Volume IX. No. V. September-October 2006
Chin Human Rights Organization
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SPDC Authority Forced Hundreds Of Local Villagers To Repair India-Burma Border Trade Road
Villagers Forced To Construct Army Camp
Villagers Forced As Porters
SPDC Force Villagers To Search For A Lost Gun
SPDC Conscripted Villagers For Militia Training, Collect Ration And Money From Civilians
200 Local Civilians Trains For Militia
ARBITRARY ORDERS, ROBBERY OF SPDC, AND POWER ABUSE
VPDC Chairman Got 6 Months Imprisonment For Failing To Attend The Meeting
Police Threaten 2 Merchant Women And Demand 20,000 Kyats
SPDC Troops Confiscate 1,000,000 Kyats And Four Cattle From Traders
Chin Woman Forced To Abort Her Pregnancy By A Lieutenant Commander
Chin Asylum Seekers From Burma Detained In Malaysia Immigration Raid
Update On Arrests Of Chins In Malaysia
Chin Asylum Seeker Died
Chin Asylum Seekers Held Captive By Thai Agents
Mizoram Police Arrest 30 Illegal Burmese Migrants
LETTER & PRESS RELEASE
CHRO Welcomes Chin Waiver
The Department Of State Decides Material Support Inapplicable To Chin Refugees From Burma
An Open Letter To Young Mizo Association (YMA)
Proposed Measures To Be Taken By The YMA Against Foreigners And Others Staying Illegally
NEWS & EVENTS
Self-Decision Making Training For Women Concluded
Chin Youth Conference Successfully Concluded
Rights Group Praises US For Allowing Myanmar ‘S Chin Refugees
Rice Exempts Chin Refugees For US Resettlement, Welcomed By CHRO
The Threat Of HIV/AIDS Among Chin People (By Piang Lilian)
BACK COVER POEM
A Land Abandoned (By Van Biak Thang)
SPDC AUTHORITY FORCED HUNDREDS OF LOCAL VILLAGERS TO REPAIR INDIA-BURMA BORDER TRADE ROAD
October 13, 2006: According to the villager who wants to remain anonymous inform the CHRO that 11 villages from Northern Chin state along India-Burma border trade road were compel to work repairing the road for six days without pay. The forced labor ordered was issued by the chairman of Townships Peace and Development Council in Tedim town, northern Chin state and 11 villages in the area were engaged in forced labor repairing the landslide damaged road for 6 days September 4 to 9, 2006.
Among the six villages those who were compel to work on road repair, 67 villagers are from Zimte village led by a local name Khaw Neih Lal. We have to bring our own food tools and everything said one villager. The villagers inform CHRO that there were 275 people from other villages working in the road repair.
Those villages compel to engage in the forced labor are from; Lamzang, Laitui, Haimual Khuahlun, Haimual Khuathar, Zimpi, Zimte, Rihkawdar, Tio, Lentlang, Kaptel and Tihbual.
CHRO source said that it is impossible for the villagers to refuse the order for forced labor as the order is coming from the office of Township Peace and Development Council.
Townships Peace and Development Council take this road repair seriously because when Colonel Tin Hla from Tactical Command 1 visited Tedim town in August, he went to Tio village, near Indo- Burma border. On his return to Tedim, he called the whole townships meeting and ordered the Township Peace and Development Council to repair the road saying that the road he traveled is not good for the security.
VILLAGERS FORCED TO CONSTRUCT ARMY CAMP
6 October 2006: Villagers from Chin state, Burma were conscripted by the Burmese Army in the first week of September to construct bunkers encircling military camps on the Indo – Burma border area.
In what is yet another form of harassment “ We are involved in bunker construction for five days a week and our working hours are from 7:a.m. to 6 p.m.”, said Mr. Paik Hmo who was involved in building bunkers.
On September 8, Sergeant Kyaw Maung Win from the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. (16) Headquartered in Monywa town, Sagaing Division, along with his soldiers on patrol arrived in Pintia village in Matupi Township. He directed U Ngawn Thawng, village head of Pintia, to send six villagers to the army camp at once.
Afraid of defying the order of the military, the villagers got down and started digging trenches. The measurements of constructed bunkers are 250 ft in length and 2 feet in width.
Mr. Paik Hmo added, “we were able to take rest only during lunch which was from 11 a.m. to 1p.m”. In a bid to beef up military presence in Chin state, 15 security personnel,
fully armed, from LIB (16) arrived and were stationed at Darling Village in Matupi township in the first week of June this year.
VILLAGERS FORCED AS PORTERS
10 October 2006: Burmese soldiers patrolling the Indo–Burma border are engaging villagers from southern part of Chin state in Burma to carry army supplies.
Major Aung Lin Thwat, and 15 soldiers of the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. (16) camped in Sabawngte village in Matupi Township in the first week of September. They began patrolling the Indo-Burma border area.
Burmese soldiers called up seven villagers from Sabawngte and forced them to carry backpacks and rations to the military camp in Darling Village.
According to villager from Sabawngte village who was forced to work as a porter, the goods carried by each villager weighed around 12 kilograms.
Villagers residing on the patrol route relayed army supplies from one village to another.
Likewise, on September 14, Captain Han Linn from LIB 550 leading 13 security personnel reportedly directed U Thet Do, head of Pintia village in Paletwa Township, to provide two chickens and four kilograms of rice.
U Thet was also instructed to recruit villagers as porters. Ten villagers along with him had to start transporting army rations and personnel stuff on the same day. They arrived at the Shinletwa army camp on September 15.
Moreover, it was also learnt that Burmese soldiers had hardly provided food, labourers wages and reimbursed expenditure villagers incurred in transporting army supplies.
SPDC FORCE VILLAGERS TO SEARCH FOR A LOST GUN
22 September 2006: In Matupi Township in Southern Chin State, Burmese troops led by a Major from LIB 304 were returning from patrol in the area during the last week of July. When they reached the Valawn stream, which is about 10 miles away from Matupi, a Corporal lost his G3 gun in the river. Villagers and travelers near the river were forced to search for the gun for one week, one of the villagers who participated in the search reported to CHRO.
