CHRO

Rhododendron News: Volume X. No. V. September-October 2007

Rhododendron News

Volume X. No. V. September-October 2007

Chin Human Rights Organization

www.chro.org

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

• Villager Shot To Death By Burmese Police In Thantlang

• TPDC Authorities Warn NLD Members In Chin State

• SPDC Heightened Security In Chin State

• Two Elected Chin Mps Arrested; Protest In Burma Continue Amid Brutal Crackdown

• SPDC Forced Chin People To Participate In A Rally In Support Of National Convention

• Unfair Charge Imposed On Civilian For Making Citizenship Card

• Burmese Junta Forces Villagers To Pay For Road Construction

• Villagers Forced To Cultivate Chili Farm For Army

• Unjustly Seized Cigarettes Worth For Kyat- One Lakh

• Local Villagers Have Been Exploited For Personal Profit

• Burmese Police Extorted Money From Travelers

• Confiscated Land For Buddhist Orphanage School

• Confiscated Village Head House For Army Camp

• SPDC Forced Villagers For Construction Of Army Camp

 

REFUGEE ISSUE:

• UNHCR, India Suspends Registration Of New Comers From Burma

PRESS RELEASE:

• CHRO Condemns The Violent Crackdown On Protestors In Burma

 

NEWS & EVENTS:

 

• The Biggest Chin Christian Organization Urges Worldwide Chin Community To Support Buddhist Monks In Prayer

• Chin Christians Join Buddhist Monks In Anti Junta Protest

• University Students And People Join Monks In Kalay

• British Parliamentarians Visited Chin Refugees On The India-Burma Border

 

INTERVIEW:

 

• “Reconciliation Through Dialogue” Is The Name Of The Game In Burma Politics (Interview With Harn Yawnghew)

 

 

 

VILLAGER SHOT TO DEATH BY BURMESE POLICE IN THANTLANG

October 12, 2007 – On suspicion that he was working for the Chin rebels, the Burmese police shot dead a local Mr. Bawi Ceu (31) near the entry gate of Thangtlang town in Chin state, Burma at 8 p.m. on October 3.

The victim Bawi Ceu from Hriphi village in Thangtlang Township put up in the house of U Tin Aung in Thangtlang town for a few days. However, he didn’t report his presence to the Quart Council office.

A police team on patrol duty shot Bawi Ceu when he tried to run away to avoid a penalty for failing to report his presence in Thangtlang, a local in Thangtlang said.

“Of course, I know him very well. He is from Hriphi village. He was shot dead near the signboard that says “welcome” to visitors, erected at the entrance of Thangtlang town”, said a local.

The local authorities spread the falsehood that Bawi Ceu was gunned down because the Chin National Army asked him to buy liquor for them.

“What they said relating to the cold blooded murder is totally distorted. They spread the misinformation to avoid blame. Moreover, there is no liquor available in Thangtlang,” the spokesperson of the Chin Nation Front said.

In Thangtlang Township, the selling and trafficking of liquor has been prohibited by local authorities since 2005. The ban on liquor by local authorities was welcomed by locals, church leaders and the medical fraternity in Thangtlang.

 

TPDC AUTHORITIES WARN NLD MEMBERS IN CHIN STATE

September 6, 2007 – Five members of the National League of Democracy (NLD), who spearheaded a rare but peaceful demonstration in Chin state, Burma on September 4, were summoned and questioned by the Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) authorities in capital Hakha, yesterday.

Hakha’s TPDC President, U Khin Maung Win, Town’s Justice, U Min Wei and Chin state’s Deputy Magistrate, U Thang Cung told the five NLD members to abide by article 2/88, the prevalent law in Burma, which prohibits gathering of more than five people, said U Van Lian, president of NLD in Hakha.

“We were told that we cannot assemble more than 50 people when NLD holds a meeting. We were asked to inform and take permission from them (the local authorities) if we plan to hold demonstrations in the future” U Van Lian told Khonumthung News.

The sermon on demonstrations by the TPDC to NLD members went on for about an hour in the TPDC office.

On September 4, about 15 people including NLD members staged a peaceful march to the Township Peace and development Council (TPDC) office in Hakha, demanding a roll back in the prices of petroleum products and the consequent increase in prices of essential commodities. They also demanded a halt to the municipalities collecting tax from people and government employees so as to enjoy the same privileges as employees did in mainland Burma.

The protest on Tuesday was the first time that the people held a peaceful rally in Chin state after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising across cities in Burma

SPDC HEIGHTENED SECURITY IN CHIN STATE

September 18, 2007 – The Burmese military junta is not taking chances and in Hakha, capital of Chin state, Burma, it has kept a hawk’s eye on monks and the people. It has deployed security forces around a monastery and other key areas.

“There is no demonstration here like the ones staged by monks in Rangoon and other cities of Burma but the junta has deployed its militia in main areas of Hakha including the monastery”, said a source inHakha.

Military authorities in Hakha have stationed members of block councils, USDA and the police near the monastery with two senior Buddhist monks and five monks sent by the religion ministry.

Moreover, one person from each household in Hakha is forced to do security duty on rotation at block council offices.

“I don’t think, there will be a demonstration by monks because only a few monks are residing in the monastery in Hakha,” a source said.

The situation in other towns in Chin state could not be ascertained because of poor communication service.

Meanwhile, members of National league for Democracy (NLD) in Kalay town, Sagaing division, are being monitored by Burmese military intelligence.

“So far, there is no security personnel deployed near monasteries in Kalay town. However, they (MI) keep watching U Ba Min, secretary of NLD and me” said U Do Thawnga, Member of Parliament from Kalay town.

Today, thousands of monks held peaceful rallies against the junta in Rangoon, Sittwe, Pegu, Kyaukpadaug, Aunglan, Chauk and Pakoku cities in Burma.

Security personnel fired tear gas to disperse the monks and locals in Sittwe, capital of Arakan state, western Burma. Some monks were arrested.

