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CHRO: Rights Abuse Continue amidst Crippling Food Crisis in Chin State

17 September 2009 – Ottaw, Canada: In a new report released today, the Chin Human Rights Organization says that widespread human rights abuses by the Burma Army continue even as a large sectment of the population of Chin State is struggling with paralyzing food crisis in western Burma.

“On the Edge of Survival: Continuing Rat Infestation and Food Crisis,” says that the food shortages, which began in 2007 have spread to seven townships in Chin State and parts of neighboring Sagaing Division with as much as 80 percent of the farmlands destroyed by rats in some areas affected by rat infestation.

“Through utter neglect and continuing practices of human rights abuse, the military regime has turned this natural disaster into a man-made catrastrophe,” says Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of Chin Human Rights Organization.

Attributed to a one-in-fifty-year cyclical flowering and dying of bamboo and subsequent infestation of rats, the new report says the food shortages in Chin State have been made more acute by arbitrary policies and practices of abuse and repression against Chin civilians at the hands of the Burma Army.

Salai Bawi Lian Mang who is on an advocacy tour in Europe to promote awareness of the food crisis in Chin State says that large numbers of people are now struggling with acute malnutrition, diseases and death, with several thousands of people fleeing their villages in search of food elsewhere. According to the report, the food crisis has forced over 4,000 Chins to flee to neighboring India and Thailand since 2007.

The report notes that despite increased attention to the crisis and involvement by international aid organizations such as the World Food Program (WFP), the reponse has been limited and even problematic in certain aspects, with thousands of people still unreached by relief efforts.

“Of particular concern is the fact that we continue to document high number of forced labor incidents and extortion of civilian properties, livestock and food supplies by the Burma Army within the affected areas,” says Salai Bawi Lian Mang who is touring four European countries to meet with government officials and NGOs from the Czech Repulic, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The full report is now available online on the Chin Human Rights Organization’s website at http://www.chro.ca/.

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