The place where the SPDC lost the gun is near Lungtum-Kingsing River at the lower part of Hnawte village. The corporal lost his gun as he was crossing the river at 8:00 pm. The troop gathered villagers from the nearby village and forced travelers to search for the gun. On the first day, a man dove into the thick river after tying a rope to his waist. Another man then had to pull him to the side of the river. This is how the search proceeded.
When they could not find the gun, they had to build a small dam to change the direction of the river. But due to the heavy rains, the river was not affected. While searching for the gun, the troops ordered the villagers from Hnawte and Tinglong villages to bring 10 bags of rice from each village. Each family from the two villages also had to bring a chicken.
The troop also ordered all the government departments from Matupi town to send 3 persons each plus 10 persons from each block of the town to the river to search for the gun. U Oon Lwin, secretary of Union Solidarity Development Association , and U Cang Va, chief of Immigration department, were in charge of sending the villagers.
SPDC CONSCRIPTED VILLAGERS FOR MILITIA TRAINING, COLLECT RATION AND MONEY FROM CIVILIANS
September 10, 2006: According to a villager who want to remain anonymous inform CHRO that Tactical Commander Colonel San Aung, based in Matupi Township, Southern Chin state issued order to be collected 4, 000 Kyats, and 25 cups of rice from every household in the area. The money and the ration is to be used for the second military training in the area which will take 40 days starting from August 20.
Villagers who are between 35, and 45 years of age from 12 village tracks are compel to join the military training. The training has taken placed in Phaneng village’s playing ground which is about 4 miles from Matupi town. The villagers who are in the training have to pay 2, 000 Kyats at the beginning of the training and the trainees will be asked to pay as the authority demand them through the training. More over, the local villagers also have to provide the daily for the 4 trainers, including an army Major from LIB 140, and 3 police men a sergeant and two corporals. The villagers are not happy about doing this,
but they have no choice said the source.
The SPDC did not provide accommodation for the trainees. Local families also had to accommodate trainees who came from other villages because there was no other lodging for them. The villagers who did not participate in the military training had to work in the farms of the families who were at the training. As a result, the trainees and the local villagers lacked adequate food supplies, according to the villager.
The villages that were forced to participate in the military training were;
Phaneng, Ngaleng, Vuitu, Kace, Khongang, Tangku, Cawngthia, Tinglong, Hnawte, Valangpi, Valangte, Leisin, Hlangpang.
According to source, the authorities are planning to call women for the next militia training, and the limit of age will be between 45 to 55 years of age.
200 LOCAL CIVILIANS TRAINS FOR MILITIA
12 September 2006: The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has opened a militia training centre in Chin state Matupi, and are now training over 200 villagers of the ages between 35 to 45 from 11 villages.
The training started on August 20 at the play ground in PhaNeng village in Matupi townships. A local said that the authorities have ordered to train one person from each family.
Lieutenant Colonel Ye Lyun, commander of Light Infantry Battalion 140 is leading the training. For the trainees each family has to provide two kilograms of rice and Kyat 1,000 per week.
Besides, the other family members will have to clean the trainees’ farms thrice a week. If they fail to clean, the authorities will punish them, said a local.
According to reports, the villagers from Phaneng, Ngaleng, Cawngthia, Tibaw, Hnawte, Valangpi, Tinlawng, Leiring, Khuangang, Vuitu and Tangku tracts are to be included in the training which will end in September 17.
The order states that if 25 persons cannot attend in one group they will give extreme punishment.
The SPDC used to have army training centres in Chin state and they forced the public to attend the training every year in order to protect the nation.
ARBITRARY ORDERS & POWER ABUSE:
VPDC CHAIRMAN GOT 6 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT FOR FAILING TO ATTEND THE MEETING
12 October 2006: U Ngai Za Thang, Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) chairman from Cinmual block, Falam townships in Northern Chin State, was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment under charges of state mutiny for failing to report in a timely manner to meetings, according to a local resident.
The President of the Falam Regional Peace and Development Council invited the VPDC chairmen of four blocks in Falam to attend meetings in the first week of September pertaining to the burglary of the Falam Bank during the month of June. The chairman from Cinmaul block was absent twice and reported to the meetings late. He was then accused of being not interested in the meetings, arrested, and charged with state mutiny, the local resident reported.
The President of the Regional Peace and Development during the arrest said, “The bank burglary happened in your area. You did not uphold your duty as chairman, and you do not respect the meetings, so action will be taken against you according to the law.”
U Ngai Za Thang was arrested on the first week of September and interrogated. In early September he was imprisoned for six months under Article 4 for state mutiny, said the local man said.
The chairmen from Tlangrawn block, Balai block, and Farthawk block were also invited to the meeting in September by the President who was heading an inquiry into the bank burglary. Whenever there is a problem in a particular block, the chairman is the first to be interrogated and threatened.
The chairmen of VPDC do not receive a salary for their service and they are forced to serve. Their only exemption from service is from conscription of forced labor. Every year when a new chairman is selected, whoever has no exemption is forced to accept the position.
POLICE THREATEN 2 MERCHANT WOMEN AND DEMAND 20,000 KYATS
22 September 2006: Police Sergeant Tin Thang and three police officers including the Police Commander associated with SPDC from Hmawng Tlang, Than Tlang Township in Northern Chin State threatened three merchant women, who were bringing goods to Mizoram, and demanded 20,000 kyats from them, reported by the women to CHRO.
The women were transporting snacks, soft drinks, juice, soaps, and pickled fish to Mizoram. The total amount of their goods was 200,000 kyats. They brought the goods from Hakha Town by hiring 15 horses, which cost 15,000 kyats per horse. On 20 September 2006, near Cawngthia village, policemen threatened them with guns, accusing them of being illegal smugglers. The police forced them to give-up their money. They begged the police not to take their money, but they did not listen.
The two women, Nu Iang Ku and Nu Hnemi said that the place where they were robed is the place where the police and SPDC troops used to rob from cross border traders in the past.
