Volume VIII. No. VI. November-December 2005
Chin Human Rights Organization
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Indiscriminate Killing & Prohibitive Orders
• Two Killed, Six Injured in Indiscriminate Killing
• SPDC Authority Prohibits Growing other Crops Except Rice at Farms
Forced Labor and Extortion
• Burmese Troop Forced Civilians to Porter, Demanded Rations
• SPDC Collected Money Illegally from Local People
• Excessive Money Collected from Identity Cards
• Local People Forced to Construct Police Station
• Excessive Taxes Exacted
Will the National Convention Bring Democracy to Burma?
–By Harn Yawngwe
• Human Rights Situations in Chinland
–By Salai Bawi Lian Mang
• CHRO Key Activities Highlights in 2005
Back Cover Poem
• Sweet December
–By Van Biak Thang
Burmese Soldiers Killed Two Children, Injured Six Civilians in Random Shooting
Chin Human Rights Organization
14 November 2005
Aizawl: Two Burmese soldiers shot and killed two children and critically injured six other civilians in Matupi Town of southern Chin State on Saturday, November 12, 2005, Chin Human Rights Organization has learned. Local residents who witnessed the shooting identified two Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 304 as culprits of the indiscriminate killing.
Bawi Sawng, a 17 year-old boy, son of Pu Cang Khawn, who just graduated from high school and a 7 year-old child were killed on the spot and six other civilians, most of them children, were seriously injured by the spray of bullets late afternoon on Saturday at around 5:00 p.m. local time.
The injured civilians were flown by army helicopter to hospitals in Pakhuku, Mandalay and Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin), CHRO source said. But further details on the condition of the victims are not immediately available.
The incident occurred at a local football ground during the closing ceremony of a regional football tournament sponsored by Lt. Colonel San Aung, Commander of Tactical Command II for Southern Chin State. Football teams from both civilian and the army were competing for a trophy named after Lt. Col. San Aung, which started on November 1, 2005.
The civilian team from Matupi won the final match against army personnel based out of Kanpalet Town. Eye witnesses said two Burmese soldiers, apparently disgruntle over their loss against the civilian team, approached from the south end of the football field and started spraying bullets from automatic rifles on a crowd of spectators watching the prize-giving ceremony. The indiscriminate shooting left two children dead and six other injured.
Last year in a similar football tournament a brawl brook out between Burmese soldiers and Chin civilians spectators after the soldiers loss a match against the civilians.
Today’s edition of Myanmar Digest, a state-run newspaper blamed the shooting on ‘Chin insurgent terrorists.’ The paper said that two Chin insurgents armed with small arms opened fired on the spectators and fled and that the regional Battalions are in hot pursuit. But that claim is disputed by eye witnesses who said they recognize the two Burmese soldiers from LIB 304 as the shooters.
Local residents say that Matupi Town is heavily militarized and fortified there is no way the Chin rebels could have sneak in undetected and then left without being caught.
Military authorities are giving 100,000 Kyats to each family of the victims in compensation. Burma Army rarely gives compensation to civilian victims and local residents believe it is meant for a hush money rather than compensation.
Burmese Troops Forced Civilians to Porter, Demanded Rations
Commanding officer 2nd Lt. Ko Ko Oo from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 268 forced villagers in Vuangtu area to porter and forcibly collected rations from civilians on November 10, 2005. U Kaw Lian Ring, a villager of Phaikhua who was forced to porter army supplies reported to Chin Human Rights Organization. The battalion is from Falam and currently stationed at Vuangtu Village in Thantlang Township of northern Chin State.
The villager recounted: “The officer and his troops arrived at my village from Hmawngtlang village with three porters at 3 p.m. in the evening on November 9, 2005. As soon as they got to the village, the officer summoned all the village Peace and Development Council members and said, “I came here because I was informed that members of Chin National Army are here. I will kill you all if you fail to bring them.” Under such threats, he demanded two chickens and ten cups of rice for his squad. The village elders were unable to catch the chickens and they had to arrange Kyat 5,800 to buy 6 cans of canned fish and 6 bundles of noodle for their dinner. Additionally, the village elders had to arrange another 10 cups of rice and 6000 Kyats to buy 2 chickens for the next day’s meal.”
“We had to get up at 4 a.m. in the morning to report ourselves to the soldiers. There were three of us who were recruited for portering. Each one of us was made to carry rations, communication gears, and the commander’s rucksack. We traveled 12 miles to Hripi village. The heavy loads on our backs slowed us down but the soldiers would swear at us and forced us to keep pace. We were fed breakfast only at 11:00 o’ clock,” U Kaw Ling Ring explained.
SPDC soldiers patrolling at India-Burma border no longer bring ration from battalions since later this year. They would demand rations from villages along their way and forced civilians to carry their supplies from one village to the next.
SPDC Authority Prohibits Growing Other Crops Except Paddy At Farms
Township Peace and Development Council Chairman U Shwe Soe of Thantlang in Northern Chin State on August 10, Issued an order not to grow other crops at farms except paddy in farms across Thantlang Township. U Sui Thong, a farmer from Senthang Vilage said growing crops other than paddy requires prior authorization from the authorities.
