CHRO Presentation at the United States Department of State
The Chin Human Rights Organization had met with the United States Department of State on April 2, 2003. In the meeting, three bureau; Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights And Labor, Bureau for Migration, Population and Refugees, The Burma Desk Officer for The US State Department
April 21, 2003
First of all on behalf of the Chin Human Rights Organization we would like to express our gratitude for the opportunity to meet with the State Department of the United States of America. We are particularly appreciative of the fact that the meeting encompasses Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Bureau for Migration, Population and Refugees, and Burma Desk Officer of the State Department.
The statement issued by the State Department in the Country Reports of Human Rights Practice and International Religious Freedom Reports which touched on the present human right situation in Burma is encouraging to the continued movement for democracy and human rights in Burma. We are deeply indebted and grateful for the longstanding supports of the United States for Human Rights and Democracy in Burma.
In the past few years, in Burma, there’s been some “improvement” seen in the area of human rights situation: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and some political prisoners have been released; the International Committee for Red Cross and International Labor Organization have been allowed to be present in the country; the Amnesty International was once allowed in last February to visit the country. As clearly pointed out, however, in the statement of the Amnesty International, there is still much more to be done for human rights condition especially in the ethnic national areas of the country.
Burma continues to be ruled by the military junta and the Chin along with other opponents of the regime, continue to face a multitude of human rights violations. Under Burma’s military regime, the Chin along with other ethnic group in Burma are not only facing gross human rights violations, but they are also losing their culture, literature, customs, and traditions. This situation has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis, both inside and outside the country.
Approximately 50,000 Chin refugees, of men, women and children have sought refuge in India. Of these, only about one percent has legal recognition by the UNHCR and a great majority of them are at risk of deportation by the authorities under which they live. Thousands more are scattered throughout neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand while a great number of them are internally displaced. Their humanitarian need is of great urgency.
That human rights violation seems to be more rampant in the non-Burman ethnic regions is evidenced in the fact that one million internally displaced persons came from the non-Burman ethnic nationalities and a large majority of the two million refugees (out of which about fifty thousand are Chins) from Burma in neighboring countries are of the non-Burman ethnic nationalities. This seems to suggest that the ethnic nationalities of Burma are forcibly pushed to face a rather Burmanization systematically imposed by the successive Burmese governments than democratization of Burma.
Several attempts recently made by the United Nations Special Envoy to solve the longstanding political stalemate in Burma turned out to be non-productive endeavor due to emphasis given solely to the emergence of talk between the National League for Democracy and the military junta. This seems suggestive of the fact that the root cause of the unhealthy human rights and political situation in Burma is much deeper than the possible outcome of talk between the above two parties.
In order to solve human rights crisis in Burma, we believe that there need to be a meaningful political dialogue between the military junta, National League for Democracy party and leaders of ethnic nationalities in the country. As the ethnic nationalities (who owned 57% of landmass with more than 40% of the country’s population) are co-founder of the Union of Burma, it is necessary for them to participate in addressing the political future of the Union of Burma. This is crucial for bringing meaningful solution to Burma’s political turmoil.
It is of paramount importance to recognize and respect the right of the ethnic nationalities to determine their political future beginning with any process aimed at breaking political deadlock in Burma, because conflicts long-rooted in Burma are the direct result of failure to recognize this fact. We feel that it is important for the United States government and the world community to remain aware of this and adopt stronger measures against the Burmese military junta so that it will eventually be forced to undertake meaningful dialogue aimed at bringing peace, harmony and democracy to Burma.