CAM Monthly News Update July 2022

The Situation of IDPs in Myanmar/Burma and Refugees in Neighboring Countries

The latest UN figures from July 31, 2022 estimate that since the military coup of February 2021, 866,000 people have been displaced inside the country and 62,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Factoring in displacement that existed prior to the military coup, there is now a total of 1.2 million internally displaced and, as of December 31, 2021, 1,055,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar/Burma in neighboring countries.

According to UNHCR, a total of 40,200 people remain displaced within Chin State. It is also estimated that 41,000 people, mostly Chin, are refugees in India. At least 70% of those displaced to India are women and children.

On July 22, the Malaysian government approved the use of the Tracking Refugees Information System (TRIS) for UNHCR cardholders in the country. 103,000 of UNHCR’s 181,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia are Rohingyas from Myanmar/Burma. Several NGOs claim the system is open to abuse and could be used to restrict freedom of movement for refugees.

On July 29, UNHCR released a new plan to prepare for a possible influx of up to 24,000 refugees from Myanmar/Burma into Thailand over the next six months. These numbers reflect the high number of IDPs near the border in Shan South, Kayah, Kayin and Mon States and Tanintharyi Region. Although some 20,000 refugees crossed the border into Thailand since the coup, most have returned, leaving only 855 in designated Temporary Safety Areas.

Displacement trends of IDPs (green) and internationally displaced (red) from Myanmar/Burma since the military coup of February 2021 as of July 4, 2022.
Source: Myanmar UNHCR displacement overview 4 July 2022

Map indicating scale of displacement in Chin State, Myanmar after the February 1, 2021 military coup as well as protracted displacement prior to the coup.
Source: UN OCHA Humanitarian Update No. 20

Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Myanmar/Burma

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) provides a daily report in regards to the coup. As of July 29, 2022, AAPP indicated there have been 2,138 people killed and 14,917 people arrested by the military. The military continues to hold 11,820 people of Myanmar/Burma in detention.

During the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Annual Gathering from July 10-15, the BWA General Council adopted a new resolution on Myanmar that condemns the Burmese military’s 2021 coup and recognizes the military’s “campaign of terror and violence,” particularly against religious minorities in Kachin, Karen, Kayah State, Chin State, and Sagaing Region. The resolution also supports the UN Security Council’s November 2021 call to end the violence and endorses the establishment of a “true democracy that respects the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.” CAM issued a statement welcoming the resolution and calling for further advocacy to ensure religious freedom in Myanmar/Burma and accountability for the military.

On July 22, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected the Burmese military’s four preliminary objections to the Rohingya genocide case filed by The Gambia. This will allow the case to proceed on the basis of Article IX of the Genocide Convention and for the court to begin reviewing evidence. CAM welcomed the decision, calling on UN member states to support The Gambia’s case and urging similar accountability for the Burmese military’s crimes against the Chin people.

On July 25, the Burmese military junta announced its execution of four men on terrorism charges: the leading democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw, and activists Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. The executions reportedly occurred the day after the ICJ’s decision to proceed with the Rohingya case. These were the first state executions in Myanmar since the 1976 hanging of the ethnic Chin Salai Tin Maung Oo, a student leader in the Burmese pro-democracy movement. CAM released a statement condemning the executions and urging the U.S. to ensure accountability for the military.

Human Rights Watch released a report on July 4 detailing apparent war crimes by the Burmese military in Sagaing Region. Footage from May 2022 taken from a soldier’s phone appears to show the aftermath of the summary execution of five captured villagers. The footage also shows the soldiers discussing the number of people they had killed, with one sergeant claiming to have killed twenty-six people.

After an on-the-ground investigation, Amnesty International reported on July 20 that the Burmese military has committed war crimes by using internationally-banned anti-personnel mines in Kayah State. Amnesty International has received credible reports of landmine usage in at least 20 villages in Hpruso, Demoso, and Loikaw Townships, as well as in Shan State.

The United Nations, the United States, and the International Community on Myanmar/Burma

On July 7, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the human rights of Rohingyas and other minorities in Myanmar, requesting further monitoring of progress on recommendations. The Burmese military regime objected to the resolution, calling it “hate speech” meant to “create divisions and distrust among its population under the pretext of human rights.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with six Burmese youth leaders in Bangkok on July 10. They discussed plans for humanitarian assistance as well as repurposing the Burmese military’s frozen funds in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor, released on July 21, projected limited growth at 3% after an 18% contraction the previous year. Poverty has doubled since March 2020, with 40% of the population living under the poverty line. Despite these economic setbacks, Myanmar signed memorandums of understanding on nuclear energy cooperation with Rosatom, a Russian state-backed energy firm.

