Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia

 
ACHR PRESS RELEASE
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ACHR Index: PR/IND-TRP/01/06
6 January 2006

Centre and Tripura have failed the Brus
Camp conditions sub-human

Agartala Press Club, 3 pm: “The Central government and the State government of Tripura have failed both to ensure honourable return of the displaced Brus from Mizoram and to improve sub-human conditions of the camps”, stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights, at a press conference after a visit to the camps in North Tripura from 2 to 4 January 2006. More than five months have elapsed since the members of the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) surrendered on 25 July 2005 but not a single internally displaced Bru from Mizoram has yet been repatriated. The return of the Brus appears to have ended with the return of 273 Brus consisting of the BNLF cadres and their family members.

Commenting on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Mizoram government and BNLF, Mr Chakma stated it was clear from the opinions of the displaced Brus that the MoU has failed to resolve the Bru insurgency as it does not address the problems of displaced Brus who constitute the overwhelming majority of the Brus of Mizoram. The MoU only attempts to rehabilitate the BNLF cadres. There is no general amnesty for those living in the camps, guarantees for security, compensation for the properties lost and/or damaged, restoration of the lands to the original owners, and proper and adequate rehabilitation of the displaced Brus within a specific time frame. Nothing reflects more acutely the repressive policies of the Mizoram government than the murder of Hulendra Reang in August 2005 by Mizoram Police after entering into Tripura.

"The identification of the socalled genuine Brus is a ploy not to take back majority of the displaced Brus and exposes Mizoram government's tacit support to the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) and Young Mizo Association (YMA) which first systematically deleted the Brus from the voter lists and then uprooted them from their hearts and homes." - stated Mr Chakma.

"I sincerely do not believe that the Brus will be included in the voter lists on their return. There is no rule of law or due process of law as Mizoram government often abdicates its responsibility to the non-State actors like YMA and MZP to delete the minorities in the State from the voter list" - further added Mr Chakma.

On the announcement of the Centre for Rs 28 crores package for the rehabilitation of Brus, Mr Chakma commented, “it was unwise to declare the package without specifying the time frame for the return of the Brus from Tripura and the package for each family. Since the Mizoram government refuses to take back all the Brus, are we to presume that Mizoram government will take back all of them or is it a case that Central government has already accepted the number of Brus to be repatriated? – asked Mr Chakma. “Unless the displaced Brus are rehabilitated, armed opposition group such as the Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM) will emerge. There are some vested interests not to resolve the Bru problem" - stated Mr Chakma.

During the visit to the relief camps under Kanchanpur sub-division in North Tripura from 2-4 January 2006, Asian Centre for Human Rights found the conditions of over 34,000 displaced Brus in the camps in North Tripura as sub-human. It is clear that Tripura government does not believe in "Athithi Deva Bhava".

The daily cash dole of Rs 2.90 i.e. Rs 87/- per month given to each adult Bru is extremely discriminatory considering that displaced Kashmiri pandits from Jammu and Kashmir are provided Rs 800/- per month. How could citizens of the same country be discriminated?

Since 2001, the new-born babies have been included only in the census but not in the relief cards to make them eligible for food items. Those who have become adult in the last five years continue to be given rations as minor. In any case, the ration of 450 grams of rice is so inadequate that displaced Brus do not even report death as it means further reduction of the rations already provided. Although officials claimed that dal and coconut oil are being provided, it was a news to the Brus.

Medical facilities are non-existent and the expenditures of the State government do not show medical expenses. Doctors have allegedly not visited the relief camps from six months to one and half year now. Only when the death of the Brus takes epidemic proportion, the doctors visit the camps. The conditions of children and pregnant women are the worst. As there are no primary health care centers, pregnant women are forced to deliver at home. Maternity death is quite high and as are also the common diseases.

Most tube wells are out of order. The Brus are forced to drink water from the streams and ponds, thereby causing water-born diseases.  Sanitation facilities are non-existent.

The Tripura government has made a mockery of the right to education as it has not provided any educational facilities to the children in the camps. Even the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan has not been extended to the Bru relief camps. Effectively, over 5,000 minors have been denied the right to education and an entire generation of the Brus has been kept illiterate in the last eight years. "The policy of the Tripura government on denying the right to education to the Brus is no less condemnable than the practices of the Mizoram government" - stated Mr Chakma.

"The Central government and the State government of Tripura must either pressurise the State government of Mizoram to ensure honourable repatriation of the Brus within a specific time frame or else drastically improve the sub-human conditions of the camps in North Tripura." - demanded Mr Chakma. “If the Reangs cannot honourably repatriated, all other majority communities in the North East will resort to such ethnic cleansings.” – warned Mr Chakma.

Asian Centre for Human Rights, among other, calls upon (1) the Central government and the State government of Tripura to ensure honourable return of the Bru IDPs as a matter of priority within a specific time frame with guarantees for security; and (2) improve the camp conditions by allocating 5% of the budget allocated to Mizoram by the Centre to provide adequate housing, adequate food, more cash dole, right to education, access to highest attainable standard of health care and drinking water etc to the displaced Brus.

[Ends]

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