolution, the UN General Secretary appointed His Special Envoy to Burma in 1995.

As of today, the effort of the Special Envoy has not eased the conflict in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house-arrest, and the military junta continued its own agenda against the will of the people of Burma as well as that of international community.

For an alternative means to resolve conflict in Burma, I strongly support for “the establishment an international body to adjudicate or advise on disputes between indigenous peoples living within the borders of a modern State and non-indigenous institutions, including State institutions” (Paragraph 77).

Thank you.


Chin Human Rights Organization Mourns the Death of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe



July 24, 2004

Chin Human Rights Organization expresses its deep sorrow at the demise of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, the Shan prince of Yawnghwe, this morning in Vancouver, Canada. Son of the first President of an independent Union of Burma Sao Shwe Thaike, Dr. Chao Tzang, also known as Eugene Yawnghwe, was a fine revolutionary, an accomplished academic and a tireless campaigner for human rights and democracy in Burma. Dr. Yawnghwe dedicated his entire life to working for the freedom of his people, the Shans, and of all the people of Burma from tyranny, inhumanity and oppression.

Before General Ne Win took over power, Chao Tzang Yawnghwe tutored English at the Department of English at Rangoon University. Soon after the military coup of 1962, Chao Tzang Yawnghwe went underground to join the Shan resistance in 1963. A prominent member of the Shan revolution, Chao Tzang Yawnghwe was among the Shan delegation that held peace talks called by General Ne Win in December 1963. A year later, Chao Tzang’s mother, Burma’s first lady and Mehadevi of the Yawnghe chaired the Shan State Army, a merger of two Shan revolutionary organizations. Chao Tzang Yawnge later rose to the position of General Secretary of the Shan State Progress Party, a political wing of the Shan State Army.

In 1985, due to health reasons Yawnghwe left the Shan revolution in order to begin a new life in Canada. Chao Tzang later earned his PhD in Political Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. A true believer of freedom and human rights, Dr. Chao Tzang rejoined the revolution after the 1988 popular uprising in Burma. Since then, he had held various position of eminence and was co-founder and a member of Presidium of the United Nationalities League for Democracy (Liberated Area) UNLD/LA, Advisor to the National Reconciliation Program NRP, Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and Chair of the Working Committee of the Ethnic Nationalities Council. He was also instrumental in helping to draft the state Constitutions for the ethnic nationalities.

A scholar who committed all his life to the freedom of Burma from tyrannical rule, Dr. Yawnghwe firmly believed in the important role of the world community in helping to realize his dreams: the smooth transition from military rule to a system of federalism and democracy in Burma. He said in his article Burma Analysis 2003, “Success for any process of political change (or transition) in Burma in the direction of democratization to which the SPDC claims to be committed to as well and the sustainability of the outcomes will necessarily depend on the focus of the international community on the problems, conflict, and issues that have confronted the peoples of Burma for many dismal decades.”

The death of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe is an irreplaceable loss to the continuing fight for equality, self-determination, federalism and democracy in Burma. He was a hero, a revolutionary, an intellectual and a dedicated activist during whose leadership the ethnic nationalities have learned to so much to advance their cause. Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe will always be gone, but he will always be remembered as a leader, a revolutionary, a federalist and democrat who dedicated all his life for the freedom of the people of Burma.

CHRO offers its most profound condolence to the family and friends of Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe.

May his soul rest in peace.

Chin Human Rights Organization

July 24, 2004


Facts & Arguments


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Burmese Chin Refugees in India


Refugees International recently assessed the situation for Chin asylum seekers in Mizoram state, India.



Burmese Chin refugees in Mizoram state of India face the danger of being arrested, detained, and in some cases expelled back to Burma. Unlike refugees from Sri Lanka and Tibet, whom the Indian government does protect as refugees, or refugees from Afghanistan and Burma living in New Delhi, who are able to access the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Chin in Mizoram have the misfortune of coming under the jurisdiction of India’s Foreigners Act of 1946, which makes no distinction between illegal immigrants and refugees. India, although on the Executive Committee of UNHCR, is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, nor does the Indian Government have a domestic refugee law. The Government of India prevents UNHCR from traveling to Mizoram, leaving the Chin there completely vulnerable.


Refugees from Chin state in Burma have been fleeing to neighboring India’s Mizoram state since 1988, when a military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), came to power after brutally crushing the pro-democracy movement. The predominantly Buddhist SPDC has embarked on a campaign to “Burmanize” the ethnic minorities in the country and a large number of Chin have come to India to escape the religious, cultural and political persecution in their state, where the majority of the population is Christian. According to the Chin in Mizoram interviewed by Refugees International, since the SPDC came to power, construction of new churches has been prohibited. Other anti-Christian measures include preventing people from attending church, destroying crosses, and forcing Chin to build pagodas in place of churches. At the time of services, Burmese government troops come to the church area to collect villagers and take them away for forced labor. For religious gatherings permission in advance from the local authorities is required and permission is often denied for no stated reason.


Whereas before 1988 only one Burmese military battalion was stationed in Chin state, today there are as many as 10 battalions, and with the increase in number of soldiers, there has been a sharp increase in the abuse of the civilian population. People are forced by the military to act as porters and carry arms, ammunition and supplies. They are routinely called for forced labor on construction of roads and army buildings. Civilians, including pregnant women, are randomly selected at any time for combat training which goes on for weeks with no pay. Teachers are pulled out of schools for forced labor; as a result, the education system is in shambles. If the SPDC suspects a civilian of involvement with the democracy movement or the Chin ethnic army, arrest and torture are common practices.


When the initial influx of refugees came to India the government set up camps for them, but the camps were closed in 1995 as ties improved between India and Burma. Since then the Chin have been scattered all over Mizoram state and in the absence of any humanitarian support have been surviving by doing whatever work they can find. In early 2003 the number of Burmese in Mizoram was estimated to be at least 50,000.


Some of the Burmese in Mizoram say that they have come for economic reasons, not to escape SPDC atrocities, but when probed about the economic reasons, often an underlying case of persecution emerges. As a Chin woman told RI, “It is true that I have come to Mizoram to earn money. My son was forcibly conscripted by the Burmese army, I have not seen him for more than two years. My husband is sick and he cannot work. I try to earn enough to feed him and my three small children, and for my husband’s medical care, but each month, for many days, I am compelled to do labor for the SPDC. What alternative do I have but to come here, earn money and take it back with me to Burma? If I don’t come to Mizoram, my family in Burma will not survive.”


At the best of times, many of the Chin have been able to live with the Mizo population and find some work to support themselves. At other times, however, they have been targeted by locals for being foreigners, harassed, and even deported to Burma. Most recently in July 2003, tensions between Mizo and Chin communities exploded following the rape of a Mizo minor girl, allegedly by a Burmese. A powerful youth group called the Young Mizo Association (YMA) began to go door to door telling the Burmese to leave their homes and warning landlords not to let foreigners stay on their property. A campaign was launched by the YMA, in collaboration with other organizations, to drive all Burmese across the border, actions carried out with full knowledge, and sometimes full cooperation, of state authorities. It is estimated that at least 10,000 Chin were evicted from their homes and the expulsion drive led to the forced return of over 5,000 Chin to Burma.


Those who had come mainly for economic purposes or had some hope of being able to survive in Burma went back at the time of the evictions and push backs, leaving behind in Mizoram those who could not return due to the danger to their lives in Burma. In Lunglei, Mizoram’s second largest city, 80% of the Burmese have gone back to Chin state; the refugees still there told RI that they had fled Burma for reasons such as deserting the army after being forcibly conscripted or being tortured by SPDC on fabricated charges of providing assistance to the ethnic Chin army. They would rather suffer at hands of YMA

in Mizoram than go back to Burma where they could be killed by the SPDC.


Although tensions have subsided somewhat since July 2003, life for many Burmese in Mizoram remains an ordeal. The biggest problem facing the Chin is that of protection and they live in daily fear of the YMA. Every few days, they are visited by YMA cadres, on occasion accompanied by local police, who tell them to pack their belongings and leave the area. When they refuse, they are assaulted, and in certain instances, put in jail overnight to “teach them a lesson.” Sometimes when the Burmese hear reports of the YMA coming to their locality, they flee their homes and hide in forests, where they eat mice and roots for survival. Once they perceive the danger to be over, they return to their homes only to find them ransacked and their belongings destroyed by the YMA.


Other difficulties facing the Chin at present include refusal of Mizo landlords to rent rooms to them as they have been warned by the YMA not to let Burmese stay on their properties. If the Burmese manage to find homes, they can be evicted at any time. The Burmese face exploitation by Mizo employers who give them the most menial and dangerous labor, the kind of work no Mizo wants to do, with minimal pay. They have limited access to heath care. When AIDS awareness activists try to go to areas where groups of refugees live, so as to educate them about the spread of AIDS, they are prevented from doing so by the YMA. Even in death the Burmese are not spared. In Lunglei district, the Mizos do not permit dead bodies of Burmese to be buried in the village graveyards; the Chin have to bury their dead in separate “orphan graveyards.”


