Chin Human Rights Organization
25 October 2006
The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) applauds the recent action taken by the U.S. Department of State and the tireless efforts of the many advocates, organizations, and concerned individuals to secure a waiver of adverse provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act for Chin refugees living in Malaysia, India, and Thailand.
On 11 October 2006, the U.S. Secretary of State signed a waiver to exempt Chin refugees living in Malaysia, India, and Thailand from provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that threatened to render them ineligible for resettlement to the United States. Thousands of Chin refugees have been waiting resettlement to the United States after their cases were put indefinitely on hold due to inappropriately broad provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that effectively excludes from the United States genuine refugees as “terrorists.” This waiver will allow the resettlement process to resume for Chin refugees, some who have been waiting for over one year in increasingly oppressive and hostile host countries. Resettlement to the United States for Chin refugees for many is the promise of a new life and the hope of a brighter future.
Chin refugees have been subject to the inadmissibility bar due to widespread support of the Chin National Front (CNF), an armed resistance group organized to promote democracy in Burma and defend the people of Chinland from annihilation by the Burma military regime. Under the current reading of the USA PATRIOT Act, anyone who has participated in or demonstrated support of an armed group may be excluded from the United States as a terrorist. There is no exemption for groups organized to defend themselves and their people against authoritarian governments that rule through intimidation and unspeakable brutality. Furthermore, anyone who at anytime provides any form of support to such an organization, regardless of the magnitude or context, is subject to the inadmissibility bar. Cases have been put on hold for contributing even minimal forms of support, such as clothing, food, water, or temporary accommodations.
CHRO is grateful to the U.S. government for renewing their commitment to protecting refugees by granting a waiver to the Chin people, and urges the U.S. Congress to revise the USA PATRIOT Act to ensure other groups of genuine refugees are not unjustifiably excluded from the United States. CHRO is also grateful to all those who have contributed to the efforts to highlight and promote the issues impacting the Chin people. In particular, CHRO would like to extend a very special thanks to the members of the Refugee Council of USA, who continue to fight for increased rights and protection of all asylum seekers and refugees worldwide. CHRO would also like to thank the Chin churches from North America, Europe, Australia, church communities and concerned individuals across the world that have supported the Chin people through their words, their work, their financial contributions, and their prayers.
Thousands of Chins are forced to flee from Burma every year as persecution by the military regime against the Chin people persists. Reports of summary and extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, torture, rape, forced relocation, forced labor and other violations of basic human rights in Chin State are tragically widespread. Currently there are more than 80,000 Chins living in exile in Malaysia, India and Thailand. None of these host countries, however, have signed onto the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. As a result, the Chin people are afforded with little to no protections. Without official recognition, Chin refugees have been unable to work, attend school, access, health or social services, or obtain adequate living accommodations. Moreover, refugees are vulnerable to extortion, theft, sexual abuse, arrest, deportation, and many other difficulties.
Chin Human Rights Organization
October 25, 2006