SPDC TROOPS CONFISCATE 1,000,000 KYATS AND FOUR CATTLE FROM TRADERS
12 October 2006: On 29 September 2006, the Sergeant from Falam-based LIB 268 stationed in Vuangtu village in Thantlang township, Northern Chin State, along with his troops took 1,000,000 kyats and 4 cattle from cattle traders in Lungcawipi village who was traveling to Mizoram State, India to sell 29 cattle, a relative of one of the traders reported to CHRO.
The traders are from Daidin village, Ganh-Gaw township, Maguay Division and they brought 29 cattle to sell in Mizoram State. When they reached Lungcawipi village they were approached by the Sergeant along with his troops. Immediately, the Sergeant arrested the traders along with their cattle and threatened that they would confiscate all the cattle if they did not give 1,500,000 kyats.
The traders borrowed money from villagers in a nearby village, but they could not get the full amount of money demanded by the Sergeant. The Sergeant and troops took the money but returned only 25 cattle to them, according to the trader’s relative.
The cattle traders later heard that the Sergeant took the four confiscated cattle to the Village Peace and Development Council of Lawngtlang village and sold the cattle for 480,000 kyats. Meanwhile, the Sergeant and his troops went to Khawbung village where they confiscated more than 5,000,000 kyats from other cattle traders.
CHIN WOMAN FORCED TO ABORT HER PREGNANCY BY A LIEUTENANT COMMANDER
September 25, 2006: A Lieutenant Commander from Burma army Tactical 2, based in Matupi town, southern Chin state has forced Ms. Xxxx (name withheld for sensitivity of the issue), daughter of U Thang Oe to abort her five- month old pregnancy, a villager from the local community has reported to CHRO. Daw Thim Ding, a mother of a child, has been a phone operator working for the communication department, Matupi township, Chin State.
Though a lieutenant commander is a married man, he has been secretly living together with Ms. Xxxx for quite some times without the knowledge of his wife, whom he left in his native place. “The fact that the commander forced Ms. Xxxx, an ethnic Chin woman, to have her abortion indicated that he deliberately tried to spoil and discriminate her because of her race as ethnic Chin woman,” the local residents recounted.
According to an eyewitness, Ms. Xxx was forced to commit her abortion in August 2006. “Due to the severity of her abortion, she was physically so weak and frail,” eye-witness added.
CHIN ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM BURMA DETAINED IN MALAYSIA IMMIGRATION RAID
Chin Human Rights Organization
October 5, 2006: Early this morning, the People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA) raided the urban neighborhood of Jalan Imbi in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, taking into their custody over two hundred individuals, including over 50 asylum seekers from Burma. Forty-five men and seven women from Burma’s Chin State have been taken to Lenggeng detention camp in Selangor State, located two hours outside of Kuala Lumpur. Hundreds of thousands of Chins have fled from Chin State to escape severe ethnic and religious persecution committed by the military regime.
The raid began around 3:00 am and lasted over one hour. Over 100 RELA volunteers, Malaysia’s controversial untrained reserve force charged with frequent misuse of powers, ordered some 2,000 residents living in the Jalan Imbi area out of their urban flats and into a parking lot. They then systematically checked for immigration documents. Those holding official UNHCR cards were released while those whose cases are pending before the UNHCR were put on lorries and taken to the local Rela office. Most of the residents in the Jalan Imbi area are Chin asylum seekers and refugees.
Altogether about 93 Chin asylum seekers were taken to the Rela office. Forty-one UNHCR-registered Chin asylum seekers were later released after verification of their documents by UNHCR. Fifty-two Chin asylum seekers, including seven women, who are not registered with UNHCR were sent to the Lenggeng detention camp where they will await deportation. The UNHCR registration process has been closed since July 2005, leaving thousands of genuine refugees unable to obtain official refugee status or obtain any documents from the UNHCR.
Facing persecution, torture, and even death in Burma, thousands of Chin have been forced from their homes and seek refuge in nearby countries. The people of Burma have been living under brutal military control since 1962. As a primarily Christian community in a predominantly Buddhist country, the Chin people are particularly targeted by the military rulers because of their minority status. Reports of violations of basic human rights are widespread throughout Chin State.
As of 4 October 2006, over 16,863 Chins are living in Malaysia. The Chin people in Malaysia live without any security. The Malaysian government refuses recognize or provide any protection to the Chin population. As a result, the Chin people are at constant risk of harassment by the authorities, arrest, detention, and deportation. In addition, they are unable to work, receive an education, access healthcare services, or find acceptable living accommodations.
Included in those facing potential deportation are five members of the Chin Refugee Center (CRC), a community-based organization dedicated to helping the Chin people living in Malaysia. The CRC staff includes two teachers who conduct courses for more than 120 Chin children that are barred from attending schools in Malaysia, two female office workers, and a member of the Chin Student Organization who is also a Chin interpreter for Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF).
The latest sweep has been preceded by warnings that the government intends to crackdown on undocumented immigrants living throughout Malaysia. RELA has come under attack for their frequent abuse of power and use of violence, particularly against refugees and asylum seekers who have been assaulted and humiliated during RELA operations. Numerous complaints have been lodged in 2006 against the RELA for corruption and human rights violations. RELA’s tactics have also been heavily criticized in the past by many human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Malaysian rights group Voice of the Malaysian People (SUARAM).
UPDATE ON ARRESTS OF CHINS IN MALAYSIA
RELA Operation updates;
On 14 / October / 2006 hundreds of RELA ( Civilian Volunteer Corps ) conducted mass arrests of suspected illegal immigrants in the vicinity of Cheras Alam Jaya which located outside of Kuala Lumpur where 500 Chin asylum seekers are staying in low-rental apartments and detained 172 Chin refugees and directly taken them to Lenggeng Immigration Detention camp and Semenyih Immigration Detention Camp. The RELA deliberately targeted the areas where Chin asylum seekers are staying. Only within 14 days since October 1, 2006 the RELA conducted raids in three different places where mostly Chin asylum seekers are staying. All the three raids were conducted at 3 or 4 a.m while most of them are asleep.
