CAM Monthly News Update June 2022

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

The latest UNHCR Emergency Update from June 1, 2022 estimates there are now 691,000 people displaced inside the country and 60,000 displaced to neighboring countries since the military coup of February 2021. Factoring in displacement that existed prior to the military coup, there are over 1 million internally displaced and, as of December 31, 2021, and nearly 1 million refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar/Burma in neighboring countries.

This includes 36,000 displaced within Chin State since the coup. It is also estimated that nearly 40,000 people, mostly Chin, have been displaced to India. At least 70% of those displaced to India are women and children. Although some displaced people returned to Chin State to check their property, the presence of the Tatmadaw and the ongoing destruction of Chin homes has prevented their permanent return.

The Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional grouping of Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar/Burma, announced in early June a humanitarian assistance plan to assist IDPs within Myanmar/Burma. The plan includes allowing the Burmese military to make decisions about how the aid is distributed to Kayah and Kayin States as well as Magway, Sagaing, and Bago Regions, and excludes Chin State from receiving aid. ASEAN has not yet indicated why Chin State was excluded from the aid, and the Chin State Joint Defense Committee expressed their disappointment, as well as their great need for humanitarian assistance.

Displacement trends of IDPs (green) and internationally displaced (red) from Myanmar/Burma since the military coup of February 2021 as of May 16, 2022.
Source: Myanmar UNHCR displacement overview 16 May 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. 18

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 June 28, 2022, AAPP indicated there have been 2,037 people killed and 14,349 people arrested by the military. The military is currently holding 11,286 people of Myanmar/Burma in detention.

The Burmese Military recently announced it will execute four people, including top NLD activists and a former lawmaker from ousted State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Various political and military groups within Myanmar/Burma, including the National Unity Consultative Council, ethnic armed organizations, and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw have spoken out against this. The international community further condemns such actions, including Department of State spokesperson Ned Price who stated, “The United States strongly condemns the Burmese military regime’s reported plans to execute pro-democracy and opposition leaders, exemplifying the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law. We urge the release of all unjustly detained.” The UN further commented, “These death sentences, handed down by an illegitimate court of an illegitimate junta, are a vile attempt at instilling fear amongst the people of Myanmar.”

On May 24, 2022, the Burmese military based in Thantlang town, Chin State burned down the Johnson Memorial Baptist Church (JMBC) located at the Sianginn Sang (Block) in Thantlang, Chin State in Burma.  CAM previously noted the firing of this church in September 2021 in an earlier report. JMBC is the second largest church in Thantlang with eight pastors and approximately 2,800 members. It has been confirmed that all members of JMBC have been displaced internally or have taken refuge in Mizoram State, India. In early June, CAM released a statement condemning the arson attack.

On June 9, 2022, the Burmese military based in Thantlang town, Chin State in Burma burned the Thantlang Baptist Church (TBC) at the Biakinn Block in Thantlang town around 4:30pm. TBC is the largest church in Thantlang with eight pastors and over 3,000 members. CAM released a statement condemning this horrific attack.

On June 23, 2022, at approximately 5:30pm in Myanmar/Burma, the Burmese military burned the Believers Church in Thantlang Town. Credible sources who will remain anonymous due to security reasons confirmed the incident with CAM. As has been previously reported, the entire population of Thantlang has been displaced, some taking refuge in India’s Mizoram State. This is the 29th time that the Tatmadaw has employed arson attacks in Thantlang Town, which now includes over 1,300 residences and 12 churches. CAM released a statement condemning the actions.  

Johnson Memorial Baptist Church, the second largest church in Thantlang, was burned down by the Tatmadaw on May 24.
Photo Source: CAM Source, will remain anonymous for security purposes. 
Thantlang Baptist Church, the largest church in Thantlang Town, Chin State burned down on June 9, 2022 by the Tatmadaw.
Photo Source: CAM Source, will remain anonymous for security purposes. 
The United Nations, the United States, and Other International Communities on Myanmar/Burma

On June 2, 2022, the State Department released its 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom for Burma. The report outlines the historic and current status of religious freedom in Myanmar society and at the government level.

The US urged ASEAN members to engage with Myanmar’s “shadow civilian government”, the National Unity Government (NUG), as a critical way to move the political crisis forward. Since the coup of February 2021, ASEAN members have only engaged with the Burmese military. However, the Burmese military’s foreign minister has been excluded from the past four international meetings with ASEAN members, including its most recent international meeting. This is considered a “blow” to the regime as they seek international recognition as the legitimate government.

On June 12, 2022, Senior U.S. diplomat, Derek Chollet, the State Department counsellor, stated that the Burmese military should restore democracy, especially because they likely will not be able to defeat the rebel forces across the country. Furthermore, in Myanmar/Burma and internationally, Burmese military is becoming increasingly isolated. The Burmese military did not respond to these statements.

On June 13, 2022, Noeleen Heyzer, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar underscored the severity of displacement in the countryover one million IDPs are displaced around the country and 14.4 million people, one-quarter of the entire population, require humanitarian assistance.  She reiterated, “the political crisis unleashed on 1 February 2021 has opened new frontlines that had long been at peace.”

