Volume VI. No VI. September-October 2003

Rhododendron News

Volume VI. No VI. September-October 2003

Chin Human Rights Organization



Editorial: Waiting for Change for 15 years

Human Rights:

• Land Confiscated to Build Military Base

• Villagers Forced to Repair Army Camp

• Crackdown on NLD Forced Suu Kyi’s Supporters into Exile



• Burmese Refugees Protesters Arrested in India


Press Release & Statements:

• CHRO: The Burmese Generals are lying to The World

• Statement by Pu Lian Uk (MP Elect-Haka Constitency) Regarding USDA Rally in Haka

• CHRO’s Statement to the United States Congressional Hearing on Burma





September 18, 2003 marks 15th anniversary of the military coup in Burma. Fifteen years ago on this day, the military junta that called itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council SLORC came to power by killing thousands of innocent civilians who demanded the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma. When the SLORC took state power, they promised to the whole world that for the first in almost thirty years, they’d allow political parties to exist who could freely participate in general elections. They promised the transfer of power to the winning party. The junta, having gained notoriety the world over for butchering thousands of peaceful demonstrators on its way to power, repeatedly assured the world that they would go back to the barrack after transferring state power to the winning political party in the general election. As promised, political parties were formed, elections were held but the junta shamelessly broke its promise by not recognizing the result of the elections.


It’s been 15 years that the people of Burma, including the Chin people have been patiently waiting for change, and 13 years have already elapsed since the Chin people along with the whole country expressed their desire for a peaceful democratic change by voting in a fair democratic election in 1990. After 15 years, the very same junta that vowed to honor the election result has not retreated to the barrack and is still controlling the rein of power against the wills of the people.


It seems that transferring power to the winning political party is still not in the agenda of the ruling military junta, renamed since 1997 as the State Peace and Development Council. Currently there are about 35 elected MPs in jail along with 1,300 political prisoners in Burma! Many more elected Parliamentarians including 3 Chin MPs have fled the country in fear of persecutions. At least two of the 13 Chin MP elects have served long term jail sentence. The junta has also banned all of the major political parties representing the people of Chin State.


A humanitarian side of military’s misrule, there are about 200,000 refugees (most of them are Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan) in Thailand and there are well over 50,000 Chin refugees in India. It is estimated that about one million people are internally displaced in Burma, and most of them, again, are non-Burman ethnic nationalities. Burma’s most valuable resource, young generations have been denied the right to education as the country’s higher education institutions have been shut down for most of the past one and a-half decade.


Since 1994, the United Nations has passed resolutions to resolutions condemning the Burmese military junta’s abysmal human rights record. The International Labor Organization had imposed sanction on Burma for its world’s record-breaking practice of forced labor. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights was forced to cut short his investigative visit to Burma in March 2003 after discovering a listening device in a room where he was interviewing political prisoners. The Malaysian diplomat Razali, the United Nations Special Envoy’s marathon trips to Burma have so far produced no tangible results and his 11th round of his efforts to facilitate national reconciliation and political liberalization promises no solution in sight. As a matter of basic principle, the United Nations, since 1994, has called for a tripartite dialogue; one that include the military junta, the National League for Democracy, the winning party of the 1990 elections headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of Burma’s ethnic people. Burma’s generals have not heeded the opinions of the international community and have continued their efforts to cling to power however they can. Secretary of State Collin Powel of the United States called them “thugs” in his op-ed in the New York Times, a term that most suits Burma’s ruling generals.


The policy of free enterprise, envisions the junta, will bring Burma to prosperity and development. But its version of an open market system has not been as fruitful as the generals have expected. The failure of Visit Myanmar Year, a desperate attempt on the part of the general to woo tourists and foreign investment, and the collapse of banking sector in 2002 clearly suggest that the junta is incapable of making any kind of positive reform. An interesting fact is that almost 60 giant foreign companies have withdrawn from Burma in the last decade. They say there is no way businesses can function in Burma without supporting the military junta which has been accused of widespread human rights abuses. Meanwhile, under tight control of the regime, textile companies are booming in Burma. But the passage of Burmese Freedom and Democracy Acts of 2003, an economic embargo recently imposed by one of Burma’s largest garment importing country, United States has already thrown most of such companies out of business. The question now arises “when will the Generals in Burma learn that justice, peace, and development are inter-related?”


