CHRO

This report details human rights abuses that took place in Mindat Township, Chin State from the period of April to December 2021. In May 2021, Martial Law was imposed on Mindat Town, pre-empting a large-scale assault by air and on the ground in order to engage with the Chin Defense Force – Mindat (CDF-M) and establish military control of the town. During a three-day siege, indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure took place, hospital premises were stormed, and widespread instances of war crimes committed by Tatmadaw forces were reported. Download 

 

Al Jazeera| On January 6, Pu Tui Dim, a human rights defender, journalist and former Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) colleague, was arrested by Myanmar junta solders while visiting his home village in northwestern Chin State’s Matupi Township. Nine other civilians from the same village, including a 13-year-old boy, were arrested alongside him.

A day later, my colleagues and I at the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) learned that Pu Tui Dim and others from his village were missing. Fearing the worst, we began a desperate scramble to establish contacts on the ground and gather information.

We soon learned that Pu Tui Dim and the villagers were detained by junta soldiers as they were travelling by motorbike through an area where junta forces have been fighting against the Chinland Defense Force, a pro-democracy armed group. With the military having cut phone lines and internet connections in the area, however, gathering further information and establishing their whereabouts proved to be an agonising effort.

But just two days later, on January 9, our worst fears were confirmed.

Our sources on the ground informed us that they had found the dead bodies of Pu Tui Dim and other villagers. Their hands were tied behind their backs. They were gagged. Some had had their throats slashed. Others had stab wounds to their abdomens.

This gruesome mass murder was just one example of the horror and destruction the military routinely brings upon the people of Myanmar as it desperately tries to cling to power a year after its coup.

We at the CHRO have been documenting the situation on the ground in Myanmar’s northwest since the coup. Arbitrary arrests and detentions of civilians, torture, summary executions, indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighbourhoods and towns, violent nighttime raids, and destruction of private property have all become daily occurrences across the entire region in the past year.

The regime’s reign of terror has pushed more and more people to take up arms against the military as a last resort. But as the armed resistance grew, the military’s attacks on the civilian population became more vicious. Tens of thousands have become internally displaced or fled to neighbouring India in a matter of months.

Meanwhile, the military has deliberately sought to obstruct the collection of evidence of its abuses. It has blocked mobile internet services in 24 townships in Myanmar’s northwest since September, and at times, shut down mobile phone networks, as well. On top of this, it has occasionally imposed martial law, including movement restrictions, to make it more dangerous for people to collect information on the ground.

The coup has emboldened the military, which was already accused of genocide for its treatment of the Rohingya, to kill and destroy anyone and anything in its path.

I have been documenting the military’s human rights abuses for more than two decades, so I am well familiar with its brutal tactics. But I have rarely come across the extent of spine-chilling inhumanity that the military has shown across the country in recent months.

On December 23, for example, it launched indiscriminate air strikes on two Chin villages in the Sagaing region after suffering heavy casualties to local resistance forces in the preceding days. As civilians tried to flee, soldiers stormed the village, killing at least 19. On Christmas Eve, military forces massacred at least 35 people, including women, children and aid workers, in Karenni State, and burned them in their vehicles.

The military has also attacked my hometown of Thantlang at least 20 times during the past four months, burning more than 800 houses to the ground and displacing the entire population of more than 10,000. Deprived of access to basic medical attention and nutritious food, more than 30 people from Thantlang, mostly elderly, have died while fleeing, according to a tally conducted by my organisation.

Tragically, these attacks were foreseeable. Time and again, CHRO has joined civil society actors across the country in calling for governments around the world and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to act. Yet the world is doing almost nothing to rein in the junta as it continues to commit atrocities with impunity.

For example, in October, we were among more than 90 civil society organisations to sound an alarm about impending military attacks in northwestern Myanmar, including Chin State. Although the UNSC convened an emergency meeting on November 11, following which it released a statement expressing “deep concern”, we saw no tangible results. In the months since, the military has continued to burn down and destroy houses and places of worship and kill unarmed civilians, while intentionally depriving civilians of lifesaving aid.

