CHRO

REFUGEES

Mr. Tapan K. Bose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.Article 4 as religious freedom is guaranteed.

. Article 16 free access to courts is provided.

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

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

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

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

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

Judicial Interpretations: Case Law in India

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

Physical Security

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

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

Non-Refoulement and Right to Refugees Status:

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

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

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

Deporting on grounds of National Security and Criminal Activities

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

Right to Leave (Return)

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

Application of International Laws for the protection of refugees

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

AND LIBERTY CURTAILED  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meals (usually rice) were mixed with sand,

Pins were pushed between the flesh and fingernails,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guam. January 24,2001

Christians in Annual Admissions  

Persecuted Karen, Karenni, and Chin Christians Not Allowed

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

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

Christians Overlooked

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

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

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

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

Time for Change

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

Please Contact your Congressional Representatives in Washington today.

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

REFUGEES

Mr. Tapan K. Bose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.Article 4 as religious freedom is guaranteed.

. Article 16 free access to courts is provided.

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

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

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

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

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

Judicial Interpretations: Case Law in India

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

Physical Security

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

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

Non-Refoulement and Right to Refugees Status:

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

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

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

Deporting on grounds of National Security and Criminal Activities

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

Right to Leave (Return)

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

Application of International Laws for the protection of refugees

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

AND LIBERTY CURTAILED  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meals (usually rice) were mixed with sand,

Pins were pushed between the flesh and fingernails,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guam. January 24,2001

By Victor Biak Lian
Chin Human Rights Organization
Regional Conference on Protection for Refugees from Burma
Chiangmai University, Chiangmai, Thailand
Nov. 6-7, 2003

I am very pleased to have this opportunity of talking about the situation of refugees from Burma in India. I am equally pleased for this rare opportunity of highlighting the condition of the least acknowledged yet one of the most in need of attentions by the international community. When talking about Burma’s displaced persons one is easily drawn to the conditions of those who have been displaced by decades of civil war in the eastern border of the country. But very little attention has been paid to the condition of thousands of people who have been experiencing an equally difficult situation with that of people in Burma’s western frontiers. Burma shares its western borders with India and Bangladesh and much of that frontier is adjacent to India’s northeastern region.

It is estimated that well over 50,000 refugees from Burma are currently living in India. The continuing lack of adequate protection mechanism for Burmese refugees in India makes it impossible to more than estimate the number of Burmese refugees. This is because of the fact that except for those who are able to approach UNHCR in New Delhi for protection, the majority of Burmese refugees in India are afraid to identify themselves as refugees, although careful scrutiny of their circumstances clearly suggest that they could fall within the meaning of refugee definition.

Most of the refugees from Burma are ethic Chins and they are mainly concentrated in India’s northeastern province of Mizoram. After a sudden influx of refugees following the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement in 1998, thousands of Chins have fled their homes to escape repression and systematic violations of human rights in Burma. Currently, Mizoram alone houses at least 50,000 refugees from Burma, while a few thousand refugees are found in Manipur and other areas along the borders with Burma. Neither the Government of India nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi has acknowledged the presence of Burmese refugees in the border areas. As of March 2003, only 1003 individuals have been recognized by UNHCR in New Delhi.[1]

The pattern of refugee exodus from Burma can be divided into two categories: Those fleeing to India in the immediate aftermath of 1988 and those who have crossed into India steadily since the early 1990ies to the present. The first category includes university students and youth who participated in the 1988 uprising and who subsequently fled to India to escape a brutal military crackdown. The second category includes ordinary civilians and villagers who fled various kinds of human rights violations in the form of arbitrary arrest, torture, forced labor and religious persecutions.[2] Chins are predominantly Christians and Burmese soldiers have destroyed Churches, arrested and tortured pastors and evangelists, and have routinely exacted forced labor from Christians to build Buddhist pagodas. Ongoing insurgency and counter-insurgency programs are also major factors for refugee flight from Chin State.

India’s attitudes towards Burmese refugees

India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its related Protocol. While the Government of India initially quickly reacted to refugee outflow triggered by the 1988 uprising by setting up refugee camps for refugees identified in the first category, since 1992, it had withdrawn the camps and cancelled the provision of all humanitarian assistance to Burmese refugees. This dramatic policy reversion had considerably affected the lives of thousands and had increased the vulnerability of refugees to arrest and deportation to Burma.

On many occasions, India has forcibly returned Burmese refugees to Burma. In 2006, India extradited eleven Burmese army defectors some of whom were already recognized as ‘person of concern’ by UNHCR.[3] Due to the lack of legal protection for Burmese refugees in the border, they are easily identified as economic migrants.

Close cultural and linguistic similarity with the Mizos also allow the Chins to easily integrate into the local society, and thereby being able to acquire employment in low-paid job such as weaving industry and road construction etc. Chin refugees often try to keep a low profile of their presence by getting absorbed into local Mizo communities to avoid being identified as “foreigners” or illegal immigrants. While they attempt to keep down visibility among the local populations, they often become particular target of scapegoats for local political parties in times of provincial legislative elections. In 2000, Mizoram authorities forcibly repatriated hundreds of Chin refugees to Burma. Out of hundreds of returnees, at least 87 people were reported to have been arrested and sent to forced labor camps in Burma.[4]

Again in March 2002, the Young Mizo Association, a broad-based social organization ordered the eviction of Chin refugees in Lunglei District, leaving at least 5000 Chin refugee families homeless. Since July 19, 2003, in response to a rape incident in which a Burmese national was alleged to be responsible, the Young Mizo Association started to evict thousands of Chin refugees from their houses in Mizoram. The eviction, which is still ongoing, has resulted in the forced return of over 6000 Chin refugees to Burma.[5]  This latest drive of expulsion of Chin refugees is particularly alarming given that both the local communities under direction from the Young Mizo Association and Mizoram authorities have cooperated in evicting and sending back Chin refugees to Burma.

India has still not shown interest in the protection of Burmese refugees. Instead its primary interest since mid 1990s has been to build friendly relations with the military regime of Burma. The obvious consequence of increasing friendly relations between the two countries is that it creates a deep sense of insecurity and vulnerability among the Burmese refugees in India.

The role of UNHCR

UNHCR in New Delhi currently has about one thousand recognized Burmese refugees. This means that only a small fraction of Burmese refugee in India enjoy legal protection in India. Even those who have been recognized as refugees find themselves in precarious situations in New Delhi. UNHCR has provided a monthly financial assistance of Rs.1400 (About 30$) to recognized refugees. However, since March of 2003, UNHCR has cut financial assistance to many refugees saying that the provision of assistance to Burmese refugees has deterred them from seeking means of self-reliance, and that the termination of assistance to old refugees will accommodate new arrivals. Burmese refugees are already living in precarious conditions and it is predictable that they will encounter an even more serious problem once the full termination of their assistance took effect. The Indian authorities have issued them with residence permits, but denial of work permits makes any attempt at self-reliance almost impossible and illegal.

Refugees who have been recognized by UNHCR in New Delhi are treated as urban refugees. And the policy of UNHCR on urban refugees in India generally presumes that refugees can easily integrate themselves into local communities. Local integration is a term that implies that refugees are able to find safety, both physical protection and social integration into the local communities. This has not worked for urban refugees, especially refugees from Burma who for reasons of cultural, religious and linguistic differences have made them unable to achieve local integration. UNHCR in New Delhi hasn’t accepted ‘third resettlement’ as part of its strategy to find durable solution to refugee problem. Neither has it acknowledged its failure with regards to the policies of trying to achieve durable solution through local integration for Burmese refugees. In fact, most Burmese refugees are unskilled and cannot speak the local language, and therefore cannot simple find employment in India where there are already millions of unemployed people.

UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva has said it has not considered advocating for establishment of its presence in the border.[6] This is disturbing given that there are well over 50,000 Chin refugees in Mizoram who are in desperate need of protection.

There are about 400 Chin and Kachin refugees who are protesting in front of UNHCR office in Delhi for 14 consecutive days, demanding for two things. One is to recognize those whose application for refugee status had been turned down. Second is to resettle into third countries. However, UNHCR officials had not response until today instead they call local police to arrest them. When police intervene, kicking, punching, arrest followed and take them away from the office.

In conclusion, there is an urgent need of greater international attention to the conditions of Burmese refugees in India. Protection mechanism needs to be in place for refugees from Burma who take shelter in Mizoram. This will only be possible if UNHCR assumes greater role in the protection of Burmese refugees by advocating for establishment of its presence in the border. India should positively respond by allowing UNHCR access to the border areas and by issuing work permits to Burmese refugees.

The need for humanitarian and relief assistance to refugees in the border areas is no less important. Governments and international donor organizations should seriously look into the possibility of channeling assistance to the most vulnerable and most needy persons in Mizoram. Since evictions started in Mizoram in 2003, nearly two hundred refugees from Burma had gathered in at least two rural villages whose residents have been very sympathetic to the plights Burmese refugees as to provide them with food and shelters. These villages could serve as a jumpstart for providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in the border areas.

Thank you.

——————————————————————————–

[1] UNHCR’s Chief of Mission Lennart Kotsalainen’s letter to the Nordic Burma Support Groups, 3 March 2003, New Delhi

[2] More information on human rights situations in Chin State is available at www.chro.org

[3] In 1996, six Burmese soldiers from an army battalion based in Chin State defected to the Chin National Army. They later approached the UNHCR in New Delhi and were subsequently recognized as refugees. A high ranking Indian intelligence officer was identified as being responsible for their extradition. Some of the defectors were reportedly executed in Burma.

[4] Amnesty International: PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 20/40/00 UA 234/00 Possible forcible return of asylum-seekers 8 August 2000

[5] Rhododendron Vol. VI No III. July-August. www.chro.org

[6]  In a meeting with CHRO’s representative on July 18, 2003, Burma Desk Officer at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva made it clear that the Office of UNNCR has no intention to advocate for establishing a presence in the India-Burma border.

RAZOR’S EDGE
Survival Crisis for Refugees from Burma in Delhi, India

Project Maje
November 2004

The situation for refugees from Burma in Delhi, the capital city of India, has reached a survival crisis point. About 1,500 post-1988 refugees from Burma live in Delhi. An estimated 1,300 or more are of the Chin ethnic group from western Burma, with others from western Burma’s Arakan State (estimated at 30 to 50), northern Burma’s Kachin State (estimated at about 100), and elsewhere in Burma (estimated at 30 to 50.) They have been gradually losing their Subsistence Allowance stipends from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the point that such money is about to essentially vanish by the end of 2004.

The small UNHCR payments (approximately US$30 to $11 a month for “head of household” adults, with an additional amount for children) have been shared among the refugees for the most basic living expenses. Alternatives for income earning for the refugees in Delhi are nearly nonexistent, as refugees would have to compete with native-born Indians, and even foreigners who seem more “Indian,” for scarce employment.

In October 2004, Project Maje met with members of Delhi’s refugee community in the Vikaspuri neighborhood. The contacts took place in a session with representatives of refugee organizations, visits to two refugee housing units, and at a group assembly of refugees. This brief report is a summary of impressions from those contacts.

Inhospitable Refuge
Western Burma has increasingly been affected by militarization, resource extraction, religious persecution and political oppression in recent years, causing a steady refugee outflow. A new joint venture between Daewoo of South Korea, ONGV and GAIL of India, and Burma’s regime, with plans to bring natural gas from offshore Burma to India, possibly by pipeline through Arakan and/or Chin State, is expected to cause more militarization and forced labor in the region, and therefore, more refugees.

The response of many Chins, and people of other western Burma ethnic groups, to human rights violations such as forced labor, village destruction, rape, and torture, has been to flee to neighboring India, particularly the northeast state of Mizoram, home to Chin-related indigenous people. Unfortunately, Mizoram has become increasingly inhospitable to the refugees from Burma. There have been instances of forcible push-backs to Burma, and other forms of harassment and persecution, most notably during July-August 2003. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 refugees from Burma still remain in Mizoram.

Because international protection under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is not available in Mizoram, a relatively small number of the refugees have over the years made their way to Delhi, where there is a UNHCR office, in search of such protection. In the past, some of these refugees have gone on to be resettled in third countries, often as students. A few others (often Burmese student refugees) have succeeded in making Delhi a permanent home for themselves.

A Brick Wall
Delhi’s security for refugees has dwindled as UNHCR protected status has become much harder to obtain (reportedly, only about half of the Delhi refugees from Burma currently have it) and the UNHCR Subsistence Allowance stipends have been phased out. A UNHCR representative in Delhi recently commented that the stipends had created “dependency” and had only been meant for the elderly and ill, not for all “able-bodied” refugees. One wonders how starved a refugee must be, from being unable to compete for scarce employment with the Indian population, before one is ill enough to receive survival aid.

The Delhi refugees are well organized, and have tried to publicize and protest their plight (resulting in arrests and beatings in November 2003.) However, they have been up against a brick wall with the UNHCR, and have received little support from elsewhere, with the exception of the Other Media refugee project and a few NGOs. Although the Chins are Christians, even Christian churches and charities in Delhi can offer them little aid, as they believe their mandate is to serve the poor and downtrodden of India, not those of Burma.

There are constant reports of difficulties in getting healthcare reimbursements from the UNHCR and its “implementing” organizations. Refugees from Burma report difficulty in accessing help from a Delhi “refugee clinic,” and report deaths in their community from lack of medicine. Dozens of refugee children have had to drop out of Indian public schools because of lack of money for school fees and uniforms. Church schools have taken in some refugee children, but others are going without education.

Forced Competition
Most refugees from Burma reportedly have Residence Permits from the Indian government, but not work permits, making legal employment difficult. The UNHCR has suggested that they seek employment in the “informal sector” (illegal employment.) But the main problem is the lack of any employment niche that the Burma refugees can fill in Delhi. The educated refugees face the reality that there are always plenty of educated, English-speaking Indians to fill any position; the refugees who were farmers understand that there are always enough impoverished Indians willing to do any task or chore.

UNHCR training programs in computers and language skills are viewed as unrealistic, long term oriented when short term survival needs are unmet, and not addressing the problem of competing for jobs with Indians. Even other refugees, such as those from Afghanistan and Bhutan, seem to have a better chance at fitting into Indian society and the demands of urban life, than do the Chins and other Burma refugees in Delhi.

To make matters worse, the Burma refugees for the most part don’t “look Indian” (in the non-Northeast India sense) and thus stand out in their slum communities as targets for harassment and violence. Refugees have been beaten and murdered by criminals in Delhi, and refugee women have been victims of sexual assault in the slum neighborhoods. The few refugees who have found employment, for instance as security guards, have often been swindled out of their pay by employers.

Most refugees are now reportedly reduced to scavenging for discarded food at night after the vegetable markets have shut down. They live crowded into one-room flats they call “refugee camps,” often behind on the rent and in impossible debt to credit-lenders. The situation is extremely frustrating, dangerous and frightening for the Delhi refugees. At present their only source of hope is the possibility of third country resettlement.

While there is some sense that third countries do want to take in this small population of refugees, there are reports that the UNHCR or Indian government have not smoothed the way to this solution, and are not willing to provide the necessary “exit visa” documents. A particular concern may be the “magnet” effect — if all of the Delhi refugees are rescued to third countries, then this may draw more from Mizoram to Delhi. Steps such as extending more protection and security to the refugees already in Mizoram, should be taken to deal with this possibility. Of course desperate people are not fleeing Burma in hopes of a new life on another continent — they are fleeing in immediate fear for their safety. If safe havens can be established in border areas and coexistence and conflict-resolution can be promoted in Mizoram, it is unlikely that the number of refugees will build up again in Delhi.

Case Studies
The following five cases illustrate the challenges faced by refugees in Delhi and how they struggle to meet needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare. The individuals are all from the Matupi region of southern Chin State.

Flat A:
1. 44 year old man, was a primary school teacher in Chin State. In 1988 he was a democracy demonstration leader in Matupi. That September he fled to Mizoram, where he was a farmer. In 2003 he was evicted in Mizoram with his wife and five children, and then came to Delhi, but cannot find any work. The one-room flat costs 2,800 rupees a month (about US$55.00) and is shared with 30 people including 13 children; they were two months behind on the rent (owed to a credit-lender.) Some sleep on the rooftop due to lack of space. The children go to a Seventh Day Adventist charity school. The children suffer from headaches, diarrhea and coughing. There is no money for medicine. The people in the flat purchase the cheapest grade of rice. They eat rice twice a day, sometimes as soup, with salt and chili, sometimes with lentils. He is praying that the UNHCR will help them.

2. 22 year old woman, mother of three children. A farmer with fourth-standard education. In August 2002, her husband, a village headman, had to give rice to Chin National Front (CNF) rebel soldiers. Burma’s Military Intelligence found out about that, so the couple fled to Mizoram. In Mizoram they worked in road construction and sold vegetables. Local people there made trouble for them, so they fled to Delhi in 2002. They applied for UNHCR refugee status but were rejected with no reason. After long unemployment , her husband has recently found work as a temporary substitute dishwasher at a tea-stall six days a week, for 500 rupees (about US$11.00) a month. Their baby had pneumonia, and they have no money for treatment. She hopes for democracy to come to Burma so they can return, and hopes for her children to be educated.