After fifteen years, the junta Intelligence Chief, recently named Prime Minister of the ruling SPDC made another vow. Unlike when the junta took over power 15 years ago, the recent promise made no mention of whether the army would go back to barrack. Interestingly, General Khin Ngunt proposed the so-called roadmap to democracy outlining his vision to bring Burma to a new developed modern state. The roadmap does not mention the roles of Aung San Suu Kyi or the NLD or the ethnic representatives, nor does it incorporate basic principles that have been espoused by the United Nations. Nevertheless, the junta, armed with unrestrained power to intimidate its people, has been forcing people across Burma, including Chin people, to show their support for the roadmap.


Perhaps most disappointing for the 52 million people of Burma is that the junta which has been terrorizing them for almost two decades was praised by its regional ally, ASEAN in its recent meeting in the Indonesian island of Bali. In fact, the ASEAN’s constructive engagement itself is a failure from the very beginning. It is time for ASEAN and our big neighbors China and India to synchronize with the European Union, United States and Canada in pressuring the Burmese military thugs to move toward a democratic change in in order to restore peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region.





20 August 2003: The expansion of two new Burmese army battalions in Chin State is taking a heavy toll on the local populations. Commander of infantry battalion based in the southern Chin State town of Mindat, has ordered confiscation of nearly 1000 acres of land from residents of Matupi town. The confiscated lands will be used to build bases for Light Infantry Battalions 104 and 105, which have recently been deployed in the area. The order to confiscate lands took effect on June 20, 2003.


To carry out the task of building the new army bases, members of the Village Peace and Development Council have been assigned different responsibilities, according to a local man whose land was also confiscated by the authorities.


The land confiscation has affected the livelihood of about 80 households whose primary means of survival depend on cultivating the confiscated lands. Military authorities are not giving any compensation to the affected households. The confiscated lands represent the very backbone of the economy of this relatively self-sufficient town of Matupi. The lands had been used for horticulture, fish and cattle farming.


The new army bases will now encompass 550 acres of horticultural land and about 200 acres of lands of fish and cattle farms and grazing areas.



10 August 2003: Chin villagers in the vicinity of Lailenpi, Matupi Township were forced to repair an army camp from August 2 to 10, headman of a nearby village told CHRO. Captain Myo Zaw Htun, commander of company 4 of Light Infantry Battalion 274 stationed at Lailenpi village, ordered six villages in his jurisdiction to contribute forced labor to repair the army camp.


The order stipulated that six villagers from each village tracts ‘volunteer’ for the construction of the army camp. The village tracts include Lailenpi, Tongbu, Satu, Sakhai, Tisi and Zisi. A total of 36 villagers were compelled to contribute unpaid labor for nine consecutive days. They order also warned that if the task was not completed within nine days, 30 additional villagers from each village tract will be asked to participate in the forced labor.


Forced laborers were required to supply themselves with rations and equipments and were not paid a penny for their labor. In addition, each village tract was made to supply 300 twigs for fencing, 3000 round bamboos and 50 pointed bamboo sticks for repairing the army camp at Lentlang.



[ Aung San Suu Kyi visited Chin State in April of 2003 and the Chin people everywhere warmly welcomed her despite the fact that authorities had threatened them with severe consequences if they participated in welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi. Below is an interview of 10 members from Matupi town who participated in preparing the arrival of Aung San Suu Kyi to their town. Due to their roles in preparing for Suu Kyi’s visit in Matupi, they were sought for arrest by the Burmese army. They are now seeking asylum at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in New Delhi, India.]


1. Name: B.L Thang

Age : 37 years old

Birth place : Matupi

Religion : Christian

Sex : Male

Ethnic group : Chin

Marital status : Married

Occupation : Assistant Secretary ( National League For Democracy )


2 . Name: Ling Ma

Age : 47 years

Birth place : Matupi

Religion : Christian

Sex : Male

Ethnic group : Chin

Marital status : Married

Occupation : Member ( NLD )


3. Name: Mai Hei

Age : 39

Birth Place: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Ethnic group: Chin

Marital status: Married

Occupation: NLD member


4. Name: David Luai

Age: 33 years

Birth Place: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Ethnic group: Chin

Marital status: Married

Occupation: Member ( NLD )


5. Name: Pu Lawng Pan

Age: 68 years

Birth Place: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Ethnic group: Chin

Occupation: NLD Member


6. Name: Khing Sai

Age: 35

Birth Place: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Ethnic group: Chin

Marital status: Married

Occupation: Incharge of Culture Department ( NLD )


7. Name : Ba Hu ( Myo Chit )

Age: 28 years

Place of Birth: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Marital status: Single

Occupation: Student ( University of Mandalay )



8. Name: Mang Luan

Age: 25 years

Place of Birth: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Marital status: Single

Occupation: Student


9. Name: Nga La

Age: 30 years

Place of Birth: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Marital status: Single

Occupation: Student


10. Name: U Thang Ceu

Age: 60 years

Place of Birth: Matupi

Religion: Christian

Sex: Male

Marital status: Married

Occupation: EC Member ( NLD )


CHRO 1. Why did you leave Burma?