Despite all the hardships in Mizoram, most of the Burmese living there cannot imagine going back to Burma until there is a change of government. A small population of Burmese has been able to gather sufficient money to make the expensive trip to Delhi to seek asylum with UNHCR, but for most that is not possible. In the words of Pa Thang, a Chin who was picked up by Indian police for being illegal, handed over to Burmese authorities, then tortured in a Burmese jail for many months before he was finally able to escape back to India, “For us, living in Mizoram is hardly an option, but going back to Burma is no option at all, so we will just continue to stay here and suffer day after day. Sometimes we feel we are no better than wild animals tracked and hunted by the YMA.”

Amidst this misery, there are a few signs of hope largely due to kindness of local people in certain districts in Mizoram. For example, in one part of Lunglei district, a sympathetic police superintendent is interviewing Chin in the area and if he believes they came to escape persecution, he is offering them temporary permits to stay there; in another part of Lunglei, recognizing that the Burmese are doing the most menial jobs that Mizos don’t want to do, local officials are allowing them to apply for authorization to stay in Mizoram, provided they have a Mizo employer who will validate their employment.


Refugees International, therefore, recommends that:

The Government of India

Recognize that the Foreigners Act of 1946 is an archaic law and enact a national refugee law to ensure that all genuine asylum seekers who have fled to India are offered equal protection and are not treated differently based on their nationality.


Allow UNHCR access to Mizoram, if not to set up permanent offices, then to conduct periodic fact-finding missions during which UNHCR staff have direct access to Chin asylum seekers.


In the absence of UNHCR access to Mizoram, assume responsibility for providing protection and assistance to Burmese refugees, as was the practice from 1988-1995.


The Government of Mizoram State

Acknowledge that many Chin cannot return to their country until there is a change of government, and conduct public education campaigns among the Mizo people to help them understand that the Burmese have come to escape persecution, rather than for economic reasons.

Prevent organizations like the Young Mizo Association from taking law into their own hands and attacking and harassing Burmese refugees.


Create systems whereby Burmese with local employers can obtain authorization to stay in Mizoram and receive protection from local authorities.



Encourage the Government of India to permit the agency to access all Burmese asylum seekers in the country and not just the handful who are able to make the journey from India’s northeastern states to Delhi.


Scholar Section


Burma and National Reconciliation:

Ethnic Conflict and State-Society Dysfunction

Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe*


[Rhododendron reprints this article of the late Dr. Chao Tzang Yawnghwe in honor of his life long struggle to restore freedom, democracy and human rights in Burma. This article was first published by” Legal Issues on Burma Journal” in December 2001 (Burma Lawyers’ Council)]


It is maintained that Burma’s ‘ethnic conflict’ is not per se ethnic, nor that of the kind faced by indigenous peoples of, for example, North America, but a conflict rooted in politics. Following the collapse of Burma’s General Ne Win’s military-socialist regime in 1988, the issue of ethnic conflict has attracted the attention from both observers and protagonists. This attention became heightened following the unraveling of the socialist bloc and the emergence of ethnic wars in those hitherto (presumed) stable socialist nation-states.



Introduction: The Problem of State-Society Dysfunction


The ethnic resistance movements in Burma were previously perceived by most observers as insurgencies by disgruntled tribal isolates fighting against the modernizing and unifying state. Especially following the emergence of new nation-states in the 1950s, political scientists cheered for the new leaders of these countries and their attempts to ‘modernize’ their ‘backward’ societies. Resistance of societal segments, especially ethnic groups, to the state was frowned upon as obstructing the laudable nation and state-building efforts of the modern state and its leaders. The ethnic conflict problem was not seen as integral to the larger, more basic problem of disjunction. This was especially the case after 1962, between the military-monopolized state and the society at large. That there was dysfunction in state-society relations in Burma is now recognized, but the ethnic dimension of state-society dysfunction has never been fully appreciated. This insight is critical for those seeking to gain a clear understanding of Burma’s current crisis. The conflict in Burma is deep-rooted. Solutions can only be found if the real issues of conflict are examined, such as territory, resources and nationality, rather than the previously accepted but superficial explanations.


When resistance of societal segments is considered obstructive, especially when these segments are ethnic-based, it constitutes an important dimension of state-society dysfunction. The need for national integration in Burma is inarguable. The problem is how it is to be defined and achieved. Integration has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, i.e. between state and society, and between the different elements of a society. Attempts at national integration ignoring these dimensions are likely to divide rather than unite. Ethnic resistance was condemned by leaders and governments of post-colonial states, and likewise by their respective former foreign patrons, as reactionary tribal holdouts. Often, ethnic resistance was portrayed by ruling regimes as instruments of external, ‘imperialist’ powers or agents. Contributing to the confusion was a situation where cold-war protagonists were encouraging ethnic discontent and rebellion in order to destabilize the state of the rival power.


Ethnic Conflict in Burma: Some Basic Definitions


Even today, when it is recognized that the various ‘ethnic rebellions’ form a part of Burma’s state-society dysfunction, there remains some confusion regarding the nature of ethnic conflict. One current perspective sees the ethnic conflict in Burma in terms of ethnic minorities fighting for democratic rights or cultural-identity rights, or equal opportunity, like the African-American and other minorities in the United States. Even Burma’s ethnic non-Burman1 groups and leaders, at least some of them, have been drawn into the “minority rights, equal opportunity” paradigm. Some ethnic leaders and activists have even defined themselves as ‘indigenous people’, although this term refers to native people or aboriginals marginalized and displaced by white settlers. The use of the term ‘indigenous people’ in the Burma context is odd because all ethnic segments, including the Burmans or ethnic Burmese, are indigenous in the sense that they are all native to Burma. The ethnic non-Burman segments of Burma, especially the Shan, Kachin, Karenni, Chin, and Rakhine, are neither ethnic minorities nor indigenous peoples. As will be clarified below, they (like the Burmans) are peoples or nations. They moreover have had the experience of administering themselves, albeit under British supervision, for about five decades.2 They also have, like the Burmans, their own history, or rather, a sense of history. In their own states or home territories the ethnic non-Burmans, in fact, comprise collectively the majority, and the Burmans the minority. Because of their role as cofounders of the Union of Burma, by virtue of the 1947 Panglong Accord, the ethnic non-Burman nationalities consider themselves the founding nations of the country. They have used the term ‘ethnic nationalities’ rather than ‘ethnic minorities’ to refer to themselves collectively.


Burma’s ‘ethnic conflict’ is not per se ethnic but political, in a very fundamental way. The conflict is political because it is both about ethnic identity and rights, about democracy and equal opportunity, and about building nation and state. It involves political fundamentals as to how a nation is to be built, defined or identified, by whom, and in what direction. It has much to do with problems arising from the application of nation-building formulae by the state or by a set of power-holders.


With regard to nation-building in independent Burma, it is important to recognize that the first foundation stones were laid in 1947 when the Panglong Accord was signed in the Shan State. This politically defining document was signed between U Aung San, the Shan Sawbwa princes and representatives of the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples. The Panglong Conference reached unanimous agreement that the political freedom of all peoples there represented would be hastened by immediate cooperation with the interim government. It was further agreed at Panglong that cooperation should be implemented by the governor’s appointment of an additional councilor, to be nominated by the newly formed supreme council of United Hill Peoples. The councilor would assume executive responsibility for the Frontier Areas. Other agreements at Panglong provided for the enjoyment of democratic rights by all citizens, for continued interim financial aid by the center to the Frontier Areas, for local autonomy, and for immediate consultations looking toward the demarcation of a Kachin State.3 The Panglong Accord defined the political and geographical boundaries of present-day Burma: its peoples would join together in an alliance to obtain independence from Britain and to establish a union of equal and self-determining states—the Union of Burma or Pyidaungzu. The Burmese word Pyidaungzu means a union of nation-states, implying a federation of states. Federalism is embedded in the Burmese term for the post-1948 Union of Burma. Since Panglong was a historically defining moment and the genesis of present-day Burma, the Pang-long Accord and its underlying spirit are politically hegemonic. Even the successive ruling generals (who have done much violence to the ideals of Panglong) have to pay lipservice to the Panglong Spirit, to the notion of equality between what they call ‘national races’.4



British Colonial Rule and the Making of Burma


Like all nation-states that emerged after the withdrawal of colonial powers, such as India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, Burma is basically the child of the colonial order. The colonial powers re-arranged the territories that came into their hands and made them into ‘modern’ entities that later became post-colonial nation-states. Prior to the advent of colonial powers, Burma in its present form did not exist. There were what modern historians describe as Burmese (or Burman) kingdoms that existed side by side with the Mon, Shan, Rakhine, Manipuri, Thai, Lao, and Khmer kingdoms, and which were often in conflict with each other. Wars, both intra-kingdom dynastic fighting and inter-kingdom conflicts, were endemic. The kingdoms were however neither solely territorial nor based on ethnic sentiments or solidarity. That is, they were not national kingdoms but dynastic or personal systems of power and domination.