In the absence of swift and decisive international action, we at the CHRO expect the situation to worsen. Since January 9, the military has sent at least 500 troop reinforcements as well as large quantities of arms and ammunition to Myanmar’s northwest, while bombarding Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State in southeastern Myanmar and sending about two-thirds of its 90,000 residents fleeing.

This past year, my colleagues and I have seen too many losses and too much suffering and destruction, and we are increasingly feeling abandoned in our efforts to stop the military from committing further human rights abuses. If governments and international bodies that could make an impact instead continue to look the other way, we are almost certain to see a further escalation in preventable violence.

Pu Tui Dim, who was 55 at the time of his death and left behind one son, had spent his entire adult life documenting the Myanmar military’s human rights abuses. During his six years with the CHRO, he had repeatedly put his own life at risk by clandestinely travelling to dangerous areas to collect human rights data. In spite of the nature of his work, Pu Tui Dim had always managed to stay positive and brighten the mood of our team. His selfless work was integral to CHRO’s efforts to give a voice to the Chin people and inform the world about the former military regime’s human rights abuses in Chin State.

After leaving the CHRO in 2002, he co-founded Khonumthung News, a local media outlet covering the situation in Chin State; he has spent the past 16 years serving as the organisation’s editor-in-chief. He was also one of the founders of Burma News International, a network of local media outlets.

Like countless other victims of the regime’s ruthless and arbitrary rule, Pu Tui Dim is an unsung hero of this people’s revolution against military dictatorship. May he rest in peace, and may he be the last human rights defender whose life is needlessly cut short by this regime.

As for those of us human rights defenders in Myanmar and the diaspora – we remain committed to continuing our work until all the people of Myanmar are free and able to exercise their fundamental rights.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

A tribute to a human rights defender killed by Myanmar’s junta | Opinions | Al Jazeera


GENEVA (28 January 2022) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday urged the international community to intensify pressure on the military to stop its campaign of violence against the people of Myanmar and to insist on the prompt restoration of civilian rule.

“One year after the military seized power, the people of Myanmar – who have paid a high cost in both lives and freedoms lost – continue to advocate relentlessly for their democracy,” Bachelet said. “This week, I had a chance to speak in person with determined, courageous human rights defenders who are pleading to the international community not to abandon them, but to take robust, effective measures to ensure their rights are protected and the military is held accountable.”

“I urge governments – in the region and beyond – as well as businesses, to listen to this plea. It is time for an urgent, renewed effort to restore human rights and democracy in Myanmar and ensure that perpetrators of systemic human rights violations and abuses are held to account.”

Bachelet said she had heard chilling accounts of journalists being tortured; factory workers being intimidated, silenced and exploited; intensified persecution of ethnic and religious minorities – including the Rohingya; arbitrary arrests, detentions and sham trials of political opponents; “clearance operations” targeting villagers; and indiscriminate attacks including through airstrikes and the use of heavy weaponry in populated areas, showing gross disregard for human life.

“And yet, courageous human rights defenders and trade unionists continue to protest, to advocate, to document and accumulate the mounting evidence of violations,” she said.

The brutal effort by security forces to crush dissent has led to the killing of at least 1,500 people by the military since the 1 February coup – but that figure does not include thousands more deaths from armed conflict and violence, which have intensified nationwide.

The UN Human Rights Office has documented gross human rights violations on a daily basis, the vast majority committed by security forces. At least 11,787 people have been arbitrarily detained for voicing their opposition to the military either in peaceful protests or through their online activities, of whom 8,792 remain in custody. At least 290 have died in detention, many likely due to the use of torture.

Armed clashes have grown in frequency and intensity, with every part of the country experiencing some level of violence. In those areas of highest intensity military activity – Sagaing region, Chin, Kachin, Kayah and Kayin states – the military has been punishing local communities for their assumed support of armed elements. The Office has documented village burnings, including places of worship and medical clinics, mass arrests, summary executions and the use of torture.*

The crisis has been exacerbated by the combined forces of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of the banking, transportation, education and other sectors, leaving the economy on the brink of collapse. The daily lives of people have been severely impacted, with devastating effects on their enjoyment of economic and social rights. There are projections that nearly half of the population of 54 million may be driven into poverty this year.