3. 20 year old single man. He was in class 10 in school in Chin State when the CNF forcibly recruited him. He wanted to study, not to be in the rebel army, so he fled their camp. The Burma military captured him and accused him of being a CNF supporter, tortured him and told him to show them the way to the camp. He was wounded in a battle between the two sides, and fled to Mizoram. He has a gunshot wound, and still suffers light sensitivity due to the torture by Burma military. In Mizoram he worked as a dishwasher in a tea-stall, could not labor in the sun because of his eye damage. He was worried about deportation back to Burma from Mizoram. In September 2004, he came to Delhi, and has a UNHCR interview scheduled in December. He has had no work since coming to Delhi and has been getting treatment at a clinic with money a friend sent to him from Mizoram. He noted that “inside Chinland, so many people suffer torture, forced labor, rape, invisibly. All people should know that Burma needs to change, there needs to be democracy so people will get their rights.”

4. 23 year old woman. In Burma she suffered from gynecological problems, but the Burma army forced her to work as a porter carrying their supplies. She tried to refuse, but they made her do it many times, so in 2000 she went to Mizoram by herself. There she got married in 2001 to another refugee, a farmer. They farmed in Mizoram until the deportation campaign, then came to Delhi, where they were rejected for UNHCR protection. Her husband is still looking for a job; he does not speak English or Hindi, which makes it especially difficult. Two months ago she had an abortion and has experienced fatigue, headaches and a nerve-burning sensation since. Her two year old daughter still suffers the effects of malaria that she contracted back in Mizoram and vitamin deficiency (appears obviously malnourished.) She wants democracy, and refugee status, and a good education for her children.

Flat B:
5. 26 year old man. He was raised an orphan in his uncle’s house. He was a farmer when he was taken by the Burma military as a porter. During a battle in 1999 between the Burma military and the CNF, he was injured. His hand and lower forearm had to be amputated. He still has problems with the stump but can’t afford treatment other than some tablets given to him by an NGO clinic for the refugees. In 2003 he fled to Delhi and was rejected for UNHCR protected status; he had an appeal interview in September ‘04. He lives in a one room flat with 13 other refugee men, ages 25 to 35. Most of them are working as dishwashers, but he cannot due to his injury. They share a 50 kilogram bag of cheap rice, which lasts them about three weeks, with chilies, and sometimes cabbage or potatoes. He requests that churches pray for those suffering inside Burma, and to pray for the UNHCR to help the refugees.

Conclusions
While this brief report cannot supply the solution to the plight of the Burma refugees in Delhi, or evaluate the UNHCR’s role there, a few basic suggestions can be offered:
The UNHCR should resume survival assistance stipends to Burma refugees in Delhi, should resume granting official recognition of Burma refugees, and should encourage resettlement efforts.

A proactive UNHCR presence in Northeast India could help to prevent abuses against refugees, and could decrease the “magnet effect” of the Delhi office.
Mizoram’s government, organizations and citizens must ensure the safety of refugees from Burma, with a halt to harassment and repatriation.

Communications with UNHCR “implementing partners” need to be improved, and the refugee community needs to be consulted more about its actual needs.

Emergency charity aid for the survival needs of Burma refugees in Delhi should be encouraged. (See contact information below.)

Efforts should continue towards finding niche employment for Burma refugees in Delhi.
Urban survival training, including expanded gleaning/recycling possibilities, may be of benefit for the Burma refugees in Delhi.

Efforts need to be made for conflict resolution and mutual familiarization with the Indian slum population in Vikaspuri.

Third country resettlement for the Burma refugees in Delhi should be put on the “fast track.”
Contacts and Resources:
Note: the Chin/Christian groups below will also provide connections to Kachin, Rakhine and other ethnic refugee populations in Delhi.
Chin Human Rights Organization (can provide a detailed background report and direct aid links), contact [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
http://www.chinforum.org
The Other Media, Delhi Refugee Desk, contact [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, contact [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
http://www.csw.org.uk
Background article:
“Burmese Caught between Poverty in India, Oppression at Home”
Ranjit Devraj, Mizzima News, Oct. 29, 2003
http://www.burmatoday.net/mizzima2003/mizzima/2003/08/030802_india_mizzima.htm

ASSESSMENT REPORT
ON
BURMESE REFUGEES IN MIZORAM AND
DELHI

June   2004

CONTENTS
Acknowledgement

A. INTRODUCTION
i. The assessment trip
ii. Strength of the Assessment
iii. Limitation of the Assessment

B. BURMESE REFUGEES IN INDIA

C. BURMESE REFUGEES IN MIZORAM

i. Background:
ii. The 17th July incident in Mizoram
iii. Repercussion of the eviction
iv. Initiatives taken by Mizoram Government
v. Present situation of the Chins:
a. Security
b. Economy
c. Health
d. Education
e. The camps
vi.  Potential local organizations

D. BURMESE REFUGEES IN DELHI

i. Background
ii. Security
iii. Subsistence Allowance
iv. Health
v. Education
vi. 12th November 2003 incident
vii. The camps
viii. Relationship between Burmese refugees and Indians
ix. UNHCR’s implementing partners  
x. Potential local organizations

E. OBSERAVTIONS

F. RECOMMENDATIONS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We express our gratitude to Inter Pares (Canada), BRC (Thailand) and Norwegian Burma Committee, for their concern and interest on the Burmese refugees in India. Their financial support made the trip to Mizoram possible.

We are thankful to TOM General Secretary E. Deenadayalan for his support, advices and suggestions. The contributions of Sanpai and other colleagues of TOM are deeply acknowledged.
We would like to thank Far Em Sung (Emi) and Paul Sitha who made previous arrangements for our stay and meetings in Mizoram and for accompanying us to all our field visits.  We are also thankful to Khuang Cin Par for her support and encouragement.

Finally, we deeply express our whole hearted gratitude to the different committees, associations, organizations and elders in Mizoram and Delhi for sparing their time and providing all the valuable informations for which this report is the product.

The team
Victor Biak Lian
Dr. Achan Mungleng
K. Sutthiphong

A. INTRODUCTION
The situations of the Burmese refugees have got the attention of many international Organisations. However the Burmese refugees in India is not much known. When a Conference on Burma was held at Ottawa, Canada from 9th to 12th of October 2002, a meeting of the Burma Donors Forum took place. In this meeting, Chris Lewa from Forum Asia – Thailand, was invited to speak on the situation of the Burmese in India. As a follow up of the meeting, it was decided that Victor Biak Lian would go for preliminary assessment to Mizoram.

Victor Biak Lian, Refugee Coordinator, Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO), did preliminary needs assessment of the Chin refugees in Mizoram in the month of November 2002 (8th to 14th). During the trip he met different groups, organizations and churches of both Mizo and Chin communities. From his study, it was felt that there was a need for humanitarian assistance, capacity building such as educational programme, health care, organisational management training, gender training, Refugee Rights training etc for the Burmese refugees. Based on these needs, recommendations were made for both short and long term action. Some organizations / committees having concern and working on the issue of refugees were also identified.

A year later (6th to 7th November 2003), a regional conference on Protection of Refugees from Burma took place at Chiang Mai, Thailand. In this conference, on the second day during the workshop on “North Eastern Situation of India”, discussions on how to develop a strategy in support of Burmese refugees in India took place (Thirteen people participated in the NE workshop).  The constraints, obstacles as well as the opportunities and potential in this area were discussed and it was decided that there was a need for assessing the situation in Mizoram, especially after the 17th July incident, and the best way forward was to task a small group of people to go to Mizoram in the next few months to review the situation. This group would then report its findings and recommendations to a small gathering of international NGOs at a meeting in Delhi on the 18th and 19th of February 2004. Thus, the need for assessment trip was developed during the conference.
i) The assessment trip:

The assessment trip was undertaken for 15 days from 2nd Feb to 16th Feb 2004. The Team comprised Victor Biak Lian (CHRO), Dr Achan Mungleng (The Other Media – India), and K. Suttiphong (MAP – Thailand). The team was assisted by Khuang Cin Par (Wife of Victor), Emi of Central CWO and Paul Sitha.

The assessment was based on four framework:
1. To review the local political context
2. To identify the needs of refugee groups and required resources
3. To identify people and organizations with experience in the region
4. To identify possible mechanisms for delivery of assistance to these groups, especially with respect to accountability.

The Team visited Aizawl, Sihmui, Lunglei, Lawngtlai, Champhai, and Zokhawthar. Meetings were held with the different groups, organizations and church both from the Mizo and Chin community.
The strategic meeting took place on the 17th and 18th of February 2004. A short brief report of the trip to Mizoram was shared with the participants. During the strategy meeting, it was felt that was a need to do assessment on the Burmese refugees in Delhi. The assessment took place from the 19th to 26th of February 2004. The assessment in Delhi was conducted by Dr. Achan Mungleng and Victor Biak Lian.

ii) Strength of the Assessment:
Out of the total member team, four (Victor, Khuang, Emi and Paul) belong to Chin community. The strength of the assessment lies in the ability to understand the problems of the refugees as an insider. Since people knew us, we could relate to them at ease. There were no apprehensions from the Chins in informing us about their problems and situations. The presence of Victor made things easier as he is well known to them and is well respected. Victors’s wife, Khuang was back to Mizoram after almost ten years. Many of her friends and relatives invited us for lunch and dinner. It was in course of such informal gatherings that help us to collect many informations. The seemingly unending long journey on the vehicle while traveling from one place to another serves as the place to share, discuss and debate the situations not only in Mizoram, but in the northeast India, Thailand etc.

iii) Limitation of the Assessment:
Though the trip commenced on the 2nd Feb, the actual work starts on the 5th afternoon (visited Sihmuii Camp straight from the Aizawl Airport). Reaching other parts of the state like Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Champhai were tiring. It took one whole day (7th February) to reach Lunglei from Aizawl (235 Kms). From Lunglei to Lawngtlai (9th February) it took three hours (100 kms approx). The journey from Lawngtlai to Champhai took us more than a day. We started on the 10th February morning but could not reach Champhai on that day itself. We hold the night at Khawzawl and reached Champhai the next day (11th February) at around 11 am. We covered 192 kms for our journey back to Aizawl from Champhai on 12th February. We left Aizawl on the 15th morning and reached Delhi on 16th afternoon. Therefore, due to the limited time in the field we could not collect detailed information about the situation of the Burmese refugees in Mizoram, the different Chin organisation and could not meet the local Mizo organizations except the MZP.

B. BURMESE REFUGEES IN INDIA:
There exist a large number of Burmese refugee populations in India. They are mainly concentrated in the North-eastern States of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and Delhi. It has been reported that there are more than 50,000  Chin refugees in Mizoram (The Mizoram State Government recorded only 9363  ), large number of Chin refugees in Manipur, 6000 Naga refugees in both Manipur and Nagaland states, around 100 Kachin refugees in Arunachal Pradesh. Delhi also hosts a sizeable population of Burmese refugees. There are 1452  Burmese Refugees in Delhi of which 805 are recognized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office while the remaining 647 are asylum seekers from Burma who have not been recognized as refugees by the office of UNHCR.

C. BURMESE REFUGEES IN MIZORAM:
Mizoram is a mountainous region that became the 23rd State of the Union in February 1987. It was one of the districts of Assam till 1972 when it became Union Territory. Sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great strategic importance in the north-eastern corner of India. It has a total of 630 miles boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

I) BACKGROUND:
The Mizos and the Burmese, specially the Chin belongs to the same ethnic group, the Chin-Mizo-Kuki tribe. Relationships between the two have existed since time immemorial. Both the groups have accommodated each other in times of difficulties. During the period of disturbance in Mizoram, many fled to Burma. It was the Chin who gave shelter to them. In the report written by the MZP, it states,
“The Mizo speaking or Lusei/ Lushai happens to be those of Mizo origin who migrated to Myanmar in the hope of improving their means of livelihood in a country which was at the wake of independence. These people returned back to Mizoram in the later years”.

Also in the words of the Chins, “The Mizos not only came and stayed in Chinland but they came along with the names of their village and they stayed in the Chinland giving Mizo names to the area where they put up” This is substantiated by the fact that presently in Chinland there are villages named Tahan, Haimawl etc. Both the Mizos and Chins have exhibited kinly attitude towards each other.

Inspite of the brotherly affinity, the relationship between the Mizos and the Chin have fall apart over the years.  The Mizo claim that since they belonged to the Chin-Mizo-Kuki tribe, they co-exist in cordial relationship with the people of the state. The Burmese Refugees were not considered to be of any nuisance or threat prior to 1995. Differences of any kind was not shown to them, and in fact, they rarely had any problem in getting themselves listed in the electoral rolls. Neither do they have any trouble in acquiring a ration card too.

However, among the Burmese nationals who had voting rights in the state, not less than 95% belongs to the Mizo National Front (MNF) party. (Not only Burmese, but most of the people, who migrated to Mizoram state happen to be the supporters of the MNF party). MNF (Nationalist) later known as Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP), a party, which emerged out of the MNF in 1997, had the support of good number of these Burmese nationals. At present, no less than 95% of the Burmese Nationals who had voting rights in Mizoram belong to either the MNF or ZNP.

In 1995, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the Mizo Students’ Association launched a massive campaign of ‘Chakma Foreigners Quit Order’. As a result, large number of Chakma refugees (the ‘vote bank’ of the Congress Party) left the state. The Congress party suffered heavy losses due to this Quit Notice. The Congress party lost three constituencies in the Assembly Election of 1998, which it had always retained in the previous elections through the votes of the Chakmas. They urged the MZP to take measures in driving out the Burmese Nationals too, stating that they were of the same status as that of the Chakmas – Foreigners. However, the MZP made it clear that they will not take measures to drive out their “own brothers”. Therefore, in order to drive out the Burmese Nationals, the “Vote Bank” of Mizo National Front (MNF), their arch rival, the Congress convinced the Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest and most powerful and influential organization in the state, to take steps in driving out the Burmese Nationals. The YMA took rigorous measures in attacking the Burmese Nationals basing their movement on the slogan ‘Foreigner is Foreigner’. The YMA being the largest Organisation, not a single political party could afford to go against its wishes and then lose its favour.
The Mizos further claim that since the Burmese refugees hail from an economically poor country, which is under a tyrannical rule of a military regime, on coming to Mizoram, many of them tend to enjoy the freedom and liberty which they could not in their country. MZP reports,
“The hope and desire to make more money lures some of them to pursue activities, which are considered improper by the society and the government, such as drug peddling and other evil deeds (prostitutions). The increasing involvement and indulgence of the Burmese Nationals in such criminal activities gradually infuriates the people of Mizoram such that it reaches a certain level wherein the people of the state could not maintain their sympathy towards their ‘brothers and sisters’”.
(A Report by Government of Mizoram on the involvement of Burmese Nationals in criminal cases enclosed as Annexure –II)
During the trip, the following allegations on the Chin refugees by the Mizo and the response by the chins were recorded.

Allegation by the Mizo  Response from the Chin
1 Enrollment for voting rights and issue of Ration card Provided by Village Council President and political parties
2 Drugs trafficking The Mizos are also involved
3 Alcohol The Chin workers are hired by the Mizos
4 Prostitute There are few Chin involved in such activities but whenever a Mizo girls involved in such activities are arrested, it is reported that they are Chins.
5 Loss of forest products. The Chins gather the forest products and sell it in the market They gathered the forest products from the deep jungle and sell it to buy food to survive.
6 Mizo people becoming jobless Most of the Chin refugees are engaged in menial jobs like road and house construction, maidservant, working in the farm, selling vegetables, and other daily waged labour. The Chins involved in business and teaching are very less.
7 Lack of participation in social activities like death, etc The Mizos looked down at us.
8 Does not assimilate Mizo culture and language We want to keep our identity alive through our language and culture.
9 Establishment of Chin churches Being refugees, they feel shy, embarrass, and could not afford to attend the Mizo Church, as the standard of dressing is too high. Speaking and singing in one’s own dialect gives us the sense of belongingness
10 Collect money from Mizoram and took back the money to Burma

II) THE 17TH JULY INCIDENT IN MIZORAM
On 17th July 2003, it was alleged that a nine-year-old Mizo girl was raped by a Burmese Nationals at Hotel Vancy in Chanmari locality of Aizawl town. The true identity of the rapist is still in question. It has also been reported that the rapist is a Mizo. His parents left for Burma during the disturbance periods in Mizoram and came back to Mizoram again. However, this incident led to anti-Burmese attitude among the Mizo. As a consequence thousands of Burmese Nationals were driven out of the Mizoram state. It was also alleged that prior to the rape incident, this hotel had earned bad reputation. The incidence of the rape that occurred in the hotel added fuel into the fire, which eventually led to its destruction by the people of Chanmari within a short period of time after the rape occurred. The destruction of the hotel was quickly followed by an ‘order’ to all the Burmese Nationals within Chanmari to leave the locality. This movement caught fire in no time and various other localities of Aizawl city too gave ‘Marching Orders’ to the Burmese Nationals within their respective localities to leave. The movement gained a rapid momentum and soon covered the whole state.
It has been reported that the ‘Quit Notices’ were mainly initiated and propagated by the respective Village Councils (VC) and the YMAs of various localities/towns/villages, with YMA playing the most active part in the movement and arousing the sentiments of the people. At the recently concluded YMA General Conference held at Thenzawl, the President of the Central YMA or (YMA General Headquarters) in his speech on 2nd October 2003 even expressed his words of gratitude upon the expulsion of Burmese Nationals from the state and further mentioned his appreciation to Chanmari locality for taking the first initiative.

