More than 100,000 undocumented Chin refugees living in Mizoram State, India needhumanitarian assistance, claims a reportreleased yesterday by independent investigators. Chin people come from westernBurma, which borders Mizoram State.
Thegovernment of India refuses to register refugees in Mizoram or allowsignificant amounts of aid to reach the area. As a result of theserestrictions, Chin refugees suffer from economic instability and limited accessto healthcare and education, and they are vulnerable to arrest, deportation andother forms of persecution.
Mostof the Chin refugees interviewed by the investigators reported that they fledpersecution from the Burmese government and feared human rights abuses if theyreturned to Burma. The refugees said that forced labor and pillaging of food bythe Burma Army were common.
PHR documented these crimes and manyothers in a 2011 report, Life Under the Junta:Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma's Chin State. PHR surveyed 702 randomly-selected households across Chin state andfound that 91.9% reported atleast one episode of forced labor and that 14.8% of households reported thatthe army beat, tortured, killed or abducted a member of that household.
TheChin people are fleeing these abuses, but sadly conditions are not much betterin India.
Yesterday’s report highlights the immediatehumanitarian problem in Mizoram, and also the long-term human rights problem inChin State. These problems are not unique to the Chin people—most ethnicpeoples in Burma face persecution at home and difficult lives abroad.
The international community shouldsupport the immediate needs of Burmese refugees everywhere and encourage theBurmese government to end human rights abuses of ethnic peoples. A slow processof democratic reform has begun in Rangoon, and the international communityshould ensure that this reform continues until it reaches all parts of thecountry.