TWO ELECTED CHIN MPS ARRESTED; PROTEST IN BURMA CONTINUE AMID BRUTAL CRACKDOWN

 

27 September, 2007: Two Chin prominent politicians and elected MPs Honorable Pu, Cin Sian Thang of Zomi National Congress (ZNC) and Honorable Pu Thawng Kho Thang of United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD) were arrested in a raid before dawn at their houses by the Burmese authorities in Rangoon.

 

They were said to have been taken away for what the authorities described as “questioning for a while” together with other NLD members over their roles in the ongoing anti-regime protest. As of today, it is not yet known what had happened to them.

 

According to report from Peter and John two Chin students who have been actively participating in the demonstration along with Hon. Pu Cin Sian Thang and other Chin activist told the Chinland Guardian that “Pu Cin Sian Thang was not there when we went to meet with him at a teashop”. And we learned later on that he was arrested at an early morning raid at his residence.

 

“Pu Cin Sian Thang was the one who’s always cheering us up with his smiling face even in a very dangerous situation, and it was disheartening for us to learn that he is arrested again” said Peter.

 

An elected MP during general elections in 1990, Cin Sian Thang is chairman of Zomi National Congress and a member of Committee Representing People’s Parliament (CRPP). Thawng Kho Thang is a member of the United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD).

 

The police confiscated documents in Cin Sian Thang’s room and took him to the Aungtarpay interrogation centre in Kyaikkasan, Rangoon according to the Khonumthung News today.

 

Despite the Junta using force to crackdown on the pro-democracy demonstration in Rangoon , the protest continues in Burma according to Chinland Guardian source.

 

“I went to Sule Pagoda but there was nothing happening, no demonstration there as there were many riot police and Burmese soldiers stationing around the pagoda. At around one thirty in the afternoon, I went to Anawratha street , and there some Buddhist monks and the civilians marching and I joined with them. Then, suddenly the riot police and the soldiers come out and I heard gunshots, the riot police started beating us with their batons. The demonstrators disperse and we run for our lives”. Many people were arrested and loaded to nearby trucks by the riot polices” Peter recounted about his experience today in Rangoon.

 

Peter himself was beaten up by the riot police with their batons. His pal John was the one who got a swollen face that the riot police had badly beaten him up in his face.

 

In spite of their injures from the riot police and a life and death situation demonstrating against the SPDC, Peter and John thanks Chin community that they survive bullets and batons because of the prayers from the international Chin community.

 

In Magwe College , Chin Students were forced to return home by the college authorities. But till yesterday the students refuse to obey the order.

 

According to reports from Chin student leaders in Rangoon , final year students from Chin State ’s Mindat, Kanpetlet and Matupi area who are in Magwe college were forced to go home by the college authority. And when the students refuse the order saying that they do not have money to buy ticket home, the college authority arrange two buses to transport the students home for free. As of yesterday, the students refuse the order.

 

At a nearby Kalay University where more than 90% of the students are Chin, the anti junta protest has been going on for the past few days. Chinland guardian

 

SPDC FORCED CHIN PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE IN A RALLY IN SUPPORT OF NATIONAL CONVENTION

October 9, 2007 – A rally seeking to garner support, albeit by force, on the outcome of the National Convention by the Burmese military junta, was held in Chin state, Burma today. The rally which has ceremonial overtones was cancelled yesterday due to heavy downpour.

Over 20,000 people from different areas in Chin state were forced to attend the rally held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (Burma standard time) in ‘Vumtu Maung’ play stadium in Hakha, capital of Chin state.

“Many people had no option but to involve themselves in the rally as it was mandatory. However, the people were in no mood to do so,” said a Hakha local.

“The rally attendees were forced to shout slogans supporting the outcome of the NC and were made to describe the Burmese media and opposition groups in exile as destructive elements who had encouraged the recent protests in Burma,” he added.

Major General Tar Aye, Commander of the Northwestern Command in Burma and Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs Ministry of Burma, Brigadier Thura Aung Ko, attended the mass rally in Chin state, sources from Hakha said.

Government employees, junta backed organizations, like the USDA and fire brigade from Thangtlang, Falam, Tedim, Matupi and Paletwa Townships also participated in the mass meeting in Hakha.

Meanwhile, people from rural areas in Kalay, Sagaing division, Northwestern Burma who failed to attend the procession in Kalay to support the NC yesterday, were fined Kyat 5,000 (Burma currency) per household by the local authorities.

The rallies to support the outcome of the NC are being organized by the military regime in different places in Burma after the violent crack down on anti-government demonstrators across Burma which left over 200 dead while thousands of monks and protesters were arrested.

The National Convention which began in 1993 as a part of the regimes so called seven-step road map to ‘disciplined democracy’ was wrapped up on September 3, 2007.

 

UNFAIR CHARGE IMPOSED ON CIVILIAN FOR MAKING CITIZENSHIP CARD

 

5 September 2007

 

Chin people living in Tonzang Township, northern Chin state have been unfairly charged excessive money for making citizenship card, beginning in the first week of August 2007, a local man reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

A team of implementing body was set up by the chief officer of Tonzang’s immigration department with his subordinate bureaucrats. Any body reaching 18 year of age has been directed to compulsorily make citizenship card, with unfair charge of Kyat-5000/-per individual.

 

A family also has to pay Kyat-10000/- for registration of family member. Many people have no money for making citizenship card. But they are compelled to give their name, age, parent’s name and date of birth to the authorities. And they had been directed to collect their citizenship card at the Tonzang town’s immigration office, in September 2007 without fail with Kyat-5000/-.

 

Some villagers denied as they have not yet completed 18 year, in order to be free from such unfair charge. It had been also learnt that most of the people in this region are farmers. So, they have much difficulty to get the necessary money for making citizenship card.