III) REPERCUSSION OF THE EVICTION:
The incident led to overwhelming changes in the normal life of the Burmese refugees for worst. Before the incident, the Burmese refugees were called ‘Burmami’ meaning ‘People from Burma’ by the Mizos. But after the incident, the Mizo started calling them ‘Ramdangmi’ meaning ‘Foreigner’. This term were used earlier only for the Chakmas. This term not only reflects the identity of being an outsider but is also derogatory in nature.  

Many Burmese Nationals lost their lives. Though the local organization did not kill the people directly, many died in the process of the eviction. Narrating some are:
a) Mr B L from Matu Township, Chin State, was residing near Sairang village in Mizoram. During eviction, he had to leave Mizoram. On his way to Burma he got to know that his entire family in Burma have died. So he came back to Mizoram. But again he was constantly pressured to leave Mizoram, he could take it anymore, so he took the extreme step and committed suicide.
b) In another incident while crossing the border Tuipi River, a pregnant mother drowned along with her 6 year old child.
c) Another pregnant women (Burman) went back to Burma and she delivered the baby before reaching Tiddim Town but the baby died due to unavailability of medical treatment.

The Sihmui refugee camp that housed 108 persons and Vawmbuk refugee camp that housed 75 persons came into existence due to eviction .

The Sihmui Camp was formed when the Burmese Chin refugees staying in and around Aizawl, Khamrang, Sairang and Tut were forcefully evicted. Since they could not go back to Burma, they got together and stayed at three vacant houses at Sihhmui village, which is about 20 kms away from Aizawl.

The Burmese Chin Refugees staying at Vawmbuk camp are those who were evicted from their house in Aizawl.  When they were forced to leave, they went and requested the Chairman of Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO), an ex-Mizo politician. He offered the premises of the Highland Engineering building that housed his workshop (Newslink 3rd August 2003). They stayed there for sometime but again they were evicted. On reaching Seling, they requested them not to deport them at Zakhawthar but at Lawngtlai. So from Seling to Lawngtlai they were taken by a private bus service called “Mizoland Travel” owned by a Chin. They went to Lawngtlai but again the central YMA told Lawngtlai YLA (Young Lai Association) to evict them from Lawngtlai. Therefore, they left for Saiha. They were taken to Saiha by Mizoram State Transport bus accompanied by Lawngtlai police. But here again the Saiha youth  and Village Council (VC) did not allow them to stay so they were again taken to Vawmbuk. They were accompanied by the Saiha Magistrate and Saiha police. From Vawmbuk village they walk down till the border Tuipi River still accompanied by the Saiha police. The police saw to it that all the 75 members crossed the river in their presence. After all of them had crossed the river, the police went back. This was on the 9th of august 2003 and by the time they crossed the river it was around 4:00 / 4:30 in the evening. When the police were out of sight, the people crossed the river and came back to Vawmbuk and since then, they set up the camp.
During the eviction, it was reported that by July 30, 1320 (552 males and 768 females) Burmese Chin Refugees crossed Zakhawthar border (Newslink dated July 30), 1572 (668 Males and 889 Females – Newslink dated July 31) by 31st July and by 19th October, 2003, 8245 persons (4498 men and 3747 women) had crossed the border (MZP report).

Displacement took place on a large scale in the state. The main displacement occurred in Aizawl and other relatively big towns.  Many families who could not find place in other places and could not go back to Burma, took refuge in the jungle (Newslink dated July 29).

IV) INITIATIVES TAKEN BY MIZORAM GOVERNMENT:
On July 29, the state Home Minister came out with four-point statement in connection with the eviction. The initiatives taken by the government are:
1. Police check gate at Zokhawthar has been strengthened and mobilized to function 24 hours a day to prevent illegal entry by Myanmarese
2. All District Commissioner / Superintendent of Police have been instructed to conduct census of Myanmerese illegal staying in Mizoram and report to the Government within a month.
3. In addition to Zokhawthar Border gate, Border check gates have been established at Bairabi, NE Khawdungsei and at Kanhmun to prevent unauthorized entry.
4. Border Management Cell in the Home department has been set up.

If one closely looks at the measures taken by the state government, the nature of the measures is more for the security of the State and the Mizos and not for the refugees who were being forcefully evicted.

The state government claims that several meetings were held with the Church Leaders, local NGOs like YMA, MUP, MHIP, MZP etc and made appeal to them not to take the law into their hands. But no action has been taken against the organizations involved in the forceful eviction inspite of knowing the fact that YMA and Village Councils took the main lead in evicting the refugees. Their involvement in the eviction cannot be denied. This is supported by reports in newspapers, the “Quit Notice” paper served to the refugees and other documents. There are also cases of violently evicting the innocent Burmese Chin refugees.

V) PRESENT SITUATION OF THE CHINS:
a) Security:
The Chin refugees often become the targets of different political groups and are frequently threatened with deportation, arrest or eviction. The first batch of refugees was sent back from India to Burma in September and October 1994. Atleast 1000 refugees were expelled from India in 1994 over a one-month period. Again in 2000 Indian authorities arrested and deported thousands of Chin refugees.
In 2001, many Chins were forcibly evicted from their homes and left homeless in Lunglei district. In March 2002, it was reported that Chin refugees again were evicted from their homes by the YMA in Lunglei District. It was reported that Mizos entered the homes of many Chin refugees and told them to leave their homes or their possessions would be destroyed. In June 2002, it was reported that the local authorities of Lunglei town initiated a campaign to expel all foreigners from Lunglei district as a result of pressure from the Young Mizo Association. Local home owners were instructed not to rent to Chin refugees and evictions continued through to 2003. In Dampui village of Serchip district, the district authorities instructed the Chin refugees to vacate their homes by 15 January 2003 or they would be placed under arrest. The authorities also prohibited church attendance after the same date. CHRO)
Since the 17th July eviction, the security of the people has gone from bad to worse. The people are living under constant fear of being evicted again. In Lunglei district, the situation seems to be the most affected. The concept of the Identity Card initiated by the refugee Committee themselves due to the failure of security by the State government reveal the intensity of the situation. Even during normal life, the refugees in this district on their death are not buried in the local Mizo cemetery but at Riang Vaite Thlan (meaning lonely grave) located deep in the jungle. There used to be three Chin churches before but at present there are no Chin churches. During interviews, we found that the word “discrimination” was used only in Lunglei and not in other places of Mizoram. The people told us about children being discriminated in schools. Some of the Chin women who used to survive by selling vegetables in the market are now barred from selling in the market. They therefore sell the vegetables and from house to house.

The security of women is also of great concern. There are many women working as housemaids. They are sexually harassed by their owner. There are many unreported cases of unwanted pregnancies by the owner. The women normally get the child aborted quietly as they cannot turn to the law for justice and the fear of the social stigma attached to such incidents. It is the Burmese Chin refugees women group who helped them .

b) Economy:
Most of the Burmese Chin refugees are engaged in menial jobs. They survive by doing odd jobs like road and house construction, working in the farm, selling vegetables, weaving and other daily waged labour. Many women work as maidservants. There are also few business persons and school teachers.

c) Health:
The Chins refugees staying in Mizoram face many health problems. The diseases prevalent among them are Malaria, Jaundice, Diarrhea, Cold etc. All these are preventive disease however due to lack of timely intervention, many refugees have died. In Lunglei district alone, 30 persons have died of malaria in the year 2002 – 2003.

Like the Mizos, the Chins can also get free (or pay some fee, around Rs 10/-) medical treatment (consultation) in all Government Hospitals. However inspite of the treatment, the refugees could not effort to buy medicines. Therefore, they remain sick for long time. The hospital does not provide free medicines. We were told that, even if they don’t have money, they go to the hospital for doctor’s consultation. Once they get the prescription, they waited till they could get the money to buy the medicine. This “waiting time” period sometimes go on for two/three weeks or a month. Most of the refugees working in the jungle could not make it on time to reach the hospital, as they could not effort to pay for conveyances.

They are prone to al these kinds of preventive diseases, as most of them are malnourished. They work very hard in the jungle, construction site and other places but they could not effort to eat nutritious food.

d) Education:
There is no provision for educational facilities for the Chin students in Mizoram. Their expenses are solely taken care by the parents. All parents want to send their children to school but many could not afford to do so. In Government school, parent still find difficulties since they could not afford to buy the uniforms and books though they do not pay the monthly fees. Many are not in favour of Government School as Mizo language is used the medium of teaching and also because of the low standard of education. In the last matriculation result, no students from Government school cleared the exam. In district like Lunglei, to get the children admitted in Government School, birth certificate is needed from class V onwards. For private school, such document is not required but due to the heavy expenses involved in private school, the parents are unable to send their children to the private schools, though it is highly preferred as the medium of teaching is English and the standard of education is high.

e) The camps:
There exist two refugee camps, Sihmuii and Vawmbuk. Life in these two camps is miserable. The refugees in these two camps lack all the basic amenities like food, health care etc. Since they were evicted from the place where they had with great difficulties managed to restart their lives after fleeing their home country Burma, they have lost all hopes. It was indeed a sad sight in the camps. They are not only worried about the availability of food for the next meal but the fear of being evicted again from the camps and also from harassment by the local Mizo.

In Sihmuii camp on the 26 of December 2003, a Mizo man who was in inebriated condition from Sihmuii entered the Sihmuii camp and harassed the refugees but he was then subdued by the refugees. He went home and came with a gelatin stick and a knife. He slashed two huts with his knife. Then the Joint Action Committee (JAC) leader of Sihmuii arrived on the scene. The assailant knifed a woman on her thigh and tried to set off the gelatin stick but failed. After about 20 minutes the man returned with three of his friends and assaulted the refugees. They attacked one of the male refugees, he was admitted in Aizawl Civil Hospital. The police arrived and arrested one of the Mizo men in the group. The person who started the entire incident fled. He went to the Sairang YMA, collected about 30 YMA members, and came back to the camp in 3 vehicles. They assaulted most of the refugees in the Sihmuii refugee camp. The YMA President and the Sihhmui Village Council stopped them on time. After the incident, four police personnel, including the Second O.C. of Sairang, came and told the refugees to move away as the place was not safe. The police recommended that they refrain from filing an FIR because the YMA, Sairang, would harm them. On 27 December 2003, the main accused returned to the camp and warn them that what had happened was only the beginning. On 29 December 2003, the landlord (who rented out the four huts to the refugees) asked them to vacate the premises, fearing that the YMA would destroy his property, if they do not leave the house. By 31 December 2003, the refugees were given the deadline to leave camp. Some women and children went into hiding in nearby homes and in Khamrang village. That was the second eviction the refugees faced. They have nowhere to go. For fear of persecution, they cannot return to Burma. The plight of the living condition of the refugees in the camps as reported by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) an NGO based in Delhi:-

Sihmuii camp
Their material existence is bare survival. They are malnourished and survive on inadequate rations of rice and dal provided by the Relief Committee. The Government provides nothing. NGOs do not function in the area. Medical assistance does not exist, though it is acutely needed. There are 16 children above the age of five who can no longer avail of any educational facility. Emergency intervention is necessary. We feared that after Christmas the Joint Action Committee might carry out a fresh round of evictions with the support of the government. These fears were validated when the Sihmuii camp residents approached the team, once on 28th December and then again on 31st December, as they had been threatened and given an ultimatum to evict the camp by 31st January 2003. An urgent intervention by the UNHCR and NHRC helped to give them immediate protection.

Vawmbuk Camp
On the way, the two buses stopped at Lawngtlai, where the refugees spent approximately one month. They were received by the Chin people at Lawngtlai, put up in a church and given food. The Lawngtlai area comes within the Lai Autonomous District Council. The Chins have an affinity with the Lai tribe, so there was a natural bond between the refugees and people of Lawngtlai. Moreover the YMA had no significant presence there. We were informed that the DC, Aizawl, and the YMA, Aizawl, spoke to the DC, Lawngtlai, requesting him not to let the refugees stay there. Thus, they were evicted again and sent to Vawmbuk village via Saiha. Our interviews with the refugees as well as the Chins from Lawngtlai describe this eviction in detail.

On 14 August 2003, the DC, Saiha, was asked to report on the status of these refugees. He recorded that the refugees sent an advance party who saw the Myanmar army at a close distance and, “being afraid of severe punishment and torture” which might lead to their death, they “unanimously resolved to come back to India”. Because of their resolve to stay in India come what may, the refugees were housed at the Tourist Lodge at Vawmbuk village for one month. Here it must be recorded that the Young Lai Association (YLA) and the Vawmbuk Village Council extended support to the refugees.

The Government of Mizoram (Tourism Department) told the DC, Saiha, to remove these people from the lodge. The lodge has five large rooms, adequate to house the refugees and to keep them warm during the winter. With the addition of basic facilities, like toilets and water supply, the lodge would be an ideal refuge. We also found that the lodge is by and large unused.

The Vawmbuk Village Council and the YLA came to their rescue once again, allocating land nearby and providing water. Mr. Suan Tung Parte of the Zo Human Rights Global Networks assisted in setting up a makeshift camp. The DC, Saiha, provided plastic sheets (tarpaulin). An elementary structure was created with bamboo and plastic. When we visited the camp on 24th-26th December 2003, 75 persons were living there. The number fluctuates from time to time as the refugees attempt to find daily wage jobs to keep the camp going. Previously some medical assistance came from Health Care for the Poor, Aizawl, in the form of medicines, and the DC, Saiha, arranged for a visit by a doctor. Food is in short supply and current estimates show that rations will run out in 15 days time. The daily diet was rice and dal twice a day. Medicines were almost finished.

VI) POTENTIAL LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
I) CHIN ORGANIZATIONS
a) Chin Human Rights Organisation
This organization came into existence in 1995. It is based in Canada and registered under Industry Canada as a non-profit organisation. The CHRO field office is based in Aizawl. It was established in 1998. The main object of the organization is to document information on Human Rights violation in Chin states and western part of Burma.

In the recent past, owing to the critical situation of the Chin refugees in India, the organization is compelled to get involved in humanitarian relief and fund raising activities since 2002. The funds are raised from the Chin churches from overseas. The pressure of the needs led to the extension of the service in Delhi very recently (2004).

b) Chin Women Organization (CWO)
Background:
The organization is based in Aizawl. It has six branches, Aizawl, Champhai, Sairang, Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Delhi

Activities:
The organization has been successfully conducting women exchange programme where the women from different Chin groups share information and have discussion on other issues. They also conduct English class, training on human Rights, Women Rights, Conflict resolution etc.

The organization is also a part of the educational programme of the Bracket Foundation. They give scholarship of Rs 1500/- to 30 students for one academic session the Primary and Middle classes.
Plans:
• To conduct the exchange programme to other CWO branch.
• To involve the Mizo women group in such exchange programme
• To invite experts as resource person in the exchange and training programme
• To give scholarship to more than 30 students.
• To teach Chin language.

c) Chin Women Union (CWU)
Background:
The organization was formed in 1997. It is the union of different Chin womens’ group from Haka, Falam, Za Ngait, Tiddim, Lushei, Matu etc.

Activities:
The organization established a clinic called “Mother and Child Clinic” in 2001. A Chin doctor and two Medics were hired without giving salary. The Clinic did not charge any consultation fee. Basic medicines (first aid, drip etc) were provided free of cost (The members of the Union contributed money to buy the medicine). For one year it was running successfully but the Chin doctor left for another Clinic who were willing to pay monthly salary and thereafter the aftermath of 17th July incident took toll on them. The popularity of the clinic is on the down side since then. However, the clinic is still open with the help of the two voluntary Medics for three days a week. The clinic is still visited by both locals and Chin, both men and women. The most common disease is Malaria and Jaundice.

Plans:
• To hire a doctor and nurse
• To train some medics

d) Chin Education Project
Background:
This project committee’s main office is based in Aizawl. The members of the project comprise representatives from every district. Bracket Foundation funds the project. The project gives educational scholarships to High School and College level students.