( 1 ) The First RELA operation against illegal immigrants was conducted on October5, 2006 and targeted Jalan Imbi areas where 52 Chin refugees including seven Chin refugee women were arrested and detained them in Lenggeng Immigration Detention.
( 2 ) The second RELA operation was conducted in Limau Manis jungles where about 200 Chin refugees are sheltering in makeshift huts and arrested 7 Chin refugees as most of them luckily evaded the arrest. Those seven arrestees are sent to Semenyih Immigration Detention Camp.
( 3 ) The third RELA operation was conducted in Cheras Alam Jaya where over 500 Chin refugees are staying and detained 172 asylum seekers. There are about 40 refugees women including their children are detained. Most of the women are carrying UNHCR documents as they are registered at UNHCR and waited for their refugee status determination interview. They are all sent to two diiferent immigration detention camps.
There are already 144 Chin refugee detainees in Lenggeng Immigration Camp as the previous arrestees are still in this camp. According to CRC available information, there are about 500 Chin refugees in different immigration detention camps nationwide. The sweeping raids within just days apart and only targeting mostly the Chin asylum seekers in Malaysia is haunting the rest of the Chin refugees who can not even submit their asylum application at UNHCR office. The tormenting situation in which ignored Chin refugees are now walking towards hopeless destination to find protection in Malaysia as UNHCR office is closed down for new asylum seekers. After escaping from prison-nation Myanmar where evils are still at large over innocent civilians, the fear of arrest and deportation in Malaysia is now doubling almost everyday among the helpless Chin asylum seekers.
CHIN ASYLUM SEEKER DIED
Chin Refugee Committee (CRC)
Re: The death report of a Chin asylum seeker
Sept 21, 2006: This is to report that Mr. Aung Thie, an ethnic Chin from Myanmar who is scheduled to be interviewed on 11 December 2006 at UNHCR Liaison Office here in Kuala Lumpur was knocked down by an Intra Kota Bus on 20 / Sept / 2006 afternoon at Pudu where he died on the spot. According to two eye-witnesses, a plain clothed policeman stopped them at Pudu Pasar where they were shopping at the time. The police was on motorcycle when he stopped the three men and seized all the things from them. The police ordered them to follow him to Pudu Police station. As the policeman already crossed to the other side of the road, he ushered the three to come toward him to the other side where he waited them. When the three men tried to cross the road, the oncoming bus knocked down Mr. Aung Thie where he died on the spot. The plain clothed policeman ran away from the scene with all the things he seized from the three men.
The ambulance took the body to UKM hospital. The Intra Kota Bus that knocked Mr. Aung Thie dead was identified together with the driver to police. The details and application paper of Mr. Aung Thie to United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) is attached together with this report. Any information related to Mr. Aung Thie can be enquire at CRC office.
CHIN ASYLUM SEEKERS HELD CAPTIVE BY THAI AGENTS
By Salai Za Uk Ling
22 October 2006 – Kuala Lumpur: More than 30 Chins are being held captive by Thai agents at the Thai-Malaysia border, two Chins who were freed after paying huge sums of money to their captors reported. The two, age 29 and 31, arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday morning along with 17 others after friends and relatives paid 2000 Malaysian ringits to their Thai captors.
The detainees are asylum seekers who were arrested by Malaysian authorities during a raid in their jungle camp near Malaysia’s new administrative quarters of Putrajaya in July. They spent nearly three months in two different detention camps before Malaysian immigration dumped them at Thailand border and reportedly sold them to Thai agents for 800 Ringits per person.
“UNHCR staff visited us and interviewed us in detention on September 18. But Malaysian immigration secretly transported us to the border and handed us over to Thai agents on 16 October,” one of them told Chinland Guardian. He said more than 90 people were housed in a 15 foot square room with no ventilation. “We could hardly breathe and it was extremely hot and stuffy.” He said a 17-year-old Chin asylum seeker is among the captives still being held at the border town of Pandang Pasah.
The armed captors demanded 2500 Ringits from each detainee with a promise to smuggle them back into Malaysia. “We told them we didn’t have that much money and tried to negotiate with them but they said they bought us from Malaysian immigration for 800 Ringits and they had to make a profit,” explains the freed captive. The Thai captors reportedly threatened them with selling them as slave laborers to Thai fishermen.
“What I am worried about it is the fate of the remaining captives. Who knows where they will end up if they couldn’t come up with the money,” one of them said.
Malaysian government has recently stepped up a campaign against undocumented migrants, resulting in the arrest and detention of hundreds of Chin asylum seekers and refugees and other undocumented migrants.
MIZORAM POLICE ARREST 30 ILLEGAL BURMESE MIGRANTS
25 September 2006: In an operation launched last week, 30 illegal Burmese migrant workers were arrested by the police from Lunglei town, the second capital of Mizoram state, India
“They have been detained for their illegal presence in the region. We will continue with the operation and crackdown on illegal workers”, Mr. Vanlalzawmi, an inspector from Lunglei police station told Khonumthung News.
“We have taken the arrested Burmese in police custody and they will be produced in court. After which usual action will follow,” Vanlalzawmi added.
However, he did not mention the kind of action that would be taken.
Mr. Lalsiamlaina from Burma reportedly hit Mrs. Lalthanpari who lives in Venglai block of Lunglei town with a hammer in the first week of this month. Mr. Lalsiamlaina was arrested the same day by the police and sent to Lunglei prison.
Some believe that the recent police crackdown on illegal Burmese migrants could have been triggered off by this case.
The Mizo student Union (MSU) from regional headquarters in Lunglei and the Mizo Women’s League in Lunglei (MHIP) had strongly condemned the incident. A statement issued on September 12, demanded that the Burmese be driven out of the state to prevent such mischief against local people.
Soon after the women’s group and students released the statement, the crackdown on Burmese migrants began. The majority of migrants are Chins.
“I found a lot of Burmese in jail. I am worried about my relative who is supposed to come here”, said a Burmese, who witnessed the operation.
Most migrants from Burma in Lunglei town are working as traders, laborers, cow traders and housemaids.
