The Situation of IDPs in Myanmar/Burma and Refugees in Neighboring Countries
The latest OCHA figures as of November 1, 2022 estimate that since the military coup of February 2021, 1.1 million people have been displaced inside the country and UNHCR estimates 71,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Factoring in displacement that existed prior to the military coup, there is now a total of 1.4 million internally displaced and, as of December 31, 2021, 1,055,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Myanmar/Burma in neighboring countries.
According to OCHA, a total of 46,200 people are currently displaced within Chin State. It is also estimated that 48,800 people from Chin State are refugees in India. Fighting between Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw in Rakhine State continues to spill over into Chin State’s Paletwa Township. The UN records indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks as well as the use of landmines in Chin State and the rest of the Northwest.
The UN’s OCHA Myanmar Humanitarian Update states that the number of number of IDPs in the Northwest region, including Chin State, have significantly increased in the month of October due to conflict, and that IDPs in the Northwest Region of Myanmar represent 60% of all IDPs in the country.
The government of Mizoram State, India, where most Chin refugees are staying, has issued rules that prevent refugees from purchasing property, doing business, or obtaining Indian citizenship documents by illegal means.
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 December 2, 2022, AAPP indicated there have been 2,553 people killed and 16,510 people arrested by the military. The military continues to hold 13,040 people of Myanmar/Burma in detention.
Deadly cargo: The supply chain that fuels war crimes in Myanmar.Amnesty International in collaboration with Justice For Myanmar reported an in-depth assessment of how the supply of aviation fuel directly leads to civilian casualties. As the military junta increasingly relies on aerial attacks, civilians are not spared even in places of worship and schools. These air strikes would not be possible without the supply of Jet A-1 fuel. Although the likes of Chevron, Rosneft, and Thai Oil claim that their shipments are meant only for civilian use, this report clearly demonstrates that more needs to be done to curtail the military junta’s access to aviation fuel.
The United Nations, the United States, and Other International Communities on Myanmar/Burma
UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the ASEAN Summiturges ASEAN members “to seek a unified strategy towards Myanmar, centred [sic] on the needs and aspirations of the country’s people”
The National Unity Government’s statement on ASEAN’s 5-Point Consensus calls for alternatives to the current implementation plan due to the lack of progress.The NUG is ready to work together with ASEAN to develop a more effective plan.
The new European Union sanctions on the State Administration Council (SAC) and nineteen individuals involved in aiding the military are welcomed in a statement by the National Unity Government.
Norway’s members of parliament met with officials from the Union Parliament Representative Committee (CRPH), the National Solidarity Advisory Council (NUCC), and the National Unity Government (NUG). The Norwegian government officially recognizes the CRPH, the NUCC, and the NUG.
Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, at the Third Committee of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, pressed on the urgency of holding the military regime accountable with additional resolutions. Ambassador Tun welcomes the draft resolution A/C.3/77/L.33: “Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar” but urges “the UN for an immediate and decisive action to end the military dictatorship and all of its atrocities and to bring back democracy to all people in Myanmar.“
The Burma Advocacy Group released a statement condemning the recent bombing of the Kachin Baptist Theological Seminary, Kutkai in Shan State. The group urges the US Senate to promptly pass the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that includes the Burma Act.
Hakha Christian Minister’s Fellowship (HCMF) based in Hakha the capital of Chin State, Burmahas decided to cancel the celebration feasts for Christmas Day 2022 and New Year’s Day 2023. HCMF also urged its respective Churches to hold prayer services in the Church only on these days. This decision was announced to respective churches on November 11, 2022 at the Executive Committee Meeting of HCMF. .
Myanmar junta grants amnesty to Australian economist and former UK Ambassador among thousands. Under pressure, the military junta announced that it will release thousands of prisoners. However, over 13,000 dissidents remain in custody.
CAM’s Advocacy Activities
At the CDF Zophei Supporting Concert on November 11-12, 2022, CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung gave a talkon the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and what CAM is doing to help. He urged the youth to support CDF Zophei in its efforts to topple down the Burmese military regime. Mr. Hmung also mentioned the activities of CAM, which includes documenting the atrocities committed against the Chin people by the Burmese military regime. He encouraged the youth at the concert to support such efforts and others by CAM. He was thankful to Kimkima, who came from Mizoram, to be a part of the event and highlighted the generosity of the people of Mizoram who have welcomed Chin refugees in Mizoram.
Mr. Hmung at CDF Zophei Concert
CAM continues to advocate for the passage H.R. 7900 – National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. The House of Representatives has already passed its version of the bill. CAM’s advocacy focuses on including the language of the Burma Act of 2021 into the NDAA 2023.
CAM prepares to send a delegation to the 2023 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C. Members of CAM’s delegation will hopefully give presentations again on the persecution of Christians in Chin State. The Summit is from January 31 to February 1, 2023.
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.
CAM recommends that the following matters be addressed in the final State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPs) Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations bill and report language for Section 7043, as related to funding for Burma:
1. Explicit commitment of new funding for FY 2023 that will number no less than the FY 2022 amount of $136,127,000 for Burma.
2. Language that specifies the pursuit of religious freedom as an intended use of funding.
3. Inclusion of Burma’s ethnic states and Magway and Sagaing Regions as areas of deep humanitarian concern with a high number of internally displaced persons and great humanitarian need.
4. Explicit support for cross-border assistance to Burma via India as well as Thailand.
5. Listing of the National Unity Consultative Council, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and the Civil Disobedience Movement as being among the groups eligible for U.S. funding for building democracy.
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, working with other groups including with Burma Advocacy Group. CAM 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
Senate (S.2937) Pending in the Senate
Senator Ben Cardin
House (H.R.5497) Passed the house on April 6, 2022
Rep. Gregory Meeks
passed the House
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.
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 opportunityto 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:
Point your phone camera at the QR code below which will take you to the web site to sign up and submit the petition.
The Chin Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAM) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Ellicott City, Maryland with a Washington, DC office. 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.