United States Committee for Refugees’ Press Release

 

Regarding Chin Refugees in India

 

USCR Deeply Concerned Over Fate of Burmese Chin Deported and Detained by India

 

The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) has told the government of India that it is deeply concerned regarding the fate of several hundred ethnic Chin Burmese refugees whom the Indian authorities have detained. In a letter dated August 3, USCR senior policy analyst Hiram A. Ruiz said, "Many of these persons fled to India because they feared persecution in Burma.... Deporting members of this group to Burma could constitute refoulement6forced return of refugees. Such an action would be contrary to international law and would warrant strong international condemnation."

 

Because they fled Burma for reasons similar to those of Burmese who are considered refugees in other countries, USCR considers the estimated 40,000 Burmese Chin who have fled to Northeast India over the past decade to be refugees. However, the Indian government does not recognize them as refugees. Neither does it permit the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to visit Mizoram in order to ascertain whether the Chin would fall under its mandate. In the past, UNHCR has said that the Chin in Mizoram might qualify as refugees.

 

According to the Chin Freedom Coalition, the Indian authorities are detaining some of the Chin whom they recently arrested in prisons in Aizwal and Tanhril, and at police posts in Babutlang, Vaiva, Kulikawn, and Lungmual. Thousands of other Chin Burmese living in Mizoram are now fearful of being arrested and forcibly returned to Burma. Some are said to be in hiding. The Chin, who are largely Christian, are among the many ethnic minorities who have suffered discrimination under successive Burmese governments and persecution by the present Burmese regime. Although India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, it is a member of UNHCR's Executive Committee, and generously hosts several large refugee populations, including Tibetans, Sri Lankans, and Afghans. USCR urged the Indian authorities to extend their hospitality to Burmese refugees living in Mizoram.

 

Action: What you can do!

 

1. Please write to Indian and Mizoram governments:

 

- expressing grave concern at reports that scores of ethnic Chin have recently been deported from Mizoram to Myanmar;

 

- calling on the authorities to immediately halt any program of deportation and abide by the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, which is considered to be a rule of customary international law;

 

- calling on the authorities to immediately put in place a fair and satisfactory asylum determination system which will allow those who have a well-founded fear of persecution to claim asylum;

 

- urging the authorities to ensure the safety and protection of all ethnic Chin from Burma ( Myanmar ) in Mizoram;

 

- urging the Indian government to allow the UNHCR access to Mizoram

 

APPEALS TO:

Pu Zoramthang

Chief Minister of Mizoram

Aizawl

Mizoram India

Faxes: + 91 389 32245

Salutation: Dear Chief Minister

 

Pu Tawnluaia

Home Minister

Government of Mizoram

India

Fax: + 91 389 32245

Salutation: Dear Minister

 

Mr George Fernandes

Defence Minister

Ministry of Defence

New Delhi

India

Faxes: + 91 11 379 3397

Salutation: Dear Minister

 

Mr Lal Krishna Advani

Minister of Home Affairs

Ministry of Home Affairs

North Block

New Delhi 110 001

India

Faxes: + 91 11 301 5750

Salutation: Dear Minister

 

2. Write to your MP, Congressman and Senator expressing your concern at recent reports of the persecution of the Chin people in Burma. Urge him/her to support the Committee Representing the Peoples’ Parliament established under Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership. This would have the effect of undermining the SPDC military junta which is responsible for these violations of human rights.