In the final British annexation of Burma in 1885,5 the Burmese king and court had hardly any control over the areas north of the capital city of Mandalay. Moreover, an alliance of Shan princes, called the Limbin Confederacy, was poised to march on to the capital to overthrow King Thibaw (whose mother was Shan, the Hsipaw Princess). The Shan princes wanted to install their candidate, the Limbin Prince, on the throne. There was at that time no Burmese kingdom to speak of. A year after the fall of Mandalay, the British met with the Shan princes at Mong Yai and negotiated the inclusion of their princedoms in British India as protectorates under the Viceroy. The British then proceeded to reorganize the areas beyond India (‘farther India’ or ‘British Indochina’) that had come under their control. By the 1930s, British Burma was separated from India and organized into two distinct parts, namely Ministerial Burma (the homeland of the majority ethnic Burmese) and the Frontier Areas. The latter included the present-day Shan, Kachin, and Chin States, and parts of the current Karen and Arakan/Rakhine State. The present Karenni State was treated more or less as a protectorate, and the Wa area was classified as un-administered territory.


Under the British, there was still no Burma in its current form. It has been held by a number of Burman nationalists that the British deliberately divided Burma in accordance with their ‘divide-and-rule’ policy. What can be said about the divide-and-rule thesis, however, is that it assumes that the population of Burma was homogenous or had already been unified as a nation in the current sense of the word. In this context the term ‘divide-and-rule’ is untenable and fails to take account of practices that were common to all colonial powers. Rather than being moved by the ‘divide-and-rule’ imperative, which anti-colonial nationalists often attribute to colonial powers, the widely practiced system of direct and indirect rule was based on administrative convenience, informed by the economic-commercial viability of the real estate in question. That is to say, areas that were accessible from the sea, fertile, productive, and where an infrastructure could be built at low cost, were usually placed under direct rule, whereas the hinterland with hardly any infrastructure, controlled by traditional rulers, was loosely supervised by colonial officers. In Burma, the Irrawaddy basin constituting the Burman homeland, i.e. Burma Proper, was ruled directly and thus became developed and reached some degree of modernization. The Frontier Areas were left to their own respective rulers and became less developed. British Burma was, like French Indochina, a mix of expedient bureaucratic-administrative arrangements, and it was this patchwork of differently administered and differently developed territories that would form the Union of Burma after the Panglong Accord.


Nation-Building Formulas and the Rise of the Military


Three major schools of thought can be distinguished with regard to Burma’s post-independence (mainly Burman) leaders on nation-building. One school of thought, associated with U Aung San, the architect of independence, held that Burma was to be a union of States based on equality of all national groups. The principles of ‘unity in diversity’ and self-determination, implying the widest of autonomy for the States, would underpin the Union. This was the vision that led to the signing of the Panglong Accord in 1947, a year before independence.


The second school of thought was adopted by the post-Aung San AFPFL6 leaders. This vision was embodied structurally in the 1947 Union Constitution. It provided for a unitary form of state, decentralized to some degree but not federal. This formula gained ascendancy and was in force for almost twelve years, from 1948 to 1962, but was certainly not in keeping with the Panglong Spirit or with the vision of U Aung San. Nevertheless, it worked after a fashion but Burma’s ethnic nationalities seethed with discontent and civil war raged. The relationship between the members was asymmetrical: there was the Mother country (Pyi-Ma, the Burma State) and around it revolved a set of subordinate constituent states. The relation of, say, the Shan State to the Burma State was similar to that between Scotland and England. In concept it can be said that there were seven Scotlands in Burma, all revolving around Rangoon.


The third school of thought was fascistic and narrowly ethno-nationalistic. It held that the Burmans had built an empire through defeating and conquering the lesser ‘races’ such as the Mon, Rakhine, Shan, and Karen. In this formula, Burma had been unified by ‘Burman conquest’ since the 11th century, by great kings such as Anawratha, Bayinnaung, Alaungpaya and Bodawpaya. According to this nationhood vision, the British had forcibly dismembered this unified kingdom and through their divide-and-rule policy further alienated the hitherto unified ‘races’ of Burma from each other. From this perspective, held by the military and successive ruling generals, nationhood and nation-building would be no problem: all national ‘races’ would be kept together by a strong state, and nationhood or unity would be achieved by obliterating all differences through forced assimilation or ‘Burmanization’. The military looked forward to everyone becoming Burmans as in the good old days. From this point of view, cultural and ethnic diversity was deemed to be undesirable and dangerous because diversity was divisive. It was therefore imperative that the solidarity of the Union had to be maintained and safeguarded by the armed forces, otherwise the country would fall apart or become a chaotic arena of warring ‘races’ as in Bosnia.7


Although the Shan, Kachin, and other ethnic nationalities’ leaders found the 1947 Constitution unsatisfactory, they went along with it until the coup in 1962, because they had been assured that it could be amended at any time in the future. Also, the fact that independent Burma immediately became a battleground between the AFPFL government and its erstwhile allies (the Red and White Flag communists, the People’s Volunteers Organization, Burman army mutineers, and later, Karen army mutineers and Pa-O rebels in the Shan State) gave the non-Burman leaders very little option but to stand with the AFPFL, or rather behind U Nu. The alternative was revolution and communist victory.


In many ways, the armed struggle led by the communists and their allies strengthened ties between the leaders of the ethnic nationalities and the AFPFL. However, at the same time, the insurgents (Burman communists, and the Karen with their ethnic allies among the Pa-O and Mon) bolstered the importance of the military to the extent that during the 1950s it had become very powerful and gained much autonomy. The incursions of U.S.-backed Chinese nationalist Kuomintang irregulars in the eastern Shan State further reinforced the power and autonomy of the military. In fighting the insurgents and the Kuomintang, the military also took on administrative functions in areas where martial law was imposed. Moreover, the 1957 split in the ruling AFPFL party into two camps and many sub-factions again strengthened the position and autonomy of the military. The split created a power vacuum at the very top, and it was only a matter of time before the military ventured onto the political stage, which it did in 1958. The then Prime Minister, U Nu, was requested by Brigadiers Aung Gyi and Tin Pe to hand over power to the army, albeit temporarily, so that the political confusion stemming from the AFPFL split could be sorted out. U Nu agreed and, with the sanction of parliament, the military ruled as a caretaker government for two years. In 1960, as promised, the military held an election which U Nu won overwhelmingly on an anti-military platform. In addition, U Nu promised to make Buddhism the official state religion. In 1962, however, the military marched back to power, and has been ruling Burma ever since.


Nation-Building by Ne Win and the Military


The military’s nation-building formula dovetailed nicely with its top-down idea of state-society relations, still with a command-and-control orientation. The military’s fascistic view of nationhood and tight control may be owing to Japanese influence, since the army was trained by the Japanese during the Second World War. Under General Ne Win’s rule, from 1962 to 1988, the fascistic, chauvinistic vision of nationhood became entrenched within the military. As a result of the outbreak of insurgencies at the onset of independence, the military was at once brought to the forefront as the defender of the new (AFPFL) state. That role garnered substantial power for the army, because the AFPFL leaders were not only the military’s political masters but also dependent on the army to fend off dangers—particularly dangers caused by the communists. The eventual effect was that the military became a power unto itself.


The military took on the task of nation-building according to its notion of nationhood. This formula has not only been destructive but also a failure in terms of creating a viable multi-ethnic nation-state. It can be said that what was of utmost concern to the military (as self-acclaimed ‘nation-builders’) was Chapter 10 of the 1947 Constitution, which granted the Shan State the option of secession after 10 years of union. The military, however, set out to preempt the Shan from exercising that option, whether or not they actually planned to do so. The military intimidated the population by sowing terror, and it fomented opposition in the Shan State towards the Sawbwa princes, whom the military accused of hatching plots to dismember the Union.


Everywhere the military went in the Shan State, they unleashed on the population their brutal power with apparent immunity. It was only after the 1988 people’s uprising that atrocities in the non-Burman areas came to light. Previously, because Cold War strategies had dwarfed all other issues, and because the ethnic non-Burmese resistance was regarded as tribal rebellion, stories of widespread atrocities perpetrated by the military were dismissed as rebel propaganda. As 1958 drew nearer, the military resorted to beating and torturing village headmen, accusing them of hiding arms in preparation for an armed uprising. The military also set out to terrorize the local populace in other non-Burman areas as a display of power. Thus, the military’s nationbuilding efforts created a situation where the non-Burman segments of the population were alienated by military actions carried out by and for the state. The state came to be perceived by the ethnic non-Burmans as alien to society and harmful to their welfare. The situation of ‘lack of fit’ between the state and the ethnic non-Burman segments, and the policy of terror by systematic atrocities, naturally provided ethno-nationalist resistance in the non-Burman States.


