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Myanmar abusing Christian Chin minority: rights groups

ICC Note:

Human Rights Watch is reporting that Burma’s (Myanmar’s) military regime is
committing its most widespread abuses against the ethnic Chin group, a
group which is at least 90% Christian. The Chin have reported forced
labor and torture beyond the famine they are already facing in the

1/28/09 Burma (AFP) Myanmar’s military regime is committing widespread
abuses against the mainly Christian Chin ethnic group, who face
famine, forced labour, torture and persecution, a rights group said

New York-based Human Rights Watch said tens of thousands of Chin flee
across the border to India only for many of them to be forcibly
returned home, violating their right to refuge under international

“For too long, ethnic groups like the Chin have borne the brunt of
abusive military rule in Burma,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia
director at Human Rights Watch, referring to Myanmar by its former

A new Human Rights Watch report carries accounts from Chin describing
torture and beatings by Myanmar soldiers, arbitrary arrest, being
forced to work as army porters, and having to give their food to

“The Burma army arrested me,” a Chin man who fled to India told the group.

“They tortured me and put me in jail for one week. They beat me on my
head and ears — I still have a hearing problem. Then the army forced
me to work at road construction and repair the army camp.”

The Chin, 90 percent of whom are Christian, account for about one
percent of Myanmar’s 57 million people and live in the mountainous
region near the Indian border. The Chin National Front (CNF) rebel
group is still battling the junta.

Amy Alexander, a Human Rights Watch consultant, said anyone suspected
of links to the CNF was targeted, while religious suppression was also
rampant in Chin State, the only predominantly Christian state in
mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

“The military government regularly interferes with worship services…
and also destroys religious symbols and buildings,” she told a press

Human Rights Watch called on the CNF and Myanmar to end all abuses and
demanded that India offer protection to Chin who cross the border and
allow the UN refugee agency access to them.

“For a lot of Chin who are returned, they are at risk of arrest,
imprisonment, torture and death … There are very severe consequence
that happen when people are forced to return to Burma,” Alexander

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