[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Mizzima: Human Rights Watch urges I

Human Rights Watch urges Indian government to protect Chin refugees

New Delhi, August 17, 2000:
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

Indian government has been criticized by the Human Rights Watch
organization for detaining and deporting the Burmese asylum-seekers
living in Northeastern State of Mizoram to Burma. New York-based Human
Rights Watch today called on the government of India to halt expulsions
of ethnic Chin refugees to Burma where, it claims, many could face
persecution from the Burmese military.

"Any wholesale deportation to Burma without safeguards for protecting
genuine refugees is unacceptable," said Sidney Jones, Asia director of
Human Rights Watch in today statement.

It also urged India to allow the office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) immediate access to the detainees. At
present, about 1,000 Burma nationals, mostly ethnic Chin minorities, are
being detained in various jails. The authorities in Mizoram State are
reportedly preparing to deport some of the detainees tomorrow after
their release from jail.

Mizoram State borders on Burma's Chin State. Although some ethnic
minority Chin have been in India since the 1960s, most of the Chin
refugees now in India fled there to escape abuses after 1988, when the
Burmese government violently cracked down on the pro-democracy
movement.  An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 Chin now live in Mizoram and
they survive by working as laborers, taxi drivers, handloom weavers and
house maids.

The Indian government has not signed the 1951 U.N. Convention relating
to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, nor does it have any
domestic refugee law. "The Indian government is, however, bound by the
international principle of non-refoulement which prohibits the forcible
return of refugees to situations in which they would be subject to
persecution and where their lives and freedom could be threatened", said
the Human Rights Watch.

According to a release from Burma democracy activists in India, a
delegation of National Council of the Union of Burma (Western Region)
met Mr. Zoramthanga, the Chief Minister of Mizoram yesterday and
appealed him not to deport the Burmese asylum-seekers who left their
country due to rampant human rights violations by the military regime