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Social and Legal status of Chin Refugees in Mizoram - paper presented

Guwahati, 17 May 2014: A two-day workshop on 2012 by-elections in Burma was jointly organised by North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC), Guwahati and Burma Centre Delhi (BCD) at North East Diocesan Social Forum Guwahati on May 11 and 12, 2012.

At this workshop Mr C. Lalremruata, Director, Zo Indigenous Forum presented a paper on “Social and Legal status of Chin Refugees in Mizoram” He pointed out that the Mizos and Chins share the same genetic, cultural, historical, and linguistic heritage, as they all descend from the Zo people that have settled in the Lushai hills some seven centuries ago. They also practice the same religion since they were converted by western Christian missionaries in the late 19th century.

He stated that Chin refugees in Mizoram are living as ignored refugees, without any legal registration, recognition or protection, they need legal and social protection. Many refugees live in fear of both the state and local authority. Since they have no legal residential permit, they are liable to be arrested and put into jail or fined or deported, which makes their status unstable and fearful.

He also stated that approximately 60% to 80% of the labourers in local wine factories in Aizawl District are Burmese-Chins. Wine production and sale is totally prohibited in Mizoram State. This is a serious reason why the many are disliked and rejected by the local people. He said the total number of Chins in Mizoram was more than one lakhs in Mizoram which constitute 10% of the total population.

He suggested strengthening the relations between Chins and Mizo living in Mizoram and also setting up of UNHCR office in Guwahati or Aizawl and call for the government of India to ratify United Nations Convention and Protocol relating to the status of Refugees and have a national legislation and policy on refugee.

Other speakers include Former MP of National League for Democracy, Dr. Tint Swe, Chairman of Naga National League for Democracy in exile, U Saw Sa, Social activist from Nagaland, Niketu Iralu, Ex-MLA from Nagaland, Tangsoi Khongo, Nava Thakuria, a senior journalist based in Guwahati, Suan Moi, Zomi Human Rights Foundation from Manipur, Journalist from Nagaland working with The Morung Express, K. Filip Sumi, Mr Kim Coordinator of Burma Center Delhi, Dr Alana Golmei - Burma Center Delhi, Kabi Gangmei, a social worker based in Shillong and Chairman of NESRC Dr. Walter Fernandes.
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