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06/09/2022 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – The 100,000 people who have been internally displaced in the majority-Christian Chin state, located in western Myanmar, have been seeking help from civil society groups to bypass the military junta’s control over humanitarian aid distribution.   

Leadership in Chin state has said that their region, where the military junta and civilian defense forces have frequently clashed, is not receiving humanitarian assistance due to military blockages.   

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional group seeking to promote economic and security cooperation among the ten members, including Myanmar, announced this past Sunday that it would be working with the military junta to distribute humanitarian aid to Myanmar.   

This is yet another blow to those suffering in Chin state. According to the interim Chin National Consultative Council, Chin state’s leading political group, and the ousted elected Myanmar government, ASEAN’s aid will bypass ethnic Chin who has been internally displaced.   

Residents of Chin state have been among the most vigorous opponents of military rule since the February 2021 coup that deposed the democratically elected civilian government, turning their 13,900-square-mile territory into a battlefield. As a result, nearly a hundred thousand civilians have fled the area.   

At the same time, indiscriminate attacks by junta forces against civilians in Chin state and neighboring regions have resulted in numerous deaths and casualties. In addition, the military has torched homes and villages, searched houses, and issued arbitrary arrests and detentions.   

A spokesperson for the Chin State Joint Defense Committee (CJDC) expressed great disappointment that the state is excluded from ASEAN’s new humanitarian assistance program.  

“Almost the entire town of Thantlang in Chin state was burned down during the fighting,” they said. “In Falam, about 93 houses were turned into ashes. Thirty percent of the Chin people are war refugees. We’re so disappointed that our people have been left out of the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Program. It isn’t fair. We strongly oppose this entire aid program coming through the junta.”  

ASEAN will aid Kayah, and Kayin states, as well as Magway, Sagaing, and Bago regions, allowing a military junta-led task force to make decisions on how aid is delivered through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, said Salai Isaac Khin, chairman of the Interim Chin National Consultative Council (ICNCC).  

“We wonder if they had ignored us because they didn’t know the ground conditions,” he told RFA. “What’s the meaning of this? This is questionable. It’s like the people of Chin state, the most vulnerable people, have had their rights ignored,” Khin told the media.   

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