Chin People Subjected to “Crimes Against Humanity” by Burma Army
19 January 2011: A new report by US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) reveals new evidence of crimes against humanity inflicted on the Chin by the Burma army and local authorities.
The report titled Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma’s Chin State documented findings from the first population-based survey on human rights violations in all nine townships of Chin State. Crimes against humanity are the most serious forms of human rights violations directed against civilian populations, as defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights, said: “It is well known around the world that the people of Burma, especially ethnic nationalities like the people of Chin State, suffer under the junta, but until now the international community has not had any quantitative data from Western Burma to support this claim.”
The report by PHR – in collaboration with the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – revealed widespread accounts of human rights violations and abuses including forced labour, religious persecution, beatings, killing, disappearances, torture, rape and pillaging. Almost 92% of households surveyed had reported at least one episode of forced labour – such as portering of military supplies or building roads – in the 12 month period prior to the interviews in early 2010.
Salai Za Uk Ling, Program Director at the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) said: “These new findings corroborate CHRO’s own documentation of human rights violations over the past fifteen years in Chin State. They shed further light on the widespread and systematic nature of the abuses inflicted on the Chin people by the authorities in Burma, with complete impunity.”
PHR’s report is based on a survey conducted in 2010 among 621 randomly selected households across Chin State. More than 98 percent of the abuses have been committed by government authorities, primarily soldiers, with at least eight of the violations surveyed falling within the purview of the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the 65-page report.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses medical and scientific expertise to investigate human rights violations and advocate for justice, accountability, and the health and dignity of all people.
Chin advocacy at the United Nations
Together with the CEO of PHR and two of the report authors, CHRO has held a series of high level meetings with diplomats from more than a dozen countries, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to call for international action on the human rights situation in Chin State.
CHRO representatives are also part of a delegation of Burmese exiles currently in Geneva to call on the international community to ask tough questions of Burma’s ruling regime on its human rights record during the first Universal Periodic Review of Burma under the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“A UN-led impartial, independent and thorough investigation into these crimes is essential to end the culture of impunity in Burma. It will also deter further human rights violations. Ultimately, such an investigation is not just about accountability, it’s about improving the lives of people across Burma,” continued CHRO’s Program Director.
Van Biak Thang