 

 

BURMESE JUNTA FORCES VILLAGERS TO PAY FOR ROAD CONSTRUCTION

 

08 September 2007

 

Residents of Thantlang Township and Hakha, the capital of Chin state area were forced to pay money for road construction between Hakha and Mandaw in the last week of July 2007, a source reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

Brigadier Hung Nyian, the chairman of Chin State Peace and Development Council and Chief of Military Tactical (1) for Chin state, directed the two township chairmen of Hakha and Thantlang (TPDC) to raise fund for Hakha- Mandaw’s car road construction by collecting money from the civilian in their respective region. The construction of (60) miles distance car road up to Mandaw village of Kanhkaw township, in Sagaing division from Hakha, is interlocked with the objective that people in Hakha, Thantlang region would able to easily import rice, oil and vegetables from this region.

 

The two township chairmen of Thanlang and Hakha had consigned the village councils in the whole region for the collection of money. They had directed all village heads to finish the collection of money, latest by the end week of August 2007. The amount of money to be collected has arranged from Kyat 3000/- per household for people in Hakha region and Kyat 5000/-per household for people in Thantlang region.

 

The road construction was started in September 2006. A bulldozer- J.C.B was bought with donated fund. From Hakha side, 20 miles distance has completed. For the remaining (40) miles, the Burmese junta has planned to finish in 2007, depending mainly on the civilian strength. As a result of bad harvest, people are facing difficulty for livelihood. And paying 3000/- to 5000/- Kyat is a great burden for the Chin people, a local person said.

 

 

VILLAGERS FORCED TO CULTIVATE CHILI FARM FOR ARMY

 

05 October 2007

 

A Burmese army, Lieutenant Tein That Oo from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB-269) (base in Tedim town) asked Darkhai villagers to make a chili farm for the army, a local villager reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

The Burmese soldiers stationed in Darkhai army camp deployed (10) villagers daily alternately from 14 to 21 July 2007, for cultivating a chili farm. Firstly the villagers had to pluck the chili seeds from village’s farm and they had to implant in the army’s (2) acres farm. The village head himself was assigned to supervise the whole work.

 

The order of making the army chili farm was a direct order came from Brigadier Hung Nyen, who is the military tactical (1) commander for Chin state. So, the camp commander had to use all possible means to implement the job. Other than this, the junta has assigned Darkhai villagers to make another (2) acres chili farm without any payment for their labor.

 

It was also reported that Lieutenant Tein That Oo used to put at the village head’s house with his (8) soldiers without stationing in the army camp. He used to go out the village weekly for patrolling. At these times, he had taken six villagers for porter and he in advance used to inform the next village that he would arrive to be to ready for porter.

 

 

UNJUSTLY SEIZED CIGARETTES WORTH FOR KYAT- ONE LAKH

 

07 October 2007

 

Second Lieutenant- Myo Ko Ko Zaw, based in Rih Sub-town, northern Chin State, from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB- 228) accompanied by (8) soldiers, seized a dozen of cigarette box from two traders going to Mizoram, India with (16) horses, on July 07, 2007, an eye witness reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

Burmese soldiers had accused them of doing illegal business without permission from the authorities. Hence, they had taken them along with their goods and other two persons of the horse owners as well, to Haimual village from Thinglay village where they were got arrested. Although the victims begged them with money, the army officer refused it, saying that the money was very less, said an eyewitness.

 

“In the previous month, the Burmese soldiers seized 92- Zarda box shipped with (70) horses from Tedim. But neither the horses nor goods have ever been returned to the owner till yet. So, the same thing can happen to the victims as well” an eye witness person claimed.

 

The Burmese army officer Myo Ko Ko Zaw and his men are now stationing at Zimpi village of Tedim township on temporarily base. Their motive is to loot more goods and live-stocks from traders, doing business along Indo-Burma zone.

 

 

 

LOCAL VILLAGERS HAVE BEEN EXPLOITED FOR PERSONAL PROFIT

 

09 October 2007

 

Local village men in Falam Township, who have skills in wood-sawing, are exploited by Lt. Colonel Aung Hme, commander of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB- 268), for his personnel profit, since the beginning of June, 2007, an anonymous person reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

Lt. Colonel Aung Hme, had deployed villagers in the region who are expert sawyer and professional in sawing. He have called many sawyers from the region and deployed them to saw timber, nearby Ram Hlo village which is situated in the southern part of Falam town. And the produced planks are sold with Kyat 3000/- per 1 cubic. The workers are paid from the money, incoming from selling the planks. But their payment is only one-fourth compare to their real strength.

 

A local person said that the authorities have issued an order not to cut trees, but contrarily they themselves cut all precious and hard woods and firewood as they like”. It is estimated that the junta have already cut a tree worth 1000 cubic in Falam Township alone. If they continue to do like this, no long, hard-woods and firewood will be wiped out from Chin state after some years.

 

 

BURMESE POLICE EXTORTED MONEY FROM TRAVELERS

 

10 October 2007

 

A Burmese policemen stationed at Rih gate No. 2, based in Rih sub- town , northern Chin state are reported to unjustly extort money from civilian and traders, coming from Kalay areas according the encountered victim’s report to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

Travelers and traders coming from Kalay Myot are now strictly checked by guards of Rih Gate. It has been reported that operation of intensive check is done to every body. Without relief, all the travelers both with national identity card and with no card are fined for Kyat 1000/, claiming that they all have crossed the mother land unlawfully. Those who have no money also could not free from the fine, as their national identity card would be seized unless they pay the money being asked.

 

Most of the travelers and victims are from Tedim Township, who are depending their livelihood on foods and goods that they could buy in Mizoram, India. It is estimated that around 50-60 persons are passing the gate on daily basis.

