India: Escaping arrest from the Military Regime
20 February 2013

Risan Lian attending Chin Spoken English Course(JacquelineDamzen/JRS).
I am very grateful to have an opportunity to learn spoken English along with my son, but I still wish our children could receive education in a regular school, where there would not be any threat of discrimination.

New Delhi, 20 Feburary 2013 – Risan Lian* fled the Chin State of Burma to escape arrest and persecution by the Military Regime in June 2009 along with five immediate family members. He travelled by road to the border of the neighbouring country, India, where he supported his family for two months by cutting fire-wood in the forest, after which they travelled further north to the capital city, New Delhi.

My crime was I had the courage to host a campaign and accommodate the leader of the Chin National Council, an opposing independent party, during the 2009 elections. The military officials found this out and threatened to arrest me, so I fled  to India, through the Mizoram borderto escape arrest, which most probably would lead to brutal torture, life-long imprisonment or secret death.

I deeply regret coming to Delhi to register my whole family as refugees. I was a well-to-do farmer, owning a house and field and was earning enough to feed my family. I was friends with all my neighbours. Now, even though both my wife and I are currently earning about Rs. 3,000/- each, half of the earning goes in house rent and the other half for buying daily essentials. Nothing is saved. It's a hand to mouth existence. Whereas in Mizoram I was the only earning member, and was making about Rs. 200 to 400 per day, and it was more than enough.

I was informed of (the UN refugee agency) UNHCR card and how it is helpful for refugees; so I arranged the trip to Delhi to avail the opportunity.

Though UNHCR has provided education, the medium of instruction is Hindi, which neither my family nor I are familiar with. In addition there is the indifferent attitude towards us refugees. Our children always get bullied and beaten up for no reason.

I am very grateful to have an opportunity to learn spoken English along with my son, but I still wish our children could receive education in a regular school, where there would not be any threat of discrimination.

Even though the Communist Party - State Peace and Development Council - was completely dissolved after the election of 2009, and the Union Solidarity and Development Association (New Democratic Party) was formed by the newly elected government, which seems democratic in nature, it is suspected that 70 percent of the members are still linked with the Military regime.

Hence, I doubt we will be able to return to Burma any time soon, until a peaceful transition from a military government to democracy has been accomplished in Burma, and amnesty (for the exiled or Burmese people seeking asylum in the neighbouring country) is declared by both the government and UNHCR. Till the new government provides the returnees or exiled Burmese citizens some kind of financial assistance and gives us land to encourage us to return, we cannot go back.

* This name has been changed to protect the identity of the person involved.