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ACHR Press Release
ACHR Index: PR/IND/REF/01/10/03
7 October 2003

NHRC intervenes on Chin refugees

The National Human Rights Commission directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Chief Secretary of the State Government of Mizoram to submit reply in four weeks pursuant to a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) on the forcible repatriation of the Chin refugees by the Young Mizo Association following the rape of a Mizo girl on July 17 2003 by a Mizo immigrant from Myanmar.

In its complaint ACHR stated, while the police must punish the rapist, the YMA has no jurisdiction or legal power to award collective punishment to all the Chin refugees. "The unlawful actions by such private groups in the North East have become a menace and the State governments often abdicate their responsibilities to private organisations. Such actions by private bodies are without any basis and have no sanction in law and is not in accordance with the procedure established by law under Article 21 of the Constitution." - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

The ACHR requested to halt refoulement of the Chin refugees, to initiate appropriate action against those individuals or organisations who were responsible for forcible repatriation of the Chin refugees under relevant provisions of Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code and to create a separate division within the NHRC to deal with the refugee problems in India, among others.

In a fresh complaint today, the ACHR sought NHRC's intervention for protection of large number of refugees who have since returned to Mizoram after being forcibly sent back. The refugees returned to escape from atrocities being perpetrated by the Burmese military personnel. A large number of returnee refugees sheltered at Bambuk refugee camps under Saiha district near Indo-Myanmar border are women and child. There are no facilities for drinking water, sanitation and health care. The area is ridden by malaria. "Due to the fear of being forcibly sent back to the Chin State of Burma, many refugees have taken shelter in the jungles. There is serious risk to the lives of the refugee children" - stated Mr Chakma.

The ACHR urged the NHRC to upheld the principle of equality and non-discrimination. It urged the NHRC to direct the Central government to provide assistance at per with the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.[END]

For more information please call Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights in New Delhi, India at +91-11-25503624 or 25620583

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