CAM Monthly News Update May 2022

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

According to OCHA’s May Humanitarian Update for Myanmar, the UN estimates more than 1 million men, women, and children are internally displaced within Myanmar/Burma, including nearly 700,000 who have been displaced since the February 2021 military coup. Latest UNHCR displacement figures from May 4, 2022 estimate that there are now 59,000 displaced to neighboring countries since the military coup of February 2021. As such, there are now more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar/Burma in neighboring countries.

According to the latest UNHCR Emergency Update, since the 2021 military coup, 39,150 civilians from Myanmar/Burma have been displaced to India, 70% of whom are women and children. This includes 36,300 from Chin State. Although some have returned to Chin State to check their property, the continued presence of “armed groups” and the destruction of Chin homes has prevented their permanent return.

On May 21, 2022, as many as 17 Rohingya refugees from Rakhine, including children, died when their boat sank off the coast of Ayeyarwady Region. These refugees were among the thousands of Rohingyas that have fled Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Rakhine by sea in the past decade. Their attempt to flee Myanmar/Burma underscores the continued persecution they face since the military coup. On May 25, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for redoubled, sustained aid for Rohingya refugees as well as Bangladeshi host communities.

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
IDPs Camps in Thantlang Township, Chin State. The IDPs in the camps fear that the impending rainy season will destroy the plastic roofs.
Photo Source: John Za Thleng  

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 May 31, 2022, AAPP indicated there have been 1,876 killed and 13,902 arrested by the military, with 1,979 evading arrest warrants. The military is currently holding 10,847 people of Myanmar/Burma in detention.

Amnesty International’s annual report on the death penalty found that in 2021, Myanmar’s use of the death penalty expanded drastically, going from one execution in 2020 to at least 86 the following year. Amnesty notes that under Myanmar’s martial law, civilian cases can be tried in military tribunals without the right to appeal.

The Thantlang Placement Affairs Committee (TPAC) has confirmed that since the February 2021 military coup, the military has burnt 1314 residences in Thantlang, Chin State. This includes the most recent actions by the military on May 24 and 26, 2022 in which they burned 135 houses in Thantlang. Across the entire country, the military has destroyed or burnt nearly 12,000 civilian homes.

In late April and early May Chinland Defense Force (CDF) fighters in Chin State targeted attacks on a military regime convoy traveling on the Mindat-Mitupi road towards Kalay, Sagaing Region. The CDF attacks have led to frequent roadside clashes and casualties on both sides. After the attacks, the military proceeded to burn down dozens of civilian homes in Falam, Hakha, and Matupi Townships. At least 1,000 villagers were forced to flee their homes at the approach of the military in the Mindat raids.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a new Burma report on May 12, 2022, detailing the military’s crimes against the Rohingya and the facts underlying the State Department’s genocide designation. The report also outlines current efforts to hold the regime accountable in the international legal system and reiterates USCIRF’s recommendations for how the U.S. government should pursue justice and accountability.

Beginning on May 20, a military campaign of arson destroyed as many as 500 homes in southern Taze Township, Sagaing, displacing 5,000 civilians. The junta targeted the villages of Phan Khar Zin, Chaung Yoe and Kabaung Kyaing. The military also targeted the largely Christian Burmese-Portuguese settlement of Chaung Yoe, where 300 of 350 houses were burned. Around 180 houses out of approximately 200 houses were burned in Phan Khar Zin, and all the 65 houses in Sein Sar Village were burned.

On May 24, 2022, the Burmese military also known as Tatmadaw 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 has eight pastors and about 2,800 members, the second largest Church in Thantlang. It has been confirmed that all members of JMBC have been displaced internally or have taken refuge in Mizoram State, India.

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

From May 5-6, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a meeting on humanitarian aid for Myanmar that resulted in a plan to distribute aid through a junta task force. Junta official U Ko Ko Hlaing attended this meeting, while the National Unity Government (NUG), civil society, and the UN Special Envoy to Myanmar were excluded. The NUG criticized the plan on the grounds that it would legitimize the military regime and politicize aid distribution. Cambodia is also planning to invite the junta’s defense minister to the upcoming meeting of ASEAN defense ministers in June.

Ahead of a special ASEAN-U.S. summit in Washington, DC, ASEAN foreign ministers met in-person to discuss Myanmar’s post-coup violence and implementation of the Five Point Consensus. At this informal meeting, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah called for ASEAN engagement with stakeholders such as the NUG and the National Unity Consultative Council. Saifuddin went on to have a face-to-face meeting with NUG foreign minister Zin Mar Aung on May 14, earning objections from the military junta.

NUG foreign minister Zin Mar Aung met with several high-level officials in the Biden administration as well, including Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and State Department Counselor Derek Chollet. In a statement, the United States pledged its continued support for “all those working peacefully toward the restoration of Burma’s path to inclusive democracy.” Zin Mar Aung also met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has since pressured the Biden administration to enact priorities such as recognition of the NUG, tougher sanctions, and direct aid to the people of Myanmar.

