Burmese migrants in Mizoram seek refugee status

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Aizawl, Feb 18 (UNI) More than 60,000 Myanmarese migrants in Mizoram are seeking 'legal protection' from the state government.

On behalf of the Burmese refugees living here, Zo Human Rights Global Network Secretary Suanmoi Gangte urged the Young Mizo Association and the state government to forward their plight to the Centre to arrange refugee status for Myanmarese migrants in Mizoram.

Women League of Chinland coordinator Cherry Jahau admitted that they had migrated to Mizoram illegally saying, ''there was no law to abide by. What we need is legal protection.'' At a seminar on 'Burmese refugees and migrants in Mizoram' organised by the YMA here on Saturday, she maintained that Mynamarese migrants in Mizoram are 'political refugees'.

''They had left their country in fear of the military junta. It is sad that nobody is even keeping a register of how many people flee their country. By ignoring these people, we are ignoring major humanitarian issues from forced labour to religious persecution of Christians,'' she said.

Jahau also disagreed with Central YMA president J H Zoremthanga's support on the Indo-Myanmar development programmes such as the Kaladan project and border trade.

All these development programmes may prove beneficial so far as the Indian citizens are concerned. But they will only increase forced labour and forceful confiscation of land from the ethnic tribes in Burma, she said. ''What we want is sustainable development for the people which is impossible until and unless democracy is restored. Let democracy come first in Burma,'' she added.

Besides political factor, economy and failure to enforce the law, in this case, 'Guidelines for regulating entry of Myanmarese tribals into Mizoram,' are the other factors that have increased the inflow of illegal Myanmarese migrants into Mizoram, according to the YMA.

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