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Chin Refugees Struggle in India

on March 7, 2012

More than 100,000 undocumented Chin refugees living in Mizoram State, India need humanitarian assistance, claims a report released yesterday by independent investigators. Chin people come from western Burma, which borders Mizoram State.

The government of India refuses to register refugees in Mizoram or allow significant amounts of aid to reach the area. As a result of these restrictions, Chin refugees suffer from economic instability and limited access to healthcare and education, and they are vulnerable to arrest, deportation and other forms of persecution.

Most of the Chin refugees interviewed by the investigators reported that they fled persecution from the Burmese government and feared human rights abuses if they returned to Burma. The refugees said that forced labor and pillaging of food by the Burma Army were common.

PHR documented these crimes and many others 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 and found that 91.9% reported at least one episode of forced labor and that 14.8% of households reported that the army beat, tortured, killed or abducted a member of that household.

The Chin people are fleeing these abuses, but sadly conditions are not much better in India.

Yesterday’s report highlights the immediate humanitarian problem in Mizoram, and also the long-term human rights problem in Chin State. These problems are not unique to the Chin people—most ethnic peoples in Burma face persecution at home and difficult lives abroad.

The international community should support the immediate needs of Burmese refugees everywhere and encourage the Burmese government to end human rights abuses of ethnic peoples. A slow process of democratic reform has begun in Rangoon, and the international community should ensure that this reform continues until it reaches all parts of the country.

Places: Burma