On May 12, ASEAN and the United States convened their two-day special summit, at which the leaders of Myanmar’s military junta were not invited, leaving the country’s seat empty. The summit produced a Joint Vision Statement promising to “redouble… collective efforts towards a peaceful solution in Myanmar”. ASEAN and the United States also reaffirmed the Five Point Consensus despite stalled progress in implementation over the past year. In response, the junta’s foreign ministry objected to some parts of the statement as well as U.S. engagement of the NUG.

On his tour of East Asian allies this month, President Joe Biden’s first stop was South Korea, where he and President Yoon Suk-yeol condemned Myanmar’s coup and urged other nations to both provide safe haven for Burmese nationals and ban arms sales to the regime.

In Japan, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and President Biden made a statement condemning the coup and military attacks on civilians, calling for an end to fighting, release of political prisoners, humanitarian access, and reinstatement of the democratically-elected government. However, in recent weeks the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s ongoing training program for Myanmar officers has come under scrutiny, with one Japanese-trained officer reportedly implicated in serious human rights abuses in Magway Region.

The tour culminated in a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (comprising the United States, Japan, Australia, and India), which released a joint statement reiterating their condemnation of the military coup in Myanmar/Burma and supporting implementation of ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus.

Australia has moved to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Myanmar, seeking to appoint a chargé d’affaires in place of its outgoing ambassador. The move is intended to avoid legitimizing the military regime, placing Australia in the same camp as the United Kingdom and Germany, which have also downgraded their representatives from ambassadors to chargés d’affaires. In response, the junta claimed that it would downgrade its own diplomatic presence in Australia to the same level.

proposed UN Security Council press release on Myanmar was vetoed by China and Russia on May 28. The statement had been drafted by the United Kingdom in the aftermath of Security Council briefings by the ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, and the UN envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer. The statement would have expressed concern about the country’s ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis, as well as the lack of progress on implementing the Five Point Consensus.

India is likely not to invite the military junta’s foreign minister to the upcoming India-ASEAN summit in New Delhi next month. This would be in keeping with ASEAN’s general practice of inviting only “non-military”, “non-political”, representatives from Myanmar to its summits.

CAM’s Advocacy Activities

Zo Tum Hmung, CAM Executive Director met with Samuel Saffa, State Deputy Director of Sen. Josh Hawley’s office in St. Louis on May 24. The meeting was led by Rev. Aung Cung Mang, President of the Chin Christian Fellowship of Missouri. Other participants included Vice President Rev. Lal Awi, Treasurer Pastor Nilen Thai Zahuda, Chin Youth Leaders from St. Joseph, Springfield, and St. Louis. Rev. Patty Bilyeu, Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of the Great Rivers Region. Rev. Mang requested Sen. Hawley to write a letter to Secretary Blinken to put more pressure on the Burmese military to stop the persecution of Christians in Burma especially in Chin State and Sagaing Region. Mr. Saffa thanked the Chin groups.

Rev. Aung Cung Mang, President of the Chin Christian Fellowship of Missouri, meeting with State Deputy Director in Sen. Josh Hawley’s office

The United Zo Organization of USA invited Mr. Hmung as the Chief Guest at their 18th Annual Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana from May 28-29, 2021. He urged the Zo (Chin) groups to advocate for passing the Burma Act of 2021 which is not yet signed by Sen. Todd Young of Indiana.

Zo was interviewed by The Journal Gazette and he told them “he and others have met with Todd Young, but the Indiana senator has yet to sign on.”

Mr. Hmung at the United Zo Organization (UZO) USA Annual Conference with UZO President David Pau. 

Mr. Hmung organized meetings with the offices of Sen. Grassley on May 13, and Sen. Ernst on May 16 respectively in Des Mones, Iowa. The meeting was led by Rev. Than Aung, Chairman of the Iowa Chin Christian Fellowship. Sen. Grassley wrote a letter to Sen. Blinken to brief the Congress on the situation as required by the NDAA. They urged the Senators to put more pressure on the Burmese military to stop the persecution of Chins, especially through the burning of the churches. They also urged the Senators to cosponsor the Burma Act of 2021. The briefing took place on May 25, 2022. Leaders of Iowa Chin Christian Fellowship and Zo Tum Hmung will be meeting with Senator Grassley on June 16 at his Washington, DC office.

Shortly after the meeting with Sen. Grassley’s office, Sen. Grassley sent a letter to Secretary Blinken urging the State Department and President Biden to take further steps to put pressure on the military junta and to provide additional humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people. The letter also urged the Biden administration to report to Congress on its commitment as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to establish a multilateral strategy to address the military coup in Burma.

The International Religious Summit has chosen the Chin Association of Maryland to be a Vendor Partner on June 28-30, 2022. As of this report, 11 Chin youth and 3 pastors from Maryland will participate at the Summit.

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 May 31, 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.