“We only have a small number of farm owners in our area, which means that our harvests produce very little. So we grow garlic immediately after harvesting our paddy. The plantation also does not profit us well but we have an extra income through it and it is better to grow garlic than doing nothing,” he complained.
Continued U Sui Thong: “I am now 53 and I have never heard of such an order prohibiting other plantation except rice. With this kind of restriction, it is certain that my family’s situation would worsen year by year. Children’s expenditures at school are getting higher and prices of commodities are going through the roof.”
“According to the order we will harvest less and less one year after another and we farmers will not find means to survive” said the villager.
SPDC authority in Thantlang Township has been issuing various prohibiting orders these days. On 30, September 2005 Police station chief (name unknown) stationed at Hnaring Village issued an order prohibiting fishing in such rivers as Bawinu, Thangaw, and Pang Lai. The order stipulated a 20,000 Kyat fines for violation.
SPDC Collected Money Illegally From Local People
Township Peace and Development Council chairman U Tin Htun from Razua Township forcibly collected 800 Kyats from every town household in the area.
Citing funding needs to sponsor soccer tournament, which trophy was named after Colonel San Aung, Vice Chairman of Chin State Peace and Development Council and Commander of Tactical Command No. 2 in Chin State. The soccer match was held on November 1, 2005 in Matupi.
“On September 5, 2005, our village was fined a sum of 10,000 Kyats because we did not present a soccer team. Now we paid 300 Kyat each household again. Since our town became a new Township administrative center, each household has paid around 50,000 Kyats in all. Look! A primary student pays 150 kyat for gyms fund regularly and each student was forced to buy two dozens of pencils. I have to buy eight dozen for four children and now the box is full of unused pencils,” complained one the village headman.
Since Rezua was awarded a Township status, residents of villages in the new jurisdiction have had to build military camps, produce gravels for road constructions, supply chickens and forced as porters. Moreover, they were forced to be members of Women Association of Burma and forced to buy the portraits of General Than Shwe and a poster of Rih Lake and forced to distribute money for governmental service daily.
Excessive Money Collected for Identity Cards
U Khua Za Khan, head of immigration office of Falam town, Northern Chin State has been asking huge amounts of money to issue National Identity Card since earlier this year. Said a local man: “Head officer U khun Za Khan demands kyat 10,000 to 15,000 from those applying for new cards, Kyats 20,000 to 30,000 for those people who would like to renew the validity, and demands Kyats 30,000 to 40,000 from those who lost their cards and wished to get a new national identity card.”
“It is very difficult to acquire a national identity card, I had spent kyat 50,000 on National Identity Card for my four children,” complained one local resident.
But according to public notice posted in the local Immigration office, getting a new identity card for the first time only costs 6 Kyats, while renewing costs 1000 Kyats and replacing a lost card costs 5000 Kyats respectively.
Local People Forced to Construct Police Station
Police officer Kyaw Aung based at Shinletwa village, Paletwa Township, southern Chin State forced civilians in the surrounding villages to construct police camp on October 21, 2005, U Phu Uk of, headman of Pawng village reported.
5 villages from Wazung village tract have to construct the police camp from November 21 to November 26, 2005. One person from every household in the village track was compels to engage in the forced labor.
The forced laborers have to bring their own tools, and food. Besides, the villagers were compels to bring construction raw materials such as wood for the pole of the building and thatch for the roof. It took a day for forced laborers from Pawng village to travel to the construction site.
There are about 100 villagers engage in the forced labor constructing the police station from five villages; Shwe Ta Lak, Tawngzang, Pawng, O0Zung and Sat-Ke villages.
Excessive Taxes Exacted
Head Officer of Municipal Corporation of Falam town, Northern Chin State, U Kan Aung demands kyat 10, 000 to 150, 00 from those families who had finished building a house in Falam, a local resident reported.
Head officer U Kan Aung was said to go around the town and inspected newly constructed buildings since 2004. As soon as he came to know about a new building, he extorts huge amounts of money from the house owner. Sometimes some house owners don’t have enough money to pay him, but he often forced house owners to borrow money and to pay him without delay. Apart from the extortion of money by Municipal Corporation of Falam town, Forestry Department also extorts kyat 15, 0000 to 2, 00000 from house owners.
At the same time, health department demands kyats 10, 000 to 20, 000 from any patients for admission fees to hospital and kyat 20, 000 to 50,000 for those patients who need operation. Moreover, education department demands kyat 500 to 1000 from the students for extra times.
Will the National Convention Bring Democracy to Burma?
What Role Can ASEAN Play In The Process?
By Harn Yawnghwe
December 25, 2005
The focus on Burma today centers on the National Convention which was reconvened on 5 December 2005. People want to know if this process can be used to bring about democratic change. Given the frustration over the absence of any other political alternatives, some are advocating that we embrace the National Convention and work within the limited confines it seems to afford. Is this a possible avenue that we should explore? Before we make any decisions, it may be helpful to examine some of the factors surrounding the issue.