 

 

CONFISCATED LAND FOR BUDDHIST ORPHANAGE SCHOOL

 

12 October 2007

 

A (12) acres wide farmland owned by Pu Khual Zul Thang was unlawfully confiscated by a Buddhist Orphanage School headmaster, in Cuntungpin Village of Kalay Township, a regional person reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

Headmaster Nying Aung Mo had seized the farmland of Pu Khual Za Thang with the intention to raise fund for his Orphanage School. The land is very productive and good for cultivation. So, Nying Aung Mo has been tempted for conspiracy. Pu Khual Zul Thang has not able to fight the headmaster for justice to get back his land. Because the headmaster has influence over the authorities while the victim has no close with the authorities.

 

The victim had appealed to Senior General Than Shwe, the chairman of State Peace and Development Council for the return of his possession according to the law of the land, in his last ditch attempt. However, his appeal is answer till to day. Pu Khual Zul Thang’s farm was annexed in 2005. The marketing price of the land is estimated to worth at least (85-Lakh) Kyat

 

 

CONFISCATED VILLAGE HEAD HOUSE FOR ARMY CAMP

 

12 October 2007

A Burmese soldier, Captain Tat Way Ngin, based in Sin Oo Wah village, Palatwah Township, southern Chin state, from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB-233) confiscated U Ko Aung’s house to replace army camp on the spot, on 29 July 2007, an anonymous villager reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

The Burmese junta established the army camp in Sin Oo Wah village in November 2006 after having certain ground investigation of the location. However, Captain Tat Way Ngin, stating the camp was not located in a strategic position for security. So, he unjustly confiscated the house of the Sin Oo Wah village’s head, saying that the land spot is most suitable for army camp.

 

U Ko Aung did not dare to speak up anything for fear of bitter consequences. As they have no home after that, his family had to stay in a bamboo-tent in the banana farm near by the village. Not only that the Burmese soldiers also killed his breeding chickens and big and consumed all without leaving anything for his family.

 

U Ko Aung and his family depend their livelihood on cultivation. He has three children. All his possessions such as house, pots, and plates were also annexed by the Burmese soldiers without paying a penny for compensation.

 

 

SPDC FORCED VILLAGERS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF ARMY CAMP

 

15 October2007

 

 

The Burmese soldier, sergeant Ye Win Aung, based in Yiyua Sub-town, southern Chin state, from Light Infantry Battalion ( LIB-304), directed nearby villagers to provide 60 persons and (600) pieces of bamboo-wood for repairing the army camp, an anonymous person reported to Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

The three villages called to repair the Yiyua army camp by Sergeant Ye Win Aung are Lawngthantlang village, Sawtti village and Zuaman village. Each of the three villages had to send 20 persons to the army camp duly on 05, July 2007. The villagers had to work for two days and assigned them to get (600) pieces of bamboo-wood from a (4) miles distance place from the army camp.

 

To get (600) pieces of bamboo-wood is very difficult as Yiyua areas are covered with forest. But, the villagers had to get it to the camp within two days as an order. The villagers had also carried the wood to the army camp. Others nearby villagers will also to call for repairing the army camp, after getting enough bamboo wood by the three villagers. In addition to no payment for labor charge, the villagers have to carry their own rations and tools in the camp, a local person said.

 

 

 

REFUGEE ISSUE:

 

UNHCR, INDIA SUSPENDS REGISTRATION OF NEW COMERS FROM BURMA

September 18, 2007 – The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi, India yesterday announced the indefinite suspension of registration for new comers from Burma. The decision takes affect from today.

The reason for the suspension has to do with the increasing number of new comers from Burma and the backlog which needs to be cleared by the UNHCR office in New Delhi. This is delaying the registration of Burmese people who seek refugee status.

The UNHCR notification said it would try to clear the backlog before the end of November, 2007.

However, the UNHCR office did not mention the date of reopening registrations for newly arrived people from Burma.

The inefficiency of staff members in the office has held up the process of interviewing and decision making for granting refugee status, said Margarita Vargav, legal officer of the UNHCR office in New Delhi, at an open house meeting for Burmese refugees held in August.

“I agree with the decision of the UNHCR as there are a lot of cases still remaining to be dealt with. Some people have been waiting for two to three years,” said Jeremiah Lishang Chuiha, president of the Chin Refugees Committee (CRC) in New Delhi.

“The UNHCR office also assured intervention or necessary action in case of deportation of Burmese by Indian authorities, he added.

There are 270 pending cases and 35 appeal cases locked in files in the UNHCR in New Delhi, CRC said. Moreover, over 100 minor cases (less than the age of 18) are registered in the UNHCR office.

There are over 2,000 refugees, majority from Chin state, Burma living in New Delhi and among them, 1800 have been granted refugee status by the UNHCR office, according to Other Media (Refugee Desk) in India. – Khonumthung.

 

PRESS RELEASE:

CHRO CONDEMNS THE VIOLENT CRACKDOWN ON PROTESTORS IN BURMA

28 September 2007

The Chin Human Rights Organizations denounces the SPDC’s recent crackdowns and killings of peaceful protestors and religious leaders in Burma. CHRO also sends messages of support and encouragement to all the brave and courageous men and women of Burma who are currently rising up against the military regime. In support of the protestors, CHRO calls on the SPDC to lay down their arms, release the innocently imprisoned, and allow all those in Burma to live in peace and with dignity.

Over the past several weeks, protests have gained momentum throughout Burma. Spurred by the sudden and arbitrary rise in fuel prices on 19 August 2007, thousands of monks and religious leaders took to the streets to engage in peaceful marches. Following the lead of the monks, protests have spread throughout the country. In Chinland and in other parts of Burma, the Chin people have joined calls for democracy and peaceful change in Burma.

Unfortunately, the peaceful demands of the monks and people have been met with unrestrained violence and aggression by the military regime. Starting two days ago, the regime have begun raiding monasteries, arresting and beating monks, shooting unarmed protestors, and committing extensive human rights abuses.