LETTER & PRESS RELEASE:
CHRO WELCOMES CHIN WAIVER
Chin Human Rights Organization
25 October 2006: The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) applauds the recent action taken by the U.S. Department of State and the tireless efforts of the many advocates, organizations, and concerned individuals to secure a waiver of adverse provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act for Chin refugees living in Malaysia, India, and Thailand.
On 11 October 2006, the U.S. Secretary of State signed a waiver to exempt Chin refugees living in Malaysia, India, and Thailand from provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that threatened to render them ineligible for resettlement to the United States. Thousands of Chin refugees have been waiting resettlement to the United States after their cases were put indefinitely on hold due to inappropriately broad provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that effectively excludes from the United States genuine refugees as “terrorists.” This waiver will allow the resettlement process to resume for Chin refugees, some who have been waiting for over one year in increasingly oppressive and hostile host countries. Resettlement to the United States for Chin refugees for many is the promise of a new life and the hope of a brighter future.
Chin refugees have been subject to the inadmissibility bar due to widespread support of the Chin National Front (CNF), an armed resistance group organized to promote democracy in Burma and defend the people of Chinland from annihilation by the Burma military regime. Under the current reading of the USA PATRIOT Act, anyone who has participated in or demonstrated support of an armed group may be excluded from the United States as a terrorist. There is no exemption for groups organized to defend themselves and their people against authoritarian governments that rule through intimidation and unspeakable brutality. Furthermore, anyone who at anytime provides any form of support to such an organization, regardless of the magnitude or context, is subject to the inadmissibility bar. Cases have been put on hold for contributing even minimal forms of support, such as clothing, food, water, or temporary accommodations.
CHRO is grateful to the U.S. government for renewing their commitment to protecting refugees by granting a waiver to the Chin people, and urges the U.S. Congress to revise the USA PATRIOT Act to ensure other groups of genuine refugees are not unjustifiably excluded from the United States. CHRO is also grateful to all those who have contributed to the efforts to highlight and promote the issues impacting the Chin people. In particular, CHRO would like to extend a very special thanks to the members of the Refugee Council of USA, who continue to fight for increased rights and protection of all asylum seekers and refugees worldwide. CHRO would also like to thank the Chin churches from North America, Europe, Australia, church communities and concerned individuals across the world that have supported the Chin people through their words, their work, their financial contributions, and their prayers.
Thousands of Chins are forced to flee from Burma every year as persecution by the military regime against the Chin people persists. Reports of summary and extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, torture, rape, forced relocation, forced labor and other violations of basic human rights in Chin State are tragically widespread. Currently there are more than 80,000 Chins living in exile in Malaysia, India and Thailand. None of these host countries, however, have signed onto the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. As a result, the Chin people are afforded with little to no protections. Without official recognition, Chin refugees have been unable to work, attend school, access, health or social services, or obtain adequate living accommodations. Moreover, refugees are vulnerable to extortion, theft, sexual abuse, arrest, deportation, and many other difficulties.
Chin Human Rights Organization
October 25, 2006
THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE DECIDES MATERIAL SUPPORT INAPPLICABLE TO CHIN REFUGEES FROM BURMA
Office of the Spokesman
United States Department of State
October 19, 2006
The Secretary of State, on October 11, exercised her discretionary exemption authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, so that Chin refugees from Burma living in Malaysia, Thailand, and India can resettle in the United States even if they have provided “material support” to the Chin National Front (CNF) or Chin National Army (CNA). The applicants must meet all other eligibility requirements for resettlement — including that they pose no danger to the safety and security of the United States. This determination will allow the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to approve otherwise eligible Chin refugees for admission to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security is the agency responsible for adjudicating refugee applications for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Exercising the exemption authority allows the United States to resume significant processing of the thousands of extremely vulnerable ethnic Chin refugees living in Malaysia and elsewhere.
The Secretary of State has twice previously exercised this same inapplicability authority with respect to Karen refugees in camps in Thailand who were found otherwise eligible except for having provided material support to the Karen National Union or the Karen National Liberation Army.
Released on October 19, 2006
http://www.state. gov/r/pa/ prs/ps/2006/ 74761.htm
OPEN LETTER TO YMA:
CHRO APPEALS YMA FOR FINDING FAVORABLE SOLUTION TO REFUGEE PROBLEMS IN MIZORAM
To: Pu J.H. Zoremthanga
Young Mizo Association (YMA)
September 25, 2006
Dear Mr. President,
Chin Human Rights Organization would like to congratulate the Young Mizo Association (YMA) on completing 76 successful years of working for the people of Mizoram. Through these difficult years, the YMA with such broad membership has proved itself to be one of the most enduring and successful grass-root organizations in Asia and around the world. The YMA deserves commendation and appreciation for its long-standing tradition of volunteerism and humanitarianism and for its significant contribution to social progress in Mizoram and elsewhere.
The YMA has long upheld these noble traditions through a firm policy that transcended national borders in its vision. And we understand that the YMA stands to protect and to lend a helping hand to the vulnerable and the needy.
Chin Human Rights Organization has learnt that the Central YMA has recently issued directives to all local branches in the State to take measures to evict ‘all foreigners’ from the State of Mizoram. We are particularly concerned over the initiative taken late last week by the YMA Sub-Headquarters in Lunglei to compel those its considers to be ‘foreigners and illegal migrants’ to involuntarily move out of the town of Lunglei and its surrounding areas.
We believe that these ongoing measures of the YMA will negatively affect thousands of innocent Chin refugees from Burma who have sought shelter in Mizoram to avoid serious human rights violations perpetrated by Burma’s military junta.
The United Nations Security Council has recently branded Burma as a country breaching international peace and security for conducting terror against its people and forcing millions of its citizens into exile. Mizoram now generously hosts thousands of the SPDC terror victims by allowing them temporary shelter in the state. We remain indebted to the people of Mizoram for their generosity. But we are concerned that the action of the YMA in Lunglei and elsewhere will put the lives and security of refugees from Burma at risk.