The opposition leader, Daw Aung San Su Kyi was scheduled to come to Matupi on 9th April, 2003 and the NLD party together with Matupi Student Union announced the forthcoming arrival of Daw Aung San Su Kyi to the public and told them to welcome her and listen to the speech made by her. The NLD party and Matupi Student Union (MSU) were the two parties that should made avail of everything needed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her group during their stay in Matupi.

She was to come on 9th of April but because of the disturbance of the military government, she could not come on that day and had to stay at Thilin for one day and on the next day, she arrived to Matupi at 1: 30 PM on 10th April,2003. There were 6 people along with her and they came by two cars.

At the instant, the government also organized a group that would destroy whatever plans we made for her arrival. The people that were included in a group by the government are

1. U Min Zaw ( Member of Block Peace and Development Council )

2. U Za Thi ( Secretary, Township Peace and Development Council)

3. U Cang Va (Immigration Officer )

4. U Tun Sein ( Township Law and Justice Officer )

5. Dr.Ro Uk ( Township Health Officer )

6. Name ( unknown ) ( Education officer )


That group always investigated what we did, where we lived and what we planned and reported back to Military Intelligence. The government also gave the warning notice that no one would welcome Daw Aung San Su Kyi.


Just before the arrival of Aung San Suu Kyi, the military Government sent Thura Aye Myint, the Sport Minister of SPDC to Matupi. He gathered the representatives from various groups, organizations and Churches except NLD party and Matupi Student Union and gave them Ks.50,000 each and the second-hand clothing. At the mean time, he told them that no one would welcome Daw Aung San Su Kyi and her party. When the NLD party and M.S.U came to know about this, they persuaded the public to welcome her no matter what. When the government knew about our effort, they collected the names of the members of NLD and MSU secretly.


Daw Aung San Su Kyi got Matupi on 10th April and on the very same day the deputy Minister of Religion Thura Aung Ko arrived too. There were only 28 people to welcome him as all the people went to welcome Daw Aung San Su Kyi. As per the plan, they told the public to welcome Thura Aung Ko and when they saw only very few people they were greatly annoyed and they made a plan to arrest the members of NLD and MSU who were involved in persuading the public to welcome Daw Aung San Su Kyi.


As soon as she arrived in Matupi, all the pastors made the mass prayer and they went to NLD office and made the ceremony of re-opening of NLD office. Then she gave the speech to the public. While she was giving the speech, the military junta cut all the power and telephone lines. At first, we announced that no one would take video and photos the occasion as it would later make harm to the people seen in the video by the junta. When we saw three people taking the video of the event, the steward duty snatched that video camera and kept the video camera at the NLD office. Later, the Military Intelligence claimed that the cameras were of them and accused us of stealing their cameras. Regarding about this there is big problem between us and they did not give chance to explain the fact. After the speech Daw Aung San Su Kyi continued her trip to Mindat at 4:30 Pm on the same day.


After the skirmish between the pro-junta and the followers of Daw Aung San Su Kyi at Depeyin on May 30, the sixth people group organized by the junta called eight EC members of NLD on June 2 and threatened us to close down the NLD office in Matupi. After that threat, we closed the NLD office.


Then on 4th June 2003 at 12:00 pm the military government issued the order to arrest those who were involved in arranging the welcoming of Daw Aung San Su Kyi and her party. On that night the secretary of NLD, Pu Aung Thang, youth security president of NLD, U Thla Mu and the president of MSU, Salai Pa Thang were arrested. On the next morning, they were sent to Mandalay. On June 17th 2003, they were given the 10 years sentence each. Nobody knows about them since then.

CHRO 2 How did you know your arrest and how did you manage to flee from them?


