45 CHIN PERISHED IN THE SEA
By Victor Khambil – December 21, 2007-Kuala Lumpur: A small boat carrying 99 ethnic Chin from Myanmar accidentally sunk into the sea near Koktoung which located at the southernmost borderline of Thai and Myanmar on December 20, 2007 after colliding with a huge fishing boat at night. According to available information so far received, 45 Chin nationals comprising several children perished or still missing in the most ever devastating tragedy in the Chin history.
Most of the victims are Chin refugees heading toward Malaysia to join with their families in Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia .
According to eyewitness, a boat carrying 99 refugees was hit by a huge fishing boat during the speed on the sea at night. Since the boat was not sunk suddenly into the sea after it was hit, 44 refugees on boat were able to climb over to the fishing boat which stopped near the sinking boat.
The worsening political situation in Myanmar is a factor which forced thousands of ethnic refugees out of Myanmar especially the Chin people who are struggling under the torturous rule of military regime in Myanmar . Most of the victims who perished in the tragedy are from Thantlang township of Chin State.
According to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), the Chins who are mostly Christians, in Buddhist dominated country, are persecuted due to their believe in democracy and Christianity and also for their ethnic background, by the Burmese military regime.
There are roughly about 20, 000 Chin refugees in Malaysia who are seeking asylum at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) Liaison office in Kuala Lumpur.
As Malaysia is not a signatory of 1951 UN Refugee Convention, most refugees in Malaysia are facing almost daily arrests and detention as illegal immigrants. Up to this date there are still more than 700 Chin refugees and asylum seekers who are in immigration detention camps in Malaysia including children and women. Furthermore, many of the male refugees are not only detained but punished with two strokes of canings at their buttocks in prison plus their sentences as illegal immigrants which is the minimum of three months inside jails. After several weeks, most detainees were deported to Thai border where they were victimized again by drug addict human smugglers especially younger women.
According to Paul coordinator for Kuala Lumpur based Chin Refugee Committee in Malaysia , the factor behind the refugees who are fleeing to cross international border to escape from Myanmar is none other than the military regime who dare even shot dead several monks in September 2007.
(Victor Khambil file the report from Kuala Lumpur )