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Mizoram intensifies anti-Myanmarese drive following rape of minor

Stepping up their anti-foreigner drive, Mizos, backed by the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), recently drove out Myanmarese people from a refugee camp in the Zemabawk area of Aizawl where they had been given shelter following the recent unrest in the city. The anti-foreigner drive in Mizoram gained renewed momentum after a minor was allegedly raped by a Myanmarese national, Vanlalchhanga, last month. Rioting crowds later razed the houses of the accused to the ground. The move against the 100 Myanmarese nationals housed in the refugee camp came even as Mizo organisations set August 15 as the deadline for the eviction of all Myanmarese from Mizoram. According to sources, 3,081 Myanmarese immigrants, a few of whom still hold Myanmarese identity cards, have so far crossed over to Myanmar after the anti-foreigner drive in the state. The state government has arranged buses for the migrants to leave.

Appeals by the Mizoram Journalists Association and Mizo political parties have failed to cut ice with the locals who are now set to target Myanmarese migrants residing in the border towns of Lunglei and Champai.

Pro-democracy organisations in Myanmar, have meanwhile appealed to the people of Aizawl for sympathy. ”We are deeply concerned about the situation of Myanmarese migrants in Mizoram,” said Than Sein, member of the Parliament Union of Myanmar. A memorandum signed by Dr Tint Swe of Aung San Su Kyi’s National League for Democracy, Dr Zaw Win Aung of the Federation of Trade Unions, Burma, Ko Kyaw Than of the All Burma Students League and Than Sein of the Member of Parliament Union, appealed to social and religious organisations in Mizoram to show compassion for the Myanmarese citizens as “it would be like going to hell because the situation in Burma is worsening after the May 30 political assassination attempt against Daw Aung San Su Kyi”. People pushed back to Myanmar may have to starve, as job opportunities in the country had decreased sharply with an increasing number of countries imposing economic sanctions against the country, they said.

Mizos have for long blamed the illegal Myanmarese migrants for the rise in criminal activities in the state. “While there are some 40 migrants who enjoy refugee status in Mizoram, many of the Myanmarese staying illegally are criminal elements,” said State Home Minister R Tlanghmingthanga. Mizoram has over the past years witnessed large-scale influx of Myanmarese migrants, many of whom have crossed over fearing persecution by their country’s military junta. Most of them work as domestic help and weavers, while some run small businesses in the state.
The recent drive has, however, failed to win the support of the entire Mizo community, with a section saying that the issue should be dealt with more humanely. They point out, for example, that many of the Myanmarese in Mizoram no longer have their mahpumten (identity cards), without which they cannot cross over back to Myanmar. Leaders of the Central Young Mizo Association, for their part, pleaded with the community leaders to give the Myanmarese people at least a few days time to leave Mizoram, but to no avail. The Mizoram police, however, say that even those without identity cards have also been allowed to return to their country by the Myanmarese authorities. “We, however, do not know the exact number of such people how have returned to Myanmar,” said Lalremmuana, additional superintendent of police, Aizawl.

a Newsfile report