Indo-Burma border in the heart of Mizoram. An estimated 40,000 Myanmar refugees from the Chin ethnic group are currently being granted asylum in Mizoram. Photo: Frédéric Gloor / Flickr
Indo-Burma border in the heart of Mizoram. An estimated 40,000 Myanmar refugees from the Chin ethnic group are currently being granted asylum in Mizoram. Photo: Frédéric Gloor / Flickr

In Mizoram, a refugee crisis highlights Mizo tribal affinities and hostility

Shared Zo identity has Mizos extending hospitality to Chin and Kuki-Chin refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh. More remarkable is that Chakmas, mistreated by the Mizo majority in Mizoram, have welcomed Kuki-Chin refugees too

The refugee crisis in the Indian state of Mizoram is rapidly worsening as Chin and Kuki-Chin refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar are forced to flee ongoing military operations and seek refuge across the Indian border. This presents us with a democratic paradox for both state and society.

On 10 March 2021, India's home ministry wrote to the chief secretaries of the border states of Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh to "take appropriate action as per law to check illegal influx from Myanmar into India." It also reminded the states that, since India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, they have no power to grant "refugee status to any foreigner." The letter termed the movement of refugees due to the political coup in Myanmar as an "illegal influx of foreigners," thereby making its position clear on refugees from Myanmar.

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