As a result of the regime’s reaction to the protests, many are believed to be dead and many more injured or imprisoned. Yesterday two elected Chin MPs, Pu Cin Sian Thang of the Zomi National Congress and Pu Thawng Kho Thang of the United Nationalities League for Democracy, were caught up in the raids when they were taken from their homes and put under arrest. There is no way to know the number of people who have become victims of the regime’s retaliation.

For decades the people of Burma have suffered brutal oppression, human rights violations, and severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms at the hands of the military regime. For too long the people of Burma have lived under severe oppression and military rule. Let this be the time for change in Burma!

To the people inside Burma, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Your struggles are not in vain- the world is watching.

To the SPDC and the Generals of Burma:

• Lay down your arms and let the voices of the people of Burma to be heard without obstruction

• Release all those innocently imprisoned, including the elected democratic leaders of Burma, Buddhist monks and religious leaders, and all others wrongly detained

• Engage in constructive dialogue with opposition parties, ethnic leaders, and others

• Allow the people of Burma to live with full and complete access to freedom, prosperity, and peace

To the International Community:

• Write or call your government officials and representatives and urge them to speak out against the military regime of Burma

• Show support for the protestors in Burma by joining or organizing protests in your area against the military regime of Burma

To ASEAN nations, China, and India:

• Burma is a threat to regional peace. Use your influence to affect positive change in the Burma

• Stop supporting the military regime through investments and trade

• Protect and promote the rights of refugees coming from Burma

For More Information Please Contact:

In Thailand: Amy Alexander, CHRO Regional Advocacy Officer, at Tel: 66-85-2302-609, email: [email protected]omThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

In N. America: Salai Bawi Lian, CHRO Director, at Tel: 510-332-0983, email: [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

NEWS & EVENTS:

 

THE BIGGEST CHIN CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATION URGES WORLDWIDE CHIN COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT BUDDHIST MONKS IN PRAYER

 

 

Chinland Guardian

Ottawa, Canada

21 September, 2007

 

The Chin Baptist Fellowship of America (CBFA) the biggest Chin Christian organization outside of the country make an announcement today from Washington DC urging worldwide Chin Christians community to hold prayer service in support of Burmese Buddhist monks who have been protesting in various town of Burma against the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) since August.

 

The Executive Minister of the CBFA Rev. Dr. C. Duh Kam in the statement urged all Chin Christians around the world to observe September 23, 2007 for the day of prayer for positive change in Burma.

 

“Poverty and humanitarian crisis in our homeland is due to political chaos and human rights abuse by the military government. There are various groups working by various means for positive change in Burma . Now is the time for us to raise our voice in solidarity with our fellow countrymen who have suffered untold poverty due to the SPDC’s mismanagement” said the statement.

 

“This is a very encouraging voice because most Chin listen when the Pastors speak up, the CBFA is doing the right thing in this crucial time” said Victor Sang of Chin Human Rights Organization reflecting the influence of Chin Christians pastors and religious leaders among predominantly Christian Chin society.

 

“Only God knows what we are doing is right or wrong. But the voices of the monks are the voices of the people. If you look at the history of Burma , Buddhist monks play important role since king Anawratha who built the first Burmese kingdom” said Rev. Dr. C. Duh Kam.

 

Chin Baptist Fellowship of America (www.cbfamerica. org) is composed of several Chin churches in USA and Canada. CBFA has good connections with Chin Churches from Europe , Australia and Asia , and is the biggest Chin Christian organization outside of the country. Thousand of Chins come to North America as refugees due to human rights violations in their homeland. And religious persecution is one of the major concerns among predominantly Christian Chins.

 

CHIN CHRISTIANS JOIN BUDDHIST MONKS IN ANTI JUNTA PROTEST

 

 

Chinland Guardian

24 September 2007

Ottawa, Canada

 

As the anti junta protest led by Buddhist monks in Burma is spreading out like a wild fire in the whole country, Chin Christians around the world joined the protesters by observing September 23 as a day of prayer for positive change in Burma .

 

On September 21, the Chin Baptist Fellowship of America (CBFA) the biggest Chin Christian organization outside of the country released a statement calling for all Chin Christians around the world to observe September 23, as a day of prayer for change in Burma .

 

“There are various groups and organizations working by various means to restore democracy and human rights in Burma . But this is the time for us to raise our voices in supports of our fellow citizen in Burma ” said one of the senior pastors of CBFA in the statement.

 

The Chin National Council (CNC) an umbrella Chin political organization composed with four Chin political parties and several civil society organizations including Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) and Women League of Chinland (WLC) also endorse the protest led by Buddhist monks against State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and urged all Chins around the world to join in.

 

The calls was well responded both inside and outside of the country.

 

According to Pastor M in Rangoon , who prefers to remain anonymous, various Chin Churches regardless of different denomination responded the calls for positive change in the country and held prayer service. Hundreds of Chin students and youngsters walked along with the Buddhist monks in the street of Rangoon in supports of the protest.

 

“In fact we have been praying all the time for change in the country. But this time, it is something different because the protest is led by the Buddhist monks and the (army) Generals seems to be very reluctant or confuse to take actions against the monks” said the pastor.

 

“There is no time for just sitting idle and watch the Burmese Buddhist monks protesting against the Burmese Generals. This is not just about the Burmese Buddhist monks and the Burmese Generals. This is concern with all citizen of the union of Burma no matter what ethnic or religious background you belongs to. Show your solidarity, support and join in when the people are calling for change” said Victor Biak Lian of Chin Human Rights Organization.

 

Back in the capital of Chin state town of Haka , about a hundred locals held anti junta protest after the SPDC announces gas price hike. But the authority warned and closely watched the protesters making them insecure. However, in churches across Chin state, the people sing songs for peace, and pray for change.

 

The Chin Christians around the world are praying for a new government to emerge in Burma , the government that will not persecute them for their ethnic, religious background and political affiliation.

