Blog

21 Dec
0

Suggestions from the Chin Association of Maryland, Inc.

THE BURMA ACT OF 2021

————————————–

SUGESSTIONS from the Chin Association of Maryland, Inc.

 

Zo Tum Hmung

Mobile: 443-936-8616

zotumhmung@chinmd.org

 

September 20, 2021

 

The Chin Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAM) supports the “Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2021” or the “BURMA Act of 2021”.  

We support the BURMA Act of 2021 because it would take steps to 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.

CAM supports provisions in the Act, as described to us, that would 

  • impose sanctions against the Burmese military and its partners; 
  • support reconciliation and provide humanitarian assistance;
  • create accountability for committing human rights abuses including genocide; and 
  • establish the Sanctions and Policy Coordinator for Burma, led by a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (Note: CAM has been advocating to establish a Special Envoy for Burma, who would have similar responsibilities and duties.)

CAM suggests the following changes that we understand have not been included in the Act.

These changes would make the Act 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, https://gov.nugmyanmar.org/about-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 (https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance-in-malaysia.html, CAM’s Report, September 2020: https://chinmd.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Chin-Refugees-Final-Oct-8-2020.pdf)  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. 

 

END

 

Download Document: Burma Act 2021

Join our Signatures Campaign: Burma Advocacy Group

Read More
16 Dec
0

Statement on Burning of the United Pentecostal Church in Chin State, Burma

Read More
16 Dec
0

Statement on Burning of the United Pentecostal Church in Chin State, Burma

Read More
15 Dec
0

Statement on the death of Christian Pastor Om Kui in Burma

Read More
15 Dec
0

Statement on the death of Christian Pastor Om Kui in Burma

Read More
05 Nov
0

Seeking Refuge: The Chin People in Mizoram State, India

Seeking Refuge The Chin People in Mizoram State India

Acknowledgement

Our delegation acknowledges the many individuals and groups who made this report possible. We begin with the Chin Baptist Churches USA, led by Rev. Dr. C Duh Kam, Executive Minister. They donated funds enabling Matthew Wilch, JD, U.S. lawyer, and Zo Tum Hmung (Masters in Public Administration, Harvard Kennedy School) a Chin community activist from the United States, to organize and participate in the assessment trip. Additional donations came through Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio, Senior Pastor of Indiana Chin Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN. Rev. Dr. C Duh Kam and Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio also provided invaluable advice and support. World Relief made possible the participation of Jenny Yang, Director of Advocacy and Policy for the Refugee and Immigration Program, and the participation in New Delhi of Rabindran Shelley, India Country Director. Lutheran World Federation funded Steven Rubin, Assistant Professor of Art, Pennsylvania State University, as photographer for the assessment trip. Lutheran World Service India Trust enabled the participation in Aizawl, Mizoram, of Dr. Vijayakumar James, Director, and Polly Mondal, Monitoring O”cer at the Program Department. !e Jesuit Refugee Service enabled the participation in New Delhi of Dr. Prakash Louis, SJ, South Asia Regional Director. Dr. Vijayakumar James and P.C. Jarnardhanan, his executive secretary, made important arrangements for the delegation in Kolkata; and Rabindran Shelley and Edwin Raju, World Relief, did the same in New Delhi.

The cost of production and printing was funded by the Chin Baptist Churches USA, World Relief, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Women’s Department of Chin Baptist Churches USA, and other Chin churches and individuals. We produced both a full report and a stand-alone executive summary.

Matthew Wilch served as the lead writer and editor; and Jenny Yang and Zo Tum Hmung were writers and editors. Other valuable contributions to the text came from Dr. Vijayakumar James; Steven Rubin; Mitzi Schroeder, Director of Policy, Jesuit Refugee Service; and Ralston Deffenbaugh, Assistant General Secretary for Human Rights and International A#airs, Lutheran World Federation. Steven Rubin took the photographs and Michael Palmer did the cover and report layout and design.

Upon arrival in India for the assessment, Rev. Dr. Lalchungnunga, former Principal of Serampore College, Serampore, West Bengal, India, located near Kolkata, oriented the delegation to Mizoram State, India, and helped facilitate important appointments. Rev. Dr. H. Vanlalauva, a Professor of Serampore College and former Moderator of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod also oriented the group, answering the delegation’s questions about the role of the church in Mizoram and the historical relationship between Chins and Mizos.

We are indebted to many Chin pastors, church and community leaders and members, and translators in the Mizoram districts of Aizawl, Saiha, Lawngtlai, Lunglei, and Champhai; and in New Delhi to the leaders of the Chin Refugee Committee. They all warmly welcomed us, shared about their challenging experiences in Burma and their new lives in India, and worked tirelessly to provide us full access to the Chin community. We thank the many Chins with whom we met and spoke, especially those whom we interviewed and pro$led in this report. Their names and photographs and the dates and places of their interviews have not been included to protect their privacy and security, and photos used in the report include unidentified Chins and local people.