After we knew that the above three people were arrested, all the people who were involved in the welcoming activities of Daw Aung San Su Kyi hided in the forest. On the next night, the soldiers and police came to our respective houses to arrest us. The police and soldiers who came were Hung Thang (Police Officer), Van Kung ( Police ) , U Ki Tung ( Police Officer ) and the rest were other five Burmese soldiers. They took all the national identification cards and ration cards and our wives were told to come and sign at the police office on every one month since we were not there when they came to arrest us. And they also told our wives that they could arrest and send them to jail instead of us whenever they like. They took advantage of our absence and asked money frequently and if they didn’t have to give, they got them to borrow from others.

CHRO 3. How did you came to India?


India is the nearest neighboring country from Burma and the largest democracy country in the world and we took that it would be the safest place for us. We set froth from Matupi to Lehring, then Sakhing, then Bava, then Darling and then Sapi . Sapi is the Mizoram state of India. Then we again went to Tuipang and then to Lawngtlai. Then from Lawngtlai to Aizawl. From Aizawl to Gawahati and the last destination is New Delhi. All of us who fled to New Delhi are ten altogether.

CHRO 4. How do you survive in New Delhi?


NLD (LA) (Exile) gives us Rs.500 each and we get Rs.5000 from them. We give Rs.2000 for renting a room and Rs.800 for water and electricity bill and the remaining Rs 2200 for food. It is not enough for us to survive and we collected the unwanted vegetables thrown in the market place at nights. Now we are applying refugee status from UNHCR in New Delhi.






Chinland Guardian

24 October, 03

By Salai Za Ceu Lian

Over 400 political refugees from Burma who have been gathering in front of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Delhi, India to protest denial of their refugee claims today enter their fifth day, despite arrest and continued harassment from local Indian authorities.

The protesters include members of recognized refugees who say their petty monthly Subsistence Allowance has been arbitrarily reduced or terminated by UNHCR, and a high number of asylum seekers who are asking protection from the United Nations refugee agency. Many refugees are also asking that they be resettled to a third country in light of the failure of UNHCR to provide them adequate protection and humanitarian assistance in India.


Reports say that last night local Indian police arrested and incarcerated at least 150 protesters. But Chinland Guardian has learnt that all detainees have now been released and many detainees claim they were physically mistreated and assaulted during detention. The protesters say officials of UNHCR have called in the police to dissuade them from continuing their protest against the Office, an allegation that has been confirmed to be true in the past.


The protest, the refugees say, is a result of arbitrary policies of UNHCR office in New Delhi, which have cornered Burmese refugees to intolerable inhumane conditions. While the agency has partially or entirely terminated the monthly assistance that has been provided to Burmese refugees, it has also rejected hundreds of new refugee applicants on the ground that UNHCR is facing financial constraints and that the claims asserted by Burmese asylum seekers are not credible. This, the refugees strongly disagree. They point out that because of the preconceived suspicion UNHCR personnel have on the motive of the asylum seekers, many refugees were not even asked questions that are relevant to their clams during their interviews. One refugee whose application for refugee status was rejected say that in his interview, he was asked whether was has ever ridden a horse or an elephant, a question he feels is neither relevant to his claim for refugees nor to UNHCR criteria which govern refugee recognition. Many refugees also claim that the interviewing officers often use methods to intimidate them during the interview, hampering the refugee’s ability to say what they want.


For those who have been recognized as refugees, a monthly Subsistence Allowance or SA, Rs.1400 is the only source of income they rely on to survive in New Delhi. Under the policy of “Self-reliance program for urban refugees” introduced since 2001, UNHCR has stopped providing assistance to many Burmese refugees. As part of this program, UNHCR has encouraged refugees to take vocational trainings so that they could start seeking means of self-sufficiency. It says providing humanitarian assistance to Burmese refugees has deterred them from making effort to seek self-reliance. UNHCR says that vocational trainings will help urban refugee to get employment in the informal sector. Local NGOs helping the Burmese refugees are strongly skeptical about the practicability of this position. They argue that since Burmese refugees are not legally permitted to work in India they will have no use of their skills, let alone the fact that there are millions of unemployed people in India.


Burmese refugees say they are fighting for their basic survival as human beings. UNHCR is insisting that Burmese refugees can work in informal sector of employment, which in essence is driving the refugees to illegality in the absence of legal work permit from the government of India. If any irony exists, it would be that the agency of the United Nations is enforcing illegality.