People assume that this National Convention is a new constitutional drafting process launched by Prime Minister Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, when he announced the 7-point Road Map to democracy in August 2003. The Convention is actually a continuation of the one convened in 1993. It was adjourned in 1996 and reconvened in May 2004 after an interval of almost 8 years. The Burmese military has, from the very beginning, clearly stated that one of the six key objectives for drafting the constitution is to legitimize the ‘political leadership role’ of the Tatmadaw (Armed Forces). But some have argued that since the constitution only reserves 25% of the legislative seats for the Tatmadaw, the new constitution is a good deal. After all, the military today controls 100% of the seats. While this may sound reasonable, it should be noted that the Convention has not said anything yet about how elections will be held. Under the 1974 military-sponsored ‘Socialist’ constitution, all candidates had to be first approved by the ruling party. Therefore, the Tatmadaw could still control 100% of the seats while reserving only 25% of the seats for the military. In any case, the key issue is not the percentage of seats. Under the new presidential constitution, the powerful president must have 10 years of military experience. And to make doubly sure that the military retains control, the constitution also stipulates that the Commander-in-Chief will appoint three key ministers – including his own boss, the Defence Minister, the Home Minister, and the Minister for Border Affairs. The Commander-in-Chief also has the right to seize power any time he feels that national security is threatened. The Tatmadaw is also above the constitution. Can such a constitution lead to democracy?
Another factor that troubles democracy advocates is that delegates to the National Convention are prohibited from criticizing the constitution whether within the formal proceedings or informally outside the sessions. The proceedings are a state secret. Those who ignore the edicts have been harassed and arrested. One was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Law No.5/96 also makes it illegal for anyone to discuss the constitution outside the National Convention. If the new constitution is intended to bring democracy to Burma, why should it be a crime to discuss it openly? But some continue to argue that in spite of the totally undemocratic outcome, we should engage the military. They say that we should use the process to create some political space. The way the Convention and the Road Map came to be launched may be instructive. The process to legitimize military rule actually started in November 1989 when Foreign Minister U Ohn Kyaw announced at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in November 1989 that Burma would hold general elections in 1990 to elect a new government. Senior-General Saw Maung, the Chair of SLORC, promised that he would hand over power to the election winners. But when the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, actually won 82% of the parliamentary seats, SLORC changed its tune and said that the elections were not to elect a government but only to determine who would draft a new constitution. After 3 years of maneuvering, the military again changed the rules and did not allow the 482 elected representatives to draft a new constitution. They instead hand-picked 702 delegates. Of this number only 107 elected representatives were selected. When the NLD protested against the undemocratic practices within the Convention and walked out, the process stopped without any reason being given. When the National Convention finally reconvened in 2004, the ethnic cease-fire armies did exactly as is being suggested. They tried to use the process to create some political space. They requested that the 104 articles adopted in 1996 be reviewed given the 8-year gap, that the process be inclusive, and democratic. The results? Ethnic nationalities leaders were arrested and recently sentenced to over 100 years in prison each on unspecified charges. And the military recently stated that the cease-fire armies represent only a small portion of the wider ‘national races’, and that their views would not be reflected in the constitution. This is because when the military reconvened the National Convention, they changed its composition. Instead of the 215 delegates from the ‘national races’ as in 1993, this was expanded to 633 delegates to minimize any possible negative effects from inviting the 105 delegates from the ethnic cease-fire armies to participate in the Convention. There are also now only 13 elected representatives left in an expanded Convention of 1,086 delegates. The military is also now claiming that there are no cease-fires armies. They claim instead that insurgents have re-entered the legal fold and some have even exchanged their arms for peace. This actually contradicts the military’s former claim that they have achieved peace in Burma because they have cease-fire agreements with 17 groups.
The above shows that the Burmese military will not compromise. To them, they are engaged in a process of national salvation, and they have to win at all costs. They will change the rules, stop the process, stack the cards, and re-define the situation in short, do anything, in order to win. Given such a rigid military mind-set, it is difficult to see how the National Convention process can be used to bring about democracy. But does this mean that there is no way out? For how many more years will the military keep shifting the goal posts? For how many more years will democracy advocates and the international community keep saying no? And for how many years will Burma continue to survive as a sovereign nation with its territorial integrity intact? The British government earlier this year identified Burma as a country at risk of instability. The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Yangon warned recently that worsening economic conditions and rising rates of disease including HIV-AIDS could eventually lead to a humanitarian crisis. Given this bleak prospect, perhaps the upcoming visit by the proposed ASEAN envoy can broker a deal. The two contentious and seemingly contradictory objectives out of the six objectives proposed by the military are: the flourishing of a genuine multi-party democracy, and the Tatmadaw’s national political leadership role in the future state. But these objectives could be reconciled if the democracy movement were able to accept that the military needs to play a leading political role in a transition to democracy. The Tatmadaw must also accept that after a transition, the role of the Tatmadaw in politics must decrease if democracy is to flourish. According to the military’s plans, future sessions of the National Convention will be considering provisions to amend the constitution, and ‘prescriptions in the Transitional Period’. This could be the key to finding a solution. What is crucial now is for the Tatmadaw to agree to ASEAN’s involvement in the process of democratization in Burma and a definite time-frame. If such firm provisions guaranteed by ASEAN could be worked out, the democracy movement and the international community would welcome them.