Activities:
• The project currently gives scholarship to 50 students  (25 High school students and 25 college students). The High school level is only for Mizoram state while the College level is at All India Level. The selection of the student is based mainly on the financial condition of the family and also on the previous class result.
Plans:
• To increase the amount of the scholarship
• To provide money to the students attending Government schools for buying uniform and books
• To keep the students in hostels

e) Health Care for the Poor Society
Background:  The Health Care for the Poor Society was initially named as “Health Care for Burma”. It was renamed since it was felt that the word Burma would create discontentment with the Mizos. The main office is based in Aizawl and the branch office at Champhai. The project is funded by Bracket Foundation, Medical Mercy and few Mizo and Chin individuals.

Activities:
Two clinics have been already set up Champhai and Aizawl.

Future Plans:
• To establish a clinic at Zokhawthar (the border village). Bracket Foundation has given Rs 1,53,900/- for the purpose that includes the house rent Medicines and Doctor’s salary.  This Clinic will attend to the medical needs of the village and the Chin villages situated around the border areas. The Clinic will be open three days a week and the other three days at Champhai

f)  Chin Refugee Committee, Lunglei
Background:
This Committee was established 5/6 years ago, but it was not very functional. It revived back after the 17th 2003 July incident. The aim and objective of this committee at present is to look into the security of the Chin refugees residing in Lunglei District. As per the committee’s report, there are about 2000 chin in the district.

Activities:
• Not many activities have been carried out by this committee. As already mentioned before, the intensity of the situation in this district has compelled the Committee to make Refugee Identity card. Till the month of October 2003, they have issued 232 cards. By 19th January, the committee has identified 86 families having 311 members including 113 children. The list has been already submitted to the District Commissioner and the DC had promised that it would be discussed with the Home Ministry of Mizoram.

g)  Kalvary Baptist Church, Laungtlai
Background:
This Church comprised only the Chin Refugees from Burma. This church is affiliated to Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church Assembly (LRJCBC). As affiliation fee about 50% of the church annual income is given to the assembly. There is 1500 chin refugees scattered in the 188 Mizo villages within Lawngtlai Town.

Activities:
• The church provides conveyance for the sick person to reach them to the hospital from the jungle.
• The church bought medicines for those patients who could not afford to buy.

II) MIZO ORGANIZATIONS
In Mizoram, local organizations like Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP – Mizo Students Association), Mizoram Upa Pawl (MUP – Mizoram Senior Citizens Association) and Mizoram Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP – Mizoram Women’s Association) are very influential.
a) Young Mizo Association (YMA)

Young Mizo Association (YMA) is a non-political, voluntary organization, established on the 15th June 1935 at Aizawl, Mizoram. YMA is an all-India organization with Branches at Mizoram, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. It is registered under the Societies Act (Act XXI of 1960). This is the biggest, strongest and most influential organization in Mizoram.

Enrolment of YMA members numbered over 2.5 lakh, as on 1.1.1999. YMA has 702 Branches spread all over Mizoram and in the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. There are 50 Group YMA, which are formed by a number of Branches clubbed together. These Groups YMA are formed keeping in view convenience of communication, administration and falling under a compact area, and sharing a common cultural and social features. Sub-Headquarters YMA is established at Lunglei. To co-ordinate the Sub-Headquarters, Group and Branch YMA (every district YMA, then Village YMA), there is an apex body called ‘Central YMA’ with Headquarter at Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. There are sixteen employees and four Research Scholars under the Central YMA

b) Mizoram Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP – Mizoram Women’s Association)
The Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) was established on the 6th of July 1974 and was registered under Registration No. 5 of 1977, Society Act 1860 (Act XXI of 1960). Its Headquarter is located at Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. The MHIP is one of the biggest voluntary organizations in Mizoram. The area of work covers the entire corner of the State. The organization is sub divided into seven (7) sub-Headquarters. These sub-headquarter are further divided into 16 blocks and 700 Branches. These sub-headquarter are named after every District headquarters of Mizoram where its membership is accepted of any women from the age 14 years onwards. A person can become a member of the MHIP on payment of Rs 2/- to its branch in a village. It is therefore a strong social forces devoted solely for the welfare and upliftment of the weaker section of the society, particularly Women and Child section.

The basic principle of the MHIP is based on philanthropic social work with no expectation of any return benefit. It aims at creating a state of welfare in which every individual is cared for irrespective of Caste or Creed. Since its inception, most activities emphasis on upliftment of women and children. MHIP is a mother of all women, the destitute and down trodden women. MHIP take up the issues on discrimination and unjust for the destitute women in general. MHIP seek social injustice in the day-to-day family life of the community within their respective branches/jurisdiction.

(More information on YMA and MHIP are available at http://mizoram.nic.in/more_info/ngo.htm )
c) Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP – Mizo Students Organisation)
This is the apex body of the Mizo Student Organization. It is the second strongest organization in Mizoram. MZP is a part of the larger North East Student Organisation (NESO)
d) Mizoram Upa Pawl (MUP – Mizoram Senior Citizens Association)
The members comprise mainly of elders from different locality / areas of Mizoram who are influencial in the churches and Mizo society.

III) OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
a) YMCA, Mizoram
Since the Mizo are Christian irrespective of the different denominations the people adopt, YMCA can play a very important role being a Christian Organisation.

b) Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO)
The concept that all the Lushai-Kuki-Chin groups are one though they are scattered in different countries (India, Burma) and different areas in India (ie Manipur, Mizoram, Assam) etc have led to the formation of this organisation. Many of the retired Mizo Government employees, educationist, and politician are members of this organisation. This organisation helped the Chin refugees during the forceful eviction.

D. BURMESE REFUGEES IN DELHI
I) BACKGROUND:
As mentioned earlier, Delhi also hosts a sizeable number of Burmese refugees. The refugees started coming to Delhi after the pro-democracy movement in 1988. Since then there has been constant flow of refugees to Delhi. Many came due to easy accessibility to the office of UNHCR. Delhi being the capital city is also seen as the conducive place for the Burmese to carry on their political struggle. That exist many local Burmese Organizations in Delhi.

In Delhi, there are presently 1452 refugees in Delhi  of which 805 (55.5%) are recognized as refugees by UNHCR while the remaining 647 (44.5%) consist those denied refugee status without any written explanation as to the reasons for the rejection and the new asylum seekers. There are 217 children comprising 15% of the total population. There are 174 families in both recognized and asylum seekers comprising 46.5% (679) of the total population. Most of the refugees are ethnically Chin (about 86%), Kachin (6.5%) Burman (4.5%), Arakenese (2.3%), Shan and Naga. Because of their language, culture, and religion, these refugees are unique from other communities of displaced persons in India, and for years they have lived in suburban areas of New Delhi without much hope for a better life.

II) SECURITY:
Burmese refugees are harassed because they lack formal legal status, as most of them do not have residential permit in India. Without formal legal standing in India, they cannot assimilate. Even UNHCR-recognized refugees experience considerable hardship and problems. Many refugees are disillusioned with the UNHCR. They are convinced that official refugee status is only arbitrarily awarded. Refugee groups and NGOs involved in Burmese affairs are unclear as to UNHCR’s criteria and procedures to bestow or deny refugee status. Many Burmese refugees who had fled to India in 1988 but who did not apply for UNHCR status until 1994 were either viewed suspiciously, rejected, or not awarded financial assistance. Some of the refugees did not immediately travel to Delhi to apply for official status because prior to then, they had been relatively secure. Until the crackdowns began, most preferred to remain in Mizoram or Manipur where they could speak the local languages, blend in, work, and be closer to home. (SAHRDC report 1997)

In Delhi, there have been many instances the Burmese refugees have been insulted, harassed, molested, beaten up in the localities where they live. Many groups including the Refugee desk-TOM made complain to the police, UNHCR office and its implementing partners but there has been no protection and intervention.

III) SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE:
From early 1990s to August 1994 UNHCR recognized refugee family receive Indian Rs. 830 + Rs.400 each to first three dependants (wife and two children) and an additional Rs 250/- for each of the remaining dependents as subsistence allowance (SA) from UNHCR.

From August 1994 – February 2003, UNHCR recognized refugee family receives Rs 1400 + Rs 600 to each of the first three dependants (wife and children below 18 yrs), an additional Rs. 450 is given for each of the second three dependants (i.e. the fourth a, fifth and sixth dependent of the certificate holder), and Rs. 250 is given for each additional person in the family.

From March 2003 onwards, UNHCR recognized refugee family receives Rs 1400 + Rs 1400 to the wife and Rs 600 to only three children of the couple (no additional allowance to the remaining dependants)

By November 2002, UNHCR embarked on the termination of Subsistence Allowance (SA) in a phase off manner. The actual implementation of the policy started in 2003 March. The policy is spread over 15 long months. First a letter is served to a certificate holder. Thereafter the receipt of the letter, the certificate holder would receive the whole amount for three months. Then by the fourth month, the SA would be reduced by 30% (30% of 1400 = Rs 960) till the ninth month (six months), and subsequently reduced to 60% (60 % of 1400 = Rs 540) from the tenth to the fifteenth month (six months) and thereafter the SA would be completely terminated.

The refugees recognized after 2003 March, the SA (Rs 1400 + Rs 1400 to the wife and Rs 600 to three children of the couple) was given only for six months and thereafter the SA are terminated.

The SA phase off policy, according to UNHCR  were implemented for two reasons;
1. UNHCR is facing severe financial constraint
2. It is strongly felt that supporting able-bodied, young people for sometimes as long as 10 years on a modest SA, has made them dependent to UNHCR. It has deterred refugees, particularly from Myanmar, from making sufficient efforts towards integrating in society, learning languages and picking up skills.

This policy was introduced in order to promote self-reliance. However, though the Indian authorities issued residence permits, the refugees are denied of work permits, which makes any attempt at self-reliance almost impossible and illegal.

The Subsistence Allowance, which the refugees get initially at the beginning of the month from UNHCR, were used for paying the monthly house rent and the rest are used for taking care of the daily needs of the refugees. When the refugees are denied subsistence allowance they are left without food and some of the landlords threaten them of throwing out of their houses, as they could not pay the house rent.
Unrecognized and Asylum seekers do not get any kind of monetary assistance from UNHCR.

IV) HEALTH:
The Burmese refugees in Delhi too face lots of health problems. They suffer from weakness, cold, fever, diarrhea, low BP, low haemoglobin, malaria, jaundice, skin infection, gastric, bone pain, muscle pain. They stay in a very unhygienic condition. The inconveniences created by the heat, mosquitoes and unhygienic place invites more disease.
The health clinics and centres frequented by the Burmese refugees are VHAD, DDU Hospital, WRWAB – 1 at Vikaspuri, WRWAB – 2 at Janakpuri, NLD – Vikas Puri, Lok Clinic, LAL’S Clinic, and Rajkumar’s Clinic

VHAD provides health and medical assistance only to the UNHCR recognized refugees leaving behind the asylum seekers and rejected refugees who made up 44.5% of the Burmese population to treat by themselves. The VHAD with too many “Pre-conditions” such as specific timing in a day, closed on Sundays and holidays, dealing mainly simple cases and high expenses involved in reaching the centre (for the refugees staying far from the centre normally spend more than Rs 30/- to reach the centre to get medicine worth much lesser) etc, could not benefit the recognized refugees much. One cannot prevent from falling sick on sundays, holidays or at night.

The refugees can access to the government hospital but normally the government hospital is not much preferred.

The three clinics run by the Burmese provide medical treatment and some medicines free of cost to the all refugees. The clinics do not deal serious cases but only minor ones. Moreover, the clinics are manned only by nurses. There are no doctors in these clinics. Sometimes a Burmese doctor used to visit the NLD clinic at Vikaspuri.

From the many clinics located in the surrounding areas, the Burmese choose the three clinics Lok Clinic, Lals Clinic, and Rajkumar’s Clinic as the Doctors in these clinics can speak Burmese. In all the three clinics Rs 70 to Rs 100 are charged as consultation fee. Since the fee is quite high for the Burmese refugees who do not have any source of income, they could not effort for their treatment in these clinics .

V) EDUCATION:
In Delhi there are 217 children below the age of 18 years out of which 174 are students. UNHCR provide an educational allowance of Rs. 2500/- per child annually for primary level to class IV and Rs. 3100/- per child annually for class VI to X to the UNHCR recognized children. This petty allowance was meant for all expenses like – fees, books and school uniform. But the amount is not even enough for school admission. Therefore, the parents had to borrow money from different sources for book, uniforms, monthly tuition fees, transportation and others.

With the SA phase off, the turmoil of the students and parents have increased manifold. It has reported that many students were made to leave the classroom or expelled from the school due to non-payment of school fees.

UNHCR insists that the refugee children should be admitted only in government schools and not in private schools. However, the procedure to get admission is too complicated for the refugees in these schools, the student must pass a test in Hindi language. Another problem for them is that the classes in government schools are taught exclusively in Hindi. This makes it nearly impossible for the Burmese children to succeed in their studies. Moreover, the admission in government schools proved to be a difficult task, as most schools demanded some form of identification like a ration card and the refugee children were often discriminated and denied admission on the grounds that they are refugees and alien. Therefore, it is better for the refugees to go to private English medium school. But studying in private schools is very expensive and competitive. Several levels of fees such as requisition fees, admission fees, annual fees, uniforms, books, and transportation expenses in an ordinary private school cost around Rs. 11,665/- annually for junior high school students.
Very few of the refugees continue their higher education as regular students. Some marginal numbers are enrolled in distance education programme provided by the Open University system under DU, IGNOU etc. This is necessitated by financial constraints and language barrier that the refugees faced that prevent them from pursuing higher education. Those refugees studying in Universities and Colleges have been enrolled as “foreigners” which means that they have to pay higher fees.

VI) 12TH NOVEMBER 2003 INCIDENT
In response to the UNHCR’s decision to reduce the subsistence allowance, around 500 Burmese refugees comprising of approximately 50 children and 200 women hold peaceful demonstration in front of the office of UNHCR from 20th October 2003. Their other demands includes resettlement and concerns surrounding the process of Refugee Status Determination (many refugee seeking refugee status for the past one year and above did not received any proper response from UNHCR office). Representatives of the protestors had inconclusive and, in their view, unsatisfactory meetings with UNHCR’s Chief of Mission following which they continued their peaceful protest. UNHCR’s responded to these meetings by closing the toilets and the drinking water points available for the protestors.

On 10 November UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in New Delhi wrote a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India urging the authorities “to take whatever action is necessary to dispel the demonstrators”. Accordingly, on 12 November, following a verbal warning to the protestors to disperse, the New Delhi police took forceful action to disperse the protestors. There are photographic evidences that indicate excessive and disproportionate use of force by the police in the attempts to disperse the demonstrators. The police used lathis (canes), rifle butts and water canons against the demonstrators. Around 20 individuals were reportedly injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Following the intervention of the police, more than 400 individuals, including 145 women and children, were detained. While most of these individuals were subsequently released, some 44 refugees were arrested on charged. Of these 22 of them were charged with “Breach of Peace and Tranquility, Breach of Public Order and Obstructing Public Official in carrying on his Duty”. Later, they were released in batches following intervention by Human Rights and Civil Society Groups but the remaining 22 were charged with “Rioting” and were charge-sheeted by the Lodi police. Presently all of them have been released on bail in batches by paying Rs 5000 and an Indian surety.  (Some stayed for 60 days at Tihar jail) The trial will begin on 13th November 2004.

VII) THE CAMPS
Currently there are six existing camps in Delhi that housed 170 refugees.  The Camps no 1, 2 & 3 came into existence after the demonstration in front of the UNHCR office in October 2003. They comprised mainly the asylum seekers who were denied refugee status or their cases kept pending by the UNHCR office.  At the beginning, the refugees managed to piled on with their friends and relatives who with great difficulties managed to provide two square meals a day and adjusted in their already unhygienic congested house.  But with the implementation of the UNHCR SA phase off policy, situations arise where the host could not even managed to feed themselves. This situation led to the demonstration at the UNHCR office. They left the friends and relatives’ house and camped in front of the UNHCR office. UNHCR with the help of the Indian police forcefully evict them. The refugees came together and started staying together thus leading to the establishment of camps. The camps are rented from the Indian house owner. It is normally one room (around 20 sq feet) with or without kitchen and one bathroom and toilet. The refugees are staying in a very unhygienic condition and with the heat and mosquitoes, the health condition of the refugees is of great concern.

