Mizoram group favours asylum for coup-hit Myanmar villagers

Mizoram’s apex students’ body has asked the State government to provide asylum to some villagers in Myanmar affected by the military coup there.

The State’s Mizo National Front government headed by Zoramthanga said asylum could be considered if there was any formal request cleared by the Centre.

People belonging to Myanmar’s Chin community are seeking to migrate to Mizoram to escape a military crackdown, primarily because of the Chin National Army (CNA), an extremist group seeking self-determination in Chin State across the border.

Mizoram shares a 404 km border with Myanmar.

The Chin community and the Mizos in India belong to Zo ethnic group, who share the same ancestry.

Claiming that the Chins have been affected by the civil unrest in Myanmar, the Mizo Students’ Union appealed to the State government to play a proactive role and accept the affected people as refugees.

Mizoram’s Home Minister Lalchamliana said his government had not yet received a request for asylum from any individual or group.

“So far, none has applied to us seeking political sanctuary or political asylum. If we get a request and take a decision, the Government of India has to ratify it since the matter involves two countries,” he said.

Representatives of the CNA had about a fortnight ago approached the authorities of a border village in Mizoram’s Champhai district seeking shelter for the Chin people. The district’s Deputy Commissioner Maria C.T. Zuali brought the matter to the notice of the State government.

“If they need political asylum, they should apply as per protocol. We are not allowing the people to migrate. They are busy agitating on the Myanmar side. We learnt about their move on political asylum from village panchayats,” Ms. Zuali said.

She said she told the panchayats to make sure the people do not cross over. If allowed entry, they would be confined to one place and given identity cards, she added.

“People living on either side of the Champhai border are of the same ethnic group and they speak the same language. A lot of marriages also take place between them,” Ms. Zuali added.

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