Chin Human Rights Organization

Press Release

October 20, 2003


SPDC and USDA Forcibly Rally Thousands of Chin People against Their Wills in Support of Gen. Khin Ngunt Seven Points “Roadmap to Democracy”



The Chin Human Rights Organization deeply deplores and condemns the act of State Peace and Development Council SPDC and it’s henchman-organization Union Solidarity and Development Association USDA for forcing the Chin people against their wills to rally in supports of “Gen. Khin Ngunt’s seven point roadmap to democracy” in Haka, the capital of Chin state on October 16, 2003.

Chin Human Rights Organization have confirmed that all the students and government employee in Haka were forced to attend the rally threatening that any one who refuse to participate in the rally will be expelled from their school or their job. All major towns in Chin states such as Falam, Matupi, Mindat, Thantlang, Tiddim, and Tonzang are compelled to send representatives to participate in the rally. Furthermore, residents of Haka town and nearby villages were forced to send one person per household to attend the rally. Any household that fails to attend the rally is subject to fine 1,000 Kyats and necessary punishment by higher authority (Kyat is Burmese currency). Those who participate in the rally are divided into three columns, and each column had to wear the Burmese traditional dress in uniform.


On October 17, 2003 the SPDC’s newspaper New Light of Myanmar covered the story of forced-rally in Haka under the title of “Mass rally held in Chin State to support Prime Minister’s clarification on seven-point political roadmap”. The newspaper deliberately tried to deceive the readers by attacking the pro-democracy opposition party and praising the achievements of the military junta. The junta’s newspaper printed in Rangoon was unable to spell correctly all the names of the Chin individuals mentioned in their story.


Under the Burmese military junta, the Chin people are suffering rampant human rights violations such as religious persecutions, forced labor, arbitrarily arrest, torture and abuse against women which resulted thousands of Chin to flee from their home countries.


In fact, the Chin people a long with the whole Burma have expressed their wills to democratic change in 1988 by protesting against the Burmese Socialist Program Party BSPP even in the smallest village in Chin state. Again in 1990 general election in Burma, the Chin peoples showed their wills to democratic change by decisively voting for pro-democracy candidates in Chin states and Burma as a whole. In April 2003, while Aung San Suu Kyi was visiting Chin state, ten of thousands of Chin people greeted her in spite of the Junta’s threatening the local people that those who meet Aung San Suu Kyi will be severely punished.


The rally organized by USDA under the guidance of SPDC in Haka, Chin state on October 16, clearly depicted that Burmese military junta called State Peace and Development Council is trying to consolidate its hold on power by deceiving the whole world that the people of Burma supported their illegal leadership.


The United Nations and the international community at large have in the past consistently deplored the systematic violations of human rights in Burma, and have repeatedly called on the ruling military regime to show respect for human rights in the country. However, the fact that the military regime has continued to violate human rights in defiance of international opinion shows that the time has come for such rhetoric to be translated into concrete actions on the part of the international community.


Chin Human Rights Organization


For More information please contact: Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Director, CHRO

at 510 595 1872



October 18, 2003

Washington DC

The rally, entitled as “- A mass rally, organized by the Union Solidarity and Development Association, held in support of the Prime Minister’s clarification on seven policies and programmes of the State (roadmap) in Vamthu Maung Sports Garden in Haka, Chin State” and published in the New Light of Burma from YANGON, 17 Oct ,2003 was a big lie of the Burmese Generals to deceive the world.


The rally was a repetition of the exact procedure how the illegitimate “Constitution of Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma 1974 , was adopted in false referendum by forcing the people at gun point to vote in support of the constitution in this way.


All those who read and gave speeches in the rally were all government servants now or before who would be not only expelled from their job but arrested, tortured and jailed if they refuse to read this pretended support in fear of the military arrest and torture.


The whole Chin population as a Christian State who practice democracy in their Christian religious institutions are in full support of democracy and federal form of the Union constitution in which Chin State could join the federal Union as a conststituent state of the federal Union.


This was clearly shown by the population rejecting to vote the Generals-supported-candidate Pu Van Kulh, Ex Colonel and Minister of Social Welfare in the Cabinet of the late dictator General Ne Win and Member of State Council under the socialist constitution 1974, Member of politburo of Burma Socialist Program Party(BSPP) / National Unity Party(NUP) and voted me for their representative as a Member of parliament in the 1990 Burma general election.


This assembly and rally clearly showed how the generals are trying to lie blatantly to the world. Their stupid trick cannot be hidden and the world is on the side of the Chin population and the democratic forces of the Union led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.