The military’s nation-building formula, and their brutal methods, did not promote any sense of nationhood among the ethnic groups but instead created a situation of vertical dysfunction between the state and the significant non-Burman segment of the broader society. When the military seized power in 1962, they hoped to win the support of the Burman populace. The generals claimed that drastic action was necessary because the Union was threatened by the ‘secessionist plots’ of Shan princes. However, the cruel massacre of university students in Rangoon on 7 July 1962, four months after the coup, alienated the Burman population from the new military regime. Moreover, further imposition of repressive control in all spheres of society turned the Burman populace against the military and against the ‘socialist state’ which it monopolized.


The problem of state-society dysfunction was further exacerbated in 1988 when the military staged a bloody comeback following the collapse of Ne Win’s military dictatorship, the military-socialist BSPP (Burmese Socialist Program Party) regime.



The Politics of National Reconciliation


Especially since 1962, state-society relations in Burma have become increasingly dysfunctional. The state generally remains unresponsive to the needs and problems of Burmese society. However, it is quick to respond to the priorities of the armed, uniformed elements within the state. A situation has developed in which the state is separated, politically insulated and isolated from its citizens.


The consequence of state-society dysfunction is, as the past decades have shown, economic decay, atrophy of political institutions, corruption of the military, paralysis of the state and its problem-solving capacity, breakdown of infrastructure, and greater impoverishment of the people. The military’s resistance to societal demands for political participation has resulted in political deadlock. The pressing need in Burma today is to resolve this problem of state-society dysfunction.


The ethnic dimension of state-society dysfunction in Burma has two interrelated facets. One is political, and the other has to do with the restoration of ethnic harmony. The political facet concerns the constitutional problem of how the relationship between the ethnic and territorial constituent components of the Union is to be arranged. Or, in other words, whether Burma should be a unitary or federal state. Ethnic hatred such as in former Yugoslavia, that makes it difficult to achieve national reconciliation after years of brutal military rule and widespread atrocities, does not exist in Burma. There is still an understanding among political leaders that the problem of ‘ethnic conflict’ is political and constitutional rather than ethnic. The leaders of the various ethnic nationalities in Burma have participated in the struggle for democracy together with ethnic Burmese on the basis of the principle of equality, national self-determination, and the shared goals of democracy and federalism.


The years of shared struggle for democracy, especially after 1988, have induced closer interaction between the ethnic Burmese and the other ethnic nationalities. As a result, a number of building blocks and even consensus have been put into place for building a peaceful, democratic, federal Burma, and for the resolution of the country’s multi-faceted problems through a dialogue process. The unity achieved among the opposition may be owed to a great extent to the emergence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on to the political stage in 1988. She has over time projected an image of a leader who is staunchly democratic, intelligent, humane and fair-minded, and who empathizes with the plight of the ethnic nationalities and their aspiration for equality, selfdetermination, human dignity and human rights.


However, other things are seldom equal. Intervening variables over which political actors in Burma have no control,8 always have the potential to put an end to any sort of dialogue in Burma, thus putting any national reconciliation efforts or hopes on the shelf for an indefinite time.9 Even if dialogue continues, the military’s opposition to federalism (notwithstanding the generals’ lipservice to the Panglong Spirit, equality, and brotherhood) remains a big hurdle.


The main reason for the military’s objection to federalism may be that federalism would bring decentralization of both power and power structures. In a federal union, power would no longer be concentrated in the centre, nor can it be monopolized by one element of the state. Power would rest in different levels of government and be made accessible to democratically empowered local communities. Thus, in a democratic federation, the state (or rather, governments at both federal, state, and local level) would necessarily have to be responsive to the priorities, needs, and problems of citizens within the broader society, and most importantly, be committed to the Rule of Law. In this way, the problem of state-society dysfunction in Burma, the main root of the country’s problems, will be solved and national reconciliation achieved.


Nevertheless, given the military regime’s staunch opposition to democratic federalism, there may have to be a paradigm shift in looking at how the military can be persuaded to give up its monopolistic grip on the state in Burma and its (failed) fascistic nation-building vision. The politics of transition and national reconciliation are complex and require an equal measure of firmness and flexibility.




* Professor Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe from Vancouver, Canada, is a participant in the struggle for a federal and democratic Burma. His father, Soo Thanke, was Burma’s first independent President.


1. The term ‘ethnic non-Burman’ is here used to denote the Mon, Kachin, Rakhine, Shan, etc. segments of the population in Burma, and to differentiate them from the Burmans (i.e. the speakers of Burmese) or ethnic Burmese. This practice is however not in common usage because many scholars use the term ‘Burmese’ to denote all citizens of Burma, and ‘Burman’ to refer to the Burmese-speaking ethnic segment—like ‘British’ and ‘English’. This is however problematic because the term ‘Burmese’ refers to the language of the Burman and denote things Burman, such as Burmese food, Burmese dress, and so on. The term ‘Burmese’ does not come anywhere near the term ‘British’.


2. Regarding self-administration, the pre-colonial period is problematic. The people as a collectivity had no say however (and whatsoever) in the management of affairs that affected their lives. At least under colonial rule, the administrators were held accountable for their actions.


3. “Report of the Frontier Areas Committee of Enquiry, 1947”. Rangoon, 1947. Part I, pp. 16-18.


4. Curiously, the term ‘race’ is commonly used in Burma when speaking of ethnic or national groups. There is no specific Burmese word for race, nation, or ethnic group. All are Lu Myo or humankind. In Burmese, Tarok Lu Myo means Chinese, or ethnic Chinese. Why Lu Myo has been translated as ‘race’ is something that needs looking into. It is probably the result of the wide use of the term ‘race’ by the British in colonial times, when scholarship on ethnicity and race was not yet developed. In those days, even up to the early 20th century, no distinction was yet made between races, ethnic groups, tribes, etc.


5. The British annexation of Burma was undertaken in three stages. During the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1826, the British annexed Arakan and lower Tenasserim. Lower Burma was annexed during the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852-1853). In the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-1886), the capital city of Mandalay was captured and King Thibaw sent into exile in India.


6. AFPFL stands for Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, the vanguard of the Burmese nationalist movement, formed during the Second World War by U Aung San and U Than Tun.


7. This is the ‘national unity’ mantra of the military in Burma, employed to justify military dictatorship, military monopoly on power, as well as military terror tactics in the non-Burman ethnic areas: arbitrary killing, rape, forcible relocation of villages, pillage, plunder, extortion, and so on.


8. Such as, for example, the current increased Thai concern with the Wa and their methamphetamine production on the Thai-Shan State border, combined with renewed interest at least of the U.S. military in the Thai war on drugs. The renewed fighting on the border between the Shan army and the Burmese junta’s troops has the potential of escalating into a larger Thai-Burmese border war.


9. The border dispute with Thailand has probably strengthened the hands of the junta’s Secretary No. 1, General Khin Nyunt, vis-à-vis other military factions and his rivals, such as General Maung Aye and his followers. There is no external enemy, either real, imagined, or manufactured, to rally the troops. Having firmed up his position within the military, the possibility that Khin Nyunt might terminate the talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be ruled out.




Rhododendron News

Volume VI. No.V. September-October 2004

Chin Human Rights Organization



Table of Contents

Human Rights Violations:

• SPDC’s Chairman Gen. Than Shwe Poster A Must Buy in Chin State

• Bullet Speaks Lauder than Words

• SPDC Captain Tried to Rape a Married Woman

• Civilian Compel to Repair Army Camp

• High School Students Forced as Porters

• The Tale of Cross-border Cattle Traders

• Burmese Soldiers on the Rampage in Falam Township

• Supply Wood or Face Severe Punishment

• Suppression of Christians in Gankaw Towship


Refugee Concern:

• Grievance Over Recent Incidences Around Putrajaya

• CHRO’s Presentation at the US State Department Bureau for Population, Migration and Refugee

• Chin Activists, Refugee International team up to lobby US


Facts & Arguments:

• A Struggle For Self-Determination In Burma: Ethnic Nationalities Perspective (By Lian H. Sakhong)


Back Cover Poem:

• “Where is Papa?” (By Van Biak Thang)


Human Rights Violations:


SPDC’s Chairman Gen. Than Shwe Poster A Must Buy in Chin State


Aizawl: September 13, 2004

To buy the poster of the Burmese military junta State Peace and Development Council chairman Gen.Than Shwe is compulsory in Chin state according to CHRO source.


All village headmen from Rezua township, 45 villages in total, from southern Chin state were summoned for a meeting by U Kyaw Win Naing of Rezua township Peace and Development Council during the last week of August 2004.