Human Rights Situation in Chinland
Salai Bawi Lian Mang
Chin Human Rights Organization
Joint Venue Hosted
Lawyers Group of Amnesty International (Hong Kong)
CSW (Hong Kong)
November 7, 2005 Hong Kong
I would like to say thank you to the CWS (Hong Kong) and the Lawyers Group of Amnesty International (Hong Kong) for creating this venue, exclusively for the situation of human rights in Chinland (Chin state and western Burma). I am honored to speak about human rights situation in Chinland to a group of intellectuals, lawyers, the AI (Hong Kong) and CSW (Hong Kong) who have committed in promotion of human rights around the world.
Thanks to Ms. Chato Olivas Gallo for your nice introduction. My name is Salai Bawi Lian Mang from Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). The CHRO is an independent non-governmental human rights organization. We aim to protect and promote human rights among the Chin people, and to contribute to the movement for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma. Founded in 1995, CHRO has worked to document the human rights situations of the Chin people in Burma’s western region.
Even though the political and human rights situation in Burma has gained international attention in recent years, the situation of the Chin people remained largely unknown by international community.
I am regrets to say that human rights conditions among Burma’s ethnic people, including the Chin people continue to remain a matter of grave concern. In fact, human rights conditions of the Chin people have become worse and the number of displaced persons and refugees has increased in recent years. Under the reign of the State Peace and Development Council, the Chin people have continued to experience untold miseries and hardships as a result of the systematic abuse of their fundamental human rights.
There is a direct link between the growing abuse against the Chin people and the increase in militarization of the Chin areas. In the last fifteen years since the regime took over power, the number of army battalions stationed in Chin State has increased up to 10 times. This increase has been accompanied by the rapid acceleration in the level of human rights abuses across Chin State. The kind of human rights violations suffered by the Chins today are the same as those that have been extensively reported among ethnic Karen, Shan, and Karenni on the eastern border. These violations manifest in the forms of arbitrary arrest and detention, forced labor, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. Moreover, the overwhelming percentage of Christians among the Chin people has also brought abuses in the form of religious persecution. Today, religious persecution is a matter of primary concern among the Chin people.
Since 1999, the US State Department has singled out Burma as a country that systematically violates religious freedom. The annual reports have cited a significant amount of cases of religious persecution involving the Chin people.
Religious persecution poses a matter of grave concern among the Chin people. Chin Human Rights Organization, since 1995, has documented a range of human rights abuses by the military regime against the Chin people, including violations of religious freedom.
In December of 2004, Burma hosted a World Buddhists Summit amidst questions about its worthiness to organize such international meeting given the regime’s abysmal record of treating religious minorities and absolute disregard for fundamental human rights. Around the same time that this meeting took place in Rangoon, Burmese troops from Light Infantry Battalion (304) desecrated a Christian cross in Matupi of southern Chinland.
On January 3, 2005 a giant Christian cross on top of Mount Boi near Matupi town of Chin State was destroyed by Burmese troops on direct order of Colonel San Aung, one of the highest ranking military commanders in the region. The 50-foot tall concrete cross was erected by local Christians at the cost three and a half million Kyats. After destroying the cross, troops from Light Infantry Battalion (304) hoisted a Burmese flag as a sign of victory against Christianity in Chin State where more than 90 percent of the populations are Christians. There are reports the regime is making plans to construct a Buddhist pagoda on the site.
Christian religion has deep root in the Chin society. Since the first Chin conversion in the early 20th century following the arrival of American Baptist missionaries to the Chin Hills, Christianity gradually became accepted by a large majority of the Chin populations, who had practiced traditional animism for centuries. After a century since then, Christianity now is second culture for many Chin people.
Chin people today claim that more than 90 percent of Chins are Christians. Because of the overwhelming importance of Christianity among the Chins, the junta, which strongly identifies itself with Buddhism and has been preoccupied with building national unity has been trying to promote Buddhism over Christianity in Chin State with the belief that once the Chins are converted to Buddhism they can be easily subjugated.
For this reason, the regime has resorted to persecuting the Chins, a drastic action that involves arbitrarily removing Christian crosses erected by churches on hilltops throughout Chin State and openly directing and supporting coerced conversions of Christians into Buddhism.
Through the Hill Buddhist Mission, a program directly sponsored by the military regime, Buddhist monks have migrated to the Chin State. In every town and major villages in Chin State, the regime has established a Buddhist pagoda and station monks who are closely working with local army battalions. Buddhist pagodas are often built in places where Christian monuments such as crosses have formerly stood, and Christians have been either forced to donate money or forced to build the pagodas.