The generals by trying to lie the world in this way are certainly digging their own pit-fall into which they would fall not before long.


Not only that they forced them to lie at gun point, the buildings shown in this article also are all to lie as if the buildings here are in the Chin State. The buildings shown in the picture in that news paper with the article there are in Burma proper, not the buildings in the Chin State. There have not been such a single building like these modern building structure in the Chin State as it has been neglected to establish even the infrastructure to minimally develop the state within the period of the military rule.


Lian Uk,

Member of Parliament Elect

Haka Constituency, the capital of the Chin State

Now in political exile, USA









Elton Gallegly, Chairman



James Leach, Chairman

SUBJECT: Human Rights in Burma: Fifteen Years Post Military Coup





The Honorable Lorne W. Craner, Assistant Secretary Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State

Mr. Matthew Daley, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State



October 1, 2003



The Chin Human Rights Organization is an independent non-governmental human rights organization. We aim to protect and promote human rights among the Chin people, and to contribute to the movement for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma. Founded in 1995, CHRO has worked to document the human rights situations of the Chin people in Burma’s western region. CHRO’s reports have been cited by the US State Department, Amnesty International and the International Labor Organization.


CHRO wishes to express its gratitude for the opportunity to deliver this submission to this important hearing. The United States has always been at the forefront of support for democracy and human rights in Burma. We are grateful for the State Department’s annual reports on International Religious Freedom on Burma, which have been highlighting the suffering of persecuted religious minorities. In addition, CHRO considers the promulgation of Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 a very important impetus for the achievement of democracy and human rights in Burma.


Despite recent cosmetic changes that have taken place in Rangoon, human rights conditions among Burma’s ethnic people, including the Chin people continue to remain a matter of grave concern. In fact, human rights conditions of the Chin people have become worse and the number of displaced persons and refugees has increased in recent years. Until the incident of May 30 in which the regime launched an orchestrated campaign of terror and violence against the NLD, the regime has enjoyed international praise for ‘progress’ it has made in initiating national reconciliation. However, this has not been accompanied by a parallel improvement in the areas of human rights. Under the reign of the State Peace and Development Council, the Chin people have continued to experience untold miseries and hardships as a result of the systematic abuse of their fundamental human rights.

There is a direct link between the growing abuse against the Chin people and the increase in militarization of the Chin areas. In the last fifteen years since the regime took over power, the number of army battalions stationed in Chin State has increased up to 10 times. This increase has been accompanied by the rapid acceleration in the level of human rights abuses across Chin State. The kind of human rights violations suffered by the Chins today are the same as those that have been extensively reported among ethnic Karen, Shan, and Karenni on the eastern border. These violations manifest in the forms of arbitrary arrest and detention, forced labor, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. Moreover, the overwhelming percentage of Christians among the Chin people has also brought abuses in the form of religious persecution. Today, religious persecution is a matter of primary concern among the Chin people. Since 1999, the US State Department has singled out Burma as a country that systematically violates religious freedom.[1] The annual reports have cited a significant amount of cases of religious persecution involving the Chin people.



Religious Persecution

Religious persecution poses a matter of grave concern among the Chin people. Chin Human Rights Organization, since 1995, has documented a range of human rights abuses by the military regime against the Chin people, including violations of religious freedom.


Christian religion has deep root in the Chin society. Since the first Chin conversion in the late 1900 following the arrival of American Baptist missionaries to the Chin Hills, Christianity gradually became accepted by a large majority of the Chin populations, who had practiced traditional animism for centuries. After a century since then, Christianity now is second culture for many Chin people.[2] Chin people today claim that more than 90 percent of Chins are Christians. Because of the overwhelming importance of Christianity among the Chins, the junta, which strongly identifies itself with Buddhism and has been preoccupied with building national unity has been trying to promote Buddhism over Christianity in Chin State with the belief that once the Chins are converted to Buddhism they can be easily subjugated. For this reason, the regime has resorted to persecuting the Chins, a drastic action that involves arbitrarily removing Christian crosses erected by churches on hilltops throughout Chin State and openly directing and supporting coerced conversions of Christians into Buddhism. The regime has also destroyed several Church buildings. For example on February 20, 2000, Captain Khin Maung Myint ordered the destruction of a Chin Christian Church at Min Tha village in Tamu Township of Magwe Division, an area mostly populated by the Chins and is adjacent to the Chin State. In the same township on July 13, 2001, the same army officer forced villagers to destroy a United Pentecostal Church in Ton Kyaw village. Captain Khin Maung Myint gave similar order to destroy an Assembly of God Church building in Chauk Nat Kyi village in Tamu Township.[3]



