Joint statement by Myanmar resistance forces on situation of Myanmar refugees in Manipur, India
Date: March 2, 2023
We are democracy forces from various regions of Myanmar fighting against Myanmar junta who have been killing civilians at will following an attempted coup.
Myanmar people deserve democracy. The government and people of India know best how difficult the road to democracy can be. When Myanmar junta attempted to seize power and install military rule in 2021, all the peoples of Myanmar, including those from India’s neighboring Sagaing Region and Chin State were left with no choice but to join the revolution and fight for their lives, their home and their freedom. They have been fighting against the military junta for a total of 760 days and they are doing so in the same way they fought bravely against the British colonial rule using any weapons they could find.
Since Sagaing Region and Chin State are two of the strongest lands in the resistance movement, they have also faced some of the deadliest crackdowns and terror campaigns by the military junta. Sagaing Region alone has 42.6% of the total IDP population in Myanmar. Chin State, which is one of the smallest states in Myanmar and is mostly home to a minority Christian population, on the other hand, has 3.1% IDP of the total IDP population. Myanmar military junta has repeatedly committed war crimes and atrocity crimes systematically and on a large scale including killings of civilians, arbitrary arrests and detentions, launching of deliberate airstrikes on hospitals, schools, and churches, and burning and destruction of civilian homes and structures.
The peoples of Chin State and Sagaing Region who have faced widespread atrocities committed by troops operating under the Northwestern Regional Command of the military junta were forced to join the People Defense Forces while most of the women, elderly people, and other unarmed civilians were forced to flee into different towns inside India along the border.
However, we, the people from Myanmar, have learned that people who fled to the Indian border areas are reportedly facing heart-breaking situations yet again.
Since February 2022, there have been at least five crackdown attempts under Foreigner Act on Myanmar people who are taking shelter in Manipur and an estimated 200 Myanmar asylum seekers are still being detained in Sajiwa prison in Imphal. Some of those detained persons are weavers who have been working there even before the Myanmar Military attempted the coup. Currently, there are at least 15 children, 10 elderly persons, and 30 women being held in Saijiwa prison.
Moreover, a 32-year-old asylum seeker named Mr. Demkholun Guite has suddenly died while being held in Sajiwa prison. He was one of the many people arrested in Langcham village, in the border district of Tengnoupal, Manipur on February 26, 2023. A day before his passing, Mr. Demkholun received a visit from his uncle and two sisters who have claimed that his sudden death came as a shock to them as they found Mr. Demkholun was in good health during the visit.
We are very concerned about this incident as well as the overall situation of detained Myanmar people. We call on the Government of India and authorities in Manipur State to take the following actions immediately.
Adopt new policies toward neighboring Myanmar and condemn the attempted coup by the Myanmar junta; stand with and support the people of Myanmar in their fight for democracy.
Investigate and ensure justice for the death of Mr. Demkholun; ensure transparency and inform the family of Demkholun and Myanmar people of the truth regarding the incident.
Stop imprisoning and persecuting Myanmar asylum seekers who have fled armed conflicts and crossed into India, and immediately release all the detained asylum seekers.
Show empathy for the realities of the humanitarian crisis that Myanmar asylum seekers are facing and provide them with registration cards for a temporary stay.
Progressive Voice is a participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization rooted in civil society, that maintains strong networks and relationships with grassroots organizations and community-based organizations throughout Myanmar. It acts as a bridge to the international community and international policymakers by amplifying voices from the ground, and advocating for a rights-based policy narrative.