Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 15:45 GMT

Myanmar: Chin State abuses "crime against humanity" - NGO

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 19 January 2011
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Myanmar: Chin State abuses "crime against humanity" - NGO, 19 January 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d392b991e.html [accessed 27 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

BANGKOK, 19 January 2011 (IRIN) - Myanmar's military government is guilty of crimes against humanity in Chin State, targeting minority Christians, says the US-based NGO, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in a new report.

"There is little humanitarian information on Chin State because it is remote with no infrastructure or easy access from neighbouring India. It is a neglected region," said Richard Sollom, a PHR deputy director and principal author of Life Under the Junta, released on 19 January.

PHR surveyors documented almost 3,000 separate incidents of abuse among 621 households (3,281 people) from 2009-2010, including forced labour, rape, torture, abduction, arbitrary execution, arrest, and forced conscription of children.

Almost 92 percent of all surveyed households reported at least one family member subjected to forced labour. More than 62 percent of those surveyed reported working under the threat of physical harm, death or at gunpoint, according to PHR.

Steve Marshall, the UN International Labour Organization Liaison Officer for Myanmar, told IRIN that in certain areas, "villagers are literally corralled into labour under major physical threat".

"Forced labour is just two words but a lot happens when people are taken to a job site, and marched hundreds of kilometres away from their villages. Young girls are taken away from the protection of fathers, uncles, and brothers, making them much more vulnerable to sexual assault and rape," Sollom said.

Sexual violence is used by the Burmese military as a tool to "persecute and demoralize" the Chins, according to the report. Men, women, and children reported sexual violations by government soldiers, with almost 30 percent of rape victims under the age of 15.

UN report

With an eye to the first UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in Burma on 27 January, PHR and Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, are calling for a UN Commission of Inquiry into Myanmar's human rights situation.

"The quantitative data poses questions the Myanmar government has to respond to. The condemning evidence aims to bring justice and accountability to Chin State," said Sollom.

Abductions

Two southern townships in Chin State, Paletwa and Mindat, are home to 97 percent of all reported abductions and disappearances allegedly carried out by government and local police in Chin State, according to the report.

Almost 15 percent of households reported at least one incidence of torture - defined by PHR as "the infliction of severe suffering or pain lasting over 10 minutes" - by the Burmese military. Seventeen out of every 100 reports came from children younger than 15.

More than 10 percent of households reported family members suffering from either fatal weapon injuries or extrajudicial killings.

"The army thinks they can do anything they want with the Chin people because we are an ethnic and religious minority. They have the power to kill with impunity," said Salai Ling, who escaped from Chin State and sought exile in Thailand in 1996.


Theme (s): Children, Gender Issues, Human Rights,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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