The regime is putting close scrutiny on preachers and evangelists, and in many instances has made effort to censor the contents of sermons delivered by Christian pastors and ministers. Citing the risk of security, authorities have either not permitted or arbitrarily set the number of people who could attend religious festivals and conferences. Moreover, the regime has still not permitted the printing and publication of Bibles, forcing Chin Christians to quietly bringing Bibles from abroad. In several instances, army authorities have confiscated Chin-language Bibles imported from India, and burnt or destroyed them.
Construction of new church buildings is prohibited and Christians must obtain prior authorization for even renovation of church buildings. These are all in stark contrast to the freedoms enjoyed by monks and Buddhists whose activities are openly supported, and encouraged by authorities. Several reports documented by CHRO show that army patrols have deliberately used Church compounds for shelter and camps, and have purposefully disturbed Church services by entering into churches during Sunday worship services.
The regime has also targeted Christian leaders by falsely implicating and accusing them of supporting anti-government groups, and has jailed and tortured many pastors. In remote villages and other rural areas in Chin State, army units on patrols have frequently mistreated, assaulted and tortured Christian pastors.
Coerced conversions of Christian families and children have also been reported in several parts of Chin State. Those who convert to Buddhism were exempted from forced labor and given special privileges. Local authorities have frequently recruited Christian children under the pretext of giving them formal education in cities. The last incidents happening in last year, five Christian children, between the ages of 7 and 18 years old from Matupi township of Chin State, who had been placed in monasteries in Rangoon, escaped confinement in Buddhist temples where they have been forced to follow Buddhist teachings.
Restriction on the use and teaching of Chin language:
Under the military regime, the teaching of Chin language in school is prohibited. In elementary schools, the permitted level of teaching Chin language is grade 2. Publications of textbooks in Chin are not provided for by the government and Christian churches are forced to bear the burden of supplying these texts. Chin school teachers of all levels of high school in Chin State are instructed to use Burmese as a medium of communication with their students. This measure has greatly diminished the level of understanding by the students in school and has served to downgrade student performance. Since the mid 1990s, the new curriculum is dominated by perspectives of Burmese or Burman culture and history, and students have complained about the lack of substance that reflects ethnic Chin perspectives in the subject. This has also been seen as an open attempt to assimilate the Chin youth into mainstream Burman culture.
Because of the limited number of government schools available for the Chin populations in Chin State, communities in rural villages have set up private schools to allow the children access to primary education. Unsupported by the government, villages have to seek their own means of running the school by contributing money and resources for the schools. However, since 1998, the regime has banned many self-supported private schools, depriving many children in rural communities of primary education. It should be noted that because these private schools are not under direct control of the government, they were able to offer alternative learning in Chin language. Restriction on the learning of Chin language has already taken its toll on the Chin youth. A high percentage of Chin teenagers are not able to read and write in their own language. This has been exacerbated by the fact that many Chin children look down on their own language and had instead chosen to use Burmese.
Burma has claimed that it has outlawed the practice of forced labor in 2001. However, independent investigations into this claim have found the pervasiveness and the continued use of forced labor in the Chin State. Local army battalions have routinely exacted forced labor from villagers and rural communities in building roads, army camps, development infrastructures and agricultural projects. In major townships of Chin state such as Hakha, Falam, Matupi and Thantlang, civilians are being routinely forced to work at government tea plantation farms. I am not going in detail about the forced labor situation, instead, I will refer you to the report we made a few months ago.
The report titled “THE FORCED LABOR PANDEMIC IN CHINLAND”
The Chin people are not represented in the central, state and local administration under the military regime. After the regime nullified the results of the 1990 elections, all Chin political parties were declared illegal. These political parties include the Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), the Mara Peoples Party (MPP) and Zomi National Congress (ZNC) Party. Subsequent crackdowns on political dissidents have forced 3 of the 13 Chin Members of Parliament to flee the country while 2 others were arrested and imprisoned for several years. Since early 1990s, the entire Chin populations have forced to live under virtual curfew. Dozens of civilians accused of supporting, Chin National Front, underground movement were arrested, tortured and imprisoned under the Unlawful Association Act. Civilians charged under this act are routinely tortured in interrogating chambers. According to a former a woman prisoner, she was humiliated, tortured and deprived of food and sleep for one week before she was arbitrarily sentenced to 3 years in prison.
I would like to highlight the particularly grave situations of Chin refugees. In the year since the military regime took over power in 1988, about 60,000 Chin refugees have fled to India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. At least 50,000 Chin refugees have lived in Mizoram State of northeast India. Neither the Government of India nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized them as refugees. As a result Chin refugees have frequently been forced back to Burma.
The need for protection and humanitarian assistance of Chin refugees in Malaysia is no less important. Over the past few years, more than 12,000 Chin refugees have also sought sanctuary in Malaysia. Like the Chin refugees in India, they are identified as ‘illegal’ and risk frequent arrest and deportation by Malaysian authorities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized only a very small fraction of Chin refugees.