As a responsible member of the international community and as a regional and emerging world power, India is bound by the principle of Non-Refoulement. This international legal norm protects against deporting people with fear of persecution in their home country. The current action taken by the YMA is placing thousands of refugees at risk of being forced back to Burma where their lives will be in serious danger. We believe that this will not only be in breach of international law but will also stand contradictory to the very principle of “volunteerism and humanitarianism” on which the YMA is founded.
The Chin Human Rights Organization further believes that the problems of illegal migration and the resulting social burden that may have been caused by the presence of Chin refugees in Mizoram cannot be remedied through such summary measure as eviction. Unfortunately, the problem of refugee inflow into Mizoram will continue until the root cause of such flight has been addressed. Only the reinstitution of democratic governance and guarantee of human rights in Burma will assure against refugee problems in India.
For these reasons, Chin Human Rights Organization is ready and willing to work together with the YMA for finding favorable solution to refugee problems in Mizoram. Chin Human Rights Organization would also like to request that until such solution has been found the YMA put on hold any activities that will harm the safety and well being of refugees from Burma.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang
Chin Human Rights Organization
3112 Deakin St.
Tel/Fax: 510 981 1417
PROPOSED MEASURES TO BE TAKEN BY THE YMA AGAINST FOREIGNERS AND OTHERS STAYING ILLEGALLY
1. Every branch should take measures to prohibit (and discourage the presence of) foreigners against settling illegally within their jurisdiction. And, every branch should report about the measures taken to this effect to their respective YMA Sub-Headquarters.
2. To this effect, every branch is encouraged to work in cooperation with the Village Councils, Voluntary Organizations, Political Parties and the Church. Even if cooperation is not forthcoming from such bodies, every Branch will nevertheless work on its own.
3. Every Branch is expected to have a Village Population Census, which is to be updated annually. If there are any foreigners, a separate Foreigner List should be prepared.
4. Appeals should be made and awareness spread among the people against leasing out their land and renting out their houses/property to illegal-foreigners. In case such a situation has already been obtained, the concerned Branch is to take corrective measures to remove the foreigner.
5. It shall be the responsibility of every branch to find out if any illegal-foreigner is in the possession of a house-site or plot of land within their jurisdiction. If found, the Revenue Department should be approached for cancellation of their ownership Pass.
6. Measures should be taken against the entry of names of illegal-foreigners in Ration Card.
7. If any foreigner is found to be in the Electoral Roll, all necessary steps should be taken to remove the names of such persons, and also to prevent the further entry of foreigners in the Electoral Roll.
8. Every Branch should take necessary measures to ensure that Birth Certificate is issued only to genuine citizens. The Registrar, Birth & Death within their jurisdiction should be approached to this effect.
9. Political Parties should be dissuaded against rallying after foreigners.
10. Steps should be taken to prevent the foreigners from establishing a new village or settlement. If such settlements are found to have existed, the YMA Sub Headquarters is to be informed as soon as possible.
11. In case any foreigner dies, the rite of passage should not be on par with the sons of the soil.
12. Appeals should be made to the different Churches against inducting foreigners as permanent members and also to discontinue to support or participate in their Fellowship. If such a Fellowship exists within their jurisdiction, it will be the responsibility of that Branch to request for its discontinuation.
13. Foreigners should not be issued documents of relocation.
14. Relevant document should be procured to authenticate/proof the identity of a foreigner.
15. Awareness should be spread among the people that the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (ILP) is one of the most important Act which insulates our society, culture and the land from unwanted outside influences, and that their responsibility towards their motherland should be made known to them in the context of ILP Sponsorships that they make.
16. To flush out illegal-foreigners and outsiders and to hand it over to the concerned authorities.
Lunglei Report: A census operation of the Burmese foreigners is to be undertaken wherein every branch is to collect information within their respective jurisdictions. The final list is to be submitted to the office of the YMA Sub Headquarters, Lunglei; whose office will in turn submit it to the concerned authorities in the Government. If the government fails to act upon the information by taking the necessary measures, the YMA Sub Headquarters, Lunglei has underlined its intention to take the onus of rounding-up the Burmese foreigners. Every Branch will be charged with the responsibility of catching the foreigners residing within their area, and those apprehended will then be handed over to the police.
The YMA Sub Headquarters had served a quit notice to the illegal immigrants setting the dead line as 23rd September 2006.
NEWS & EVENTS:
SELF-DECISION MAKING TRAINING FOR WOMEN CONCLUDED
31 August 2006: The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) concluded ‘a self-decision making’ training program for women today that focuses on gender balance and will help in Chin women playing a leading role in society and politics.
Thirty delegates of political parties and women’s organizations from inside and outside Burma participated in the training.
“Indigenous women struggling under the oppression of the military dictatorship are denied participation in family decision making and other social activity. No seat is conceded to them by men. That is the main reason why we are giving the training so that the women can involve themselves in decision making” said Mrs. Dawt Chin, in-charge of Women and Children’s Affair of the CHRO.
Dawt Chin also urged Chin women, accounting for half of the Chin population, to involve themselves in decision making and to eradicate the traditional prejudices. She also said that instead of standing behind, the women need to come forward in political and social sectors.
The training has been arranged for the majority of the women to attend in order to strengthen their capacity in different fields.
“I understand that because of our traditional beliefs we did consider and give space to women. We need to uplift their qualification and give them space” said a trainee.
Chin women and human rights organizations have come forward to see that the women who lost the role of decision making according to Chin traditional custom and culture, start to focus again and make capacity building of women so that they enjoy equal rights with men.
“I feel so satisfied with this sort of training. Before the training I never thought it would be so” said a woman trainee from Saiha.
The training was held from August 28 to 31.
Chin Human Rights Organization was formed in 1995 and often holds human rights and women’s training programmes on the Indo–Burma border.
CHIN YOUTH CONFERENCE SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED
By Our Staff Reporter
September 4, 2006- Dallas, Texas: The Third North America Chin Youth Conference organized by the Chin Youth Organization of North America was successfully held on 2nd and 3rd of September, 2006, in Dallas, Texas, USA.
During a two-day long conference, attended by about 400 Chin students and youth, the participants engaged in various sports and other activities such as soccer, volleyball, fashion show and beauty contest. The competitions organized on various items include a Chin cultural related drawings, extemporaneous speech on Chin related topics, essay writings on a given topics, and singing competitions.