The Burmese military’s execution of four pro-democracy activists on July 25 drew swift condemnation from across the international community. UN Secretary General António Guterres strongly condemned the execution, offered condolences to victims’ families, and reiterated his call for the release of the country’s arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi.

On July 25, Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s human rights chief, said “This cruel and regressive step is an extension of the military’s ongoing repressive campaign against its own people.” Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, was “outraged and devastated,” calling on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take action in response. On July 27, the UN Security Council released a statement condemning the executions and calling for dialogue and an end to all violence in the country.

The United States condemned the execution as well, with Secretary Blinken stating that “These reprehensible acts of violence further exemplify the regime’s complete disregard for human rights and the rule of law.” Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged President Joe Biden to use his Congressionally-approved power to “impose additional targeted sanctions on the Napiydaw regime – including on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).” The executions were also strongly condemned by the G7 Foreign Ministers.

As ASEAN Chair, Cambodia denounced the executions as presenting “a gross lack of will to support… the Five-Point Consensus.” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah deemed them “a crime against humanity,” promising that they would be a focus of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting from July 29-August 5. Saifuddin also stated his intention to block representatives of the Burmese military from the meeting.

CAM’s Advocacy Activities

As a participant in the Burma Advocacy Group, CAM met with Megan Reiss, a staffer for Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, on July 6, Michael Schiffer, a staffer working with Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, on July 15, and the staff of Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland on July 25.

In these meetings, CAM discussed the Burmese military’s persecution of Chin Christians through church-burnings and the killings of pastors, as documented in its June report, “Seventeen Months After the Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma: Escalating Persecution of Chin Christians in Chin State and Sagaing Region”. CAM also lobbied for passage of the BURMA Act of 2021 (S.2937) and stressed the need for humanitarian access to Chin State and Mizoram, India.

CAM’s dinner for President Lalnunmawia Pautu (left), meeting with Police Chief Gregory Der (middle) and visit to a Chin farm (right).
Aside from its congressional advocacy activities, CAM also carried out a number of community engagement activities. On July 10, 2022, CAM hosted a dinner for the Mizo Students Union President Lalnunmawia Pautu at Ellicott City, Maryland. On July 18, CAM met with the Police Chief of Howard County, Gregory Der.

On July 14, CAM visited two chicken farms in a Chin farming community in Ocean City, Maryland, where Chin refugees have been working hard and contributing to the local community.

On July 29, CAM hosted its talk show, “Biaruahnak,” to discuss recent developments in Burma/Myanmar, including the ICJ’s decision to move forward with its Rohingya genocide case, the Baptist World Alliance’s resolution on Myanmar, and the Tatmadaw’s execution of four pro-democracy activists. During the show, Rev. Dr. Roy Medley noted that CAM’s recent report was the source that he used to draft the BWA statement on Myanmar.
Join CAM in our Advocacy Activities!

CAM is investigating and documenting the situation of the Chin ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar/Burma and the Burmese military’s atrocities against them. Based on its latest report, CAM advocates the U.S. government to engage in the following: 

1. To provide humanitarian assistance to Chin State, Sagaing Region, and other conflict-affected areas in the form of cross-border aid via Mizoram, India and other neighboring countries.

2. To organize a Congressional fact-finding delegation to the Indo-Burma and Thai-Burma border areas to investigate and document the situation of Chin and other internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.

3. To put robust pressure on the Burmese military to cease the persecution of the Chin people in Chin State and Sagaing region, in particular the burning of churches and residences and the killing of pastors.

4. To investigate and document the Burmese military’s atrocities against the Chin people, which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, as a necessary step to ensure accountability for the military, the State Administrative Council, and any affiliated entities.
Join CAM’s efforts in advocacy by writing a letter to your congressman/woman and ask them to write a letter to Secretary Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power urging the following: 

1. To put pressure on the Burmese military a) to allow the UN agencies including UNHCR to go to Chin State to deliver humanitarian assistance to the internally displaced persons in Chin State, Burma, especially in Thantlang townships. We learned that UNHCR has sought a travel authorization from the military to travel to Chin State, but the military has not granted it.
b) to permit the UN agencies to establish offices in Chin State immediately, especially UNHCR in Hakha, the capital of Chin State.
c) to halt the inhuman acts and also hold accountable the military  who committed crimes.

