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Myanmar Chin people in ‘desperate’ situation

By Mike MacLachlan, London

The Chin people of north-western Myanmar are in a “dire and desperate” situation, according to Baroness Cox, a member of the British House of Lords who recently returned from a fact-finding trip.

A delegation she led to the India-Myanmar border region was told that discrimination against Chin Christians is systematic and widespread and that the Chin people are denied health care and education and remain in acute poverty.

They are also subjected to widespread forced labour, community health workers and pastors told her team.

“This regime has made us poor,” one pastor told the delegation. “In development, culture and psychologically we are poor. But if I stand against the military they will catch my wife or son or me and so no one dares to speak out.

There has been severe famine in Chin state since 2006 caused by an infestation of rats following the blossoming of bamboo, which happens very 20 years.

The pro-regime Union Solidarity and Development Party provided rice and salt in the run-up to last month’s election in an attempt to win votes, but there are no signs that this has continued after the poll.

Instead there were complaints of intimidation, harassment and vote-rigging from the interviewees.

“The humanitarian situation in Chin State is dire and desperate and requires urgent relief,” said Baroness Cox, founder and chief executive of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which campaigns for the Chin among other causes.

“We urge the international community … to make it a priority to support health and education in Chin state and provide much-needed relief for people.”

Also in the delegation was Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader of the rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

“We received overwhelming evidence that the severe human rights violations and chronic humanitarian needs continue to cause intense suffering in Chin State,” he said
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