The problems faced by Burma’s ethnic groups, including the Chin people are the direct consequence of military rule and its campaign of State organized terrorism directed primarily against the ethnic people who constitute more than 40% of the country’s population. Today, the Chin people and all the ethnic people are fighting for our very survival as a people. Our cultural, ethnic and religious identities are being rapidly eroded, and our very survival as a people is being threatened by the policies of ethnic cleansing relentlessly conducted by the military regime.
Due to militarization and rampant human rights violations committed by the Burmese military regime, the Chin people have suffer untold misery in their daily lives and the Burmese military regime has created the situation that is impossible for the Chin people to survive in their own land.
The sufferings of the ethnic nationalities could only be remedied through fundamental change in the political system, a change that would allow the ethnic people equitable representation in the decision-making process of the country. Time is passing and innocent lives are being lost. The international community needs to take effective and urgent actions on Burma before the problems develop into an irreversible stage.
I hope I have presented a brief overall human rights situation in Chinland, and I think it will be good to open the panel for discussion and questions and answers. I will be happy to answer any question you may have.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang
Chin Human Rights Organization
Hong Kong, November 7, 2005
Some of CHRO Activities Highlights in 2005
CHRO Activities in the Moth of January
January 8, 2005
The Chin Human Rights Organization has its annual Board of Directors meeting in Ottawa. The meeting made evaluation of the organization’s activities in the past year and discussed about its future plan.
January 14, 2005
CHRO director made a briefing “Update on Ethnic nationalities In Burma” at Canadian NGO Consultation Meeting on Burma held at Canadian Council for International Cooperation.
January 30, 2005
In response to the destruction of the largest Christian cross by Burmese army on January 3, the Chin Human Rights Organization called international day of prayer for persecuted Chin Christians in Burma on January 30. The action called by CHRO was overwhelmingly responded by Chin churches around the world and covered by several news agencies. Exiled Chins in India, Malaysia, Canada and USA staged demonstration in front of the Burmese embassies.
January 31, 2005
CHRO has a meeting with Washington DC-based Refugee International regarding protection of Chin and other refugees from Burma in Malaysia. The meeting decided that the RI and CHRO make assessment trip to Malaysia in March.
CHRO Activities in the Month of February
CHRO director and its legal consultant made a briefing about current political and human rights, special focus on religious persecutions against Chin Christian, in Burma to the United States Department of State, Burma Desk officer and official from the State Department Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
CHRO director Salai Bawi Lian Mang and the Organization’s legal consultant Salai Ngun Cung Lian had a meeting with World Relief, and Lutharan Immigration and Refugee Service, the two largest international faith-based organizations regarding the protection of Chin and other refugees from Burma in India and Malaysia.
February 28, 2005
CHRO published Rhododendron News Bulletin January-February 2005 issue.
CHRO activities in March
March 1-14, 2005
CHRO director Salai Bawi Lian Mang traveled to Malaysia and Thailand regarding the protection of Chin and other refugees from Burma in Malaysia.
March 7, 2005
CHRO director has a meeting with Malaysia NGO called SUARAM regarding protection of Chin and other refugees from Burma in Malaysia against police brutality and legal service for refugees detained by Malaysia police and immigration.
March 8, 2005
CHRO director has a meeting with Kuala Lumpur-based Jesus Refugee Service in order to work together in protection of vulnerable women and unaccompanied minor among Chin refugees from Burma in Malaysia.
CHRO director has a meeting with UNHCR Officials from Kuala Lumpur regarding protection of Chin and other refugees from Burma in Malaysia.
CHRO director has a meeting with Shan Women Action Network and Shan Human Rights Foundation. The meeting discussed about searching for a common ground to work together on protection of the rights of ethnic nationalities from Burma.
CHRO director has a meeting with Asia Indigenous People Pact, an umbrella organization of indigenous peoples in Asia.
CHRO Activities during its facts finding mission trip to Malaysia covering Marcy 1-14, 2005;
• March 1 meeting with Chin Refugee Committee
• March 2 Noon, Meeting with Falam Fellowship
• March 2 Evening Meeting with the Anti CRC group
• March 2 night, CHRO director was requested to serve as the meeting master for CRC General Meeting (CRC and anti CRC group)
• March 3 Morning: Meeting with Teddim Cimnuai Family & Malay Zomi Organization
• March 3, Evening Meeting with Matupi Fellowship & Mindat
• March 3, Night: Meeting with leaders of Chin Christian Fellowship
• March 4, 2005, Field trip to Daman Sarah Construction Site & Putrajaya Jungle camp with Refugee International and Chin Refugee Committee
• March 5, Meeting with Zotung Fellowship
• March 5, Evening; meeting with a group of Chin Interpreters
• March 6, meeting with a group of CRC interpreters
• March 7, meeting with SUARAM
• March 8, meeting with JESUS REFUGEE SERVICE JRS
• March 9, Meeting with UNHCR Kuala Lumpur
• March 9, Meeting with Hakha Fellowship (Haka Peng I Hoikomhnak)
• March 10, Meeting with Zophei Fellowship
• March 14, Wrap up and meeting with CRC
CHRO Activities in the Month of April
CHRO director Salai Bawi Lian made a presentation “Persecution of Chin Christian in the Union of Burma” at National Conference on Persecuted Churches at Columbia.