Through the Hill Buddhist Mission, a program directly sponsored by the military regime, Buddhist monks have migrated to the Chin State. In every town and major villages in Chin State, the regime has established a Buddhist pagoda and station monks who are closely working with local army battalions. Buddhist pagodas are often built in places where Christian monuments such as crosses have formerly stood, and Christians have been either forced to donate money or forced to build the pagodas.[4]



The regime is putting close scrutiny on preachers and evangelists, and in many instances has made effort to censor the contents of sermons delivered by Christian pastors and ministers. Citing the risk of security, authorities have either not permitted or arbitrarily set the number of people who could attend religious festivals and conferences. Moreover, the regime has still not permitted the printing and publication of Bibles, forcing Chin Christians to quietly bringing Bibles from abroad. In several instances, army authorities have confiscated Chin-language Bibles imported from India, and burnt or destroyed them.[5] Construction of new church buildings is prohibited and Christians must obtain prior authorization for even renovation of church buildings. These are all in stark contrast to the freedoms enjoyed by monks and Buddhists whose activities are openly supported, and encouraged by authorities. Several reports documented by CHRO show that army patrols have deliberately used Church compounds for shelter and camps, and have purposefully disturbed Church services by entering into churches during Sunday worship services.



The regime has also targeted Christian leaders by falsely implicating and accusing them of supporting anti-government groups, and has jailed and tortured many pastors. Pastor Grace, a woman Baptist minister was accused of providing accommodation to Chin rebels and sentenced to 2 years in prison with hard labor in 2001.[6] In remote villages and other rural areas in Chin State, army units on patrols have frequently mistreated, assaulted and tortured Christian pastors.


Coerced conversions of Christian families and children have also been reported in several parts of Chin State. Those who convert to Buddhism were exempted from forced labor and given special privileges. Local authorities have frequently recruited Christian children under the pretext of giving them formal education in cities. As recently as early this year, five Christian children, between the ages of 7 and 18 years old from Matupi township of Chin State, who had been placed in monasteries in Rangoon, escaped confinement in Buddhist temples where they have been forced to follow Buddhist teachings.



Restriction on the use and teaching of Chin language

Under the military regime, the teaching of Chin language in school is prohibited. In elementary schools, the permitted level of teaching Chin language is grade 2. Publications of textbooks in Chin are not provided for by the government and Christian churches are forced to bear the burden of supplying these texts. Chin school teachers of all levels of high school in Chin State are instructed to use Burmese as a medium of communication with their students. This measure has greatly diminished the level of understanding by the students in school and has served to downgrade student performance. Since the mid 1990s, the new curriculum is dominated by perspectives of Burmese or Burman culture and history, and students have complained about the lack of substance that reflects ethnic Chin perspectives in the subject. This has also been seen as an open attempt to assimilate the Chin youth into mainstream Burman culture.


Because of the limited number of government schools available for the Chin populations in Chin State, communities in rural villages have set up private schools to allow the children access to primary education. Unsupported by the government, villages have to seek their own means of running the school by contributing money and resources for the schools. However, since 1998, the regime has banned these self-supported private schools[7] , depriving many children in rural communities of primary education. It should be noted that because these private schools are not under direct control of the government, they were able to offer alternative learning in Chin language. Restriction on the learning of Chin language has already taken its toll on the Chin youth. A high percentage of Chin teenagers are not able to read and write in their own language. This has been exacerbated by the fact that many Chin children look down on their own language and had instead chosen to use Burmese.

Forced Labor


Burma has claimed that it has outlawed the practice of forced labor in 2001. However, independent investigations into this claim have found the pervasiveness and the continued use of forced labor in the Chin State. Local army battalions have routinely exacted forced labor from villagers and rural communities in building roads, army camps, development infrastructures and agricultural projects. In major townships of Chin state such as Hakha, Falam, Matupi and Thantlang, civilians are being routinely forced to work at government tea plantation farms[8]. Major Ngwe Toe of Light Infantry Battalion 266, who is in charge of a new township development in Ruazua in central Chin State have ordered a dozen villages to contribute money and human labor to construct high a school, a hospital and an army base in Ruazua. During the entire year of 2002, these villages were forced to participate in the forced labor in Ruazua. Refugees fleeing into India have reported that the pervasiveness of forced labor in their areas has left them no time to work for their own survival. Army units on patrol have forcibly recruited villagers to porter army supplies and ammunitions over mountains and jungles.

