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Burma refugees deported from Mizora

Subject: Burma refugees deported from Mizoram, India (fwd)

 >Newsgroups: bit.listserv.seasia-l
 >Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 10:44:44 -1812
 >Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@xxxxxxx>
 >From: "F. K. Lehman" <flehman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
 >Subject: Burma refugees deported from Mizoram, India
 >Lines: 39

        A FAX, early this morning, US time, from Aizawl, capital of Mizoram
State, India, to Lian Uk, elected parliamentarian from Burma's Chin State,
bordering Mizoram, now in asylum in the US, reports that some thousands of
people from Burma were rounded up suddenly in Aizawl and Mizoram generally,
arrested, and handed over to Burma (SLORC/Army) authorities over the
border, who promptly jailed them. The scene was shown on India  television
(at least the Eastern Service).
        The Chin are close cultural and linguistic relatives of the Mizo
themselves, and the majority of those living in Mizoram, where they had
sought refuge from Burma, are Chin, but there are also a number of Burmans
and other nationalities from Burma that were taken in this round-up and
deportation. It was reportedly sudden and without warning, and it is said
that many were weeping and begging to be let go, and some tried to flee,
but were subsequently caught. They all had to leave any homes, property and
so on that they had there, and were sent off back to Burma with nothing.
India, it should be understood, has never grantedl refugee status to those
who have fled Burma, and has long insisted that they stay in Mizoram,
preferrably in a stockaded camp on the very border, at Champhai, but it has
at least let many of them stay more or less unofficially up until now.
This, therefore, is a new and very disturbing development.
        One hears continually, certainly on this List, about the way
Thailand has mishandled refugees from Burma and undertaken forced
repatriation of them, but I feel it is time to make it well known and well
publicised that the situation, on the Western border with India is quite
dreadful, too, even if perhaps on a smaller scale and having less to do
with organised insurgency against SLORC and even though India is less
concerned, at least publicly, to co-operate formally with SLORC along the
lines of Thailand's 'constructive engagement'.
        It is quite unclear as of this posting what has brought about this
action, or even to what extent is the result of Indian Central Government
initiative as against Mizoram State Government initiative, but it may be
worthy of consideration that in the forthcoming elections there, the Mizo
National Front (MNF) is conyesting strongly with the Congress, which is
currently in power in Mizoram. The MNF is known to be narrrowly
nationalistic, even as against the Chin in Mizoram (the reasons are
complicated beyond the capacity of this List to encompass them), and it is
not unimaginable that the development under consideration here may have
been a co-operative venture between the State Government and the Central
Government in New Delhi, also Congress dominated, to counter the MNF