Also on June 13, 2022, Tom Andrews, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, further underscored the gravity of the situation in Myanmar in a UN Human Rights Council Conference Room Paper stating, “The junta’s relentless attacks on children underscore the generals’ depravity and willingness to inflict immense suffering on innocent victims.” He further pressed the international community to take further actions, stating, “The international community’s approach to the coup and the junta’s atrocities has failed. States must take immediate coordinated action…”

CAM’s Advocacy Activities

On June 25, 2022, CAM released its latest report, Seventeen Months After the Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma: Challenges for Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees. This report focused on the systematic persecution of Christian Chins from September 2021 to June of 2022 by the Burmese military, also known as the Tatmadaw. CAM documented cases of burning, destruction, and occupation of Christian Churches and affiliated religious buildings as well as the abuse, killing, and arbitrary detention of Christian leaders. Through the publication of this report, we hope to shed light once again on the pattern of persecution by the Tatmadaw against minority religious groups in Myanmar/Burma.


CAM prepared this report to augment its presentations at the 2022 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in Washington, D.C. and to assist further advocacy with Congress and the Administration to promote religious freedom. To mark the report’s release, CAM hosted a virtual conference led by Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio, and CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung.

At the IRF Summit, which ran from June 27-30, CAM presented the report’s findings and recommendations as a summit partner, in collaboration with the American Baptist Churches USA and the Chin Baptist Churches USA. CAM operated a booth in the main hall where it distributed copies of the report and displayed photographs of destroyed Chin churches and villages in Myanmar/Burma. At two different breakout sessions, CAM brought Chin youths from Maryland, Indiana, Texas, and Missouri to give presentations on the persecution of their communities in Chin State, Myanmar. CAM’s Zo Tum Hmung presented at two more sessions, providing an overview of Chin internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees on June 29  and joining a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops panel on peacebuilding in religious conflicts on June 30, 2022.

On June 16, CAM arranged meetings with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as the office of Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. CAM encouraged the Senators to pen a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Chin persecution, to co-sponsor the BURMA Act, and to address the situation of Chin refugees in Mizoram, India through humanitarian assistance and a congressional fact-finding mission. CAM also joined delegations led by Rev. Than Aung and a delegation from the Iowa Chin Christian Fellowship, as well as Rev. Lal Awi and Rev. Aung Cung Mang of the Missouri Chin Christians Fellowship.

CAM met with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (top left) and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri (bottom left), as well as the office of Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa (bottom right)

CAM continued its congressional advocacy throughout the IRF Summit, meeting with Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on June 28, 2022. Several days later, on June 30, CAM met with the office of Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana. Chin youth from Maryland and Indianapolis also met with the office of Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland on June 29, 2022.

On June 29, Voice of America’s Burmese-language service interviewed Zo Tum Hmung on the persecution of Chin Christians, gaining over 100,000 views on Facebook.

Chin youth of Maryland and Indiana met with the office of Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland (top right). CAM met with Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska (bottom right) and a few days later with the office of Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana (bottom left).
Join CAM in our Advocacy Activities!
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 the following amendments to make the Burma Act of 2021 more relevant to the current situation on the ground in Burma:

1- Establish A Federal Democratic Union of Burma
It is important that the Act mention “federal democratic union,” not just democracy. The political crisis in the union of Burma is not only about promoting democracy or human rights. For over a half a century, the Burmese military regimes have been persecuting the ethnic nationalities and the religious minorities. Resolving the political crisis in Burma is about respecting minority rights and autonomy. That is what the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) have been fighting for all these years. A “federal democratic union” would help ensure those rights are safeguarded. NUG’s duties include “establishing a federal democratic union” (see building a federal democratic union” under the Duties of NUG (

It is important that the bill restores civilian governance and ensures strong oversight over the military, but it should also mention the importance of establishing a federal democratic union that safeguards full autonomy for the internal administration of states or regions.

2- Abolish the 2008 Constitution
The Act should clearly mention abolishing the 2008 Constitution rather than reforming it (see NUG’s duties to abolish the 2008 Constitution). The ethnic political organizations and ethnic armed organizations have the same goal to abolish it.

3- Do Not Advocate for a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement
The Act should also not advocate for the implementation of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). It ceased being a just and viable instrument for maintaining peace when the military illegally took power on February 1, 2021. If included in the Act, many ethnic political organizations and ethnic armed organizations will strongly oppose it. The Act should instead advocate an inclusive peace process that would lead to establishing a federal democratic union.

4- Include engagement with Malaysia and India
Both Malaysia and India should be included in the bill because they both have a large stake in the return of refugees. According to UNHCR in Malaysia, there are 154,860 refugees from Burma, of which 102,990 are Rohingyas (, CAM’s Report, September 2020:  According to the Mizoram State government, since February 1, an estimated 20,000 Chins have fled to Mizoram seeking refuge. New Delhi has about 3,000 refugees. Besides hosting a large number of refugees Malaysia is an influential political and economic nation in the region. India likewise is very influential, as a Quad member, and the world’s largest democracy. Both countries can and should play a big role to put pressure on the military regime in Burma to change its behavior.

5- Provide Karenni State and Mon State with humanitarian assistance
The Act should provide Karenni State (also known as Kayah State) and Mon State  with access to humanitarian assistance from UN Agencies and the international community. After the February coup, Karennis have been severely targeted by the military, creating over 82,000 new internally displaced persons. Also, at least eight Catholic churches in Karenni State have been destroyed by the military.

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.

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.