“Members of Myanmar civil society have told me first-hand what the impact of the last year has been on their lives and those of their families and communities,” Bachelet said. “The people have shown extraordinary courage and resilience in standing up for their basic human rights and support each other.

Now the international community must show its resolve to support them through concrete actions to end this crisis.”

While there has been near universal condemnation of the coup and the ensuing violence, the international response has been “ineffectual and lacks a sense of urgency commensurate to the magnitude of the crisis,” Bachelet said. The actions taken by the UN Security Council and by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been insufficient to convince Myanmar’s military to cease its violence and facilitate humanitarian access and aid deliveries. The High Commissioner welcomed some private corporations’ decisions to withdraw based on human rights grounds, as a “powerful tool to apply pressure on the financing of the military’s operations against civilians”.

Bachelet also stressed that the current human rights crisis is “built upon the impunity with which the military leadership perpetrated the shocking campaign of violence resulting in gross human rights violations against the Rohingya communities of Myanmar four years ago – and other ethnic minorities over many decades beforehand.”

“As long as impunity prevails, stability in Myanmar will be a fiction. Accountability of the military remains crucial to any solution going forward – the people overwhelmingly demand this,” Bachelet said.

ENDS

* The UN Human Rights Office will publish a report in March 2022 detailing the human rights situation in the country since the 1 February 2021 coup.

OHCHR | Myanmar: One year into the coup, Bachelet urges governments and businesses to heed voices of the people, intensify pressure on the military

Based on credible sources, the Chin Human Rights Organization has now been able to piece together the chain of command structure of the military hierarchical set up in southern Chin State under the Tactical Operations Command (TOC) based in Matupi. The TOC in Matupi has under its command, Light Infantry Battalion 140, Infantry Battalion 304 and Light Infantry Battalion 274, which is based in Mindat.

CHRO learned that following the embarrassing loss suffered by the military in the battle for Mindat in May, the previous Tactical Operations Commander Col. Thein Htun Aung was demoted after a court martial and deputy commander Lt. Col. Thet Zaw Htet was also court martialed and jailed in Monywa. The shake-up resulted in the appointment of Col. Ye Kyaw as the new Tactical Operations Commander. In the shuffle, Nay Pyi Taw established a new Tactical Operations Command in Mindat with LIB 274, which reports directly to the North Western Regional Military Command in Monwya, as well as the Office of the Commander-in-Chief in Nay Pyi Taw.

Since October 2021, the junta has deployed 100 additional troops to each of all the existing battalions operating in Chin State under the North Western Regional Military Command, with the exception of Paletwa which falls separately under the Western Command in Rakhine State.

500 new infantry troops are being deployed to Chin State as SAC junta prepares for a major offensive against Chin resistance forces. Fighting have erupted in different parts of Chin State, including in Hakha town where LIB266 have fired rockets into civilian neighborhoods indiscriminately. Hundreds have fled their homes and villages in southern Chin State following the brutal killing of 10 civilians whose bodies were found bound and their throats slashed and stabbed.

Imminent Attacks?

500 new infantry troops are being deployed to Chin State as SAC junta prepares for a major offensive against Chin resistance forces. Fighting have erupted in different parts of Chin State, including in Hakha town where LIB266 have fired rockets into civilian neighborhoods indiscriminately. Hundreds have fled their homes and villages in southern Chin State following the brutal killing of 10 civilians whose bodies were found bound and their throats slashed and stabbed.

Read More

More people are fleeing from multiple villages in Matupi Township and moving towards the Indian border following the brutal summary killings of at least 10 civilians last week and as the military junta reinforces troops into the areas under the Tactical Operations Command in Matupi in southern Chin State.