“This kind of gathering is very good and necessary because this is the place where we the young people get a chance to get together to promote mutual understanding among us”, said Monica Uk, a sophomore Biologic student at Hook College of Maryland, who led the audience during the singing of the song entitled “Ahme Ram Lai Tlang” what could be considered as National Enthem of Chinland.
In his address to audience in the conference, Salai Elaisa Vahnie, a delegate from the newly formed Chin Student Union of North America emphasized the importance of coming together and working together as Chin youth. “We must work together where our objectives and goals are similar so as to eliminate the gap between youth and student while working towards bringing about the betterment of the future Chin society as a whole. We also must be convinced ourselves that CSUNA and CYO are not doing any individual’s interest, but our National interest”, said the delegate.
During the conference, leaders of CSUNA, CYO, and Dallas Chin Community also discussed means and ways to strengthen a unified effort to build national unity and solidarity among the Chin people.
Commenting on his appointment as newly elected chairman of the CYO, Salai Lairamthang says, “As I have been here in the United States for a short period of time, taking the chairmanship role of CYO indeed is a bit challenging for me because at this time, I am not so familiar with the thinking and attitudes of our Chin youth on which I want to spend sometimes actually”.
“However, if our young men and women are to stand with me and support me in behind, I am ready to lead. With the close cooperation and solidarity of all youth in our future movement, I am confident that we can move our Chin Youth Organization (CYO) from regional level to the national level where all youth from different tribes of the Chins together join and be accommodated”, he adds.
CYO was founded in December, 2000 with the aims to preserve social, national and culture heritages of the Chin, and to promote and protect the Chin literature and traditional values. The next conference is slated to be held in Washington DC.
RIGHTS GROUP PRAISES US FOR ALLOWING MYANMAR ‘S CHIN REFUGEES
Agence France Presse
(AFP) October 25: A rights group that advocates for Myanmar ‘s ethnic Chin minority Wednesday applauded the US government for waiving a law that would allow Chin refugees to come to the United States .
More than 80,000 Chin refugees currently live in Malaysia , India and Thailand . Many fled their homes in western Myanmar due to fighting between Chin rebels and the country’s oppressive military regime.
“This will give the Chin the opportunity to live a normal life,” said Amy Alexander, legal consultant for the Chin Human Rights Organization.
The waiver exempts the Chin from a provision in a US anti-terrorism law — put in place after the September 11 attacks — which bars refugees who have supported armed groups from resettling in the country.
Many Chin refugees provided support for the Chin National Front or its armed wing, the Chin National Army, which has battled Myanmar ‘s military regime for autonomy since 1988. Myanmar ‘s government stands accused by rights groups of killings, torture, rape and other abuses against ethnic minorities.
The secretive regime is also regularly criticized over the treatment of political opponents, particularly prodemocracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for most of the past 17 years.
The Chins, who are 95 percent Christian in a mostly Buddhist nation, have also been persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Many fled to neighboring countries where they have received few protections, often unable to work, attend school or access social services.
“The Chins are living in pretty deplorable conditions in exile,” Alexander said. “They are treated as illegal immigrants.”
The waiver could allow up to 2,000 Chin refugees into the US annually, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.
In addition to the Chins, the Karen, another ethnic minority in exile in Thailand , received the same waiver in August.
“Hopefully this is a sign that the US is looking to extend waivers to other groups,” Alexander said. Some 17 ethnic groups have battled Myanmar ‘s government to seek autonomy for their regions. Although most have now signed ceasefires, the Chin have not. A 2002 Human Rights Watch report estimated that the Chin National Army had about 500 fighters.
RICE EXEMPTS CHIN REFUGEES FOR US RESETTLEMENT, WELCOMED BY CHRO
October 20, 2006 – The Chin Human Rights Organisation today welcomed the decision of the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to allow Burmese refugees into the United States even if they have supported rebels fighting against the Burmese government.
Rice exercised her discretionary exemption authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, to allow Chin refugees to resettle in the United States even if they have provided “material support” to the Chin National Front or Chin National Army.
“This is a welcome message,” said Victor Biak Lian, a member of the board of directors of the CHRO, adding that the waiver would generate new hope to the many vulnerable Chin refugees, who have been on-hold for resettlement to the United States.
Chin refugees from Burma have fled mainly to Malaysia, Thailand, and India in order to escape the random human rights violation of the junta.
Under the exemption order, those who are accepted “must meet all other eligibility requirements for resettlement — including that they pose no danger to the safety and security of the United States,” said the announcement of the US state department on Thursday.
“Exercising the exemption authority allows the United States to resume significant processing of the thousands of extremely vulnerable ethnic Chin refugees living in Malaysia and elsewhere,” said the announcement.
Under the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the REAL ID Act of 2005, persons including refugees and asylum seekers who have provided support of any kind including material support to “terrorist organizations” and people engaged in “terrorist activities” are barred from entering US territory.
However, rights advocates, campaigners and critics have severely criticized the law, which was principally aimed to protect US citizens from terrorism, saying it has negatively impacted refugees and asylum seekers whose very reason of becoming refugees and asylum seekers is terrorism.
The CHRO, which has been advocating and lobbying the US government to waive the US law for Chin asylum seekers, in their statement released earlier this year admitted that a majority of Chin asylum seekers and refugees have provided some form of support at some point in their lives to the Chin National Front.
However, both the CNF and CNA, which have been waging a low-level rebellion against the Burmese military junta since 1988, are not on the State Department’s list of international terrorist organizations.
“This move (exemption order) shows that the US understands that Burmese pro-democracy organisations (both armed and non-violent groups) are not terrorist
groups as claimed by the Burmese junta,” said Victor Biak Lian.
The decision will now allow the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to approve eligible Chin refugees for admission to the United States.
The Burmese junta, however, claimed that there are no Burmese refugees and the so-called refugees are families and relatives of terrorists, who the junta term as ‘destructive elements’ wishing to create mayhem and instability inside the country.
