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40 Chin families flee to Mizoram after Myanmar coup; Indian govt urged to grant asylum

New Delhi: The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), an NGO, has urged the Government of India to process the asylum applications of the members of 40 Chin refugee families of Myanmar who approached the Government of India for asylum through the Village Council President of Farkawn village under Champhai district administration of Mizoram.

“India must process the asylum applications of these Chin refugees to protect their right to life. The Chin refugee families must not be refouled like the Rakhine Buddhist refugees in July 2019. If India opposes the military coup d’etat in Myanmar, it ought to grant refuge to the fleeing Chin refugees.”- stated Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.

“The refusal of asylum to the Chin refugees shall be an act of racial discrimination as India enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 to grant citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who face discrimination based on religious belief and entered India before 31st December 2014,” Chakma further added.

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The Christian Chin refugees also face religious persecution from the Buddhist majority in Myanmar and their influx further exposes the inadequacy of the CAA and the failure of the Bharatiya Janata Party government to address India’s refugee crisis, he added.

Since the military coup d’etat in Myanmar in 1989, thousands of Chin refugees fled to Mizoram state which shares 404 km porous international border with Myanmar. The US-based Human Rights Watch in its report, “The Chin People of Burma: Unsafe in Burma, Unprotected in India” of January 2009 stated that “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 per cent of the total Chin population in Chin State.”

“Though hundreds of thousand Chin sought asylum in Mizoram, the Buddhist minority Chakmas in the State have often been targeted as “foreigners” in the State simply because Chakmas also live in the neighbouring Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) of Bangladesh. The CHTs has been peaceful since the signing of the Peace Accord in 1997 and all the tribal refugees from the CHTs who were housed in the camps in Tripura were repatriated to Bangladesh while no repatriation of the Chin refugees ever took place because of the hostile atmosphere in Myanmar,” added Chakma.

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