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Concern for Myanmar's Christian Chin community as UN ends protection
A decision by the United Nations to wind down protection for a predominantly Christian minority group from Myanmar has been criticised by campaigners.
The Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) claimed an ending of special protection for displaced Chin communities was premature, given they could "still suffer from systematic human rights abuses" at home.
Program director Sang Hnin Lian (pictured below) from the CHRO told Premier: "The UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] will end the international protection for the Chin refugees, meaning they are left unprotected in other countries without any proper documentation."
A modern spate of human rights violations against the Chin can be traced back to the overthrowing of a democratically-elected government in Myanmar by General Ne Win in 1962.
It is estimated that 80,000 Chins have fled the south east Asian country since then. Between 30,000 and 35,000 Chin people currently qualify as refugees in Malaysia. A further 5,000 have settled in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
In June this year, the UNHCR announced their documentation would no longer be automatically renewed from January 2020, meaning Chin families would be given little choice but to return home.
The organisation said it deemed the Myanmar government in a suitable position to offer the Chin community sufficient protection.
But the CHRO warned the Chin community "continues to be threatened" for bodies including the country's military.
The organisation's report warns: "Chin people living in present-day Myanmar continue to face institutionalised barriers to religious freedom.
"These usually are related to local authorities blocking the ownership of land for Christian worship.
"Due to this, Christians, particularly in areas where they represent a minority such as in the states and regions bordering Chin State, are forced to illegally undertake house worship.
"Christians have also faced threats, intimidation and mob-violence by local communications, often supported and even organised by local authorities and Buddhist monks."
The CHRO warns the Chin in Myanmar - many of whom live in rural areas - face multiple challenges including poor access to education and under-developed infrastructure.
Premier has contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for a response.
Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with Sang Hnin Lian:
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