 

UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND PEOPLE JOIN MONKS IN KALAY

September 24, 2007. – Thousands of students from Kalay University and locals joined the peaceful demonstration by monks in Kalay town, Sagaing Division, Burma today.

At 9 a.m. around 600 monks marched along Bogyoke Road and chanted prayers to protest against the junta. They reached Payakyi pagoda in Kalay at around 11 a.m.

At around 1 p.m. students from Kalay University in four trucks and 50 motorcycles arrived at the Payakyi pagoda to join the monks. After which the demonstration was held for the second time.

“Students in four trucks and 50 motorcycles came to Payakyi. Monks, students and locals started to march from Kalay to Tahan along Bogyoke road. Along the road the onlookers offered some refreshments to the demonstrators,” a local from Kalay said.

The protesters in Kalay shouted slogans demanding a roll back of fuel and commodities prices, the release of political prisoners and national reconciliation in Burma.

There was no interference by the military authorities.

The demonstration was concluded at around 3 p.m. The demonstrators vowed to continue the protest tomorrow.

 

 

BRITISH PARLIAMENTARIANS VISITED CHIN REFUGEES ON THE INDIA-BURMA BORDER

 

 

Van Biak Thang

Chinland Guardian

26 September, 2007

 

London, UK: Burma has been isolated from the outside world by the military regime for decades and so has further been Chin State within the country. Burma’s military dictatorship is internationally condemned and ill-famed for its brutality in practicing human rights abuses against its own peoples. Yet, little is exposed and known about the Chin people and their long sufferings from Burma’s junta. Many Chin people fled their homeland to various countries near and far.

 

Two British Parliamentarians with a delegation from Christians Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and HART (Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust) in cooperation with Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) made an historic visit to Chin refugees on the India-Burma border last week. The visit organised by CSW was the first time a member of the British House of Commons has made to the Chin people and the third time for Baroness Cox and CSW.

 

John Bercow MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma, and Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the House of Lords and CEO of HART, with a delegation from CSW UK, CSW Australia and HART returned with reports of gross human rights violations inflicted on the Chin people by the military regime.

 

The delegation heard first-hand accounts of horrific forms of torture, conditions in prison camps, forced labour, rape, religious persecution, forced marriage and cultural genocide. According to one witness, prisoners in Chin State face even more severe torture and living conditions than in other prisons because it is a more isolated part of the country. He described how prisoners are shackled and chained, yoked like oxen and forced to plough fields and if they attempt to escape they are placed on a fire to burn, stabbed with knives, and then forced into a tub of salt water.

 

One witness told the delegation how he had been arrested and hung upside down for an entire night, with soldiers beating him and banging his body against a pillar continuously. Another man was beaten so badly he is now paralysed. Numerous further testimonies of torture, forced labour and sexual violence are documented in CSW’s report on the visit, which is released today.

 

Commenting on the visit, John Bercow said: “The military dictatorship in Burma is notorious for its savage human rights abuses. The desperate suffering of the ethnic nationals in eastern Burma has been extensively catalogued, but this compelling report draws on extensive eye-witness accounts to highlight just how grievously the Chin people are suffering at the hands of Burma’s sadistic tyrants. These proud but vulnerable people need help now. This report is a call to the international community to speak with one voice and demand that the dictatorship in Burma stop terrorising its people.”

 

Baroness Cox added: “It is time to turn rhetoric into action. The UN Security Council must set out specific objectives to be met by the regime, with clear timelines and benchmarks. If the regime fails to meet such goals, including the release of political prisoners by a specific date, it should face increased sanctions. Burma’s neighbours, particularly India, China and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), must use their influence with the regime to bring an end to the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the military. In particular, India should re-examine its conscience and stop providing arms and military training to the regime. India should also reconsider its economic investments in Burma, until a meaningful transition to democracy is underway. The suffering of the people of Burma has gone on too long with too little action.”

 

Benedict Rogers, Advocacy Officer for South Asia at CSW, who organised the visit and authored the report, said: “The visit and subsequent report come at a time when the world’s attention is once again on Burma. The country is witnessing the biggest protest movement against the regime in a decade. Over 200 people have been arrested, yet Buddhist monks are continuing to march in the streets. CSW is delighted that the United Nations Security Council held an informal meeting last week to discuss the escalating crisis. We hope that the report on our recent visit will remind the international community of the ongoing violations of human rights which must also be addressed and that this visit will help raise awareness about the plight of the Chin people who have long been forgotten.”

 

Christians Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organisation specialising in religious freedom, has made previous visits to the Chin people on the India-Burma border in 2004 and 2006 in cooperation with Chin Human Rights Organization, and also organised earlier this year a delegation of Chin human rights activists to visit London, Brussels, Berlin and Washington, DC to raise international awareness.

 

 

“RECONCILIATION THROUGH DIALOGUE”

IS THE NAME OF THE GAME IN BURMA POLITICS

 

Interview With Harn Yawnghew

 

 

Chinland Guardian

October 16, 2007

Ottawa

 

While the whole world is condemning the Junta after it’s brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators in Burma , Chinland Guardian has a chance to interview Harn Yawnghwe one of the most capable strategists and influential leaders among Burma ‘s pro-democracy movement. Harn Yawnghwe is director of National Reconciliation Program and Brussels based Euro-Burma Office. He is senior advisor to Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) the council that represent 7 non-Burman ethnic states. Harn Yawnghwe is the son of Sao Shwe Thaike the last prince of Yawnghwe and the first president of the Republic of Union of Burma

 

Chinland Guardian: It is a pity to watch the people movement crushed by the SPDC. Is there any option left for positive change in Burma soon?

 

Harn Yawnghwe: It depends on how you define positive change. If you mean ‘an immediate regime change’ either by a people’s uprising, a military coup d’etat, intervention by UN or US forces; or the SPDC willingly handing over power to DASSK, the answer is definitely ‘No’. None of these will happen soon if ever. But if you define positive change as an opportunity to change the power equation in Burma and bring about a political solution, the answer is a qualified ‘Yes’. I say qualified because it will depend on how skillful we are and how willing we are to take risks. Most people expect that because of international pressure, the SPDC will hand over power. They are not, however, willing to risk engaging with the SPDC in case it is a trick or in case the SPDC wins. If we engage the SPDC in a dialogue and can get the international pressure to continue, we could maybe see a real dialogue take place between DASSK and the SPDC. The international community has never been this united in wanting to see change in Burma. We have to provide the way to make that change happen.

 

Chinland Guardian: During the monk led demonstration, one of the main demands included “National Reconciliation” . Why is that? What kind of “National Reconciliation” is needed in Burma?

 

Harn Yawnghwe: The monks asked for ‘National Reconciliation’ because they recognized that political problems are at the root of the economic problems. They know that toppling the regime is not the answer. They want a peaceful transition. They recognized that the Union of Burma is a very divided nation – the military versus civilians; the rich versus the poor; Buddhists versus Muslims and Christians; Burmans versus ethnic nationalities; ethnic nationalities versus minorities; ceasefire groups versus non-ceasefire groups; those who want democracy first versus those who want economic development first; those who want an immediate regime change versus those who want a transition; those who want sanctions versus who want engagement; etc. Religious people are supposed to be peacemakers, so the monks asked ‘national reconciliation’ as a first step to heal the deep wounds. Over the last 60 years, we have been divided and sub-divided until today we can say that society in Burma has been fragmented or atomized. Only the military has been left as an institution of state. If we want democracy, we have to re-build a cohesive society. That means reconciling differences through dialogue, understanding and accepting that diversity in the nation is an asset rather than a weakness. We need unity but not uniformity. A Chin can never be the same as a Shan and a Shan can never be the same as a Burman. But we can all be united by working for the same goals.

 

Chinland Guardian: The recent statement made by Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) encouraged Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (DASSK) to accept the offer made by Gen. Than Shwe, to meet with her in spite of the precondition made by the General. What is your opinion on that statement?

 

Harn Yawnghwe: The ENC did not encourage DASSK to accept the offer. The ENC asked her to seriously consider it. There is a difference. The ENC cannot make the decision for her. She has to make the decision herself. The ENC asked her to seriously consider it because first of all, she has always asked for a dialogue to solve the problems that we face in Burma. Secondly, it is ENC policy to find political solutions for political problems and it is the ENC’s strategy to find such solutions through a tripartite dialogue. Thirdly, all the monks and demonstrators asked for national reconciliation and a dialogue. Should DASSK not try to fulfill the demands of the people who risked their lives? Fourth – the international community is asking the SPDC to have a dialogue with DASSK in order to have national reconciliation. If she refuses to have a dialogue, the SPDC will have an excuse to say that they were willing but she refused. In such a case, there would be no role left for either Gambari, the UN or the UN Security Council. Fifth – the SPDC has always refused to have a dialogue because it believes that force is the only way to solve any problem. Should we not be encouraging them to find other solutions? Sixth – last but not least, the future of the whole of the Union of Burma depends on whether we can bring about change now. That change depends on whether or not there is a dialogue. DASSK must think about the future of the nation and all its peoples. She cannot think as a private person or even as the leader of the NLD. She must also think on behalf of the ethnic people including the ceasefire and non-ceasefire groups. I am sure she is very aware of this and has not yet responded to the SPDC. Her party and others, however, have without thinking seriously responded in a negative way. The key to change is to get a real dialogue started. We should then use the international attention to force the SPDC into a substantive dialogue. As for the pre-conditions, I see them as a face saving device for the SPDC. Than Shwe cannot be seen as having given in to international pressure. He needs to be able to justify why he is talking to DASSK. If she agrees, he can say she is giving in to him so he is talking to her. We must not forget that in Burmese culture, he is older and she is a woman. So, in his mind it is more natural for her to give in. If we look at the preconditions carefully, there is nothing she cannot really agree to:

 

Confrontation/ Utter devastation – The SPDC claims that ‘utter devastation’ is what she threatened the SPDC with. This is not true. She said there is a need to dialogue and solve the problem. Otherwise the country will face utter devastation. So she can easily say, her policy is always to have a dialogue and find a political solution, that she does not want confrontation and that she does not want utter devastation for anyone, not for the SPDC, and least of all for the country.

 

Sanctions – The NLD has stated clearly that it is not NLD policy to call for sanctions. The countries that imposed sanctions did so because of the way the SPDC was behaving. She can say that in the interest of the people, she believes that a dialogue is needed, and so for the time being she would like to facilitate a dialogue by calling for a moratorium (to withhold) on sanctions. The countries that have sanctions will not automatically lift them just because she says so. The most they will do is say, they support a dialogue and are willing to lift sanctions once the see progress. This is a great way to make the dialogue substantive.

 

1990 elections – DASSK has always said she is not seeking power. She has always called for a dialogue. She can say that if a dialogue will provide an answer to how the 1990 election results can be taken into account, she is willing to start the dialogue without the precondition that the 1990 election results must be respected immediately. But she can further say that she herself was never elected, so she cannot make a decision on behalf of those who were elected. To make it binding, she will need to consult with all those who were elected and their parties. This is a very reasonable request. The international community will support it. This will make it very hard for the SPDC to refuse and it may open up more political space and maybe even bring about the release of MPs.

 

SPDC Road Map – DASSK can say that she in principle she agrees to a transition period. All transitions need a Road Map and a timetable, and that she is willing to accept the steps outlined in the SPDC Road Map. She can further say that the dialogue will determine the timetable and the contents of the Road Map.

 

If she can handle these and other preconditions in a skilful way, the SPDC will have to respond. If they do not, they will be blamed for the failure of the talks. If she rejects the preconditions, she will be blamed for the failure of the talks that everyone wants.

 

Chinland Guardian: Why one of the stake holders, Non-Burman Ethnic Nationalities, not mentioned in the talk?

 

Harn Yawnghwe : Actually, point No.3 of the ENC statement affirmed that a ‘tripartite dialogue’ is needed to solve Burma’s problems. Point No.2 did not mention it because it is talking about the offer made by Than Shwe to DASSK. He did not make the offer to the ethnic nationalities. In any case, the ENC views a dialogue or talks as a process. It is not something that takes place once or twice. The ENC is also certain that the problem in Burma cannot be resolved either by the SPDC or DASSK without bringing in the ethnic nationalities. They will at one point have to bring in the ethnic nationalities into the process. This is because no ethnic nationality will accept a decision made for them. They must decide for their own future.

 

Chinland Guardian: How is the prospect of “Tripartite Dialogue”?

 

Harn Yawnghwe: Again it depends on how you define it. If you think it means SPDC + NLD + ENC = Tripartite, the answer is that the prospect for such a dialogue is slim. Why?

 

1. The SPDC does not believe in a dialogue. It believes it can solve problems by the use of force and it is the only one that should decide Burma’s future.

2. The SPDC is agreeing to talk with DASSK because of international pressure based on the recent domestic demonstrations and its aftermath.

3. The SPDC will do as little as possible. If it is further pressured, it might agree to include the ceasefire groups, not the non-ceasefire or exile groups.

 

On the other hand, if you define a ‘Tripartite Dialogue’ as where the concerns of the ethnic people are addressed, the prospects are good. Why?

 

1. The international community including China is calling for inclusive dialogue and national reconciliation;

2. DASSK agrees to the UNGA resolution calling for a tripartite dialogue;

3. The ENC is seen by the international community as a credible organization and its recommendations are taken seriously;

4. As far as the ENC is concerned, it does not matter if it is invited or not. They key is to ensure that true ethnic representation is included in the talks. These can be ceasefire, non-ceasefire or even political parties. The key is to ensure all ethnic parties have the same policies regarding the constitution.

 

Chinland Guardian: The SPDC is rallying the people to support their National Convention in Ethnic States like Kachin and Chin State. What step should the opposition groups take now?

 

Harn Yawnghwe: The SPDC is determined to go ahead with its NC and Road Map – dialogue or no dialogue. Hopefully, the dialogue will be substantive and can contribute to the modification of the Road Map. At least a time frame for a transition can be agreed to. However, the ethnic states should not depend on the outcome of the dialogue. As far as I know, ENC strategy is as follows (Hope for the best, prepare for the worst):

 

1. Prepare for a long term campaign by:

a) Empowering the people;

b) Protecting the civilian population;

c) Improving civil administration;

d) Building up the capacity of political parties and engaging in SPDC politics;

2. Prepare for the medium term by:

a) Preparing to resume hostilities if the SPDC tries to disarm groups prematurely before the dialogue can reach an agreement;

b) Preparing to engage politically if no agreement can be reached;

c) Preparing to engage politically if some agreement can be reached;

3. Immediately:

a) Engaging with the SPDC in a dialogue;

b) Engaging with the international community in a dialogue;

c) Engaging with the people in a dialogue;

d) Engaging with democracy activists in a dialogue.

 

Chinland Guardian : Recent uprising in Burma gained overwhelming international attention. But, needless to say, action is needed. What kind of international action would be most productive for positive change in Burma?

 

Harn Yawnghwe: Many Burmese believe more sanctions are needed to bring down the regime. I personally believe that this is the wrong strategy. Why?

 

1. The international community will not act to bring down the regime. They, especially the neighbours, are scared of anarchy and instability;

2. The West has no economic interest in Burma to risk bringing it down. The cost benefit relationship is not in favour of intervention;

3. The UN system is overstretched. It cannot handle another major crisis even if there is the will to intervene (There is none as describe in No.2);

4. Other options short of intervention will not bring the regime down. Sanctions are mostly cosmetic and do not affect the generals;

5. Bringing the regime down will not solve problems. If the SPDC goes, we might have to deal with 13 dictators (the regional commanders) instead of one. They have everything to lose and are not likely to favour dialogue either;

6. If there are 13 dictators, not counting the ceasefire armies, our giant neighbours might be compelled to intervene to protect their national interest if there is anarchy and instability. It is not impossible to see Chin State and Sagaing Division – maybe even Magwe annexed by India; Arakan State annexed by Bangladesh; Kachin State, Mandalay Division, Shan State, Karenni State, Pegu, Rangoon and Irrawaddy Division annexed by China; Karen and Mon State and Tenasserim Division annexed by Thailand.

 

The international community is the most united now – UN, US, EU, China, ASEAN – all agree that there needs to be a dialogue and national reconciliation. At the moment Gambari is the main interlocutor. He gets on well with the generals and with DASSK. He is well aware that the dialogue process has to be inclusive – meaning the ethnic nationalities. This is also China’s position.

 

Gambari is backed by the UN Security Council. China wants to see this work. It does not want the issue to go to the Security Council for its own reasons. At the moment the UN Security Council only deals with ‘hard’ security issues – war, regional stability, etc. it does not deal with ‘soft’ security issues – democracy and human rights. If Burma becomes a UN Security matter, the scope of the UNSC will be expanded to include ‘soft’ security issues. This is dangerous for Russia and China. Both will veto it regardless of what is at stake in Burma .

 

Asking for UNSC sanctions will not help because China and Russia will veto it. Even if the UNSC could agree, the question is this – What will the UN do if the SPDC refuses to comply? So it is not useful to push for a UNSC resolution if the UN cannot act. In the Darfur case, the UN had to get the Sudan Government to agree before the UN could send a peacekeeping force. SPDC is unlikely to agree.

 

The best option is to continue with Gambari. He will need the UN Security Council and multi-party talks to back him up. The Gambari mission in turn will push for substantive dialogue in Burma.

 

 

 

 

 

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