Resettled Chin Refugees Welcomed To Community In Australia
22 May 2010: More than 50 Chin refugees newly resettled in Australia have received warm reception from the community of Goulburn, a provincial city in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
Carol James, Mayor of Goulburn, said in the Stateline Canberra news: “When they first arrived they came to the council and presented us with a flag and let us know who they were. So after the Africans the Chin came and we are delighted, absolutely delighted to have them in the town.”
The Chin refugees coming from India under the UNHCR Resettlement Programme are said to be learning English, learning to drive and striving to become part of Australian society while preserving and passing on their own traditions, according to the news presenter, Catherine Garret.
After escaping persecution in Burma as one of many persecuted ethnic groups, the Chin group has now arrived in Australia after a long wait under UNHCR protection in India, making the Australian city their home, according to the news.
A young Chin refugee, Zamveli, said in the interview that she left Burma at the age of 12, adding: “As we know, Burma is under the military rule. I was a little young when I was in Burma but my parents got many difficulties like my father was forced to be a VCP, village council president. As he denied to work, he had to run away and was arrested by the military and tortured. After my father ran away, we were always disturbed by the military. My mother finally got a decision to move out, to run away so we ran to India to save our life.”
On their arrival in India, Zamveli and her family were reunited with her father who had escaped from prison in Burma but the family had to wait for 12 long years before finally securing visas for Australia.
The Chins are said to be actively involved in a community that helps to maintain their religious traditions, language and cuisine. Kate Evans reported in the news that the Chin brings their gardens with them wherever they go as some Australian locals were seen tasting Chin traditional condiments such as chillies and garlics sauce, and soup.
The community gets together often to hold church services in their homes and celebrate milestones like the birth of a child or a new car, the reporter added.
There are an estimated 4,000 Chin refugees living in Australia under the UNHCR resettlement programme from Malaysia and India after fleeing their homeland in Burma away from various measures of repression and human rights abuses by the military regime.
Van Biak Thang