CAM Monthly News Update – October 2022


CAM Monthly News Update
October 2022

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

The latest OCHA figures as of October 25, 2022 estimate that since the military coup of February 2021, 1.1 million people have been displaced inside the country and UNHCR estimates 70,000 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 47,200 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.

Displacement trends of IDPs (green) and internationally displaced (red) from Myanmar/Burma since the military coup of February 2021 as of September 12, 2022.
Source: Myanmar emergency: Displacement overview 12 September, 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. 

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 October 31, 2022, AAPP indicated there have been 2,404 people killed and 16,016 people arrested by the military. The military continues to hold 12,806 people of Myanmar/Burma in detention.

Amnesty International reported that since the beginning of October, Malaysia has deported over 150 Myanmar nationals in cooperation with Myanmar military authorities. According to UCA News, on October 6 , 150 Myanmar nationals and their families seeking refuge in Malaysia with UNHCR, including six Navy Officers, were deported and the Navy Officers were arrested upon their return to Myanmar. Rights groups estimate that 2,000 Myanmar nationals have been forcibly deported since April 2022. Given the situation in Myanmar this puts those deported at-risk of persecution and arbitrary detention. Amnesty international calls on the government of Malaysia to allow Myanmar nationals to remain in Malaysia safely and to refrain from breaking international human rights law.

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

Various organizations and government bodies issues statements against the Burmese military’s airstrike in Kachin State that killed and injured many civilians.

The US Embassy in Rangoon issued a joint statement with several other countries including Canada, and a delegation of EU member states following the recent attacks on civilians in Kachin State. They call out the military’s responsibility for causing crisis in Myanmar and for causing extraordinary harm and suffering across the country.

On October 25, 2022, the Kachin National Consultative Assembly  issued a statement condemning the attacks and expressing their grief for the families and victims.

On October 26, 2022, CAM also issued a statement condemning the inhumane airstrikes by the Burmese military that killed 54 and injured over 100 civilians in Kachin State. CAM called the strikes crimes against humanity and further call for accountability for the Burmese military.

On October 31, 2022, UN Human Rights High Commissioner Volker Turk responded to the deportations in Malaysia stating, “With rising levels of violence and instability, and the collapse of the Myanmar economy and social protection systems, this is simply not the time to be returning anyone to Myanmar.” Further UNHCR urged Malaysia to stop the practice of refoulement and to not deport Myanmar nationals into danger. 

On October 31, 2022, UN Spokesperson commented on the rising poverty and limited economic opportunities for the people of Myanmar. He indicated that poverty rates are at 40% nationally, while 75% of the people in Rakhine State now live in poverty. Food insecurity is the highest in conflict areas. The UN Spokesperson went on to urge humanitarian food assistance interventions

Chin New Year Celebration

On October 22, the Chin Association of Maryland, Inc. convened  the fourth annual celebration of the 73rd Anniversary of the Chin New Year. Director Christina Poy of the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs in the Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives conveyed the New Year’s greeting in which she shared shared Governor Hogan’s message: “There are over 60,000 Chins in the U.S., and we’re proud to have a thriving community of nearly 5,000 Chins in Maryland.” The event highlighted traditional foods and dances and underscored the current humanitarian needs (such as food, shelter, health, safety, etc.) in Myanmar and surrounding countries and sought to raise supporting funds. CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung was interviewed by Voice of America on October 22 regarding the event and reflected the situation in Myanmar/Burma. Voice of America covered the event again on October 24.

On March 17, 1949, the Chin Affairs Council made a resolution that the Chin New Year shall be celebrated as public holidays on October 26th, 27th, and 28th. This year marked the 73rd Anniversary of the Chin New Year celebration. The Chin New Year was observed in Chin State until 1962, when General Ne Win ousted the democratically elected government through a military coup. Since 2019, the Chin Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAM) has been organizing the annual celebration of the Chin New Year in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area.