Sl no CAMP NUMBER OF REFUGEES COMMENTS
MALE FEMALE TOTAL
1
CAMP NO 1
WZ-186, 2ND Floor, Bodella Market
Vikaspuri, New Delhi-18
26
8 34
(10 children
7 boys-3 girls below 15 yrs) These three Camps came into existence after the demonstration in Oct & Nov 2003. Around 500 Burmese refugees comprising of approximately 50 children and 200 women hold peaceful demonstration at UNHCR Delhi office in response to the UNHCR’s SA phase off policy. Their other demands includes resettlement and concerns surrounding the process of Refugee Status Determination.
2 CAMP NO 2
E / II – 35, Chanakya Place
Uttam Nagar, New Delhi -59
40

40
3. CAMP NO 3  (Kachin group)
WZ-87/A, Bodella,
Vikaspuri, New Delhi-18
21
5
26
4  CAMP NO 4  (Sihmuii Camp)
WZ-17, Ashalatpur
Janakpuri, New Delhi-58
9
8 17
(10 children, 5 boys-5 girls below 13 yrs)  Came to Delhi on 26th February 2004, from Sihmuii Refugee Camp, Mizoram
 Victims of 17th July 2003 incident in Mizoram
5 CAMP NO 5 (Vawmbuk Camp)
WZ-186, 2ND Floor, Bodella Market
Vikaspuri, New Delhi-18
16
7
23  Came to Delhi on 10th March 2004 from Vawmbuk Refugee Camp, Mizoram
 Victims of 17th July 2003 incident in Mizoram
6 CAMP NO 6
(Zomi Refugee Camp)
H. No – 119, Site – 4,
Near Bodella
Vikaspuri -18
27

3

30
The SA phase-off led to the establishment of this refugee camp.

139 31 170
VIII) RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BURMESE REFUGEES AND INDIANS
The relationship of the Burmese refugees with the Indians is not at best though there are few exceptional cases. Most of the Burmese refugees do not favour the Indians. The website www.refugees.org mentioned, “Because they are Christians and don’t speak the local language, many are unable to find jobs; their children are unable to attend school; and they are not welcomed by the local Hindu community”. Baujard (2001, p 20-21) also reports,

The quasi totality of the refugees with whom I have talked complain about their relations with the Indians. My informants explained to me that they had to change three times of house for the CWO office because the neighbours were complaining about the children’s noise. So the landlords asked them to change place. Otherwise, they are told to change if there are too many of them in  a room, or if we do not pay the rent before the 10th of the month, and so on. The Indians look really down at them, as they get them confused with Nepalese. Most of the Burmese normally does not go out to play games since the Indians come and tell them to go back to their home. As a minority group, with different faces (like the Nepalese), without the local language understanding and mastering, with a different culture, and a different religion, they feel common discrimination. We could name it “the fear of the alien or reject of the alien”. It takes its expression in their tentatives to work but also in their everyday life.

However, there are some Indians who are good to the Burmese like Annan, the shopkeeper of Asalatpur, who advances (but with 10 % interest) basic food and items like oil, rice, soap, etc. Some landlords are kind.  Obviously the people who have good relationships with Indians are the people who are educated, or who can speak Hindi or English, who have not too much problems (of money) to live. The Chin people who can not speak any other language than theirs, who have money problems, who do not have a large network, are more worried about their relations with Indians, and do not have any Indian friends.

IX) UNHCR’S IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS  
There are four implementing partners of UNHCR who implement programmes and work only with the UNHCR recognized refugees.

1. Socio Legal Information Centre (SLIC):
This centre renew refugee certificate.
2. Voluntary Health Association of Delhi (VHAD):
This organisation provides primary health facilities
3. Young Men Christian Association (YMCA):
This organization distributes the monthly Subsistence Allowance and conduct Hindi speaking classes.
4. Don Bosco Asalayam:
This organization Impart training and programmes like Computer and English speaking classes.

X. POTENTIAL ORGANIZATIONS

A. THE OTHER MEDIA (TOM)
The Other Media (TOM) is an NGO based in Delhi. TOM was established in 1992 as a forum to articulate and support dissenting voices of activists, people’s movement and intellectuals for a society based on justice, peace and democracy. TOM since its inception has been involved in two broad trends.
(i) Generate direct/indirect support for various campaigns of struggle based organizations and initiatives and respond to their specific demands of support and solidarity.
(ii) Initiate and sustain direct initiatives on certain critical and crucial substantial political issues that have wider implications, i.e. issues other than those taken up by people’s movements for civil society as a whole.
Objectives
The basic and larger objectives and methodology of TOM which have been evolved in the process of interaction and involvement are
1. To provide/create a broad based platform on support of struggle-based people’s movements in the sub-continent and issue based campaigns at a national and regional levels.
2. To organize workshops and training programmes. Consultations, conferences and conventions on substantive/political issues around which struggles and campaigns are taking place in the sub-continent.
3. To provide a Forum for debate by formulating, when necessary, a political/ideological framework and opening it up for debate and discussion among movements, who may face ideological or organizational crisis.
4. To initiate autonomous and alternate political processes focusing on important and crucial issues in the sub-continent that are not being touched by other groups and organizations.
5. To engage in research and study on issues that concerns TOM directly in the process of its work or/and while responding to the demands of movements. Campaigns and situations.
6. To engage in production and dissemination of print and electronic materials with a view to generate popular awareness on issues of public concerns. Impact of Globalisation on economy, displacement due to anti people development programmes, environmental and industrial hazards, anti-labour measures like restriction of trade union rights, exploitation through economic oppression of women, issues concerning backward caste and other minorities, human rights, justice, democratic rights and promotion of a peace constituency, In other words the fundamental objective is to promote a system of core values and principles that are vital for building a new society viz; peace, democracy, secularism, human rights, socio-economic and gender justice, good governance etc.
7. To organize tribunals, peoples’ commission, citizens tribunals, fact-finding missions, etc., on sensitive issues of public concerns to generate debate and discussion and for accountability.

Background of TOM’s Work among Burmese Refugees

TOM has been involved in working with Burmese refugees since its inception in 1992. TOM is not only the initiator but also a founder member of Friends of Burma Trust, which was set up to assist the Burmese refugees in India whose plight is pitiable. However, this Trust has not been able to function effectively due to many factors including non-availability of funds since the Government has not responded to application for registration under FCRA. But the individual members of the Trust have been responding to the issues of refugees at various times of need in their individual capacity or as members of other organisations to which they belong.

TOM has also been involved in the debate on the issue of enacting a law-governing refugee not only in India but also in South Asia. As of date there is no such law. Therefore, whenever called upon, the court in India enforces the law of land including fundamental rights guaranteed under Indian constitution.

In the area of refugee protection, TOM has constantly been involved in collaboration with other human rights, democratic rights and civil rights groups both within India and outside. TOM is a partner member of the South Asia Forum of Human Rights (SAFHR-based in Kathmandu) and has jointly organised programmes. A key programme is the South Asian Consultation on Refugees, Displaced Persons and the Stateless – Need for National Laws and Regional Cooperation. TOM is engaged with SAFHR in advocacy and campaign towards influencing the Indian Parliament to come out with an open policy on refugees and enact legislation for protection of refugees.

Since 1992 TOM has taken up lobbying with UNHCR and with other organisation that are involved in legal protection and rehabilitation work among refugees. Apart from this TOM has also been involved in helping with issues related to language courses, higher education, helping refugees organisation in organising workshops, training programmes, seminars and consultation on political issues being face by them e.g.; on federalism, democracy, governance, human rights etc. TOM felt an urgent need to work more closely with the Burmese people so that the organization is better placed to facilitate the process of their empowerment and also to better understand the UNHCR process so as to challenge their policies and practices. Also over the years it became increasingly necessary to respond to the day-to-day problems the Burmese refugee community face. To address this a separate desk for Burmese Refugees was established in 2003.

The Refugee Desk

Since its establishment in 2003, the desk has been involved in many activities. Surveys were conducted on demography, education, health, employment and others. The problems of the refugee community and existing support system (Local Burmese organization, Local churches, community organization) were identified.

The Desk played a crucial role in providing legal representation and assistance Burmese refugees/asylum seekers/newcomers who has been arrested and jailed for demonstration against UNHCR’s polices and practices in November 2003. The desk has been involved in counseling for the refugees. They have been counseled on the policies of UNHCR and the stand of Government of India, issues pertaining to protection, reunification, resettlement, laws of the country etc.  The desk hence took up mock interview before the refugees approach the UNHRC office for interview. Application for new arrivals and appeal applications for rejected refugees were prepared. The numbers of UNHCR recognition have increased since the desk’s involvement in counseling. Community outreach activities such as Organising meetings, Visits and expressing solidarity by participating in Burmese programmes, functions, rituals and others.

The desk is involved in documenting the living conditions of the refugees, cases of harassment and molestation by the local people and police, case histories of Human Rights violation in Burma from the refugees, etc.
TOM has planned many activities and programmes with the Burmese community for the coming year.  (For more information on the programme, contact The Other Media at [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

B) THE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

1. The Chin Community Organization
i. Matu Youth Organization (MYO)
This is the community organization for the Matu of Matupi Township.
ii. Cho Youth Organization (CYO)
This is the community organization for the Cho of Mindat Township.
iii. Seino (Haka/Thanthlang)
This is the community organization for the Haka and Thanthlang of Haka and Thanthlang Townships.
iv. Khumi Youth Organization (KYU)
This is the community organization for the Khumi of Paletwa Township.
v. Falam Union (FU)
This is the community organization for the Falam of Falam Township.
vi. Zomi Inkuan (ZI)
This is the community organization for the Zo of Tiddim Township.
vii. Zomi Union (ZU)
This is the community organization for the Zo of Tonzaang Township.
2. The Kachin Community Organization
viii. All Kachin Students Youth Union (AKSYU)
This is the community organization for the Kachins.
3. The Arakan Community Organization
ix. All Arakan Student & Youth Congress (AASYC)
This is the community organization for the Arakanese.

B) THE CHURCHES / FELLOWSHIP

There are ten (10) Christian churches / fellowship in Delhi. Most of the churches are based on a particular ethnic group and the different denominations.

i. Delhi Burmese Christian Fellowship (DBCF)
ii. Burmese Christian Association (BCA)
iii. Chin Christian Fellowship (CCF)
iv. Living Faith Baptist Church (LFBC)
v. Lai Christian Church (LCC)
vi. Delhi Matu Christian Fellowship (DMCF)
vii. Matu Christian Fellowship (MCF)
viii. Kachin Baptist Church (KBC)
ix. United Pentecostal church (UPC)
x. Seventh Day Church (SDA)

1. Delhi Burmese Christian Fellowship
The fellowship was formed in 1992. There are 400 members including 60 children from all ethnic groups. Burmese language is used. There are different wings under the fellowship such as Youth and Women wing. They also conduct Sunday school classes for children. The income of the fellowship is mainly generated by freewill offerings and tithes. The fellowship run the Chin Centre, providing free computer facilities to other, sponsored two missionaries, one in Delhi and the other in Orissa, provides 300/- to 500/- to its sick members. At present, the S A of 8 members of the fellowship has been already cut off.

2. Burmese Christian Association
The association is formed on 19th September 1994. There are 175 members including 35 children from all ethnic groups. Burmese language used. The church elders elected every year. The income of the fellowship is mainly generated by freewill offerings and tithes. The church sponsored two evangelists. They also provide monetary assistance to its sick members (Rs 200). This fellowship is also a member of the North-east India Christian Fellowship. They participate in the song competitions of the fellowship annual festivals.

3. Chin Christian Fellowship
The fellowship was formed on 20th May 2001. There are 235 members including 40 children. The members comprised mainly Chin community from Haka Township. Haka dialect is used. Most of the members are unrecognized refugees. The income of the fellowship is mainly generated by freewill offerings and tithes.  The fellowship conducts Hindi and English classes. They also provide monetary assistance to its sick members (300/-). They had send some amount of money to three orphanage in Chin State (Thanthlang, Haka, Zappa)

4. Living Faith Baptist Church
The Church was formed 19th January 2003. There are 60 members including 20 children. The members are mostly from Falam Township of Chin State. 20 of the members have SA from UNHCR. Their income is through freewill offering and tithe. The Church provided rice and oil to their church members who do not have refugee status.

5. Matu Christian Fellowship
Formed on 21st September 2002. There are 230 members including 65 children. The members of this felowship are from Matu Township. They are mostly those who have stayed in Mizoram before coming to Delhi. Matu dialect is used. Their Income is through freewill offering and tithe. The fellowship collects rice from those members having SA and gives it to those members who do not have SA. It has also provided money (1000/-) to orphans in Burma.

6. Delhi Matu Christian Fellowship
Formed in 1999. There are 50 members including 20 children. The members comprised from Matu Township and mostly those who came to Delhi directly from Chin state (those who have not stayed in Mizoram before coming to Delhi). Matu dialect is used. Income through freewill offering and tithe
7. United Pentecostal Church
The Church is formed in 1998. There are 107 members including 25 children from all ethnic groups. Burmese language is used. Most of the members are S A terminated.  21 of them are not yet recognized under UNHCR. The income is through freewill offering and tithe. The church provides 300/- to its sick members
8. Kachin Baptist Church
Formed in 2002. There are 90 member comprise only of Kachin community.
9. Seventh Day Adventist
The church was formed in 1999, there are 60 members comprised all ethnic communities. The Church runs a primary school at Janak Puri. They also provide relief (food, clothes, and blanket) to the poor and needy refugees. They also organized training on health.
10. Lai Christian Church
Formed in 2000. There are 130 members comprised mainly of Haka / Thanthlang Township. The Church organized Hindi, English and Tailoring classes. They also provide relief to the refugees

C)  OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
Some of the potential local Burmese organizations are:
1. Chin Refugee Committee (CRC)
Formed in 14th January 1996. The committee functions with 13 executive members. The Executive Committee consist members from each sub-tribe of the Chin Community. The aims and objectives of the committee is:
i. To provide relief, health and education assistant to Chin refugees in Delhi
ii. To unveil the status of Chin refugee in order to make the world aware of it
iii. To help the Chin Refugees to adopt and practice coherent means of sustainable developments to improve their living conditions.
iv. To give any possible efforts to the Chin refugees and other ethnic groups in order to get legal protection from the office of UNHCR

Activities

a. Lobbied for special rappoteur to UNHCR, Delhi
b. Wrote recommendations to deserving persons for education and to UNHCR for refugee status. Helped in translating application for the Burmese ethnic refugees.
c. Distributed pamphlets on health for Burmese ethnic refugees in India (2001)
d. Provided relief to the Chin refugees residing in Mizoram state of India (1996-2002) whenever assistance is available.
e. Collected and compiled the list of all the Burmese refugees of Delhi in September 2003.
f. Provided food and money for bail to the arrested refugees and the other demonstrators staying in urban refugees camps.
g. Provide some financial help to the sick and most needy whenever assistance is available
h. Currently involved in writing a report on “The Deteriorating Condition of Burmese Ethnic Refugee in New Delhi”.

Future plans:

a. To continue provision of relief and other assistance to Chin and others Ethnic Refugees in Delhi whenever some assistance are available.
b. To produce and distribute pamphlets on health and education and refugee rights for Burmese ethnic refugees in India.
c. To conduct workshop on  “Human Rights, Refugee Rights and Gender Equality” for the Burmese ethnic refugees in New Delhi.
d. To approach school and university for the education of the Burmese refugee students at subsidized rate (Uttam Nagar Secondary School and University of Delhi).
e. To publish the report “The Deteriorating Condition of Burmese Ethnic Refugee in New Delhi”.

2. Kachin Refugee Committee (KRC)

Formed in June 2002. The committee functions with a President, Vice – President, General Secretary, Vice Secretary, Treasurer, and 20 executive members. The main aims and objectives of the committee is to

i. To help Kachin Refugees to get UNHCR recognition
ii. To create awareness at international level on the situation of the Kachin refugees
iii. To promote education, health care, and social values of Kachin Refugees
iv. To establish self reliance program for Kachin refugees
v. To cooperate with other Burmese ethnic organization in the movements for restoration of Parliamentary Federal Democracy in Burma

Activities:
The lists of the Kachin refugees both recognized and unrecognized have been recorded. The committee has written to many organizations about the situation of the Kachin refugee in Delhi.

3. All Burmese Refugees Students Parents Committee (ABRSPC):

Since its inception, ABRSPC has been implementing various activities in helping the Burmese refugee children for their better education, schooling and tuition. ABRSPC plays very important role in negotiating with the different school authorities in Vikaspuri, Janakpuri and Uttamnagar areas to minimize the admission and monthly tuition fees for the Burmese students. Many schools are very considerate to the Burmese students. One of the schools, Oxford Senior Secondary School in Vikaspuri provides free admission and tuition fees to 15 Burmese students. Saviour Public School in Uttamnagar waives 50% of the total admission and tuitions fees to the Burmese children. ABRSPC organized award ceremony in May 2002 at Oxford Senior Secondary School in Vikaspuri to deserving students. Since August 2002, ABRSPC has been organizing free tuitions for the Burmese children to study Hindi, English and Mathematics during their free time.

