The Voice of Overseas Pakistanis


The Pakistan Weekly

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Editor-in-Chief: K. Ashraf

Editor: Geoffrey Cook


                                            Tuesday September 06, 2011







  A Fauji's Diary




 P W Policy


The Life of Jinnah


Raising Hope Against Hope

Nava Thakuria

Amidst worldwide condemnation to the military junta of Myanmar (Burma), a Chin refugee in Northeast India is expecting  a safe return to her home town. After the rulers of Burma had extended the detention term of the pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by another six months on Monday (Nov 28 ) last, it received severe criticism from  different parts of the globe. From UN to US and EU, everyone has raised the voice for the immediate release of Suu Kyi. In fact, the 60 years old Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1991, Suu Kyi is living under house arrest for the last two and half years now.
With all the troubles and dilemma, Nu Nu Win is waiting for the golden moment, when she would return to her hometown as soon as democracy restored in Burma. The girl, approaching thirty narrated her pathetic story inside (and outside) Burma. In a cold winter evening, she crossed the international boarder to reach a Northeast Indian province (Mizoram)  to get rid of the Burmese military harassment. With a small baggage, Nu Nu Win left her  birthplace Thantlang town of Chin province in Northwest Burma and fled to Champhai  in Mizoram. The Burmese military personnel hunted her, as Nu Nu Win  actively participated in the pro democracy movement led by Suu Kyi.
A student leader by repute, Nu Nu Win could relax  in Mizoram, as the military rulers of Burma couldn't reach her. Moreover, the Chin and Mizo are very similar in physical appearance, food habits and linguistic accent. Hence Nu Nu Win had some good time with little bit of security, though she missed his parent and brothers in Chin state. Nu Nu Win starts her enormous struggle for survival as an unskilled daily wage earner in Champhai areas and soon she moved to the capital city Aizawl in search of a better life.       
But all were not well for Nu Nu Win. A rape incident that took place in July 17, 2003 where a Burmese wanderer allegedly molested a minor Mizo girl changed the atmosphere surrounding her. The incident immediately gained complication and an influential Mizo youth's group had launched violent campaign against Burmese living in Mizoram. The hard reality draped in forced deportation of around 1000 Chin refugees from Aizawl  within the next few weeks. Nu Nu Win had no option other than staying in India, because military rulers (in Burma) were waiting for her with more harsh punishment order.
Nu Nu Win is one of the 40,000 Burmese Chin refugees in Mizoram, who are fighting survival struggle. They have been fleeing in different groups from their homeland to Mizoram since 1988 Uprising against the dictators in Rangoon.  The military junta, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) had launched repressive action against the democratic activists. Even the SPDC, predominantly Buddhist stared religious persecution against mostly Christian Chin ethnic minorities.
The pro-democratic movement resulted in landslide victory for the National League for Democracy  led by Suu Kyi in the last general election in 1990, but the military junta refused to hand over the power to the elected representatives. Rather they continued oppressive actions against the pro-democracy activists. Most of the Chin refugees crossed the border to escape the carnage. For them, Mizoram was ideal choice, as the Chin and Mizo enjoy distinctive similarities in culture, tradition and religion, though they are literally divided by a political boundary.
With Nu Nu Win many other left Aizawl with the threatening of Young Mizo Association after the sensational rape case. YMA simply decided to 'clean up' the state form Burmese refugees. The activists of YMA started haunting and assaulting the Chin refugees with 'Quit Mizoram' notice. Even the local police was mute spectators to the incidents, where at least 7000 Burmese including 4,300 women and children were targeted for repatriate to  Burma. Over hundred Chin families reportedly left Aizawl to take shelter in the jungles of border areas. They lived with all the difficulties-no drinking water, sanitation and health care and not to speak about the risk to their children. 
The government of India has no refugee policy and it deals the issue with The Foreigners Act that hardly makes any distinction between the illegal immigrants and refugees. Hence the Chin refugees of Mizoram are deprived of reorganization by the government. At the same time, they are being denied the international legal protections under the Convention Concerning the Status of Refugees, as the central Government is still reluctant to allow the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to visit Mizoram with other states in Northeast. In fact, the UNHCR has certified the refugee status only around 400 Burmese who came to New Delhi to apply in person till date. Hence the thousands of Chins in Mizoram are been exposed to all kinds of uncertainty and frustrations.
Of course, the incident invited condemnation from the human right bodies based in different parts of the region. Demanding the safety and security of the Chin people in Mizoram, the Human Rights Watch urged the government in New Delhi to allow UNHCR to access Northeast including Mizoram.  The director of New Delhi based Asian Centre for Human Rights, Suhas Chakma asserted, "I strongly believe that a democratic government in Burma would only help mitigating all these kinds of problem, caused due to the military misrule in Burma," asserted Mr Chakma. Narrating the implication of the military rule in Burma, an exiled Burmese journalist based in Northeast India argues that the enormous human rights violations under the military regime in Burma must have negative impact on Indian side, particularly in Burma bordering Northeast region.
Though condemnation showered to Burmese rulers by the international communities in the recent past, New Delhi has developed a strategic military relationship with Burmese rulers. Even the energy thrust Indian government is working on a gas pipeline proposal to shift natural gas from Arakan (in west Burma) to Kolkata through Bangladesh. However, the exiled journalist wishes that the civil societies in India would come forward to initiate pressure on the policy makers in New Delhi to redefine the strategy to the military rulers concerning its own security aspect. 
With an eye to the international reaction against SPDC, Nu Nu Win wishes she could meet her family members  and start a new life there. "Later may be, I will prefer to migrate to Mandalay or Rangoon for a better life and settled down forever," concluded the confident young woman with a smile of hope in her eyes.




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