The meeting was to brief the importance of hanging the poster of the chairman of State Peace and Development Council Gen. Than Shwe in the living room of every household. The township PDC official U Win Naing instructed the 45 villages headmen how to hang the poster neatly and properly. He further warned them that those who damaged the poster will be properly punished.


After the briefing and instruction of how to hang the chairman poster, the village headmen were informed that they must buy the poster at the rate of 200/- Kyats per poster and every household in their respective village must possessed and hung the poster in their living room as instructed. Some village headmen got 50 posters and some more than 100 posters depending on the size of their village.


CHRO source said that, since the poster is not a popular one, no one wants to buy the poster and village headmen are in trouble selling the poster of Gen. Than Shwe. Every village headman is responsible for paying the price of the porters in full before the end of September.



Bullet Speaks Lauder than Words


Aizawl: September 9, 2004


The village headman of Ruava village from Rezua township in Chin state was terrify by unusual order he received from Major Khin Maung Cho, Company commander of Burma army LIB 274.


On August 10, the headman received a letter with G3 bullet from Major Khin Maung Cho saying that he must send 14 porters to Rezua army camp no later than 11 August. The order further threatened that there will be a consequence if he fails to obey the order.


Being terrified by the order that comes with a bullet, the headman and the village elders arrange 14 porters, accompanied by one of the village elders, and send them to Rezua army camp the next day.


The Major demanded 2 more porters on August 12. Thus, two porters and the headman himself went to the army camp as soon as they got the order. They all were kept at the army camp till 16 August. After a several days of waiting to serve as porter in the army camp, the Major told them that he does not want the porters any more since the trip was cancel and he will call them whenever he want.


Since Ruava villager is located near the Burmese army camp, they have been consistently forced to work such as repairing the army camp, and to serve as porters. At the time of this report, Burma army demanded 2000/-Kyats and 10 chickens from the village for unknown reason.


SPDC Captain Tried to Rape a Married Woman


Aizawl: August 26, 2004


The local villager inform the CHRO that Captain Phu Thaw, company commander from Burma army LIB 50 tried to rape a married Chin woman on July 13, 2004 at Sabawngpi village.


Captain Phu Thaw and his troop arrived Sabawngpi village on July 13, 2004 and spent the night. After sunset, Captain Phu Thaw visited the house of Daw Marie while her husband was away. After a few minutes of chatting with the woman, the Captain suddenly covered the mouth of the woman with his hand and pointed his pistol to her and tried to rape her.


Being panic by the sudden action of the Burmese Captain, the woman shouted and struggled. The villager said that the woman could luckily avoid the deplorable incident by shouting and struggling.


The woman is about 30 years old and she is a simple farmer married with two children.




Civilian Compel to Repair Army Camp


Aizawl: September 6, 2004


11 villages surrounding Sabawngte area were summoned to repair the army camp by the order of 2nd Lieutenant Htun Kyaw, Company commander in-charge at Sabawngte army camp, Burma army LIB 274. According to the order, every village must provide 1000 bamboo poles and a chicken without fail.


The villagers have no other choice but to obey the unfair order, and thus they pack their own food and tools to work as forced laborers for the army. It took three days (from August 24 to 26, 2004) each for every village to cut 1000 bamboo poles in the forest and transport it to the army camp.


The name of the 11 villages are; 1. Ngaphaipi, 2. Fartlang, 3. Khuapilu, 4. La-U, 5. Darling, 6. Ruamang, 7. Sapaw, 8. Tawnglalung, 9. Sabawngpi, 10. Sabawngte, 11. Hlungmang.


In another incident, 15 villages from Rezua township were forced to construct a new Burmese army camp for Company base at Rezua town. The (oral) order issued by Major Khin Maung Cho of Burma army LIB 274 on August 10, 2004 demanded that one person per household from Rezua and surrounding 15 villages must contribute their labor to construct a newly extended army company base.


According to Pu Khua Do, who participated at the forced labor, his village is 12 miles away from the army camp. They brought 200 bamboo poles and 10 chickens for the army when they come to work as forced laborers. They work at the army camp from 16 to 19 August for four days digging trench, building barrack and sharpening bamboo. The army did not provide tools, food or any thing. The villagers bring their own food and tools to while working for the army.


Pu Khua Do said that another villagers from Lekhan, which is 7 miles away from Rezua were also working at the time. The army demanded at least 50 people from Lekhan village but only 30 people could show up because Lekhan village is too small and could not manage to contribute 50 people to work at the army camp. There are several woman among the forced laborers said Pu Khua Do.


High School Students Forced as Porter


Aizawl: August 26, 2004

On July 24, 2004, 21 high school students including several girls from Sabawngpi High School were forced to serve as porters by Captain Myo Min Naing of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 274


A group of Burma army led by Captain Myo Min Naing of Burma army LIB 274 was preparing to station at Sabawngte camp on July 24, 2004. The troops requested 70 porters to carry their ration and ammunitions. They just drag whoever they find in the village to serve as porter. Among the porters were 21 high school students including several girls.


The students had to carry army ration and ammunition from Sabawngpi village to Sabawngte army camp. Since the load they carried were too heavy and they have to walk overnight, the students were too exhaust and some of them could not make their class for the following week.


On the previous day on July 23, 67 villagers from Lailenpi village were forced to carry the army ration and ammunition from Lailenpi village to Sabawngpi village by the same Burmese troop.


The Tale of Cross border Cattle Traders


Aizawl: August 27, 2004

5 cattle traders from Kyikan village, Kalay myo township in Sagaing division are driving 26 cows towards India border through Chin state in August. On their way, they met with the police at Duhmang village at Falam township, Chin state on August 12, 2004. The police arrested the traders and their cattle saying that it is illegal to trade cattle to other country without permission from the government. The police told the traders that they will be released only if they pay 150,000/-kyats for cross border tax.


The traders eventually paid the demanded sum of money and continue their journey towards India. When they arrive Manipur river at Teddim township, they met with the patrolling Burmese soldiers led by 2nd Lieutenant Ko Khan and they got arrested again. The soldiers demanded 100,000/- Kyats for their release and for the cattle. The traders eventually paid the demanded sum again.


One of the traders complained to CHRO field worker saying that “we used to pay 1,000/- to 1,500/- per cattle at the most in previous trips, but now the police and the soldiers have excessively and randomly demanding the so called cross border tax and we can’t make no profit at all”.


The cattle traders still have to pay every village about 50 to 100 Rupees per head for their cattle for “village crossing fee” even after they arrived in Mizoram state of India.


The traders explains that due to excessive (illegal) fees and taxes along the way from Burma to India, there are now fewer cattle traders and that results the price hike of beef in Aizawl bazaar. The price of beef used to be 100 Rupee per Kilogram and now it is 120 Rupee per Kilogram at Aizawl bazaar, the capital of Mizoram state.


Another similar incident, extortion of money from cattle traders by Burmese soldiers, occurred at Darkhai village on August 20, 2004. While Pa Maung and his friends are on their way to sell 24 cows to India, they met with a group of Burmese army led by Major Thein Sein of Battalion 269 based at Darkhai army camp near Tonzang town in northern Chin state. The soldiers immediately arrested Pa Maung and his friends saying that they will be released if they pay 200,000 Kyats/-. Pa Maung and his friends eventually paid the demanded money. The 36 years old Pa Maung and his family made a living with cross border trade. He is from Letpanchaung village in Kalay Myo township, Sagaing Division.


On July 19, 2004, Kyikan villager named Run Hlei Te 35 years was drown in Manipur River while trying to avoid the arrest of the police while he was on his way to India for selling the cattle.


Burmese Soldiers on the Rampage in Falam Township


Aizawl: August 27, 2004

2nd Lieutenant Khin Maung Win and a soldier from Burma army LIB 269 along with 2 policemen based in Tibual village, Falam township in northern Chin state come to Satawm village on the night of July 12, 2004. Satawm village is on the India-Burma border trade route and 2nd Lt. Khin Maung Win and his group, who got drunk, come to the village with the plan to extort money from cross border traders. As soon as they arrived the village, 2nd Lt. Khin Maung Win sent one villager and summoned the village headman. The villager come back and said that the headman was not feeling well and he could not come.


The Lieutenant was so angry that he sent two of his inferiors to get the village headman. The two soldiers eventually drag the village headman and started to beat him up, along with the villager whom they sent to get the headman, by 2nd Lt. Khin Maung Win and his men. While beating up the headman and the villager, the soldiers sprayed their gun randomly and hit the nearby Evangelical Methodist Church that the worshipers have to stop their service halfway with great fright.


2nd Lt. Khin Maung Win and his group continue to storm the village by entering house by house and inappropriately acted upon any woman they find. They even tried to molest two of the girls but the girls struggled and escape.


Being unable to tolerate the action of the soldiers, the villagers organized themselves and arrested the two solders and one policeman who are on the rampage. The villagers report the incident to Tibual army camp, but the camp commander was away at that time. Thus the villagers brought the case to LIB 269 battalion commander.


