TODAY -

Burmese continue fleeing to Northeast
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Agency

Chin, June 03 2011: Officially Burma (Myanmar) may have transformed into a democracy after the 2010 November general election, but the ground realities for the poor Burmese remain the same.

And the outcome is the continuous fleeing of Burmese to neighbouring India, Bangladesh and Thailand.

If the earlier exodus was of pro-democracy political activists, now more and more common Burmese are leaving the poverty stricken country.

For India, the burden of refugees primarily from Chin State of Burma is carried by Mizoram.

With its around10 lakh population, the Burma and Bangladesh bordering Indian State gives shelter to nearly 80,000 migrants.

Leaving aside two thousand Burmese recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and staying in New Delhi, the rest are scattered in Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur.

"People outside Burma believe that the country has changed after the polls.

But in reality, the election was fought and won mostly by military men.

So even after the military brand State Peace and Development Council, which ruled Burma for decades, was dissolved and the Parliaments are functioning, the common people are suffering," said a Burmese youth, now staying in the Indian border town of Saiha.

The youth, who migrated from Chin to Mizoram a few months back and presently works as a daily labourer, added that there is a serious crisis of food in the Chin State after the phenomena of bamboo flowering last year.

The Burmese government in Nay Pie Taw remains reluctant to provide relief and rehabilitation to the Chin people.

"When Mizoram faced bamboo flowering in early 2010, there was a flow of relief from New Delhi and international aid agencies.

But the Chin people as received no government relief nor has it been allowed to receive aid form outside aid agencies," asserted the educated youth, who wanted anonymity.

Kim, a Burmese political activist who is recognized by the UNHCR and is now based in New Delhi, argues that the so-called change in Burma is useless, as the military clout remains powerful and the judiciary has still no jurisdiction over the armed forces in the country.

"Many historic political events may have taken place in Burma in the last few months including the November election, release of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, running Parliament sessions at Nay Pie Taw and the demolition of the SPDC, but these changes are inadequate and many people have hence have fled the country," commented Kim.

Facing the situation, the Mizoram government finds it difficult to deal with the migrants from Burma.

As India does not have a refugee policy, it often emerges as a major challenge for both the authority and the civil society groups in a situation like that in Mizoram.

For the Chin people, Mizoram emerges as a place of their choice, as both Chin and Mizos share a similar religious identity and food habits.

Moreover they are almost look alikes and Mizo people in general embrace the Chin as their brothers and sisters.

But on some occasions, when a few Chin youths were found involved in petty crimes, Mizo civil society groups got irritated.

Even the influential Young Mizo Association had warned the Chin people to leave Mizoram as they were polluting the Mizo society.

The resentment of Mizo civil societies had compelled a senior Burmese political leader to tender an apology to the people of Mizoram.

Addressing a consultation meeting on the 'implication and consequences of regime change in Burma' after the November 2010 elections at Aizawl on May 6, Dr Tint Swe, a former Burmese MP sought an apology for all anti-social activities carried out by a section of Chin people.

The senior member of National League for Democracy (led by Suu Kyi), Dr Tint Swe also claimed that the recently concluded election in Burma has not brought any changes to the common people and they are still ruled by the military under the camouflage of a democratic regime.

Hence he urged the government of India and the citizens of the Northeast to continue supporting the Burmese peoples' struggle for real democracy.

Organized by Burma Centre Delhi in collaboration with Chin Human Rights Organizations, Aizawl and Grassroot Development Network, Mizoram and hosted by Zo Indigenous Forum the consultation meeting was attended by various civil society groups, journalists and activists of the region.

Addressing the gathering, Vanlal Ngaia, Chairman of Mizoram Committee for Democracy in Burma reiterated that the regime change in Burma does not seem to have brought any change in the condition of pro-democracy activists and the general people of Burma.

"The only change we have seen is the military uniform has turned into civil dresses.

Therefore people preferring democracy around the world should work persistently for full restoration of true democracy in Burma," he added.

Dr.Alana Golmei, advocacy coordinator of BCD also urged the people of the Northeast to have a closer people to people contact with those in Burma and to work together for peace and human rights in the region and Burma.

She further said that both the Burma polls and its 2008 Constitution were criticized and condemned by the UN, the EU and Burmese pro-democracy campaigners for adopting undemocratic norms and rejection of democratic principles and human rights.

So, she emphasised that no change has taken place in Burma after the installation of the technically new and elected government and that the human rights situation in Burma remains at its worst.


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