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HRW report: the Chin people, unsafe in Burma, unprotected in India

Human Rights Watch publicou antonte un informe sobre as violacións dos Direitos Humanos que padecen os membros da etnia Chin en Birmania (Myanmar) e na India, país ó que escapan en procura de refuxio. O informe leva por título “We Are Like Forgotten People”. The Chin People of Burma: Unsafe in Burma, Unprotected in India”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:

Ethnic communities in Burma have long borne the brunt of abusive military rule, which has prevailed in the country since General Ne Win staged a coup against the democratically elected government in 1962. This report documents ongoing human rights abuses and repression in Burma’s western Chin State, which borders India. The conditions faced by ethnic Chin are largely underreported, in part due to restrictions imposed by the military government and the inaccessibility of the region.

Chins interviewed by Human Rights Watch in India and Malaysia between 2005 and 2008 provided reports of serious abuse perpetrated by the Tatmadaw and SPDC government. These include extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and mistreatment, forced labor, severe reprisals against members of the opposition, restrictions on movement, expression, and religious freedom, abusive military conscription policies, and extortion and confiscation of property. To a lesser extent, Chin interviewees reported that Chin opposition groups, such as the Chin National Front (CNF) and its armed division the Chin National Army (CNA), extort money and commit other abuses against Chin civilians.

In addition to the abuses perpetrated by the Tatmadaw, policies and practices of the military government have undermined the ability of Chin people to survive in Burma. Demands for forced labor by the military regularly disrupt people’s trade, businesses, and daily work. Chin farmers and their families, who rely on their harvests for sustenance and livelihood, are particularly affected by the regular demands for forced labor. Arbitrary fees and extortion by the SPDC further hinder the ability to own, hold, and dispose of personal property and income. Ethnic and religious discrimination by the SPDC limit Chin Christians from obtaining better paying government jobs and promotions. Increased militarization of Chin State since 1988 when thousands were killed and imprisoned in a nationwide uprising against the military government has resulted in more abuses, causing many Chin to flee Burma.

This report also examines the discrimination and abuses Chin face in Mizoram State in India at the hands of voluntary associations and Mizoram authorities, and the continuing lack of protection for Chin refugees there. Mizoram State in India, which shares a 404-kilometer border with Chin State, is the primary destination for Chin fleeing from Chin State. According to Chin community leaders and long-time residents of Mizoram, the Chin population in Mizoram is estimated to be as high as 100,000, about 20 percent of the total Chin population in Chin State. In addition to proximity, the people of Chin State and Mizoram also share a common history and ethnic ancestry, making Mizoram a particularly attractive place for Chin to seek refuge.

Although most Chin go to Mizoram to escape ongoing human rights abuses and persecution, Chin in Mizoram also face abuses, severe discrimination, and religious repression. In part due to discrimination and their lack of legal status, they also face serious obstacles to finding jobs, housing, and affordable education. During periodic “anti-foreigner” campaigns, Mizo voluntary associations and the Mizoram authorities target the Chin and threaten them with forcible return to Burma. Thousands of Chins have been rounded up and forcibly returned by Mizo voluntary associations and Mizoram authorities.

Chin in Mizoram lack basic protection of their rights and adequate humanitarian assistance. India does not offer protections promised to refugees under international law. India has not signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, and the Chin face discrimination and threats of forced return by Mizo voluntary associations in collusion with the Mizoram authorities.

Only those who make the 2,460-kilometer trek to New Delhi, where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has an office, may have their refugee claims decided and be considered for resettlement to third countries. So far about 1,800 Chin have made their way to New Delhi, of whom UNHCR has recognized 1,000 as refugees. As many as 30,000 Chin have fled to Malaysia hoping to obtain UNHCR recognition.

In Mizoram, the state and federal governments do not recognize the Chin living along the border as refugees and bar UNHCR from accessing them. Although India is not a party to the Refugee Convention, it is nevertheless bound by customary law to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which protects refugees and asylum seekers from being returned to any country where their lives or freedoms would be threatened. […]

29 Xaneiro 2009 - Posted by | Burma (Myanmar), Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, India, Politics

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