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Myanmar’s ethnic minorities feel the heat after Rohingyas, flee to India

The ethnic minorities, mostly Christians, allegedly face persecution by majoritarian Buddhist groups in the country.

india Updated: May 22, 2017 19:29 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Myanmar,Myanmar refugee,Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar
Hard-line Buddhists including monks walk through a street during a protest march, led by Rakhine State's dominant Arakan National Party, against the government's plan to give citizenship to some members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority community in Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar on March 19.(AP File Photo)

After Rohingya Muslim community, it is now the turn of ethnic minorities to flee communal violence and intimidation in Myanmar.

Officials of the paramilitary Assam Rifles said some 300 people, mostly women and children, crossed over from Myanmar to Khaikhy and Lungpuk villages of southern Mizoram’s Saiha district on May 19. The district borders Chin and Rakhine states of Myanmar. The refugees, belonging to the same ethnic stock as the Mara tribe inhabiting southern Mizoram, had fled atrocities by a Myanmar-based ethnic insurgent group called Arakan Army.

“The refugees said they are from Ralie village in Myanmar’s Chin state across the border. The insurgents drove them out but held back most of the males,” a Major in the unit said.

“Because of poor road network, two teams of Assam Rifles personnel reached the villages early morning on May 20. The local villagers had provided them food and shelter. We counted more than 200 people during profiling of the refugees, but another 77 came to Khaikhy village in the afternoon,” a senior Assam Rifles officer said.

Another unconfirmed report said more than 100 people also crossed over into Nagaland to escape a battle between the Myanmar army and the mining mafia. Nagaland adjoins Myanmar’s Sagaing Division where ethnic minorities, mostly Christians, allegedly face persecution by majoritarian Buddhist groups. The Maras, also called Miram, are one of the 53 ethnic groups in Myanmar’s Chin state.

Later on Monday, the Mizoram government said it would let some 300 Myanmar refugees, driven out by an ethnic insurgent group in that country, stay for some days before Delhi “has to deal with it”.

“We have sent a report on the status of the refugees to the (state) home department,” Harleen Kaur, Saiha deputy commissioner, told HT on Monday.

The state’s home minister, R Lalzirliana said India and Myanmar have an agreement to let locals travel up to 15 km from the international border and stay for some time. “The centre has to step in at some point of time,” he said.

The Myanmar army has been at war with at least 20 armed insurgent groups catering to as many ethnic communities. The country has also experience communal violence between Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims and between Buddhists and Christians along the border with India.

The Arakanese have been in a state of conflict with the Rohingyas since 2012, resulting in more than 200,000 Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar. China too has been bearing the burden of ethnic conflicts and intermittent wars between the Myanmar army and the insurgent groups

First Published: May 22, 2017 07:43 IST