The CHRO takes the initiative to form Chin Women Organization in Malaysia and create the safe house for vulnerable Chin Refugee Women in Kuala Lumpur with the support of Primate Anglican, based in Toronto.
CHRO Activities in the Month of May
May 21 to 30
CHRO legal consultant Salai Ngun Cung Lian traveled to Korea. The purpose of CHRO visit to Korea and Japan was to advocate for Chin refugees in Korea and Japan and to inform appropriate government agencies, human rights organizations, and the UNHCR about human rights and political situation in Burma and in Chin state.
During the 10 days visit to Korea and Japan, CHRO representative had met with;
• Christian Volunteers for Refugees’ Human Rights in Seoul
• International Exchange, Jubilee Center
• The Beautiful Foundation
• UNHCR office Seoul
• Visiting the Seoul Immigration Detention Center
• Mass Meeting With Chin Community in Korea
• Visiting Tokyo Immigration Detention Center
• Visiting UNHCR Office
• Visiting the Refugee Assistance Headquarters (Tokyo)
• Meeting with Japanese News Paper (Japan Times Staff Writer)
• Meeting Chin Community Japan
• Visiting the Izumibashi Law Office (The Law Farm that Volunteer to Assist Asylum Seekers from Burma)
• Visiting the Japan Association for Refugee Office
• Public Meeting Jointly Organized by National League for Democracy (NLD –LA-Japan) and Association for United Nationalities (AUN) the Non Burman ethnic group in Japan.
CHRO Activities in the Month of June
The CHRO provided information about the situation of refugee and internally displaced person in Chin state and western Burma to the United States Committee for Refugee annual reports on refugee and internally displaced persons.
The CHRO is among over a hundred of human rights organizations worldwide who endorsed “Anti Warehousing Campaign” for the rights of refugee initiated by the United States Committee for Refugee.
CHRO official has a meeting with Foundation for The People of Burma based in San Francisco in the last week of June. The meeting agreed that the CHRO field office in Delhi provide technical assistance to the two month project of FPB in the improvement of health among refugees and the workshop on organization management.
CHRO published Rhododendron News Volume VIII. No. III. May-June 2005.
Key Activities of Chin Human Rights Organization in July 2005:
From the first week of July, the Chin Human Rights Organization’s (CHRO) team from its liaison office in New Delhi, has assisted research team from Foundation for the People of Burma (FPB) in doing research about improving the health of refugees from Burma. The research team set up their research center at the CHRO office and the CHRO team has provided technical assistance, interpretation and translation, interviewing the refugees, and data collections etc. The research team and the CHRO has organized workshop on improvement of health issue attended by 70 individuals from different organizations.
The CHRO team also has assisted workshop run by FPB team regarding organizational management skill among Burmese refugee communities in Delhi.
The CHRO published a report “Nowhere to Go: Chin Refugees in Malaysia”. The report covers situation of Chin refugees in Malaysia, the reason behind the flow of Chin refugees to Malaysia, the living conditions of the refugees in Malaysia etc.. with several photos and distributed among refugees councils of several countries, humanitarian agencies and rights groups.
Key Activities of CHRO in August 2005:
On August 12, the United Nations Secretary General’s special rapporteurs and representatives submitted human rights situation in Burma to the Secretary General. And the CHRO is glad that human rights situation in western Burma, and among the Chin people, which the CHRO had provided were included in the report.
The following are some of CHRO key activities in this month;
The CHRO director has a meeting with leaders from the Pan Kachin organization and Kachin Youth Organization in USA regarding cooperation in terms of protection of refugees and advocacy works.
CHRO team in New Delhi has assisted the three day long Chin State Constitution Seminar in Delhi organized by the Chin Forum.
The CHRO team in New Delhi has assisted health research team from FPB in the implementation of clean drinking water project among refugees from Burma in Delhi.
The CHRO Liaison office in-charge Salai Aung Cin Thang and his team had a meeting with International Committee of the Red Cross. The ICRC assured the CHRO team that they will keep in touch regarding the situation of human rights in Chin state and situation of refugees from Burma in India.
The CHRO team in Delhi has assisted several refugees in their settlement process to the third countries.
The CHRO team from the field (India-Burma border) has collected 8 items of the news.
On 20th August, the Japan Times, one of the biggest newspapers in Japan has covered the initiatives taken by CHRO in protection of Chin refugees and situation of Chin community in Japan in a featured article.
The CHRO published Rhododendron News Volume VIII. No. IV, July-August 2005.
