Research Article: Health and Human Rights in Chin State, Western Burma: A Population-Based Assessment Using Multistaged Household Cluster Sampling

Date Published: February 8, 2011

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Richard Sollom, Adam K. Richards, Parveen Parmar, Luke C. Mullany, Salai Bawi Lian, Vincent Iacopino, Chris Beyrer, Gorik Ooms

Abstract: Sollom and colleagues report the findings from a household survey study carried out in Western Burma; they report a high prevalence of human rights violations such as forced labor, food theft, forced displacement, beatings, and ethnic persecution.

Partial Text: Investigators are increasingly using population-based methods to document human rights violations (HRVs) [1], i.e., abuses committed by state authorities of those rights and freedoms enshrined in various international treaties [2],[3]. Population-based survey research can generate quantitative measures of the prevalence of war-related sexual violence [4], genocide [5], and other conflict-related deaths [6],[7], refugee displacement [8], maternal mortality [9],[10], and discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS [11]. More recently, researchers have quantified the associations between HRVs and health outcomes [12],[13], including in eastern Burma [14],[15]. Few such data exist for western Burma, where ethnic and religious minority populations have poor health outcomes and lower socioeconomic status compared to central Burma and where human rights abuses have been reported [16]. Western Burma borders Bangladesh to the south and the Northeast Indian States of Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland to the north—remote regions that have been marked by insurgency, militarization, and allegations of human rights abuses (Figure 1). The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights for Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, reported in March 2010 that 75,000–100,000 undocumented Chins live in Mizoram State after having fled their homeland [16]. There has been little quantitative investigation of the forces driving this Chin exodus.

This study was conducted by a collaborative group including researchers at Physicians for Human Rights, Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Global Health Access Program and several Chin health and human rights partner organizations.

The study teams were able to conduct surveys in all nine townships in 100% of urban clusters and 98.7% of rural clusters (Table 1). At the household level, surveyors reached 100% of 112 urban households and 97% of 608 rural households. Overall participation was high, with 86.3% of heads of household consenting to participate, though there was some variation by township (Table 1).

This population-based survey shows ongoing reports of human rights violations perpetrated by Burmese government authorities against the Chin ethnic minority in western Burma in 2010.



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