E. OBSERAVTIONS
a) Security:
The chin refugees in Mizoram are fearful of the YMA and VCP and not with the State Government. Each passing day, they lived in fear as to when the YMA and VCP will forcefully evict them again. In places like Lunglei, the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC) came out with an I-Card system where it has issued to 311 Burmese refugees. (There are around 2000 refugees in Lunglei town alone). The selections for issuing the I-card are based on the reason for fleeing Burma. The lists of the identity card holders have been submitted to the District Commissioner for further discussion with the Home Ministry of Mizoram. However if one look into the involvement of Mizoram Government for the security of the Burmese refugees in the past, the state has not been able to react and take any action against those involved in the forceful eviction nor was anything arranged for the security of the Burmese refugees.

The selection of providing I-Card based on the reason for leaving the country will not solve the problem of the refugees since there is a need to understand that the so called “economic migrants” as the products of the political situation in Burma.

People are still living under constant fear of being evicted again. Lately it was reported that 7th April 2004 was given as the dateline for all the foreigners to leave Mizoram. Locality like Rahsiveng in lunglei town were threatened to leave the locality by the end March 2004.

There is an urgent need to look into the security of the Burmese refugees at the earliest before forceful evicting takes place again. The NHRC, Ministry of Home Affairs and External Affairs should take strict action against Mizoram Government if they fail to provide security of the Burmese refugees.

In Delhi, Residential Permit (RP) is issued by FRRO (Foreigner Regional Resident Office) under the Ministry of Home Affairs to only the UNHCR recognized refugees. This served as the legal paper. This RP is valid for six months and has to renew after every six months. Since this permit is given only to UNHCR recognized refugees, the asylum seekers that made up 44.5% of the total Burmese population in Delhi are at risk. They are neither recognized by UNHCR nor by the Indian Government. They are the most vulnerable group. There is always fear of arrest, fear of harassment when they are not recognized by UNHCR or Indian Government.

b) Food:
The refugees could barely afford two square meals a day.  Many have taken to drinking only soup, as they could not afford to buy food. Many refugees buy discounted vegetables or pick up the thrown away vegetables from the streets after night bazaar for their food.  It is also reported that the Burmese refugees have taken food items worth 2,00,000/- from an Indian shopkeeper in Asalatpur on credit. The shopkeeper used to give the food item knowing that the Burmese refugees get some amount from UNHCR. But lately, when he learns that the Subsistence Allowance is being cut off, he refused to give food items on credit. This situation has made the condition of the refugees more difficult.

c) Health:
There are three clinics run by the Chins in Mizoram, the Health Care for the Poor Society at Champhai, Zokhawthar and Aizawl. The Chin Women Union clinic is based in Aizawl. These organizations are supported by Medical Mercy (US) However, from the funding provided by Medical Mercy, the Heath Care Society is in a position to pay only Rs 7000/- per month to the Doctor whereby, the demand of the doctor is 10,000 per month.

The medics at the Mother and Child Clinic run by the Chin Women Union are not paid. They work voluntarily for the people. In places like Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Saiha, there is no clinic run by the Chin Community though the Burmese refugees could access the Government hospitals and other clinics run by the Mizo. It was found that most of the Chins prefer to go to the clinic run by the Chin, as they feel more comfortable. The chin refugees staying in the jungle are the most vulnerable as no medical facilities are available for them.

The Burmese refugees in Delhi have many health problems. There is an acute need for proper health care for all refugees. The three Burmese clinics need to be supported, as the clinics are accessible for all refugees and not limited only to UNHCR recognized refugees and free medical treatment. Also the refugee community feel much comfortable visiting these clinics, as the nurses working in this clinics are Burmese.

d) Shelter
Generally speaking, most of the Burmese refugees in Mizoram and Delhi do not live in very comfortable houses. In Delhi they live in extremely tiny rooms in cramped conditions but are compelled to but pay hefty house rents. Usually many families stay together in one small room. They live in extremely unsanitary and unhygienic conditions. The following table shows the accommodation condition in Delhi.

Sl no. Room size Room rent No. of people
1. A one room set is usually 7-8 feet without kitchen, common bathroom and toilet with other tenants. Rs 1200/- 5/6
2. A one room set usually 7-8 feet with separate kitchen, common bathroom and toilet with other tenants.  Rs. 1500/-  7/8
3 Two room set including bathroom and kitchen with other tenants.  Rs.3000/-  8/10

The refugees lives in constant fear of being driven out from the house. Most landlords are unwilling to host so many people in their houses due to problems of sanitation, hygiene and shortage of water. The Landlord would name all kinds of lame excuses to drive the refugees out of the house and many times the landlord would lock the house at his own will. Failing to pay the house rent on time is conveniently picked up as the weapon to drive the refugees out of the house by the landlord.

e) Education:
Children are the future of a nation. If children of today are deprived of education, the future of the nation is at stake. Giving education to the children is a process of nation building. In Mizoram, due to poverty, many children are deprived of education. Inspite of the free schooling (monthly fees) in Government schools, most of the parents could not afford to send their children to school, as they could not even afford to pay the admission fees, buy uniforms and books. At times specially in Mizoram, the children are stopped from attending school in order to help their parents earn money. To add more, the difficulties in learning by Mizo medium and the standard of education, discourage the parents from sending their children to government schools.

The education fund provided by Bracket Foundation (US based foundation) in Mizoram is not enough when compared to the number of school going students. The assistance on education is benefited by only 80 students while the remaining thousands of students are without any educational assistance.

In Delhi, many students were expelled from the schools for non-payment of school fees. In some school, the children were made to sit for the exams but their results withheld for non-payment of school fees and the result announced only after payment of the backlog monthly fees.  In Saviour school, all the Burmese students attending in thus school need to pay 55,000/- to get their result. With great difficulties, arrangements were made and the results of the students declared.
For the session 2004-05, by March out of the total 177 school going students, 146 children were admitted to school by negotiating with the school authority, or other means by the parents (borrowing money from others) while 31 of them were not admitted in any school. At present, June 2004, all the students have been admitted to different schools with great difficulties. However, the successful completion of the course is doubtful since the payment for the monthly tuition fees is not guaranteed

f) Camps:
Lives in the camps are miserable. The refugees are helpless and could not do much. The Vawmbuk refugees tried earning some money by seeking work at Saiha Government departments. They worked for three four days but when the local people came to know, they approach the Government department and told them that the work should be given to the Mizos and not to the chin refugees. With no work available to earn money they are left to depend on others to provide food and other basic requirements.

In Delhi too, refugees in the camps are facing great difficulties. Apart from the expenses for basic food and toiletries, hefty amount is being paid for house rent. With summer already here, they are in dire need of proper clothing and shelter. All the refugees including Men, Women and Children face extreme difficulties in adjusting in the single room.  Also in these areas where the refugees stays, rooms are rented out without tubes, bulbs and fans. The tenants have to put their own tubes, bulbs and fans. In summer, to beat the scorching heat, they require fans.  However, the refugees in the camps are not in a position to buy fan to relieve themselves from the heat.

g) Churches:
The churches both in Mizoram and Delhi play a very important role in the lives of the refugees. Apart from the looking into the spiritual growth of its members, the churches are actively involved in providing humanitarian relief to its members and others. As and when assistance was made available to them, the churches distribute it to its members. In times of sickness, the churches provide money for medicines and others.

The role of the Chin churches in Mizoram and in Delhi has to be understood in terms of the situation in which they are in. The church serves as the place for all the refugees residing in different areas and locality to come and worship together in the Lord. It serves as the place for the refugees to meet and share informations about their conditions, share ideas and views on certain issues, receiving and giving emotional support, expressing solidarity and sense of identity.

h) Relationship between the Chin organizations:
There are number of local Chin organisations / associations / committees in Mizoram. Most of the organizations are based on their own dialectical groups or the place of their stay (different districts). However, it was observed that due to distance and limitation of time, co-operation between the local organisations is not very evident. Such kind of non-existing relationship could create gap, misunderstanding between the different organizations that could hamper any development programmes, and thus become a stumbling block to the unity of the Chin.

i) Dissemination of Information:
In Mizoram, it was found that many Mizos are still ignorant and unaware about the situation in Burma. It was felt that there is a need to sensitize the Mizo about the situation in Burma that has led to the exodus of the Burmese to the neighboring countries. The allegation by the Mizo to the Chin as economic migrants needs to be seen in the context as the negative impact of the current political situation. Such dissemination of information can be done through TV, Radio, Newspaper, Pamphlets, Booklets and others. There is also a need to write about the cultural affinity to revive the ethnic relationship between the two groups Mizo and Chin that seems to have lost its hold on the mind of the people in the present time.

j) Documentation and information centre
Many of the refugees could not get access to newspapers, books and other important documents. There is a need to establish documentation and information centre to cater to the needs and demands of both the Chins and Mizo in Mizoram and to the Burmese refugees in Delhi.

k) Capacity building:
There is a need to empower the Burmese refugees by organizing trainings, workshops, and seminars. It will orient and enhance their knowledge on Refugee Law, International Law, Human Rights, Democracy, and Federalism etc.

l) Developing relationship with Mizo:
There is a need to organized seminars and workshops primarily to create platform for both the two groups to come together to discuss and debate on issues like drugs, AIDS, health, education, food security, regional politics in the North-east India, and other issues. And thereafter once a healthy relationship could be established, then issues concerning Burma and refugees can be taken up.
In one instance, MHIP expressed desire to work together with CWO for the Chin women about the molested on Chin women by Mizo men in the state before the forceful eviction took place. However, before anything could be planned, the incident of the forceful eviction took place and since then, MHIP has not shown any interest about this issue. There is a need to rebuild this initiative with MHIP.

F. RECOMMENDATION
a) Immediate needs:
i) Camps:
There is urgent need for emergency fund for the 113 refugees in Mizoram and 170 refugees in Delhi in the camps for food, shelter, health care and clothing. For basic food and toiletries, a minimum of Rs 600 (13 US Dollars) is required by a refugee in the camps in a month.
Therefore for one month the amount required in the camps (excluding health care and clothing)
600 X 283   = Rs 1,69,800
+  5000 X 6 camps  =  Rs   30,000
For relief in Delhi Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) can be supported, while in Mizoram, the new centre proposed under TOM can take up the initiative.
ii) Emergency fund:
There is a need for provision of emergency fund to the Chin Refugee Committee at Lunglei, Kalvary Church at Lawngtlai and some churches at Aizawl (one church each from Tiddim, Falam and Haka) and the ten (10) churches in Delhi as they are already involved in providing some form of assistance (food, shelter, funeral etc) and health care to the refugees.

b) Long term:
Issues like security, education, capacity building / empowerment (organizing training, seminar, workshop on different important issues, dissemination of information on Burma situation under the military regime, setting up of documentation and information centre, formation of Forum in Mizoram and others are put under the long term plans.
The foremost step to be undertaken for this purpose is to establish a centre in Mizoram

i) Establishment of a Centre:
The discussions in the previous chapters reveal the complex relationships between the Mizo and the Chins. At this juncture, it is important to view the relationship between them in two perspectives,
• as that of a majority and a minority community and
• as that of a superior and inferior community.

Under such circumstances, it is felt that it would be difficult to put the two groups together for a dialogue, as one would prefer to retain its own status and position. It is unlikely that the Mizos would accept any kinds of initiatives taken up by a Chin. On the other hand, the possibility of the Mizo to take up initiatives for the Chin is very low.  There are some Mizos who are sympathetic towards the Chins. However; their voices are not heard. Therefore, it is felt that there is a need to establish a “Centre” to take up the initiatives mentioned earlier. The responsibility of centre is to organize trainings, seminars, and workshops in Mizoram, dissemination of information on the Burma situation under the military regime, establishment of documentation and information centre and others.
Most importantly, the centre would lobby with the local organizations (like YMA, MZP and MHIP) and Mizoram Government for the Security of the Chin refugees. There is a need to persuade and convince the YMA and VC to provide security to the Chin refugees. The Mizoram State Government needs to be pressurized

This centre will also be instrumental in the formation of a forum of the local Chin organization so as to establish close relationship between the existing chin organizations in Mizoram. This forum will serve as a platform for all the Chin organizations to come together, share information of their activities, and discuss issues and problems of the refugees and to plan programmes for the refugees to lessen the problems of the refugees.

Once the centre is established many other programmes can be implemented through the centre on different issues like health, education, legal information, youth  & sports events, activities for international days (i.e. children’s day, youth day, World Aids day), exchange programmes between groups of students, youth, women etc

The Other Media (TOM) is identified as the most potential organization to extend their Burmese refugee programme and service in Mizoram. The establishment of a “Centre” in Mizoram under TOM is strongly recommended.
ii) Health:
In Mizoram,
• For hiring a Doctor in Zokhawthar, Rs 3000/- per month is required by the Health Care for the Poor Society (HCPS) for the doctor’s payment.
• To hire a doctor at the Mother and Child clinic run by CWU.
• Provision of monthly salary to the medics who have been working voluntarily at CWU (Rs 1500/- to Rs 2000/- per month).
• Storing basic medicine in the CWU clinic. (Minimum Rs 1000/- per month).
• Need to open more clinics at Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Saiha. HCPS can extend their programme to other parts of the state. HCPS need support for such initiative.
• Establishment of a mobile health team to reach to the chin refugees working in the jungle in Mizoram so as to prevent from death due to unavailability of proper treatment.
• To train the potential refugees as Medics and Community Health Workers
In Delhi:
• There is a need to support the three Burmese clinics. Three doctors should be hired for the three clinics to give treatment to all the refugees.

iii) Education:
There is an urgent need for providing education to the school going children. More students need to be encouraged in the form of scholarships or stipends in Mizoram and Delhi.
• In Mizoram, education should be made available to all the refugee children. More students need to be supported. Support should be extended to the Chin Education Project and Chin Women Organisation.
• In Delhi support is needed for the successful completion of the students going to school. The 160 students in Delhi required Rs 300 /- for monthly Tuition fees in Delhi (the fees is already the special subsidized amount by the school authority for the Burmese students).  For this initiative, support should be extended to TOM and ABSPC (All Burmese Students Parents Committee)
(300 X 160 X 12 months = Rs 5,76,000 /- per annum)

iv) Campaigns and initiatives
In Delhi, campaign for the security of the Burmese refugees to the UNHCR office and Indian Government is needed. UNHCR should be pressurized to respect its own mandate and at the same time to be involved in the refugee issue a little more directly and meaningfully. The protection of refugees is solely done by UNHCR in an adhoc manner.
India’s response to the need of the refugees is a much-neglected issue since India is not signatories to the refugee Convention and Protocol. Many Indians are not aware about the democratic movement in Burma. Sufficient work may exist on the Burmese refugee situation in general but there is hardly any concrete information / findings on the existing situation of Burmese refugees in India. There is hardly any work done by Indian groups who have been involved in the issue. There is also a definite need to understand India’s Political position on the refugee issue in general and its current position on Burma. The working relationship of the Indian Government with the Military Junta of Burma, their vested interest that is making the Burmese refugees more vulnerable need to be understood.
This will require field research discussions with a number of political actors, decision-makers and civil society actors in India, as well as research on the economic and legal aspects of the relationship. Hence, it is felt, the importance to bring out a “Position Paper” consisting of a comprehensive overview of all aspects of Burmese refugee situation in India.

Considering the relationship that TOM has established with the Burmese refugees over the years and TOM’s concern on the Burmese refugees in India, it is strongly recommended for a “Position Paper” which can be taken up by TOM. This Position Paper will help to the future work of TOM in the sphere of refugee issue in terms of campaigns & advocacy work at the national as well as regional level. Strong Critique on UNHCR and Indian Government and campaigns to make the Indian Government take the refugee issue seriously and to create Refugee policy can be the outcome. All of TOM’s initiative and work in the future would be based on TOM’s position paper.
References:
1. Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi (2003), “Eviction of Burmese Refugees in Mizoram: A Preliminary Fact-Finding Report”   
2. Julie Baujard (2001), “Study on some members of the Burmese Refugees Community of New Delhi, and especially on Chin People: Their Living conditions”, University of Provence and Intern in UNHCR New Delhi.
3. Mizoram State Government (2003) responses to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
4. MZP Report (2003), “Displacement in Mizoram”.

