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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 14, April 1, 2023

Joint statement by Burma resistance forces on the situation of Burmese refugees in Manipur, India - 2 March 2023

Saturday 1 April 2023


1. We are democratic forces from various regions of Myanmar fighting against the Myanmar junta who have been killing civilians at will following an attempted coup.

2. Myanmar’s people deserve democracy. The government and people of India know best how difficult the road to democracy can be. When the Myanmar junta attempted to seize power [1] and install military rule in 2021, all the people of Myanmar, including those from India’s neighbouring Sagaing Region and Chin State were left with no choice but to join the revolution and fight for their lives, their homes, and their freedom. They have been fighting against the military junta for a total of 760 days and they are doing so in the same way they fought bravely against the British colonial rule using any weapons they could find.

3. Since Sagaing Region and Chin State are two of the strongest regions in the resistance movement, they have also faced some of the deadliest crackdowns and terror campaigns by the military junta. Sagaing Region alone has 42.6 percent of the total IDP population in Myanmar. Chin State, which is one of the smallest states in Myanmar and is mostly home to a minority Christian population, on the other hand, has 3.1 percent of the total IDP population [2]. Myanmar’s military junta has systematically committed war crimes and atrocities on a large scale, including killings of civilians, arbitrary arrests and detentions, launching deliberate airstrikes on hospitals, schools, and churches, and burning and destruction of civilian homes and structures.

4. The people of Chin State and Sagaing Region, who have faced widespread atrocities committed by troops operating under the North-western Regional Command of the military junta, were forced to join the People’s Defence Forces, while most of the women, elderly people, and other unarmed civilians were forced to flee into different towns along the border inside India [3].

5. However, we have learned that people who fled to the Indian border areas are reportedly in extremely difficult circumstances yet again [4].

6. Since February 2022, there have been at least five crackdown attempts under the Foreigner Act on refugees taking shelter in Manipur. An estimated 200 Myanmar asylum seekers [5] are still being detained in Sajiwa prison in Imphal. Some of those detained persons are weavers who have been working there even before the Myanmar military attempted the coup. Currently, there are at least 15 children, 10 elderly persons and 30 women being held in Saijiwa prison [6].

7. Moreover, a 32-year-old asylum-seeker, Mr. Demkholun Guite, suddenly died while being held in Sajiwa prison [7]. He was one of the many people arrested in Langcham village, in the border district of Tengnoupal, Manipur, on 26 February 2023. A day before his passing, Mr. Demkholun received a visit from his uncle and two sisters who claimed that his sudden death came as a shock to them as they had found Mr. Demkholun in good health during the visit.

8. We are very concerned about this incident and the overall situation of the detained people. We call on the Government of India and the authorities in Manipur State to take the following actions immediately:

  • Adopt new policies toward neighbouring Myanmar and condemn the attempted coup by the military junta; stand with and support the people of Myanmar in their fight for democracy.
  • Investigate and ensure justice for the death of Mr. Demkholun; ensure transparency and inform the family of Mr. Demkholun and the Myanmar people of the truth regarding the incident.
  • Stop imprisoning and persecuting Myanmar asylum seekers who have fled armed conflicts and crossed into India, and immediately release all the detained asylum seekers.
  • Show empathy for the realities of the humanitarian crisis that Myanmar asylum seekers are facing and provide them with registration cards for a temporary stay.



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