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Chin refugees demonstrate for protection

Wednesday, 22 June 2011: A large number of Chin refugees demonstrated at the capital’s Jantar Mantar on Monday to appeal for protection and intervention for people fleeing persecution in Burma.

Widespread human rights and abuses have caused tens of thousands of Chin from Burma’s western hills to flee in search of refugee elsewhere. A majority of them are Christians.

On the 60th anniversary of World Refugee Day, about 2,500 Chin refugees took part in a peace rally in Delhi organised by the Chin Refugee Committee.

During their march, Chin refugees shouted slogans such as “We need human rights, we demand dignity, and stop discrimination”.

“There is gross violation of human rights in Chin state. Forced labor, extortion, and confiscations of land and property continue unabated,” said Steven Ral Kap Tluang, President of Chin Refugee Committee.

He appealed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Indian government to help restore justice and human rights in Burma and support the refugees taking shelter in India.

The Chin people, who number roughly 1.5m, are one of the most persecuted minority groups in Burma. The ruling military regime of Burma uses terror and brutality to control the people. A majority of them have crossed into neighbouring India and have settled in the Mizoram hills.

While Mizoram shelters some 70,000 Chin refugees, about 11,500 are in Delhi under the care of the United Nations High Commission for Refugee. The influx of the refugees reportedly is increasing day by day.

Since India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967
Protocol, there is no mechanism for providing official protection to refugees living in India.

Chin refugee leaders on Monday urged India to ratify the international conventions on refugees and provide them with legal protection.

According to the UN refugee agency, Burma is the fifth world largest refugee generating country with 415,700 people fleeing from conflict.

In fact only a few international agencies are allowed to operate freely in Chin State, despite the rampant poverty, disease, and hunger that have gripped the population.

The Human Rights Watch has extensive evidence of extrajudicial killings; torture and mistreatment; arbitrary arrest and detention; restrictions on movement, expression, and religious freedom of Chin people. In addition, reports have exposed that Burmese troops tear down crosses and burn churches in an effort to forcibly convert the Chin population from Christianity to Buddhism.

Courtesy: Christian Today India

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