2. To engage India to allow UNHCR in New Delhi to register over 20,000 newly arrived Chin refugees in Mizoram State, India and also to deliver aid to both the refugees and the local communities that are welcoming them.

The Burma Act of 2021

CAM continues its advocacy in support for the Burma Act of 2021 and suggested various amendments including the principal of federalism as an amendment to the bill. To learn more about CAM’s advocacy related to this bill, please click here. The Burma Act was introduced in the Senate (S.2937) and the House (H.R.5497) on October 5, 2021. The Burma Act passed the House on April 6 and is pending in the Senate.

Burma Act of 2021
(as of June 30, 2022)
The Burma Act of 2021 Sponsors Democrat
Senate (S.2937)
Pending in the Senate
Senator Ben Cardin 26 0 1 27
House (H.R.5497)
Passed the house on April 6, 2022
Rep. Gregory Meeks passed the House
18 0 84

Join CAM’s efforts in advocacy by writing a letter to your Senators asking them to sponsor the Burma Act of 2021 as amended: 

Please support the BURMA Act of 2021 by becoming a co-sponsor to the bill. This would help restore the democratically elected government of Burma. It would establish an inclusive political dialogue in Burma, which would be a step toward establishing a federal democratic union.

Please also consider CAM’s amendments to make the Burma Act of 2021 more relevant to the current situation on the ground in Burma (Suggestions from the Chin Association of Maryland, Inc.).

To learn more ways to advocate with CAM, click here.

In 2020 and 2021, CAM produced three reports: After the 2021 Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma: Challenges for Internally Displaced Persons and RefugeesUnsafe: Chins Seeking Refuge in Malaysia; and New Delhi, India; and Unprotected: Chin IDPs in IDPs in Chin and Rakhine States, Myanmar/Burma. CAM continues to advocate that the crimes against the Chin people in Myanmar/Burma are crimes against humanity and should be brought to the IJC and the ICC.

CAM’s newest report, Seventeen Months After the Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma: Escalating Persecution of Chin Christians in Chin State and Sagaing Region, was released June 2022 and documents the Burmese military’s atrocities against the Chin people, including the burning of churches and killing of pastors.

Join the Burma Advocacy Group (BAG) convened by the American Baptist Churches Commission on Burma Refugees by participating in their signature campaign launched on March 1, 2022. The Burma Advocacy Group (BAG) is a group of leaders from associations, churches, community groups and acting with one voice to advocate for the passage of the Burma Act of 2021. The Goal of the Campaign is to gather and submit as many signatures as possible to our U.S. Senators and Representatives to request them to pass the (revised) Burma Bill that is under consideration. The Burma Advocacy Group believes the Burma Act of 2021 is our greatest opportunity to achieve 1) an end to the human tragedy and crimes against humanity in Burma; 2) an end the brutal military dictatorship in Burma; and 3) an opportunity to achieve a federal democracy in Burma for which the people of Burma have been giving their lives.

There are a few different ways you can join the signature campaign:

  1. Point your phone camera at the QR code below which will take you to the web site to sign up and submit the petition.
  2. Go to and follow the instructions to sign up and submit the petition.
  3. Facebook:  Burma Advocacy Group.  Use the QR code to sign up and submit the petition.
About CAM
The Chin Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAM) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Ellicott City, Maryland.  CAM empowers the Chin communities in Maryland to be successfully integrated into American society. CAM also advocates for durable solutions for Chin and other refugees and internally displaced persons, and religious freedom and human rights in Burma.

Chins, virtually all of whom are Christians, are an ethnic nationality from Burma. They became Christians primarily due to the missionary efforts of the American Baptist Churches USA. They are a major recent U.S. refugee group that fled from Burma to neighboring countries to escape ethnic, political and religious persecution by the Burmese military since 1962. In 2001, about 1000 Chin asylees came to the U.S through Guam, resettling largely in Maryland, Indiana, Florida, and Texas. Since 2002, the U.S. has resettled many more Chin refugees coming through Malaysia and India. Chins now number 70,000 across the United States, with about 5,000 making Maryland their home.