Refugees from Myanmar gathered in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Monday, demanding the Central Government grant permission for them to migrate to various countries such as the US, Australia, and the UAE.
About 20,000 refugees have fled Myanmar since the military crackdown and settled in neighbouring Mizoram.
“Blood doesn’t have boundaries. We share the same voice. High time the world’s largest democracy starts fighting ‘for democracy’,” said Mizo student union president Samuel Zoramthanpuia.
Many refugees from Myanmar are from the Chin region. “We share the same forefathers, the same culture, the same history,” Zoramthanpuia added. Mizo groups are leading the fight for refugee demands, owing to their close kinship. Although the protesters gathered in Delhi were not all from the Chin region, many of them are from Mainland Myanmar.
“We demand support and request help from the government. There are so many people who are stranded in Mizoram since they don’t have citizenship,” he said, to fellow protesters who listened in stoic silence.
Holding posters that read “Save Democracy: Support Myanmar Democracy,” “Support Indian Migration: Chin-Mizo-Kuki,” and “Approve Exit Permission,” approximately 70 refugees and Mizo comrades had spread themselves across Jantar Mantar. They mostly reside in the neighbourhoods of Kamla Nagar, Uttam Nagar, and Vikaspuri.
“It is very difficult to exit India,” one attendee, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.
Getting permission to hold the protest was also not easy. The group originally wanted to hold the demonstration on 26 January but was unable to do so. “The government needs to help but there is no leader to take a stand for the community. It is very difficult to interact with the government on Myanmar’s political issues,” sources told ThePrint.
The government is yet to take a concrete stand against Myanmar’s ruling military junta. They have condemned the ensuing violence from the coup, but remain tentative. A report in Deutsche-Welle describes India as “a steadfast friend” of the military junta.
Also read: With Myanmar’s war at Northeast borders, India must side with Mizos against the junta
Kinship between Mizoram and Myanmar
The identities of the Chins in Myanmar and the Mizo people are closely woven together by the same cultural and ethnic backgrounds. “We don’t know the exact history. There are different stories. We come from China, Mongolia. Colonialism separated us,” Samuel Lalruatdika, vice president of Mizoram’s student union said.
The Chin-Kuki-Mizos are collectively called the Zo people.
India and Myanmar share a 1,643-kilometre long border, and violence teeters along the edge. Earlier in the month, five bombs targeted Camp Victoria, an insurgent camp in Myanmar, located a mere 10 kilometres from Mizoram’s Farkawn.
The Mizoram student’s union wanted to launch a medical assistance mission across the border to assist victims but were unable to obtain the requisite permission.
The government’s support is a top priority, which is why they have travelled to Delhi. “From Mizoram, we can’t be heard in Delhi. That’s why we want to deliver our message. Treat us like Indians. That is what we deserve,” declared Zoramthanpuia.
(Edited by Tarannum Khan)
Also read: Panic in Mizoram villages as Myanmar junta bombs insurgents — ‘need show of strength from Delhi’