Political Suppression

The Chin people are not represented in the state or central administration under the military regime. After the regime nullified the results of the 1990 elections, all Chin political parties were declared illegal. These political parties include the Chin National League for Democracy, the Mara Peoples Party and Zomi National Congress Party. Subsequent crackdowns on political dissidents have forced 3 of the 13 Chin Members of Parliament to flee the country while 2 others were arrested and imprisoned for several years. Since early 1990s, the entire Chin populations have forced to live under virtual curfew. Dozens of civilians accused of supporting, Chin National Front, underground movement were arrested, tortured and imprisoned under the Unlawful Association Act. Civilians charged under this act are routinely tortured in interrogating chambers. According to a former a woman prisoner, she was humiliated, tortured and deprived of food and sleep for one week before she was arbitrarily sentenced to 3 years in prison.[9] Since the May 30 incident, authorities have crackdown on local NLD leaderships who were responsible for welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi during her trip to Chin State in April 2003. According to reports, on May 4, 2 NLD leaders in Matupi township were arrested by military intelligence and were sentenced to 11 years in prison.


In this submission, CHRO wishes to highlight the particularly grave situations of Chin refugees and to draw the special attention of the Subcommittee. In the year since the military regime took over power in 1988, more than 50,000 Chin refugees have fled to India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. At least 50,000 Chin refugees have lived in Mizoram State of northeast India. Neither the Government of India nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized them as refugees. As a result Chin refugees have frequently been forced back to Burma. Since July 19, 2003 a campaign by local Indian youth groups, with the cooperation of Indian authorities have resulted in the forcible evictions and the return of thousands of Chin refugees to Burma. As of this week, at least 6000, people have been forcibly returned to Burma. India has also closed down its border with Burma to prevent returnees from sneaking back into the country.

We are very alarmed by the ongoing evictions and deportation of Chin refugees in India. There is an urgent need for intervention in the ongoing deportation of Chin refugees. Refugees International has recently petitioned the Prime Minister of India requesting him to stop the repatriation and to allow the UNHCR access to Mizoram to help care for the protection and humanitarian needs of Chin refugees. CHRO strongly requests the United States Committee for Refugees and other international agencies concerned with refugees to urgently take measures to prevent the ongoing evictions and deportations of Chin refugees in India.


The need for protection of Chin refugees in Malaysia is no less important. Over the past few years, close to 5,000 Chin refugees have also sought sanctuary in Malaysia. Like the Chin refugees in India, they are identified as ‘illegals’ and risk frequent arrest and deportation by Malaysian authorities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized only a very small fraction of Chin refugees.



The problems faced by Burma’s ethnic groups, including the Chin people are the direct consequence of military rule and its campaign of State organized terrorism directed primarily against the ethnic people who constitute more than 40% of the country’s population. Today, the Chin people and all the ethnic people are fighting for our very survival as a people. Our cultural, ethnic and religious identities are being rapidly eroded, and our very survival as a people is being threatened by the policies of ethnic cleansing relentlessly conducted by the military regime. The sufferings of the ethnic nationalities could only be remedied through fundamental change in the political system, a change that would allow the ethnic people equitable representation in the decision-making process of the country. Time is passing and innocent lives are being lost. The international community needs to take effective and urgent actions on Burma before the problems develop into an irreversible stage.

Thank You.

Chin Human Rights Organization






[1] 2002 US Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report

on Burma

[2] Excerpts from the upcoming CHRO’s report on abuses of religious freedom entitled “Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians in Burma”

[3] Copies of these reports (in Burmese versions), are available upon request.

[4] For detailed information, see under Religious persecution report

[5] See for example Rhododendron Volume III, No VI. Junta Orders Burning Of 16,000 Bibles, Halts Church Construction

[6] Rhododendron News Vol. IV No. IV July-August 2001

[7] See a copy of SPDC order at Rhododendron VOL.I No. VI December 1998

[8] Oral statement of Salai Za Uk Ling, Editor of Rhododendron News at the 21st session of United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, 23 July 2003, Geneva, Switzerland.

[9] Rhododendron VOL.V No.I JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2002,




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