Key Activities of CHRO in September 2005
The CHRO has submitted forced labor situation in western Burma and Chin state to International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Confederation of Free Trade Union, Expert Committee on Forced Labor in Burma. Forced labor is one of the major concerns among the Chin people in recent years. CHRO have documented about 50 different occasions where villagers were forced to work en-mass in road construction, building army camps and as porters in a period of one year.
The University of Philippines, Manila, Department of Social Science and Arts has interview with CHRO director regarding Burma human rights practice and it consequence in relations with ASEAN countries.
The CHRO team in New Delhi plays a major role in a seminar organized by Chin Forum regarding State Constitution. Representatives from the four main political parties among the Chin Chin National League for Democracy, Mara People Party, Zomi National Congress and the Chin National Front participated in the seminar.
CHRO team in Delhi attended a workshop on “Identification and protection of Women-at- Risk. The workshop was organized by UNHCR in New Delhi.
At the last week of September our main donor NED team visited to CHRO Liaison office.
The CHRO has assisted and arranged the visit of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Hong Kong to Mizoram state of India, to advocate the safety of Chin and other refugees from Burma in Mizoram state of India.
CHRO Key Activities in October 2005
The whole month, CHRO office in Delhi assisted Chin Forum for training on constitution and human rights and Ms. Chris Lewa (Consultant/ Researcher) for her assessment among Chin refugees. CHRO office in Delhi also had met various organization, groups and individuals.
The CHRO field office in Aizawl have collected and reported 8 item of news regarding human rights violation committed the Burmese military regime against the Chin people.
CHRO’s Women Rights Affairs in-charged Mai Dawt Chin has completed her training at Diplomacy Training run by NCUB at Thai-Burma border. Mai Dawt Chin went to South Africa for further training and internship.
CHRO published Rhododendron News Volume VIII. No. V. September-October 2005.
CHRO Key Activities in November 2005
CHRO Liaison Office led by Salai Aung Cin Thang and group collaborates with Foundation for People of Burma for water treatment project among Burmese refugees in New Delhi. The project will be finished in June 2006.
Every Saturday, CHRO Liaison office in Delhi provided article to Vang Lai Ni News Agency in Aizawl Mizoram on Burma issue with the aim of raising political awareness among Mizo community.
Van Hlei Thang, member of CHRO team from Delhi office set off to Thailand for training on Leadership Development and Management Skills Training.
CHRO liaison office provided monetary assistance to sick and poor needy refugees with the money received from Swiss individual sympathizers.
The CHRO field office in Aizawl has collected and reported 9 items of human rights news in November.
On November 5 and 6, CHRO director Salai Bawi Lian Mang made presentation titled “Persecution of Chin Christians in the Union of Burma” at the 6th Annual Hokong Christian Human Rights Conference.
November 7, 2005: CHRO director have a meeting with Asian Human Rights Commission based in Hong Kong.
On November 7, CHRO director Salai Bawi Lian Mang made presentation titled “Human Rights Situation in Chinland” at a joint venue organized by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (Hongkong) and Lawyers Groups of Amnesty International.
On November 8, The US Department of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor released international religious freedom report on Burma, and CHRO report was cited in the report.
On November 14, CHRO board of directors, Mr. Victor Biak Lian and the organization’s advisory board member Dr. Lian Sakhong have a meeting with UN Human Rights Special Rappoerteur Prof. Pinheiro.
November 30; Amnesty International-Hong Kong ENEWS covered presentation made by Salai Bawi Lian Mang on the 7th November.
CHRO Activities in December 2005
CHRO team from Delhi office attended seminar on problems and prospects of marginalized hill people. The team continues to involve in water treatment project with foundation for the people of Burma, and continue its relief works among Chin refugees. CHRO team in Delhi continues to provide article to VangLai Ni News Agency for Burma Democracy concern.
CHRO field office from Aizawl collected and reported 10 items of human rights news in this month.
Van Biak Thang
In the clear sky blink the stars
And bright is the moon up afar
Quiet is the night in cold zephyr
With only there the dancing crickets
Up the hilltop gather people
Wrapped up in shared blankets
Still their lips shiver as they warble
With the guitar and the cymbal
Those in the house by the fire
Busy as bees making plain teas
And sorting out chaang by each member
Before down wafts the pastor’s sweet voice
Once the Police Bell strikes tinkling
Each and all sings and prays in greeting
Traces of smiles and joys on all faces
Then, comes “Sweet December” wishes
The night is quiet and the sky still clear
The moon is bright and the wind still cold
Why no crickets seen in the dancing floor
And the stars stop twinkling, though not old.
Yet there live people on the mountain
But no guitars are meant to entertain
And their lips and limbs shiver in fear
Cos a shared blanket can’t the cold bear
No lights and fire in the quiet house
Busy as a bee is only the preying mouse
And “Where are the chaang?” children whisper
As they snuggle and ease their hunger
Once the Police Bell strikes tinkling
Family in tears and fear sobbing
As each one recalls and prays for those away
Then, the marching sound comes on its way
(Chaang, one of Chin traditional food, is a kind of sticky rice wrapped up in banana leaves