Zo Indigenous Forum welcomes free movement of Zo people in Burma and India

Zo Indigenous Forum welcomes the nationals of India and Burma will be able to travel crossing the Indo-Burma border without a passport or a visa up to a period of one week following a meeting held in Falam Town, Chin State last week.

There are more than tens of thousands of Zo people living in both side of the country, and implementing our right written in the UNDRIP Article 36 as Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders. And States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.

The official announcement was made after 24th Tuesday’s meeting between the two countries with the Indian delegation led by Mizoram’s Champhai district Deputy Commissioner Vijaya Kumar Bidhuri and Falam Township Administration Officer U Khin Maung Win accompanied by other Burmese officials.

Burmese authorities have made an agreement with the Indian government to allow ‘unrestricted entry’ of Indian citizens from Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh up to 16km inside its territory with no requirement of obtaining a visa or passport, according to the Mizoram government official.

Likewise, the new Indo-Burma deal will open up border for Burmese nationals to make a visit up to 16km inside the four northeastern states of India.

India and Burma share a 1643 km long border. The Economic Times of India said that the two countries have come to terms with issues on tackling the ‘illegal’ trading of rare orchids, animal organs, drugs and sandalwood.

It was the third meeting held by officials from India and Burma, with the first taking place in Mizoram State in November last year. ‘Unconfirmed’ sources said that dozens of trucks carrying weapons from India have recently been seen entering Burma, with speculation that they might be used in the ongoing armed conflict in ethnic areas, especially in Kachin State.

Bilateral relations between India and Burma have strengthened considerably in the past few months after exchange of visits by leaders of both Asian countries, including a recent state tour to India by President Thein Sein and wife Daw Khin Khin Win.

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