Realizing the anger of the villagers and the local Chin people upon the Burmese soldiers, the battalion commander immediately arrange a meeting with the villagers at New Rih town and beg for their forgiveness for what the Burmese soldiers has done.


Villagers said that this is the only incident that the Burmese soldiers ever beg forgiveness for their action.


Supply Wood or Face Severe Punishment


Aizawl: August 25, 2004

17 villages in Matupi township from Southern Chin state were ordered to supply 200 cubic wood-plank per village to build teachers quarter at Leisen government middle school. The order was issued by Leisen village middle school headmaster U Cang Toi in the month of April with the approval made by Colonel San Aung of Burma army No. 2 tactical commander based in Matupi town of Chin state.


The order mentioned that every village must submit their quota to Leisen middle school before the end of July and those who fail to comply the order will face severe punishment from the authority. Thus, villagers have hired laborers to saw the wood. Since many villages have no car or cart road, the villagers have to carry the wood on their shoulders from their respective villages to Leisen middle school which is several miles away.


When Colonel San Aung visited Leisen village, he told the villagers that the government will supply nails and zinc for the roof of the school and the rest must be contributed by the surrounding villages.


The villagers are routinely summoned to work at the farm of Leisen government middle school headmaster. Since the teachers, like all other government servants, did not get sufficient salary from the government, they have to find any possible means for their survival.


There are 7 teachers and more than 100 students at Leisen government middle school. The following villages are covered by Leisen government middle school;

1. Leisen, 2. Valangte, 3. Koela, 4. Vangkai, 5. Cangtak, 6. Thiboei, 7. Leiring, 8. Bunghung, 9. Khobal, 10. Thangping, 11. Anthaw, 12. Luivang, 13. Boiring, 14. Daihnan, 15. Khohung, 16. Vamaw, 17. Lalui.



Suppression of Christians in Gankaw Towship


Aizawl: August 25, 2004

One of the officials (name withheld for security reason) from the Gankaw Baptist Association (GBA) inform CHRO field worker that Christians and mission workers in Gankaw district, Magwe division are systematically suppressed by the Burmese military authority. The order of restrictions and suppression comes from Lt. Colonel Hte Oo, chairman of Gankaw district Peace and Development Council.


Despite the restrictions and suppression from the authority, the GBA try its best to implement Christian mission works and it has sent a number of evangelists in no less than 10 villages in Gankaw township.


Pastor Maung Maung is one of the evangelists sent by GBA to Ywa-Tha village. In November 2003, pastor Maung Maung was badly beaten up by the village peoples militia accordance with the order from SPDC’s higher authority. Besides, he was fined 3000/- Kyats and driven out from the village after he was badly beaten up. Then, his house and the Church were destroyed. There are about 27 newly converted Christians in Ywa-Tha village at the time.


Likewise, pastor Hram Ceu was driven out from Lung-Yaw village by village Peace and Development Council members in December 2003. The pastor requested the authority for permission of his evangelical works in January 2004, but the authority responded his request in written saying that no Christian mission works is allowed in the area and there will be severe punishment for those who ignore the order.


The GBA official inform CHRO that the SPDC authority had created several problems and troubles upon the Christian missionaries in the area.


There are two churches in Gankaw town; Gankaw Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church. Gankaw Baptist Church is located at No. 1 Ye-poke block and Calvary Baptist Church is located at No. 6 Taungkung block.


There are about 300 members at Calvary Baptist Church (CBC). The CBC bought the lot with a bamboo house to construct Church building with 400,000/-kyats in 1989 and apply for permission to construct the church to the SPDC authority. However, the authority consistently turndown the request made by CBC. Thus the CBC members have to conduct worship service at a bamboo house at the lot they bought.


CHRO source said that GBA have started its mission works in 1980s and it still has an office in Gankaw town near the airfield. GBA is functioning under the Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention. The GBA have faced many trouble and hardship due to the government’s officials attitude towards Christianity and Christian mission workers.


Refugees Concern:


Grievance Over Recent Incidences Around Putrajaya


Chin Refugee Committee

Kuala Lumpur

October 30, 2004 (as posted in Chinland groups)


We, Chin Refugee Committee, deeply regret and grieve over the incidence in which one of our beloved Chin asylum seekers sacrificed his own life in a bid to avoid the arrest by the police force. In that tragic incidence, a group of Chin people waded out from the jungle where they make themselves home for the past few years, and while they were crossing one and the only bridge, group of police who were covertly lying in wait suddenly jumped and blocked out both ends of the bridge. They were trapped, seemed no way out. There was only one certainly that lay ahead for them was deportation to their original country. But one of the asylum seeker closer another alternative for his freedom by jumping down under the bridge but unfortunately his attempt was failed and minute later he succumbed to tiredness and drawn.


We do not blame the police but we were shocked and appalled on the fact that the police did not even try to launce taken attempt to save his presumable risk of life. But any way, very sadly, he has got his freedom. The police found his body only three days after the incidence. In another three days, conceivably, the police raided and destroyed all the make-shift tents in the surrounding jungle by burning down including the Church.


Here, we need to look into the grim facts behind his motive of risking life rather than being arrest. It is very obvious that he had more fear on the imminent persecution that lay before him upon his return home than the immediate persecutions he might faced if he chose to being arrested. He might obviously know that he can only be sentenced on breaching immigration law which can only be punishable by a few months jail term with one or two stroke of unshipping that can also be avoid like many thousands of illegal immigrants, if one is not charged and that will be follow by a transient detention in immigration concentration camp before deportation. All of these are not deserved to exchange with one precious life.


Hundred of Chin asylum seekers are in the same situations. If such kind of repetition occur who will take the responsibility. Most of the Chin persistent in living against constant threat their security, deplorable, abject privations, and perilous living condition clearly pointed that they all have more fear back home than in Malaysia.


The Malaysian government intolerant attitude towards illegal immigrant and refugee alike is understandable and will never be changed. It can only be more and more intended.


Therefore, we, CRC humbly request UNHCR to take additional measures and a more speedy assessment on cases of person seeking asylum. We strongly believed that postponing and relegation of interviewed on flimsy ground only cause unnecessary delay which at time also cause unnecessary lost of life. We resend on the UNHCR resent assessment on some of the Chin’s cases. It seems that there is prejudice as every one of asylum seeker is entitled to refugee status interview, reschedule and relegation of interviews will only make worse the conditions most of the Chin asylum seekers.

In conclusion, we would like to reiterate that all of the Chin asylum seeker desperately need a speedy assessment of their cases by the UNHCR.


CHRO’s Presentation at the US State Department

Bureau for Population, Migration and Refugee



12 October 2004

Washington D.C

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today. We are very grateful for the Bureau’s longstanding and active involvement in helping Burmese refugees displaced by civil war and political repression in Burma. The recent resettlement of Burmese refugees in Thailand to the United States helped ameliorate the suffering of hundreds of displaced people who encountered enormous daily difficulties in their lives.


We are here today to bring to your attention our continuing concerns about the situations of Burmese refugees in India.


The conditions of more than 50,000 refugees from Burma (most of them are Ethnic Chin) in India have not improved since we last brought up the issue to your attention last year. In many respects, conditions have worsened steadily for Burmese refugees in India over the last year.


Continuing human rights violations inside Burma, especially in Chin State, have triggered a steady movement of refugees into India. There is increasing incidents of forced labor activities inside Chin State, especially along the areas where a transnational highway between Burma and India are being constructed. With new refugees crossing into India each day, conditions are not better for those seeking shelter in India.


In Mizoram State of India, which borders Chin State of Burma, intolerance against Chin refugees has heightened, and for the past several months there has been a massive campaign to evict and deport Burmese Chin refugees. This campaign resulted in the forced return of over 6,000 Chin refugees to Burma. Many were either forced to go into hiding in the jungles to or to travel to New Delhi in order to seek protection from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. But for many of these people, life is no better in New Delhi.


There are about 1,500 Burmese refugees living in New Delhi and only about half of them are recognized as refugees by UNHCR. Last year UNHCR started implementing a policy to phase out Subsistence Allowance that has been provided to Burmese refugees in what it said was due to budget shortage and to encourage self-reliance for Burmese refugees in New Delhi. As of now, much of the 30$ monthly allowance provided to each individual refugee has been phased out. As a result, people are increasingly finding themselves unable to meet their daily needs. Local landlords are evicting refugee tenants because they can no longer afford to pay their rent.


The termination of Subsistence Allowance has not helped Burmese refugees in their ability to become self-reliant. But instead, it has actually created more problems in their efforts to cope with daily hardships they face in trying to survive in India. While Burmese refugees do have Residential Permits from the Indian government they are not authorized to work there, making it both impossible and illegal for them to work in order to become self-reliant.