Summary Killing of 10 Civilians

On January 6 at around 8:30 am, junta soldiers from LIB 140 of Matupi-based Tactical Operations Command arrested seven people who were traveling by motorbikes on the road between Kihlueng and Lunghlaw villages, northwest of Maputi Town. The arrests took place at a location about one mile outside of Kihlueng village. One of the travelers in the group is a 56 year-old villager (Name withheld) who turned away and escaped immediately upon witnessing the arrests of his traveling companions who were driving ahead of him. On the next day at around noon on January 7, villagers discovered 8 dead bodies, including that of a 13-year-old boy whose throat was slashed along the stretch of dirt road between Kihlueng and Lunghlaw. All the dead bodies have their hands tied behind their backs and bore knife wounds to the torso area and slashed throats. Two more bodies were discovered at a location between Kihlueng and Kace, another village in the area north of Kihlueng, the same day.

Among those summarily executed is Pu Tui Dim (55), a former staff member working for CHRO for many years before moving on to co-found Khonumthung News and worked as its Editor-in-Chief. The following is the list of persons who were brutally murdered by the junta.

1. Pu Tui Dim, 55
2. Pa Le Nang, 13
3. Salai Steven, 28
4. Pu La Ring, 58
5. Pu Va Thu, 38
6. Pu Paw Sali, 45
7. Pu Tin Sang, 41
8. U Yezar Aung, 40
9. Pu Lian Ngai, 42
10. Salai Thak Lung, 50

Villagers fleeing the area

Horrified by news of the brutal killings, more than 1000 civilians from at least six villages in the area, including Kihlueng, Kace, Boitia, Ngaleng, Lunghlaw and Tibaw villages have all fled and are taking shelter at Amlai, Rengkhen and Tangku villages. But as troops are reinforced in the areas, the IDPs, along with civilians from their host villages have further moved towards Sumsen and Sabawngpi, which are located closer to the Indian border. Some have crossed into Mizoram, including a witness to the arrests on January 6 of a group of travelers whose bodies were later found.

Troops reinforced

At least 90 truckloads of soldiers, ammunition and supplies are heading to Matupi and have been traveling from Kyaukhtu in Magway since January 9. As of January 11, the troops are on the way between Mindat and Matupi and have met with ambush from local resistance groups from the Chinland Defense Forces. Maputi is the base of one of the two Tactical Operations Command, which has an existing strength of three stationary battalions under its command (LIB 140, IB 304 and LIB 274 based in Mindat). The reinforcement are believed to be from some of the notorious Light Infantry Divisions, which are deployed in swift tactical situation and as a quick mobile combat force.

The SAC military junta has burned nearly 750 houses or a third of the buildings in Thantlang since September 9. The deliberate arson attacks, which include soldiers physically torching houses and shelling of incendiary rockets, came after repeated warnings issued by Brigadier-General Myo Htut Hlaing, Deputy Commander of the North Western Regional Military Command, based in Hakha in the weeks leading up to the first attacks. The continuing attacks on Thantlang is being carried out as a punishment to the residents who have been accused of harboring the Chin resistance movement, especially members of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and to uproot the over 10,000 residents from their habitat. Several civilians have been killed in indiscriminate rocket attacks and targeted shooting over the past four months.

These attacks constitute acts of war crimes and crimes against humanity under international laws. The SAC military junta led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing must be held accountable for his crimes. The international community must not fail the people of Myanmar, especially the victims of Min Aung Hlaing’s crimes in Thantlang.

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Junta soldiers caught in the acts of committing arson in Thantlang on November 26, 2021. The soldiers are seen running around the street torching multiple houses in Seikpyoye Ward of Thanglang, in the neighborhood adjacent to where they are comping at the Natala School compound (building rows above the street)

In this previously unseen aerial footage, junta’s soldiers are seen engaging in setting fire to several houses in Seikpyuye Ward of Thantlang. The visual footage, taken on Nov 26, 2021, provides the strongest evidence yet of direct responsibility of the junta in destroying a town of over 2000 houses with more than 10,000 residents. It also conclusively refutes the junta’s spokesperson Gen. Zaw Min Tun’s repeated denials that their soldiers were responsible and puts the blame on members of the Chinland Defense Forces (CDF).

 

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