The Secretary of State has twice previously exercised this same inapplicability authority with respect to Karen refugees in camps in Thailand who were found otherwise eligible except for having provided material support to the Karen National Union or the Karen
National Liberation Army.
THE THREAT OF HIV/AIDS AMONG CHIN PEOPLE
By Piang Lilian
27 September, 2006
“What about A.I.D.S? Should we be fearful of it?” A Chin church leader asked me in Rangoon in the early 90’s.
“Yes,” was all I could muster, feeling somewhat guilty as my knowledge in the epidemic was very limited at the time. For most of Chin people, HIV/AIDS, locally referred to as A.I.D.S. (pronounced letter by letter), was some thing relatively new, even exotic, back then, and you hardly heard of any cases of AIDS among Chin people.
The situation has since changed completely in a span of only 10+ years. HIV/AIDS has spread among Chin people like a wild fire, including among those living in remote villages. If you visit any town or village in Chin State right now, it is hard to find any one whose relatives, neighbours, or friends have not been affected by the disease. Here are some anecdotal evidence that HIV/AIDS has spread beyond our wildest dream — or, rather, nightmare — only a decade ago:
– A young man came home to a village in Thantlang township from Phakant, the famous jade mining town in Kachin State where the HIV infection rate among injecting drug users is said to be over 90%. With good looks and plenty of money he brought back, he was popular among young women in the surrounding villages, many of whom he dated before eventually marrying one from his own village. Only a few years later, he fell ill and died from AIDS, and his widow has also fallen ill and is diagnosed with AIDS. He was believed to have had many sexual partners before getting married. Every one is on edge but, to make the matter worst, there are no medical facilities in the area where they can get blood test, let alone treatment for AIDS.
– A Sunday school teacher from Falam had a neighbour who was sick all the time with various illnesses. He was in the hospital for quite a long time after which the doctors finally gave up on him and was carried home to die. A nurse accompanied him home and told his family, in front of visiting neighbours, that he was suffering from AIDS.
– A Sizang/Zo church leader confided that some apple growers from his home town, after transporting and selling their crop in Mandalay, liked to visit entertainment venues with their hard-earned money. Unprotected sex with commercial sex workers is an extremely high risk activity, with a one-in-four chance of contracting the HIV virus (see statistical data below).
According to UNAIDS (www.unaids.org), HIV prevalence rate among adults (age 15 to 49) in Burma is 1.3% in 2005 (it is 1.4% in neighbouring Thailand). Groups with the highest risk are injecting drug users (prevalence rate 37.1%) and female sex workers (26%). And Chin State is no exception. In fact, it may be in one of the worst-effected areas.
According to a report titled “HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?” by New York based Council on Foreign Relations, various new strains of HIV virus infecting mainland SE-Asia originated in Burma, and spread via four separate trade routes. One of these routes passes through Kalewa-Tamu area where many Chin people live.
What is being done?
There are a number of international NGOs and UN agencies providing services related to HIV/AIDS (raising awareness, counselling, treatment, care, etc.) in Burma. However, only a limited number operate in Chin State. They are:
WorldVision Myanmar has set up a project office in Tedim and are now said to be in the process of building up the team. Services provided may include raising awareness, advocacy, limited treatment and care, and rehabilitation.
2) Population Services International (PSI)
With a project office in Kalaymyo servicing Chin State, PSI’s strategy is to concentrate of one of the major modes of transmission: heterosexual intercourse. PSI is known as the “condom people” (they promote the use of condom), which is some what unfair, as their real approach is what they call “ABC”:
A – Abstain (from sexual intercourse)
B – Be faithful (to your partner)
C – use Condom to prevent HIV/AIDS (if you cannot control yourself).
3) Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC)
MCC engages in awareness campaign and provide limited financial assistance and counselling to people living with AIDS.
4) Community groups under the auspices of MCC
There are community groups in Falam, Haka, Kalay-Tahan, and Thantlang areas raising HIV/AIDS awareness since 2002. This umbrella group has more than 25 full-time community workers travelling to towns and villages and providing the awareness education door-to-door. They also visit target high-risk groups and areas. Their aim is to educate the general public about HIV/AIDS and obtain a change of behaviour in order to avoid risky activities.
The group also provides educational material (leaflets, sample condoms, protective gloves) and limited information on other diseases such as TB and malaria.
5) Bible Colleges
HIV/AIDS education is incorporated into the curriculum in Myanmar Institute of Theology in Rangoon and most bible colleges in Chin State. The aim is to get graduates pass the information onto church members and the public when they go back to their own community.
6) Care Myanmar and Salvation Army are also active in Kalay-Tahan area, but no information is currently available as to what their objectives and strategies are.
What can be done? What needs to be done?
a) Be aware of the extent of HIV prevalence in your area (i.e. your native town or village). Also find out what groups or agencies, if any, are active in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and provide any assistance whenever possible.
b) If there are no groups or agencies working in your area, encourage local churches and civic groups to start working on raising awareness. Help them find resources (funding, training, support material, networking, etc.) to get started. UNAIDS, UNICEF, most large
c) At a personal level, learn more about HIV/AIDS, how it can be transmitted, how to protect yourself, and what to do should you ever contract the virus. Also learn about how to treat people with HIV/AIDS with respect (i.e. you can live normally and safely with people with HIV/AIDS as long as you avoid risky behaviour).
d) Share what you learn with your family members and friends. Remember Chin people living overseas are also at risk.
BACK COVER POEM:
A LAND ABANDONED
By Van Biak Thang
Upon those ranges of high mountains,
Lonely as though having no companions,
There lies a land of beauty and biota
Along the north-west margin of Burma.
Captured and tortured like a prisoner,
A land, once but free and reached no longer,
Still threatened and shaken by the junta,
To be heard and cared has only a cicada.
Ill-treated, malnourished and unattended,
Its people, still forced and commanded,
In the land, not forgotten but downtrodden,
Alone are left just to suffer and be beaten.
Rejected, neglected and isolated
Away from the world, if mentioned,
Chinland, being cleansed and dictated,
Not forgotten but still remains abandoned.