Termination of assistance has created greater social problems among refugees in a way that more people are resorting to scavenge discarded vegetables in local markets to meet their daily needs for survival. Women and children are no exception. Just during the last two to three months, 19 Burmese refugee women were reported to have been sexually molested and harassed by local Indian men while picking up discarded vegetables in the neighborhood night market. Lack of adequate support has actually increased the vulnerability of Burmese refugees in New Delhi and has made it more difficult for them to integrate into the local community.


In conclusion, the security and humanitarian conditions of Burmese refugees in India are worsening. We strongly believe that Burmese refugees in India, both in New Delhi and Mizoram, deserve special attention and urgent intervention by the United States. Thank you for your support.


Thank you,

Salai Bawi Lian Mang

Chin Human Rights Organization

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

Chin Activists, Refugee International team up to lobby US



By Salai Za Uk Ling

Chinland Guardian

13 October 2004


Two leading Chin activists and Refugee International spent a day in Washington DC yesterday meeting with US congressional staff and officials at the State Department in a bid to draw US attention to “Continuing concerns over the situations of Burmese refugees in India.”


The team includes Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Director and co-founder of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Dr. Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong from Burma’s multi-ethnic alliance Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) and Kavita Sukhla, Advocacy Director of the Washington DC-based Refugee International (RI).


“The situation of Burmese refugees in India was the main issue and our concerns were received with great interests on Capitol Hill and at the State Department,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang. The team visited the offices of Senator Brownback, Chairman for East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Congressman Wolf, Congressman Joe Pitt, and State Department Bureau for Population, Refugee and Migration.


Refugee International and Chin Human Rights Organization recently conducted two separate field assessments on the situation of Burmese Chin refugees in India. The reports found that over 500, 00 Burmese refugees living in India face serious security and humanitarian problems, including harassment, arrest, and deportation.


While the majority of Burmese refugees live ‘illegally’ in Mizoram State, “Only a small population of Burmese has been able to gather sufficient money to make the expensive trip to Delhi to seek asylum with UNHCR, but for most that is not possible,” Refugee International said in its latest report “Between a Rock and Hard Place: Burmese Chin Refugees in India.”


But life is no different even for those who managed to reach New Delhi because there is no guarantee that UNHCR would recognize them as refugees. A report recently prepared by Chin Human Rights Organization jointly with two Indian NGOs says that only about half of Burmese refugees in New Delhi enjoy UNHCR recognition and assistance. The report also notes that “Even recognized refugees experience considerable hardship and problems,” largely because UNHCR has terminated Subsistence Allowance to refugees, the primary source of survival for Burmese refugees living in New Delhi.


In the meetings yesterday at the State Department Bureau for Refugee, Migration and Population, the team emphasized the need for not relying solely on existing UNHCR mechanisms in order to effectively address the problems facing Burmese refugees in New Delhi. The team also stressed the need to urgently consider alternative approach such “providing adequate humanitarian assistance or resettlement” in order to address the problems.


As an outcome of yesterday’s lobby mission, Refugee International and Chin Human Rights Organization are expected to jointly prepare a report on the situation of Chin refugees in India to be distributed to a wider audience in the US Senate and House of Representatives.


Other issues discussed during meetings include current human rights and political situations inside Burma. Ethnic Nationalities Council’s Secretary Dr. Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong conducted briefing on the role and activities of ENC in relation to current political situations in Burma.



Scholar Section:



A Struggle For Self-Determination In Burma:Ethnic Nationalities Perspective


By Lian H. Sakhong•


(Note: A speech delivered at “Conference on Indo-Burma Relation”, India International Centre on September 16-17, 2004.)


Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to speak about our struggle for self-determination in Burma. The concept of self-determination, as we all know, is rather a new phenomenon in world history; it came into being only after French Revolution, together with the idea of the “nation” as the whole people, as the object of ultimate political loyalty, and as endowed with an alienable right to self-determination and separate statehood. When the “League of Nations” was founded after the First World War, the right of self-determination has become an international phenomenon, especially when “minority protection scheme” was formulated on the principle of “national self-determination”, according to which, as Woodrow Wilson put it, “every people have a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live”.


The concept of “self-determination” was a very useful tool for the peoples who tried to free themselves from colonial powers. For them, the right of self-determination was defined mostly in terms of “sovereignty”, “separate statehood” and “independent nation-sate”.


During the cold war, however, both camps of Liberal West and Socialist East put greater emphasis on “territorial integrity” rather than on “national self-determination”. The consensus among the major power was that anti-colonial movement was a particular category of conflict, which provided a potential dilemma and challenge in terms of self-determination. They argued that the goal in the decolonization process was the creation of new states from the territories legally and militarily held by colonial powers. The issue, they argued, was to control over territory within what was, formally speaking, one state.


So, if we looked back the cold war period, it was very obvious that international communities and bodies, including the United Nations, followed the lead given by the two super powers. We can also see that there was relatively little recognition in international law for substantive minority rights, let alone the rights of self-determination. When the United Nations adopted its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all references to the rights of ethnic minorities were deleted. The hope was that the new emphasis on “human rights” and the principle of non-discrimination would resolve minority conflicts. Rather than protecting vulnerable groups directly, through special rights for the members of particular groups, they argued that cultural and ethnic minorities would be protected indirectly, by guaranteeing basic civil and political rights to all individuals, regardless of group membership.


However, it has become increasingly clear that existing human rights standards are simply unable to resolve some of the most important and controversial questions relating to cultural and ethnic minorities. As Kymlicka argues,


The right to free speech does not tell us what an appropriate language policy is; the right to vote doesn’t tell us how political boundaries should be drawn, or how powers should be distributed between levels of government; the right to mobility doesn’t tell us what an appropriate immigration and naturalization policy is. These questions have been left to the usual process of majoritarian decision-making within each state. The result has been to render cultural [and ethnic] minorities vulnerable to significant injustice at the hands of the majority, and to exacerbate ethno-cultural conflict.


Since the end of the cold war, there has been increasing interest at the international level in supplementing traditional human rights principles with a theory of minority rights and collective rights. For example, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe adopted a declaration on the Rights of National Minorities in 1991, and established a High Commissioner on National Minorities in 1993. The United Nations has debated both a Declaration on Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1993) and a Draft Universal Declaration on Indigenous Rights (1998). In 1992, the Council of Europe adopted a declaration on minority language rights (the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages). This new development, after the collapsed of Soviet Union, is the most encouraging sign for our struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma.


On the other hands, as the changing world demands, we have to re-define the term “self-determination” accordingly. After Maastricht Treaty in 1992, most scholars tend to define the right of “self-determination” in terms of two categories; “internal self-determination” and “external self-determination”. While “internal self-determination” is concerned mainly with “collective rights” of a group of people(s) within the boundary of modern “nation-state”; “external self-determination” refers to sovereignty, separate statehood and independent nation-state. A combination of the term “internal self-determination” and the meaning of “collective rights” reflect the fact that “collective rights” is not merely cultural, religious, linguistic, and identity rights, etc., it also includes political rights with its full extend of powers, that is., legislative, administrative and judiciary powers.


Against this theoretical background, let me argue that what we—ethnic nationalities in Burma— are fighting for is a kind of “internal self-determination”, and we are struggling for our collective rights, including political rights and autonomous status for our respective homelands; and we strongly believe that these are our inalienable rights but denied so long by the successive governments of the Union of Burma since independence in 1948. So, let me be very clear that individual rights is not enough for us; we need our collective rights as a people, as an ethnic group, as a nationality who speak different language, who practice different culture, who worship different religion and who also has different historical background and, above all, all of us have territorially clearly defined homelands and nations since time immemorial. And the simple fact is: We want to rule our homeland by ourselves. But we also know that we have to live together with other peoples and other ethnic groups who practice different religions and cultures and speak different languages. So, the challenge here is to find a political and legal system which will allow us to rule our respective homelands by ourselves, and at same time living peacefully together with others. In other words, this is the question of how we are going to find a political system which can combine and balance between “self-rule” for different ethnic groups and “shared-rule” for all the peoples in the Union of Burma.


We believe that the best means to combine and balance between “self-rule” for ethnic national homelands and a “shared-rule” for the Union is federal system, or Pyi-daung-suu, in Burmese. As we all know, federalism can generally be defined as an approach to government that divides public powers not only horizontally, i.e. separation of powers between legislative, administrative and judiciary; but vertically, i.e. division of powers between two or more levels of government. In other words, federalism is a constitutional device which provides for a secure, i.e. constitutional, division of powers between ‘central’ and ‘states’ authorities in such a way that each is acknowledged to be the supreme authority in specific areas of responsibility. The basic essence of federalism, therefore, is the notion of two or more orders of government combining elements of ‘shared rule’ for some purposes and ‘self-rule’ for the other. As such, federalism is seen as a constitutionally established balance between ‘shared rule’ and ‘self-rule’; ‘shared rule’ through common institutions and ethnic homeland or regional ‘self-rule’ through the governments of the constituent units or states. The federal principles of ‘self-rule’ and ‘shared rule’, on the other hand, is based on the objective of combining unity and diversity, i.e. of accommodating, preserving and promoting distinct identities within a larger political union.