ANNEXURE-I

MYANMARESE NATIONAL INVOLVED IN CRIMINAL CASES DISTRICT-WISE
(As reported by Mizoram State Government)

SL NO
DISTRICT 2000 2001 2002 2003 REMARKS
1.  AIZAWL 289 148 122 75 Upto 31-8-03
2.  MAMIT 1 1 7 6 Upto 31-8-03
3.  LUNGLEI 6 1 9 3 Upto 31-8-03
4.  KOLASIB 4 4 7 3 Upto 31-8-03
5.  CHAMPHAI 39 17 20 10 Upto 31-8-03
6.  SERCHHIP 7 28 33 7 Upto 31-8-03
7.  LAWNGTLAI – 2 3 – Upto 31-8-03
8.  SAIHA 13 11 17 6 Upto 31-8-03
9.  MIZORAM EXCISE DEPT
107
194
171
108
Upto 31-8-03

TOTAL
466
406
389
218

Note:
The case enumerated above includes theft, murder Burglary, Rape, Narco-trafficking, Smuggling of arms, Violation of MLTP Act and other miscellaneous crimes.
ANNEXURE-II

DISTRICT WISE STATE OF FOREIGNERS RESIDING IN MIZORAM

SL NO
DISTRICT MALE FEMALE TOTAL REMARKS
1. 1 AIZAWL
1122 1024 2146 As per DC Aizawl by 16.9.03
2. 2 LUNGLEI
1117 920 2037 As per DC Lunglei by 16.9.03
3. 3 SAIHA
389 297 686 As per DC Saiha by 16.9.03
4. 4 MAMIT
818 232 1050 As per DC Mamit by 16.9.03
5. 5 KOLASIB
221 144 365 As per DC Kolasib by 16.9.03
6. 6 SERCHHIP
408 333 741 As per DC Serchhip by 16.9.03
7. 7 CHAMPAI
1115 892 2007 As per DC Champhai by 16.9.03
8. 8 LAWNGTLAI
212 119 331 As per DC Lawngtlai by 16.9.03

TOTAL
5402
3961
9363

ANNEXURE-III
HEALTH CENTRES

LOCATION
COMMENTS
1.  VHAD
Vikaspuri • Accessible only for UNHCR recognized refugees (Free consultation)
• Refugees complain of the doctor being not very good.
• Medicine of poor quality
2.  DDU
Hospital
(Govt) Janakpuri • Free consultation
• The Burmese community feels that the Doctors do not want to treat them
• No provision of free medicine
3.  WRWAB-1
Vikaspuri • Free consultation
• Run by a Burmese nurse
• Deal only basic heath care
4.  WRWAB-2
Janakpuri • Free consultation
• Run by a nurse
• Deal only basic heath care
5.  NLD
Vikaspuri • Free consultation
• Run by a nurse
6.  LOK CLINIC
Pankha Road
Janakpuri • Consultation fee – Rs 60/-
7.  LAL CLINIC
Janta Quarter
Janakpuri
• Consultation fee – Rs 40/-
• Run by Doctor couple
• Specialized in Women (wife) and Children (Husband)
• Husband can speak Burmese
8.  RAJKUMAR CLINIC Passangipur
Janakpuri • Consultation fee – Rs 40/-
• The Doctor can speak Burmese

Religious persecution is a problem of major concern in Chinland. Almost 100% of Chins are Christians. Over the past few years, The Burmese military has been forcing Chin Christian villagers to build Buddhist pagodas in their own villages. The Burmese soldiers have been descrating churches and graveyards by turning them into army camps, disturbing religious services and preventing evangelists from preaching.

The following information is provided by Rev-( Name omitted). The incident occured while he was serving in Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention.

In August 1993, there come a telegram to the office of Zomi (Chin) Baptist convention, sent from Kuki Chin Baptist Association office, situated in Homalin, Sagaing Division. This telegram said : Rev Zang Kho Let and 3 other evangelists of the area died. Letter follows. When the follow-up letter arrived the office of Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention, it said that the victims were brutally tortured and shot to death by the Burman army.

It was a great loss to Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention. The letter explained how they were brutally tortured and killed. I brought the case to the Executive Committee meeting of our Convention. When I read the telegram and the letter before 54 decision making persons, I was trembling. All the members shed tears and cried for help and blessing from God. We selected words carefully to make a report to our Central Baptist office. We stood up and had 4 minutes silence in due respect of the dead evangelists, one minute each for the four. The most senior minister among us said a prayer for the dead.

The Central Baptist Office of Burma wrote a report to the Ministry of Religion. The action taken was transferring that army group. Aside from that there was nothing else we could do. All we did with the government was noted and recorded by local State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) office in Hakha, the capital city of Chin State.

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTIONS

Religious persecutions is a problem of major concern in Chin State. Almost 100% of Chins are Christians. Over the past few years, the Burmese military has been forcing Chin Christians villagers to build Buddhist pagodas in their own villages. The Burmese soldiers have been descrating churches and graveyards by turning them into army camps, disturbing religious services and preventing evangelists from preaching.

The Burman regime practiced their egregious policy of Burmanization and Buddhitization among the minority racial groups. The Chins live on mountains. There are certain mountains where the Chins Christians erected wooden crosses to show that the devil have been defeated by the dead and resurrection of Christ. The erections of crosses in Chinland began since ending part of 1980s. There have been crosses around towns and villages.

The military regime began to destroy those crosses in 1995. For example, the crosses erected on Rung mountain by Baptist Christians in Hakha town, capital town of Chin State, was destroyed by unknown persons. It was not burned by fire. It was systematically torn down. The believers tried to re-erect the cross on the same place. The ruler did not allow them on the ground that the Christian cross should only be erected in the compound of their churches. Likewise, there are many crosses destroy by the unknown persons for the unknown reason in many villages and towns.

On the contrary, the military regime, through the Buddhist societies, constructed many pagodas on top of village and towns in Chin State. This is interpreted as the invasion of Buddhist among The Chin Christians who do not hold political power. The Chin Christians are forced to construct the pagodas. Moreover, they are forced to donate money for the constructions.

Many pastors, evangelists, and young volunteer missionaries have been arrested while they actively worked. In May 1993, 30 young volunteer evangelists, sent by Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention, were arrested in the town of Paletwa, Southern Chin State. The Chairman of Paletwa Township SLORC was so brutal to the young people. He didn’t give them food. They were starved for five days. After that he released them on bond that they should not preach in the township. The young evangelist left the town.

CHURCH LEADERS TORTURED IN LAUTU TRACT

The Lautu Baptist Churches Conference [under the Zomi(Chin) Baptist Convention] was scheduled to be held on 22.2.1998 in Thantlang township. The church leaders went to Hakha to get permission from SPDC office. They got no reply. Shortly after, Burmese Army troops from IB 266 and IB 50 came with 100 soldiers to Lautu Village Tract. In every village of Lautu tract, they arrested all the Church leaders. The soldiers accused Churches leaders of supporting CNF insurgents. Church leaders were forced to lie down under the sun at noon and ordered to look at the sun by the soldiers. Those who closed their eyes were beaten. The army ordered them not to hold that conference. All the villagers felt so upset because the Army had prevented them from holding the Church Conference.

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

The following pamphlet has been widely distributed in Burma, and the copies have been obtained in Rangoon, Mandalay, and various eastern border areas. Missionaries, honourable Monks,Cleansing Organisations The facts to attack Christians:

1. To attack Christian families and the progress of Christians

2. To criticise the sermons broadcast from Manila the Philippines3. To criticise God as narrow-minded and egotistical, who himself claimed that “There is no god but eternal God”.

4. To counter corrupt youth and inappropriate fashion

5. To criticise the preaching of Christians wherever it has penetrated

6. To criticise Christianity by means of pointing out its delicacy and weakness

7. To stop the spread of the Christian movement in rural areas

8. To criticise by means of pointing out “It is not salvation but purchased by blood”

9. To counterattack by means of pointing out Christianity’s weakness and to overcome this with Buddhism

10. To counter the Bible after thorough study

11. To criticise that “God loves only Israel but not all races”

12. To point out the ambiguity between the two testaments

13. To criticise the point that Christianity is partisan

14. To criticise Christianity’s concept of the Creator and compare it with the scientific concepts

15. To study and access the amount given in offerings

16. To criticise the Holy Sprit after thorough study

17. To attack Christian by means of both non-violence and violence

Two Pastors arrested in Thantlang, Chin State

Chin Human Rights Organization CHRO received the following report on 20th September 1999 from reliable source. On 26 June, 1999, a soldier of the 266 Light Infantry Battalion led by 2nd Lieutenant Myo Kyaw, deserted his unit, near Tlangpi village.

The villagers of Tlangpi and of Farrawn, which is one of its neighboring villages, were in no way responsible for his defection, but the chairmen of these villages and other neighboring villages were arrested, taken to Haka, and severely tortured, for it. The chairman of Tlangpi village was given a twelve-year sentence with rigorous imprisonment and the others also two to three-year sentences, with rigorous imprisonment All the chairmen of the villages in Zahnak Tlang area of the Thantlang Township, Chin State viz. of Lungler, Bungkhua, Dawn, Ralpel, Saikah, Fungkah, Thangzang, Sihhmuh, Ruabuk, Ruakhua, have also been arrested by the same Battalion. Also all the chairmen of the “yatkwets” ( block ) in Thantlang Town, viz Pu No Lal Ling of School “Yatkwet”, Pu Van Hnun of Market “Yatkwet”, and Pu Ceu Hnin of TABC “Yatkwet”, have been arrested and tortured, and one of them, viz Pu Ceu Hnin of TABC “Yatkwet”was so severely tortured that all his front teeth were knocked out. A good civilian in Thantlang town, by the name of Al Bik, was also arrested, taken to the Camp of the Military Intelligence at Rung Tlang in Hakha, and has been kept in isolation, allowing nobody to see him. All these arrests were allegedly made on the flimsy evidence that they were in sympathy with the Chin National Front CNF.

When all these arrests and atrocities were taking place, the senior pastor of the Thantlang Baptist Church, the Rev. Biak Kam, who is over 60years of age, and the General Secretary of the Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches, the Rev. Thawng Kam, called a meeting as to how to negotiate with the military authorities in charge of the area and to make a request for their release. But before they could meet with the military authority, the military authority have them also arrested at night on September 7,1999, accusing them of calling a meeting without their knowledge or permission. They were sent away hastily and secretly by night the same night, onfoot,30 miles away, to the Military Out Post in Lungler village. They have been kept there. Nothing has been heard about them, as no one was allowed to see them; hopefully they were not tortured. These two Baptist pastors were almost arrested once at the time of the problem which arose out of matters related to erecting a cross on a hill west of Thantlang in January 1999 and it could very well be that they were secretly observed and shadowed.

Thantlang Baptist Church is the biggest church in Thantlang Township with a membership of over 3000 and Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches(TABC) is a full fledge association, with a membership of 44 village churches, under the Zomi Baptist Convention, which in turn is a full fledge convention under the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which is a national convention of all the Baptist Churches in Burma. There is a great fear that all of them would be tortured and their lives be in danger of death. All the men in Thantlang town have evacuated for fear of being arrested by the military.

Myanmar Christians flee to India alleging persecution
(Source : Rangoon Post)
GUWAHATI, India, Aug 20 (AFP)
More than 1,000 Christian tribal in Myanmar have fled across the border into India this month, alleging persecution by the military junta and Buddhist monks, church leaders said Friday. The Naga tribals, mostly from eight villages in the Sagaing district of northern Myanmar, crossed into the far northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, according to Reverend Zhabu Terhuja, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council. “Buddhist monks aided by Myanmar soldiers have been forcing the Christian Nagas residing in that country to convert to Buddhism,” Terhuja told AFP by telephone from the Naga capital Kohima. There are an estimated 20,000 Naga tribals in Myanmar. “Some Myanmarese Nagas are taking shelter in a border village called Pangsa following alleged persecution by the army,” said local police chief L.T. Lotha. “But there is no law and order as such due to the exodus,” Lothi said, Church leaders said the Naga Christians were being forced to close down their churches, which had then been desecrated or used as kitchens by the Myanmar army. Reverend Bonny Resu, secretary general of the Asian Baptist Federation said the issue had been taken up with the Myanmar Baptist Convention “so that they can apprise the government about the reports of persecution.” However, Buddhist leaders here questioned the validity of the reports. “Even if your father or mother accepts another religion, being a son you cannot force them to reconvert to Buddhism. So the question of converting Christians to Buddhism by force does not arise,” said Gyanpal Bhiku, a Buddhist monk and member of the Northeast Buddhist Federation.

100 Civilian men detained in the Church

On 26 June 1999 a Burmese soldier disappeared from a patrolling army unit enroute to Tlangpi village from Lung Ding village of Thantlang Township, Chin State.

The disappeared soldier was among the 34 soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 266 led by 2nd Lieutenant Kyaw Soe, based at Lungler army camp located north of Thantlang town near the Indian border.The soldier who was extremely exhausted due to hunger was left behind half way during the patrolling.

Upon noticing the disappearance on arrival at the destination village, the commander 2nd Lt. Kyaw Soe ordered a section of army to search for the lost soldier overnight. However, instead of searching for the soldier, the assigned soldiers met on the way with smugglers who herded cattle to be sold in Mizoram State of India and extorted Kyats 50000 from them.

On the next day the commander with his soldiers vainly headed for Farrawn village to find the soldier. They returned to Tlangpi and ordered the villagers to find the soldier. However, the attempt too proved to be futile. They returned to Lungler camp to report the matter to Captain Phyu Win, 266 Second Battalion Commander & temporary camp Commander who just arrived to the camp ahead of him.

Under the Command of Captain Phyu Win the soldiers again immediately went back to Tlangpi village.On 1 July 1999, the Captain forcibly ordered a total of more than 100 villagers, 40 villagers each from Lung Ding and Tlangpi villages, members of Village PDC of Tahtlang village and another 15 villagers from the same village to search for the lost soldier. Some villagers who were afraid of being forced to find the soldier had to go on hiding in the farm. Worried that those already taken to search the soldier will escape, the soldier kept them in a Church in Tlangpi and strictly guarded them outside.

The arrested villagers had to sleep without blankets and had to be fed by Tlangpi villagers. Despair of the search, the Captain finally ordered his inferiors to arrest every male in the village indiscriminately at midnight to clear trees and bushes around the cart way linking Lungding-Tlangpi-Farrawn. The villagers however dared not defy the order.

The lost soldier is still yet to be found and the villagers are facing immense difficulty as the incident coincided with the cultivation season by which they make their living. This forced labors by the army had badly affected the farm work of the villagers and they(villagers) are likely to face a new wave of crop shortage within the next years. The 100 arrested villagers are still in the army detention.

PASTORS ARRESTED IN CHINLAND

Christian persecution is on the rise in Burma .The Military authorities have pulled down a cross put up to commemorate 100 years of Christianity among the Chin people.

They also arrested and interogated 26 pastors ( and Church elders ). The gospel was brought to the area in 1899 by American Baptist missionaries.Since then, almost the entire Chin population have become believers.

To commemorate the centenary of Christianity in their homeland the people of Thantlang put up a cross on their hill. The Burmese Army ordered them to pull it down. When they refused, soldiers arrested six pastors and destroyed the cross.

The people then stage a 24hr-prayer vigil effectively a general strike in their homes. The army promptly cut the phone lines and arrested 20 more pastors ( Church Elders ) for interrogation.

Chin believers in America have stage protest outside the Myanmar Embassy in Washington. They called on the military regime to stop intimidating and arresting Christians and to replant the crosses they have pulled down.

It’s the latest in along line of acts a gainst the Chin people by the Buddhist military authorities. Churches have been turned into army camps, pastors have been beaten, and Christians have been forced to register as Buddhist in a census.

A police directive in 1992 demanded that the authorities oppose the spread of the Christian religion in every family, fight and oppose the preaching of Christian in every place, and “fight”the Christian religion by both soft and cruel methods. They have even taken Christian children and initiated them as Buddhist novices in a monastery. In some places the persecution and intimidation has been so intense that entire villages have fled to India to seek sanctuary.

Almost 90 percent of the Burmese people are Buddhist. Christians from the largest religious minority with 6.5 percent are professing faith in Jesus. Yet among the chin, 90 percent are Christians. Neither Buddhism nor Christianity is the natural religion of Burma. The success of the Christian faith among the Chin is due in part to the native religious belief in one God who is the guardian of the universe and an afterlife.

What is happening to the chin is an extension of the forced Burmanisation and ethnic cleansing taking place in the country. The Christian Karen and Karenni have also been targeted for persecution. Yet according to the Burmese constitution ”the State shall not make any discrimination on the ground of religious faith or belief'”. The Universal declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing freedom of religion is a significantinternational standard that one would hope all countries would aspire to. ChinChristian leaders in exile in America say junta is deliberately trying to provoke trouble to justify their military presence in Chin territory.They believe the army is trying to stoke up an insurgency to provide the excuse to hold on to power indefinitely.

Chin leaders say the way to combat oppressionis with tolerance and forgiveness. They are calling on the junta to withdraw their arm forces from the Chin State and stop murder, rape, and robbery of civilians, along with the practice of forced labor, which is a form of modern day slavery.

MONEY FOR PAGODA FESTIVAL

In order to hold Utalin pagoda festival in1998, SPDC army battalion 538 commander Lt.Col. Saw Thun ordered Chin Christian villages such as Pathiantlang (A), Pathiantlang (B), Ramri, Arakan, Pinte, Hemate, Hemapi, Sia Oo, Para to pay Kyats 5000/- and 3- mats per each village before November 10, 1998.

Pastors and evangelists went to the area commander Maj. Zaw Tun Tin and beg him to reconsider the order because it is unusual for Christian to pay money for others’ religion activities. The Major replied them that the money is to hire a play for the festival and the Christians will also watch the play. If you don’t pay the money, action will be taken seriously upon the the villagers and will suffer. The villagers can’t do anything but to obey the army and pay the money.