Chin New Year celebrations included various speakers, awards, and traditional singers. This included CYMA President R. Lalhngeta presenting the CAM’s Chin Person of the Year 2022 award to Vaurawng Zuunthil (top left), CAM Board Chairman Rev. Tim Siemens delivering the Opening Remarks (bottom left), and remarks from Deputy Foreign Minister of NUG, H.E. U Moe Zaw Oo (top and bottom right)

CAM’s Advocacy Activities

On October 21, 2022, Central Young Mizo Association (YMA) President Pu Lalhngeta Ralte, Professor Malsawmliana Hmar, Assistant Secretary, Central YMA, and Central Young Lai Association (YLA) President Pu HC Vanlalruatpuia briefed the U.S. State Department on the humanitarian situation of Chins and others fleeing Myanmar seeking refuge in Mizoram State, India, since the Myanmar military coup of February 1, 2021. Also attending the briefing were CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung, and Matthew Wilch, an advisor to CAM.

The Mizoram nongovernmental (NGO) leaders described their extensive efforts working with the Mizoram government and other NGOs to provide food, shelter, clothing, utensils, other necessities, and financial support for Chins and others from Myanmar who have fled to Mizoram since the military coup. They underscored the challenges due to limited resources in Mizoram. The State Department staff at the briefing was led by Hoa Tran, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) Asia Team Lead and her colleagues Burma Unit Chief, Jack Dart, PRM Program Officers Julien Kreuze and Meredith Houck, Analyst Brandon Sabado, and Rajani Ghosh, India Political-External Unit.

State Department officials expressed thanks to Mizoram State, YMA, and YLA for generously serving refugees from Burma by providing urgently needed humanitarian care, “doing a tremendous amount for many years.” They also recognized the challenges related to limited financial resources and indicated they have been engaging with the Central Government of India to explore ways to work together to further support the refugees and the NGOs and the local community that welcomes them. The meeting was covered by DD News Mizoram.
Meeting with US State Department

On October 27, 2022, CAM Advocacy Volunteers and Chin university students Par Hniang and Bawi Kung spoke at the Human Rights, Disarmament, and the UN organized by the NGO Committee for Human Rights in New York. These Chin students shared about the burning of the Christian Churches and houses in Chin State and regarding the situation of Chin refugees seeking refuge in Mizoram State of India. They urged the UN to do more to urge India to grant UN agencies, including UNHCR and INGOs, to have access to Mizoram to provide protection and assistance to to those in need. 

Par Hniang and Bawi Kung meeting with UN

The CYMA held an organization meeting on October 27, 2022 in Mizoram State, India. They decided to act upon their third resolution, which is related to refugees in Mizoram State. As such, the CYMA will approach the Mizoram State Government to request the government to establish refugee camps. The CYMA believes that camps will be the best solution for the refugees and the local people in Mizoram State. 

CAM provided a video on Voter Education for the Midterm Election and urges the Chin community to exercise their right to vote.

On October 30, 2022 CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung met with Senator Chris Van Hollen and briefed him about the Burmese military’s killing of the civilians in Kachin State and their burning of churches and houses in Chin State. The Senator is on the Foreign Relation Committee and Appropriation Committee.

Zo Tum Hmung and Senator Chris Van Hollen

On October 30, 2022, CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung met with Howard County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball requesting Howard county to welcome Chin refugees.

Zo Tum Hmung and Howard County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball

CAM Executive Director Zo Tum Hmung spoke at the Ministers Council Retreat in Honolulu, Hawaii on October 27, 2022 thanking the churches for financial support and highlighted CAM activities throughout the year including publishing reports, advocacy efforts, and CAM’s intent to take the Burmese military to the international courts of Justice.

Zo Tum Hnung speaking at the Ministers Council Retreat

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 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 Refugees; Unsafe: 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. 

Map of Chin State, Myanmar
Map used from The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Chin State Report


Map of Mizoram State, India
This map is derived with permission from a Human Rights Watch (HRW) map of Chin State, Burma, and Mizoram State, India. ©2008 John Emerson/HRW

About CAM

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.