The leaders and people of Mizoram were also very warm and hospitable hosts to us during the trip. We are grateful to Pu Lal Thanhawla, Chief Minister of Mizoram and President of the Indian National Congress Party of Mizoram, for meeting with us to share his concern and commitment to addressing the plight of the Chins and to improving the well-being of all in Mizoram. We are grateful to him and his family for their hospitality. We thank Pu Zoramthanga, the President of the Mizo National Front and the former Chief Minister of Mizoram for two consecutive terms, who met with us and shared his long experience and assessment of the complex situation. We likewise thank Pu C.L. Ruala, Member of the Indian Parliament, Lok Sabha, for his concern and many insights. We are grateful to Pu S. Khipo, Chief Executive Member, Mara Autonomous District, Saiha; and Pu C. Ngunlianchunga, Chief Executive Member, Lai Autonomous District, Lawngtlai, for meeting with us, for helping Chin refugees in New Delhi, and for their desire to help address the Chins’ plight in Mizoram and Mizoram’s humanitarian burden.

We owe thanks to Rev. C. Lalsangliana, the Moderator of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod and his sta# for meeting with us and for the moral leadership and Christian service of his church in Mizoram State, and we thank him and his family for their hospitality. We appreciated other stakeholders who welcomed us in Mizoram, maintaining a problem-solving, solutions-oriented, good faith approach to the complex challenges in their state. !ese include many other church leaders and their sta#s: Rev. H. Lianngaia, General Secretary, Baptist Church of Mizoram, Lunglei; Rev. Dr. M. Zakonia, Moderator, Evangelical Church of Maraland, Saiha; Rev. C. Hrangzuala, General Secretary, Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church, Lawngtlai; Major Lianzira, Social Secretary, Salvation Army, Aizawl; and Most Rev. Stephen Rotluanga, CSC, Roman Catholic Bishop, Aizawl. We appreciated meeting with Mr. C Dinthanga, Lelte Weekly Magazine publisher and editor, Aizawl, and with the Human Rights Legal Network, Aizawl.

We are grateful to the Young Mizo Association for meeting with us twice and for their continued dialogue about how to respond to the Chins who seek refuge in Mizoram.

We acknowledge the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi and Washington, DC, for their tireless work on refugee protection and for meeting with us to provide critical insight about the refugees in India. We express our appreciation to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, and also the staff members of various U.S. Congressional offices for meeting with us, for their concern for the Chins in Mizoram, and for their overall commitment to and care for refugees.

We thank World Relief, Lutheran World Service India Trust, Lutheran World Federation, Jesuit Refugee Service, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Service, Refugee Council USA, Church World Service, and Lutheran World Relief, for helping us to prepare for and debrief from the trip. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the Women’s Refugee Commission of the International Rescue Committee also generously shared expertise before and a%er the trip regarding unaccompanied children and livelihood for urban refugees, respectively. We also thank Dr. L.E. van Waas, Senior Researcher and Manager of the Statelessness Programme, Tilburg Law School, Netherlands, for sharing her expertise about statelessness.

We acknowledge the following human rights groups and media for providing the delegation with important background and analysis on the Chins’ plight: Chin Human Rights Organization, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, Refugees International, and Khonumthung News.

We did our best to listen and learn from everyone, and to understand, describe, and analyze the complex situation of Chins in Mizoram State, India. Any mistakes in this report are our own.

In closing, we have been moved by the courage, resourcefulness, and deep faith of the Chin people and encouraged by the compassion, hospitality, and deep faith of the people in Mizoram. Our hope is that this report might be a catalyst for concerned governments, churches, and organizations to join together with them in good faith to address the protection and humanitarian challenges of the Chins in Mizoram and to reduce the humanitarian burden on Mizoram State and India.

The Delegation

Review the whole report here: Seeking Refuge The Chin People in Mizoram State India

Read More
05 Nov
0

After the 2021 Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma: Challenges for Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees

After the 2021 Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma

 

Review the whole report here: After the 2021 Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma

Read More
21 Oct
0

UNPROTECTED: Chin IDPs in Chin and Rakhine States, Myanmar/Burma

Acknowledgement

Chin Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAM) is grateful to Chin churches in the United States for their financial support for the writing and publishing of Unprotected: Chin IDPs in Chin and Rakhine States in Myanmar/ Burma. Without their support, this would not have been possible. We are indebted to Chin community members in Chin State and Rakhine State who conducted the in-depth assessment on the ground. We thank you to Jenny Siegel, a Ph.D student, who is a CAM Consultant for this report. She compiled and edited the report, including background information and also assessment information. CAM is also grateful to Steven Ruben who selected photos for the report, and to Matthew Wilch who provided advice to Zo Tum Hmung, Executive Director, CAM.

The names of people in photos or who provided personal accounts used in the report and the names of people interviewed have not been included to protect their privacy and security. We have tried our best to describe and analyze in good faith the situations of Chins Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Paletwa and Sami in Chin State and Chin IDPs in Rakhine State. However, if we have inadvertently made any errors in this report, they are our own.

 

Read Full Report: UNPROTECTED: Chin IDPs in Chin and Rakhine States, Myanmar/Burma

Read More
21 Oct
0

UNSAFE: Chins Seeking Refuge in Malaysia and New Delhi, India

Read Full Report: UNSAFE: Chins Seeking Refuge in Malaysia and New Delhi, India

Read More
06 Oct
0

CAM Press Release on Burma Act of 2021

Read More
3456