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Mizzima: Amnesty issues alert on fo

Amnesty issues alert on forcible return of Chin to Burma from Mizoram

New Delhi, August 9, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

London-based human rights organization has issued an urgent action alert
on the forcible return of ethnic Chin nationals to Burma from the
northeastern Indian State of Mizoram. The Amnesty International
yesterday urged its members and international community to send appeal
letters to concerned Indian authorities to immediately halt the
deportation of Chin asylum-seekers to Burma and abide by the fundamental
principle of non-refoulment.

According to the Amnesty, scores of ethnic Chin are reported to have
been forcibly returned to Burma from Mizoram State and handed over to
the Burmese armed forces. At least 87 were forcibly deported on August 4
and several hundreds more were detained in several jails and police
posts in the state under the Foreigners Act of 1946.

"Amnesty International is concerned that many of those who have been
detained may have well-founded fears of persecution and possibly torture
in Burma", said the action alert.

Estimated between 40, 000 to 50, 000 ethnic Chin and a few hundreds
Burmese nationals are living in Mizoram which borders on Burma. Most of
these Burma nationals left the country to India due to political and
economic turmoil spreading over the past twelve years in Burma. The
ethnic minorities commonly face torture and ill-treatment in Burma.
Religious persecution and forced labour are commonly practiced in the
Chin State of western Burma by the ruling military regime of the South
East Asia's one of the poorest countries.

Although India is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee
Convention, it is a member of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR)'s Executive Committee and hosts several large refugee
populations, including Tibetans, Sri Lankans and Afghans.

There are about 600 Burmese refugees living in New Delhi under the
mandate of the UNHCR and most of them are political activists who left
Burma after the military take-over in 1988. Although Indian authorities
have allowed these Burma activists to stay on Indian soil on
humanitarian ground, it has lately been more cautious in handling with
them and monitoring their movements closely. India also denies the UNHCR
access to Burma refugees in northeastern states of India, including
those in Mizoram.

On August 6, Indian members of "Friends of Burma" issued a statement
expressing their concern on the arrests, detention and forced
repatriation of Burma refugees in Mizoram. "The increased activities of
identifying Burmese nationals in Mizoram State, their arrests and
detention has to be seen in the wake of hectic parleys between military
heads in India and Burma to work together on border issues", said the
statement of Friends of Burma, an organization of individuals working on
Burmese refugees in India. It has sought the intervention of National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Government of India on the

According to local sources in Mizoram, the police have halted the
arrests of the Burmese, at least in the capital Aizawl. About one
thousand Burma nationals, mostly Chin, are reported to have been
arrested and detained in several jails in Mizoram State. They have been
sentenced up to 20 days imprisonment for the illegal entry into India
and they still face deportation to Burma after their release from

In some localities in Aizawl, the house owners are being notified by
local powerful pressure groups such as Young Mizo Association, Mizo
Women Association and Village Council not to rent to the "illegal