Repeated Patterns of Assaults on Refugees in Delhi Reignite New Security Concerns
24 April 2010: A series of recent violent assaults on Chin refugees by local Indians in New Delhi has raised heightened concerns for the safety of refugees from Burma stranded in the capital city of India.
A Chin refugee, Mr. Zo Ram Thang, was last Wednesday hit on his head from behind with bricks or stones by unknown locals near Sitapuri Bazaar while he was going out with his under-six-year-old two daughters to fetch a bucket of water from a public water bolehole around 8pm.
“He was unconscious for about 10 minutes and his two children were petrified, crying out loud in tears. No one came out to help him even though there were many people around. Finally, three Chin refugees passing by the street found and took them home. He was taken to the DDU hospital at midnight and back to his house around 4am after receiving necessary medication,” said Plato Van Rung Mang of CHRO (Chin Human Rights Organisation) based in Delhi.
Zo Ram Thang and his family arrived in New Delhi in 1999 and have been recognised as refugees by the UNHCR.
Another Chin refugee Moses Han Sein was last Monday attacked, beaten up and left unconscious on the ground near Jeewan Park, Uttam Nagar of west Delhi while he was on his way back from work to sleep over at his friend’s house around 9pm.
The 45-year-old from Falam Township, Burma was first stopped and teased by four local men who were later joined by about 30 locals during the attack. The local Indians ran away after emptying his pocket, with about 200 Rupees in it.
“The next morning, he [Moses Han Sein] came to my house and told me about the incident. I gave him 200 Rupees as he has got no money left at that time. Presently, he has no shelter, no food and one of our friends Mr. David is temporarily looking after him in his house. Since he cannot, after the incident, continue his work at a restaurant where he was given accommodation, he has got no place to stay,” said Ro Mawi, President of Chin Refugee Committee in New Delhi, India.
Moses Han Sein was said to have received treatment at a hospital with the help of UNHCR’s local partner, a Delhi-based NGO called the Social and Legal Information Centre (SLIC).
Late last month, a Chin refugee woman and mother of two small children, Sui Tin Lem, was brutally beaten up by a group of four local Indians in New Delhi in a failed attempt to sexually assault her. The violent beating occurred on the evening of March 29 in Citapuri neighborhood of west Delhi as the 32-year-old mother was returning home from work at around 7:00 pm local time.
Ms. Sui Tin Lem was on the way to her house after separating from two other co-workers when four local Indians accosted her and started teasing her. When she started resisting, two of the men grasped her hands while the other two tried to sexually assault her. As she tried to struggle, her assailants smashed her with a rod across the face, leaving her with severe injuries to her face.
Recent incidents have sent shockwave across the refugee community, sparking renewed fears for the safety of refugee women living in Delhi.
“The Chin are unsafe in Burma and unprotected in India, but just because these abuses happen far from Delhi and Rangoon does not mean the Chin should remain ‘forgotten people’,” said a recent report by Human Rights Watch that has called for better treatment for the Chin and for Chin refugees who arrive in India.
“The incidents prove that so many local people are seeking the opportunity to steal, tease, assault and rob everywhere. We are in an absolute difficult situation financially and legally. Some upper class and educated people are so kind to us, however most of the people under poverty line are a threat to us. There is so much risk of staying even for a short period in this city, and we are not safe here,” remarked Ro Mawi.
Out of an estimated 60,000 Chin refugees currently living in India after flee ing military-ruled Burma in search of refuge and safety, there are about 6,000 stranded only in New Delhi, with about half already registered as refugees by the UNHCR.
Van Biak Thang