We, therefore, claims that the ultimate goal of our struggle is to establish a genuine Federal Union of Burma, which will guarantee democratic rights for all citizens, political equality for all nationalities and the rights of self-determination for all member states of the Union. We openly declared that democracy without federalism would not solve the political crisis in Burma, including the civil war, which has already been fought for five long decades. So, let me repeat that for us, the ultimate goal of the democratic movement in present Burma is not only to restore democratic government but to establish a genuine federal union. In other words, we ethnic nationalities in Burma view the root cause of political crisis in Burma today as a constitutional problem rather than a purely ideological confrontation between democracy and dictatorship.


As part of our preparation for the establishment of a genuine federal union, we—the UNLD-LA and NDF, two of the largest ethnic political alliances—have undertaken state constitutions drafting process since 2001. We view state constitutions drafting process as a long term process, through which we are engaging inter and intra ethnic dialogue; we encourage all ethnic nationalities in Burma to discuss among themselves and with other ethnic groups what their problems are and how they want to solve, empower them to define their own political future in preparing for political structures that they wish to establish, and create conditions to safeguard and promote democratic system and federal union that we all aim to establish. We now have seven states constitution drafting committees for the Arankan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan. We also have a study group for Burman State Constitution, a group which is preparing for the future Burman State Constitution. All these state constitution committees are working, helping and networking each other through “Supporting Committee for State Constitutions Drafting Process” (SCSC), a committee formed by UNLD-LA and NDF. The SCSC is working closely also with Federal Constitution Drafting Committee, which is formed under the supervision of NCUB.


In order to achieve our ultimate goal of establishing federal union, we are opting for “tripartite dialogue” as our grand strategy. The term “tripartite dialogue” was first used in the 1994 United Nations General Assembly’s resolution, which called for a negotiated settlement through negotiation amongst three parties: the military government known as “State Peace and Development Council” (SPDC), the 1990 election winning party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and ethnic nationalities—who are the founding nations or national groups of the Union.


The essence of tripartite dialogue is “inclusiveness” and “recognition” which, in concepts, includes all the major political stakeholders, or conflict parties in Burma: military junta, democratic forces led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic nationalities. Moreover, the UN’s tripartite dialogue resolution recognizes the 1990 election results which have been denied by the military government for 14 years, and recognizes the indispensable participation of ethnic nationalities in the political transition and national reconciliation process in Burma.


The UN resolution also acknowledges the very nature of political crisis in Burma which, as mentioned above, is a “constitutional problem” rather than solely an ideological confrontation between democracy and military rule or totalitarianism. It is not a “minority” problem, or even an ethnic problem which some Burman or Myanmar ethnic politicians argue can be solved later, once democracy is established. The question of democracy, military rule and the constitutional arrangement with special reference to the non-Myanmar (non-Burman) ethnic nationalities—comprising close to 40 percent of the total population—are intrinsically intertwined and cannot be solved one without the other. This is the meaning behind the call for a “tripartite dialogue”.


As we adopted a “tripartite dialogue” as our grand strategy, we have undertaken pro-active and constructive actions to bring about a peaceful resolution to the political conflict in Burma through a dialogue process. As part of our preparation for tripartite dialogue, the “Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee” (ENSCC) was formed in 2001, and worked hard to co-ordinate the following non-Burman political groupings:


(i) Political parties under the leadership of United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD)

(ii) Armed groups which are members of National Democratic Front (NDF),

(iii) Armed groups but not members of NDF, such as Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and Shan State Army (SSA-South).

(iv) Ceasefire groups.


After two years of hard works, the ENSCC now is transformed as a working committee of “Ethnic Nationalities Council” (ENC), which was formed in January 2004, at the 3rd Ethnic Nationalities Conference. The ENC has been entrusted with task of fostering unity and cooperation between all ethnic nationalities forces and promotes peaceful political settlement in Burma through tripartite dialogue. It was also resolved that the ENC would:


Promote the profile of the Ethnic Nationalities on the international stage.

Coordinate and work for tripartite dialogue.

Reviving the Panglong Spirit, based on the principles of democracy, equality and self-determination.

Build or facilitate unity and cohesion among all ethnic nationalities forces, inside and outside, including promoting and supporting political actions inside.


I must also mention that the “Ethnic Nationalities Council – Union of Burma” is the largest non-Burman ethnic political alliance in Burma, which includes all the political parties under the leadership of UNLD, armed groups which are members of NDF, armed groups but not members of NDF, and some members of CF. The main political objectives of ENC are as follows:


(i) To end military dictatorship,

(ii) To establish a genuine democratic federal union,

(iii) To ensure democracy, human rights and self-determination.


For peace in the country, the flourishing of democracy, the establishment of a federal system, and the speedy and timely emergence of democratic transition, the ENC is determined to launch the “The New Panglong Initiative: Rebuilding the Union of Burma”, initiative consisting of the following points:


To hold, at the earliest date, the tripartite dialogue, as called for by the UN resolutions annually since 1994;

To form an interim government comprising of representatives, proportionally, of the SPDC, the NLD and other political parties, victorious in the 1990 elections, and the ethnic nationalities, based on the agreement arrived at the tripartite dialogue;

The interim government is to convene a legitimate “National Convention”;

To form various commissions, with approval of the National Convention, to draft constitutions of the Federal Union and the constituent States;

To hold national referendum for adoption of the Federal Constitution and to hold referendum in various constituent States for adoption of respective State Constitutions;

To hold elections at national level and state level for the formation of Federal government and State governments in various States in accordance with the newly adopted Federal and respective State Constitutions;

Subsequent to the elections, the Federal and State parliaments (legislatures) are to be convened and the respective election-winning parties are to form the Federal and various State governments;


The ENC does not believe that the SPDC’s 7-stages “road map” and its National Convention will lead to democratization and establishment of a federal union. The sole purpose of SPDC’s National Convention is to sustain a military dictatorship and transform itself from De Facto Government to De Jure Government through constitution. The ENC, therefore, issued a statement on 14 May 2004, in support of CF groups’ letter to the SPDC. Part of the statement read as follows:


The National Convention procedural rules should be discussed and revised;

Objective No. 6 of the National Convention (military role in politics) is not compatible with democracy. It should be discussed and revised;

The 104 Articles adopted by the previous National Convention are not compatible with democracy. It should be discussed and revised.

Law No. 5/96, which was enacted on 7 June 1996 to protect the 1993-96 National Convention, should be repealed.


The ENC is willing to cooperate and find ways to bring about a transition if above are met. Politics is about making compromises and the ENC is willing to discuss options if the SPDC considers modifying its 7- points Road Map. And, the ENC still believes that the best means to solve our country problem is through a negotiated settlement; and we, therefore, strongly demands a tripartite dialogue as called for by the UNGA since 1994.


In conclusion, I would like to stress again that the right of “self-determination” that we are struggling for is what we call “internal self-determination”: which will guarantees our collective rights; the right to rule our homeland by ourselves, the right to practice our religious teaching and culture freely, the right to teach, learn and promote our language freely, and the right to up-hold our identity without fear and live peacefully together with others. I can assure you that we are not separatists. We are for a united Union of Burma, but what we want is a genuine federal union where all ethnic groups in Burma can live peacefully together.


Thank you!


Dr. Lian H. Sakhong

General Secretary

United Nationalities League for Democracy UNLD-LA), and

Ethnic Nationalities Council – Union of Burma (ENC)



Back Cover Poem:


“Where is Papa?”

By Van Biak Thang


All the farmers from the youngest to the oldest

Enjoying their social repose from toil and moil

It was time just after the end of the harvest

That she for blessings knew herself from her own soil

And the whole village shared the tidings in rejoice


Under the roof of thatch in a bright moonlit night

With vivid memories of hers in that twilight

By the fir-lit hearth was she fast sitting astride

No one else around apart from the one inside

In reminiscence about their mutual love thrice


It was when a hatch of chickens made their way home

And when a grandpa began his nursery rhyme

And when a family shared a table for pray’r

That he’s cuffed and taken by a lion-headed star

For no other reasons than being a man of price


Nothing was learnt and known about her beloved

Since peace in a family’s disturbed and shredded

Knowing a life deserves more respect than a sword

No one stood against bayonets but as a coward

As the darkness brought its power into practice


As clear as a newly-cut mirror for the queen

She’d still see as if it were shown in a big screen

The time he’s beaten and forced to be a porter

Without even a word of farewell nor whisper

To family and loved ones in fear and sadness


Days and nights marched and so did the age of her son

But the past image’s still stirring like a whirlwind

Her eyes being filled with tears of anger and tension

She couldn’t open her trembling mouth to a question

“Where is Papa?” by his little blood in surprise






To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles