The Aizawl Post
December 7, 2007-Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) had testified about decades long systematic persecutions of Chin Christians at a public hearing on Burma at the Capitol Hill on Monday. The hearing was organized by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a non-partisan panel appointed by the United States president and leaders of Congress.

The hearing of the Commission comes as Congress began an intense two week period in which lawmakers must approve a range of important policy legislation.

Mr. Richard Land, vice Chairman of USCIRF who chaired the hearing at the Congress quoted Dr. Martin Luther King in his opening remark that “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressors. It must be demanded by the oppressed”. He continued that “The people of Burma are demanding their liberty. It is time for the world to join them fully in this cause”.

The seven witness at the hearing along with Salai Bawi Lian, co-founder and director of CHRO includes Dr. Ashin Nayaka, a Buddhist Scholar and an exile Burmese Buddhist monk who is a visiting professor at Columbia University, Ms. Chris Lewa, coordinator of the Arakan Project and consultant for Refugee International and UNHCR, Aung Din, Policy Director at U. S Campaign for Burma, Paul Rush, a journalist who witnessed and report bloody crackdown in Burma during September, Michael Green, Professor at Georgetown University and former Special Assistant on National Security Affairs to President Bush, Jared Genser, President of Freedom Now and an attorney in the global government.

Salai Bawi Lian, said at the hearing that “the whole world was shocked to see how the Burmese military junta persecuted Buddhist monks in the street of Rangoon a few months ago. In fact the successive Burmese military junta has been systematically persecuting religious minority groups such as Chin Christians for decades.”

He continued that “the Burmese military junta violate the religious freedom rights of Chin Christians that they prohibit construction of churches, destroyed crosses and replaced with pagodas or statue of Buddhist monk, censor Christian literature and publication, restrict on freedom of assembly and worship, discriminate based on ethnicity and religion”.

Ashin Nayaka, a Buddhist scholar and leading member of International Burmese Monks, said monks were a symbol of hope for reforms in Burma but were “forcibly disrobed, assaulted, arrested and killed” by the military junta.

Paul Rush, a journalist whose video footage of Burmese troops in Rangoon shooting and killing a Japanese journalist was widely seen around the world suggests Burma’s military is likely continuing a brutal crackdown.

“The Burmese people, which include the country’s badly-persecuted ethnic minorities need the help of the international community, to shed this yoke of a half a century of oppression by a minority of murderous military elite. That I presume is why this hearing is taking place today and is why the international community is still listening,” said Mr. Rush.

A former Special Assistant on National Security Affairs to President Bush, Professor Michael Green, says while there have been some positive developments, including high profile attention from the Bush administration, some strong statements from ASEAN, and what he calls small but unprecedented steps by China, there has also been substantial inertia by the international community.

Mr. Green says China and India may be tempted to accept limited results, while he asserts that the United Nations continues to pursue what he calls a lowest common denominator approach. ASEAN, he asserts, is going backwards in its role perhaps because of pressure from Burma’s military on what he calls like-minded members.

Aung Din, policy director of the United States Campaign for Burma, urged the U.S government to appoint a full-time sanctions coordinator for Burma as it did in the late 1990’s against Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s regime accused of genocide.

The U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U. S government agency that was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of though, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress of the United States.

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