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

Regime blocked centennial celebration of christianity in Chin State. Cross destroyed, pastors interrogated in acts of continuing Chistian persecution.

Burma’s military regime has stepped up its persecution of the Chin Christian community which is celebrating the Centennial of Christianity in Chin areas of Burma. Chin pastors are being interrogated and Centennial celebration in Haka, the capital of Chin State have been postponed by the regime at least until April. Chin Christian sought to celebrate their Christianity Centennial from January 1-3,1999 at Thantlang, another city in the Chin State of Burma. The Centennial marks the arrival of American missionaries Rev. Carson and his wife Laura Carson in 1899. On January 5,1999 when the celebration in Thantlang was over, citizen of the town posted a Centennial memorial cross at the top of Vuichip Hill near Thantlang. The Burmese military from Thantlang ordered the citizens of Thantlang to remove the cross they had erected atop the hill. After the citizen refused to removed the cross, soldiers pulled it down and destroyed it. Six Christian pastors from Thantlang, Rev. Thawng Kam, Rev. Biak Kam, Rev. Thantu, Rev. Tha Ceu, Rev. Cung Bik and Rev. Beauty Lily were then taken away from the town and interrogated.

In protest, the whole of Thantlang’s citizenry stage a general strike prayer service and fast at local churches or in their homes the following day (January 6,1999). In retaliation, the military cut all telephone lines to Thantlang and summoned 20 pastors and church leaders from various denominations for interrogation.

On January 9, 1999 churches around Haka joined the protest by holding prayer services. Military officers from Haka told church leaders that if they wanted to put the memorial cross again, they have to apply to the Home Minister in Rangoon. The Military has also ordered the postponement of Centenial celebrations in Haka until april.

The Burmese military is systematically persecuting Christians in Burma and seems intent on “cleansing” the country of its Chin population. Well over 90% of the Chin population in Burma is Christian.

UNCERTAINTY TO CELEBRATE CENTENRY

The uncertainty of celebrating the Chin Christian Centenary to be held in Haka, the capital of Chin State, is reported from inside Burma to CHRO as follows:

“It is likely that we are not going to have the Centenary Celebration” Rev. Tialkap said. The military personnel in Haka said, as Tialkap quoted, ” Your celebrating seems like it is going to be very elaborate. We cannot give you permission to have the celebration because some foreign guests are also invited. You have to seek the permission from the Ministry of Home and Internal Affairs”. Rev. Tialkap told CHRO yesterday (3rd of Feb’99) that a request is being made to the Ministry of Home and Internal Affairs. If the application is turned down, they will proceed by approaching the General Secretary-1(Khin Ngunt). If the General secrectary-1 persists in refusing them, there’s no prospect of celebrating the Centenary.

Although the Centennial Celebration Committee tried to negotiate with military personnel in Haka before approaching the Ministry of Home and Internal Affairs, to see if they would consider not inviting the foreign guests, their attempts were in vain.

MONKS AND SPDC’S SOLDIERS UNITE FOR ONE PURPOSE

Rev. Biakthang (name changed) is a missionary who was sent by the Lautu Christian Association of Thantlang township to Ann town in Arakan State. Rev. Biakthang’s wife unfortunately passed away in October 1996. In November,1998, he left the mission center for Thantlang to attend the Lautu association mass meeting. While he was away, his house was burgled jointly by monks and soldiers. They even dug out his wife’s gravestone and destroyed the stone inscription. In his letter to a friend in December, he wrote “Though I was called by the military office, after interrogations I was released without harm”. He also mentioned in his letter that some evangelists sent by Church of Jesus Christ who work in the area were beaten badly by Buddhist monks together with soldiers

1999 Religious Persecution Report



Two Pastors arrested in Thantlang, Chin State

Chin Human Rights Organization CHRO received the following report on 20th September 1999 from reliable source. On 26 June, 1999, a soldier of the 266 Light Infantry Battalion led by 2nd Lieutenant Myo Kyaw, deserted his unit, near Tlangpi village.

The villagers of Tlangpi and of Farrawn, which is one of its neighboring villages, were in no way responsible for his defection, but the chairmen of these villages and other neighboring villages were arrested, taken to Haka, and severely tortured, for it. The chairman of Tlangpi village was given a twelve-year sentence with rigorous imprisonment and the others also two to three-year sentences, with rigorous imprisonment All the chairmen of the villages in Zahnak Tlang area of the Thantlang Township, Chin State viz. of Lungler, Bungkhua, Dawn, Ralpel, Saikah, Fungkah, Thangzang, Sihhmuh, Ruabuk, Ruakhua, have also been arrested by the same Battalion. Also all the chairmen of the “yatkwets” ( block ) in Thantlang Town, viz Pu No Lal Ling of School “Yatkwet”, Pu Van Hnun of Market “Yatkwet”, and Pu Ceu Hnin of TABC “Yatkwet”, have been arrested and tortured, and one of them, viz Pu Ceu Hnin of TABC “Yatkwet”was so severely tortured that all his front teeth were knocked out. A good civilian in Thantlang town, by the name of Al Bik, was also arrested, taken to the Camp of the Military Intelligence at Rung Tlang in Hakha, and has been kept in isolation, allowing nobody to see him. All these arrests were allegedly made on the flimsy evidence that they were in sympathy with the Chin National Front CNF.

When all these arrests and atrocities were taking place, the senior pastor of the Thantlang Baptist Church, the Rev. Biak Kam, who is over 60years of age, and the General Secretary of the Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches, the Rev. Thawng Kam, called a meeting as to how to negotiate with the military authorities in charge of the area and to make a request for their release. But before they could meet with the military authority, the military authority have them also arrested at night on September 7,1999, accusing them of calling a meeting without their knowledge or permission. They were sent away hastily and secretly by night the same night, onfoot,30 miles away, to the Military Out Post in Lungler village. They have been kept there. Nothing has been heard about them, as no one was allowed to see them; hopefully they were not tortured. These two Baptist pastors were almost arrested once at the time of the problem which arose out of matters related to erecting a cross on a hill west of Thantlang in January 1999 and it could very well be that they were secretly observed and shadowed.

Thantlang Baptist Church is the biggest church in Thantlang Township with a membership of over 3000 and Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches(TABC) is a full fledge association, with a membership of 44 village churches, under the Zomi Baptist Convention, which in turn is a full fledge convention under the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which is a national convention of all the Baptist Churches in Burma. There is a great fear that all of them would be tortured and their lives be in danger of death. All the men in Thantlang town have evacuated for fear of being arrested by the military.


Myanmar Christians flee to India alleging persecution
(Source : Rangoon Post)

GUWAHATI, India, Aug 20 (AFP)
More than 1,000 Christian tribal in Myanmar have fled across the border into India this month, alleging persecution by the military junta and Buddhist monks, church leaders said Friday. The Naga tribals, mostly from eight villages in the Sagaing district of northern Myanmar, crossed into the far northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, according to Reverend Zhabu Terhuja, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council. “Buddhist monks aided by Myanmar soldiers have been forcing the Christian Nagas residing in that country to convert to Buddhism,” Terhuja told AFP by telephone from the Naga capital Kohima. There are an estimated 20,000 Naga tribals in Myanmar. “Some Myanmarese Nagas are taking shelter in a border village called Pangsa following alleged persecution by the army,” said local police chief L.T. Lotha. “But there is no law and order as such due to the exodus,” Lothi said, Church leaders said the Naga Christians were being forced to close down their churches, which had then been desecrated or used as kitchens by the Myanmar army. Reverend Bonny Resu, secretary general of the Asian Baptist Federation said the issue had been taken up with the Myanmar Baptist Convention “so that they can apprise the government about the reports of persecution.” However, Buddhist leaders here questioned the validity of the reports. “Even if your father or mother accepts another religion, being a son you cannot force them to reconvert to Buddhism. So the question of converting Christians to Buddhism by force does not arise,” said Gyanpal Bhiku, a Buddhist monk and member of the Northeast Buddhist Federation.

100 Civilian men detained in the Church

On 26 June 1999 a Burmese soldier disappeared from a patrolling army unit enroute to Tlangpi village from Lung Ding village of Thantlang Township, Chin State.

The disappeared soldier was among the 34 soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 266 led by 2nd Lieutenant Kyaw Soe, based at Lungler army camp located north of Thantlang town near the Indian border.The soldier who was extremely exhausted due to hunger was left behind half way during the patrolling.

Upon noticing the disappearance on arrival at the destination village, the commander 2nd Lt. Kyaw Soe ordered a section of army to search for the lost soldier overnight. However, instead of searching for the soldier, the assigned soldiers met on the way with smugglers who herded cattle to be sold in Mizoram State of India and extorted Kyats 50000 from them.

On the next day the commander with his soldiers vainly headed for Farrawn village to find the soldier. They returned to Tlangpi and ordered the villagers to find the soldier. However, the attempt too proved to be futile. They returned to Lungler camp to report the matter to Captain Phyu Win, 266 Second Battalion Commander & temporary camp Commander who just arrived to the camp ahead of him.

Under the Command of Captain Phyu Win the soldiers again immediately went back to Tlangpi village.On 1 July 1999, the Captain forcibly ordered a total of more than 100 villagers, 40 villagers each from Lung Ding and Tlangpi villages, members of Village PDC of Tahtlang village and another 15 villagers from the same village to search for the lost soldier. Some villagers who were afraid of being forced to find the soldier had to go on hiding in the farm. Worried that those already taken to search the soldier will escape, the soldier kept them in a Church in Tlangpi and strictly guarded them outside.

The arrested villagers had to sleep without blankets and had to be fed by Tlangpi villagers. Despair of the search, the Captain finally ordered his inferiors to arrest every male in the village indiscriminately at midnight to clear trees and bushes around the cart way linking Lungding-Tlangpi-Farrawn. The villagers however dared not defy the order.

The lost soldier is still yet to be found and the villagers are facing immense difficulty as the incident coincided with the cultivation season by which they make their living. This forced labors by the army had badly affected the farm work of the villagers and they(villagers) are likely to face a new wave of crop shortage within the next years. The 100 arrested villagers are still in the army detention.

PASTORS ARRESTED IN CHINLAND

Christian persecution is on the rise in Burma .The Military authorities have pulled down a cross put up to commemorate 100 years of Christianity among the Chin people.

They also arrested and interogated 26 pastors ( and Church elders ). The gospel was brought to the area in 1899 by American Baptist missionaries.Since then, almost the entire Chin population have become believers.

To commemorate the centenary of Christianity in their homeland the people of Thantlang put up a cross on their hill. The Burmese Army ordered them to pull it down. When they refused, soldiers arrested six pastors and destroyed the cross.

The people then stage a 24hr-prayer vigil effectively a general strike in their homes. The army promptly cut the phone lines and arrested 20 more pastors ( Church Elders ) for interrogation.

Chin believers in America have stage protest outside the Myanmar Embassy in Washington. They called on the military regime to stop intimidating and arresting Christians and to replant the crosses they have pulled down.

It’s the latest in along line of acts a gainst the Chin people by the Buddhist military authorities. Churches have been turned into army camps, pastors have been beaten, and Christians have been forced to register as Buddhist in a census.

A police directive in 1992 demanded that the authorities oppose the spread of the Christian religion in every family, fight and oppose the preaching of Christian in every place, and “fight”the Christian religion by both soft and cruel methods. They have even taken Christian children and initiated them as Buddhist novices in a monastery. In some places the persecution and intimidation has been so intense that entire villages have fled to India to seek sanctuary.

Almost 90 percent of the Burmese people are Buddhist. Christians from the largest religious minority with 6.5 percent are professing faith in Jesus. Yet among the chin, 90 percent are Christians. Neither Buddhism nor Christianity is the natural religion of Burma. The success of the Christian faith among the Chin is due in part to the native religious belief in one God who is the guardian of the universe and an afterlife.

What is happening to the chin is an extension of the forced Burmanisation and ethnic cleansing taking place in the country. The Christian Karen and Karenni have also been targeted for persecution. Yet according to the Burmese constitution ”the State shall not make any discrimination on the ground of religious faith or belief'”. The Universal declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing freedom of religion is a significantinternational standard that one would hope all countries would aspire to. ChinChristian leaders in exile in America say junta is deliberately trying to provoke trouble to justify their military presence in Chin territory.They believe the army is trying to stoke up an insurgency to provide the excuse to hold on to power indefinitely.

Chin leaders say the way to combat oppressionis with tolerance and forgiveness. They are calling on the junta to withdraw their arm forces from the Chin State and stop murder, rape, and robbery of civilians, along with the practice of forced labor, which is a form of modern day slavery.

MONEY FOR PAGODA FESTIVAL

In order to hold Utalin pagoda festival in1998, SPDC army battalion 538 commander Lt.Col. Saw Thun ordered Chin Christian villages such as Pathiantlang (A), Pathiantlang (B), Ramri, Arakan, Pinte, Hemate, Hemapi, Sia Oo, Para to pay Kyats 5000/- and 3- mats per each village before November 10, 1998.

Pastors and evangelists went to the area commander Maj. Zaw Tun Tin and beg him to reconsider the order because it is unusual for Christian to pay money for others’ religion activities. The Major replied them that the money is to hire a play for the festival and the Christians will also watch the play. If you don’t pay the money, action will be taken seriously upon the the villagers and will suffer. The villagers can’t do anything but to obey the army and pay the money.

RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

Regime blocked centennial celebration of christianity in Chin State. Cross destroyed, pastors interrogated in acts of continuing Chistian persecution.

Burma’s military regime has stepped up its persecution of the Chin Christian community which is celebrating the Centennial of Christianity in Chin areas of Burma. Chin pastors are being interrogated and Centennial celebration in Haka, the capital of Chin State have been postponed by the regime at least until April. Chin Christian sought to celebrate their Christianity Centennial from January 1-3,1999 at Thantlang, another city in the Chin State of Burma. The Centennial marks the arrival of American missionaries Rev. Carson and his wife Laura Carson in 1899. On January 5,1999 when the celebration in Thantlang was over, citizen of the town posted a Centennial memorial cross at the top of Vuichip Hill near Thantlang. The Burmese military from Thantlang ordered the citizens of Thantlang to remove the cross they had erected atop the hill. After the citizen refused to removed the cross, soldiers pulled it down and destroyed it. Six Christian pastors from Thantlang, Rev. Thawng Kam, Rev. Biak Kam, Rev. Thantu, Rev. Tha Ceu, Rev. Cung Bik and Rev. Beauty Lily were then taken away from the town and interrogated.

In protest, the whole of Thantlang’s citizenry stage a general strike prayer service and fast at local churches or in their homes the following day (January 6,1999). In retaliation, the military cut all telephone lines to Thantlang and summoned 20 pastors and church leaders from various denominations for interrogation.

On January 9, 1999 churches around Haka joined the protest by holding prayer services. Military officers from Haka told church leaders that if they wanted to put the memorial cross again, they have to apply to the Home Minister in Rangoon. The Military has also ordered the postponement of Centenial celebrations in Haka until april.

The Burmese military is systematically persecuting Christians in Burma and seems intent on “cleansing” the country of its Chin population. Well over 90% of the Chin population in Burma is Christian.

UNCERTAINTY TO CELEBRATE CENTENRY

The uncertainty of celebrating the Chin Christian Centenary to be held in Haka, the capital of Chin State, is reported from inside Burma to CHRO as follows:

“It is likely that we are not going to have the Centenary Celebration” Rev. Tialkap said. The military personnel in Haka said, as Tialkap quoted, ” Your celebrating seems like it is going to be very elaborate. We cannot give you permission to have the celebration because some foreign guests are also invited. You have to seek the permission from the Ministry of Home and Internal Affairs”. Rev. Tialkap told CHRO yesterday (3rd of Feb’99) that a request is being made to the Ministry of Home and Internal Affairs. If the application is turned down, they will proceed by approaching the General Secretary-1(Khin Ngunt). If the General secrectary-1 persists in refusing them, there’s no prospect of celebrating the Centenary.

Although the Centennial Celebration Committee tried to negotiate with military personnel in Haka before approaching the Ministry of Home and Internal Affairs, to see if they would consider not inviting the foreign guests, their attempts were in vain.

MONKS AND SPDC’S SOLDIERS UNITE FOR ONE PURPOSE

Rev. Biakthang (name changed) is a missionary who was sent by the Lautu Christian Association of Thantlang township to Ann town in Arakan State. Rev. Biakthang’s wife unfortunately passed away in October 1996. In November,1998, he left the mission center for Thantlang to attend the Lautu association mass meeting. While he was away, his house was burgled jointly by monks and soldiers. They even dug out his wife’s gravestone and destroyed the stone inscription. In his letter to a friend in December, he wrote “Though I was called by the military office, after interrogations I was released without harm”. He also mentioned in his letter that some evangelists sent by Church of Jesus Christ who work in the area were beaten badly by Buddhist monks together with soldiers

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