(Paletwa – 30th Nov, 2019):

On 22nd November 2019, a local man from Do Chaung Wa, Paletwa Township died after stepping on a landmine while carrying an injured Burmese soldier. U Phillip (47) was in the jungle cutting bamboo for house repairs when he encountered the Tatmadaw soldiers. The battalion were struggling to carry an injured man in their group and asked U Phillip for help in doing so. According to a local man who spoke to CHRO, “U Phillip had spent three to four days in the jungle harvesting bamboo for use as building materials for his house. The Burmese soldiers were not in the vicinity initially but showed up to get reinforcement for some battles that took place elsewhere in the area. U Phillip was asked to help them fetch their injured comrade. Nothing happened on their way to get the soldier but the explosion took place on their way back,” explained the villager. U Phillip stepped on the landmine between the villages of Pauh Thu Wa and Pone Nyin Wa of Ungthi Wa Village Tract. One of his legs was severed in the explosion and he died on the way to get help. The victim lived with his two children in Du Chaung Wa Village, approximately 18 miles away from Miza Village. Similarly on 25th February 2019, U Aung Lan, a resident of Shin Ma Din Village, in the Kuchaung area of Paletwa Township died after stepping on a landmine while being forced to work as a guide for the Tatmadaw

(Paletwa 29th October, 2019)

Villagers from Paletwa Township have been restricted under a directive initiated by the Township Municipal Department which restricts the use of private boats to act as ferries for travelling along the Kaladan River. The prohibition Order number 28/2019 was issued on October 8th 2019 and prohibits the use of locally owned, small-engine boats to be used as a ferry:

Within the municipal ferry licensed area, the private boat owners must not collect any fare from passengers, and no one shall hire the private owned boat with money without prior permission from Paletwa Township Municipal Department. Anyone who violates shall be punished when the investigations show such violation. The boat of violating party shall be confiscated,” said one source who spoke to CHRO.

The areas which are included in the order are Sin let Wa, Hta Rai and Taung Pio in Paletwa, along the Kaladan River. In the aftermath of the order publication, local people travelling with private boats which carry more than three people are risking a fine of 5000 MMK (Approx. 3 USD) per head. The Paletwa Township Municipal Department auction the ferry licenses from Paletwa to Tuang Pio, and from Taung Pio to Thru Ai which have reached as high as 370 lakhs (370 million) and 140 lakhs (14 million) for the two stretches of river. The ferry fares from Paletwa to Taung Pio and from Taung Pio to Hta Rai are 3000 MMK each.

A source who agreed to speak to CHRO stated that, “In Paletwa, we mostly use the water way for our transportation in Paletwa, we use a Honda-boat as a taxi is used in Yangon. We rely on it for emergency cases and family trip. We are troubled because the Municipal order prohibits to use a private boat to travel. People have losses especially in Miza and upper region because Thru Ai Licensed Boat Team has been collecting fines from those who travel with more than three people. Now the municipal prohibits private boat, and it is getting worse. What I want to say is that it is OK that the licensed boat can take ferry as much as they can, but there is no such order that people can only use a bus in Yangon.”

Ferries that have been caught transporting villagers along the river have had their National Registration Cards (NRC) confiscated and then had to redeem them in the Municipal office at a later date. It is alleged also that some of the private boat owners were physically beaten by the licensed boat owners. In one such case, it is reported that on the 26th October 2019, that a licensed boat owner, U Kyaw Moe physically attacked U Aung Than, a private owner who was found to be carrying eight people as he was checked at Hta Rai Ai check point. During the incident the NRC cards of all the boat passengers were also confiscated. One person interviewed by CHRO stated:

The Hta Rai Ai Boat Line Team fines 5000.00 MMK per head to those who pass the check point carrying more than three persons. Some of their NRCs were confiscated. Then, they were again checked at the check point between Nuu Bu and Taung Pio saying that Hta Rai Ai Check Point Team asked us to do so”.

According to sources, the boats used by family members are also forced to pay and even the boats carrying patients going hospital have to pay, “They threaten them by saying ‘it is OK not to pay’, but afterwards they will make a call and you will not escape, they will know when you arrive at the Paletwa check point. So, do only the licensed boat line owners own the Kaladan River? And why don’t we own the river, can’t we use the river?”

On 24th November, 2019 six school teachers departed from Miza to Paletwa Town to attend a training with a boat owned by U Khin Soe, the headmaster of the Miza primary school. When they were stopped at the Hta

Rai Ai check point along the way and were asked to pay, they refused. Afterwards, U Khin Soe’s staff card was confiscated and to date, he has not recieved it back. One interlocuter explained his frustration at the order:

For example, when about ten people want to travel to attend the religious festivals, it should not be prohibited to use private Honda boat. According to the order, the passengers should not exceed three on a single boat except in social events. Actually, some family exceeds five persons, so the situation is like family census is needed to show them as proof. For us, we must go with our own boat if my family want to travel, but my family member is made up of seven people. If we have our own boat, then why should we still borrow other’s boat? The situation is like this”.

Regarding the difficulties of private boat owners, he added, “There are many cases such as NRC confiscation and physical attack. So, these cases will no longer be accepted. I think there will be conflicts exploded regarding with these cases”.

(Paletwa – 9th Oct, 2019):

Five more persons, including a pregnant woman, are missing in Paletwa Township, a local villager told CHRO. On 5th October 2019, U Ku Hawi (23) and his wife Daw Than Dar Oo (25) from Thaya Kone Village disappeared from their farm, approximately 1 hours walk from their house. Daw Than Dar Oo had gone in search of U Ku Hawi after he had failed to come back from the farm, “The couple went missing when the wife was looking for her husband who failed to return home after going to his farm just over an hour walk from home to fetch some vegetables for a Sunday meal,” one villager said.

U Hawi Ku (23) and Daw Than Dar Oo (25) are expecting their first child with the expectant mother 6 months pregnant. Villagers from Thaya Kone conducted a search party on 17th October, two days later but found no trace of the missing people. Both the Tatmadaw and the AA are stationed in the vicinity of the village. The Burma Army Tactical Command outpost is located 4 miles from Thaya kone Village at Kha Maut Wa Village while the AA is stationed within a five mile vicinity. There is as of yet no word on which armed group has taken them.

Similarly, three villagers from Wun Chaung Wa, U Hla Khine (23), Maung Maung She (32) and Maung Pho She (40) disappeared on 14th of September 2019 on their return from San OO Village, Rakhine State where they bought commodities such as rice and cooking oils etc. They had left four days earlier on 10th Sept. The vicinity in which their disappearance took place is a hotbed of military activities by both the AA and Tatmadaw. Both armed groups have denied responsibility for their disappearance.

(Paletwa – 22nd July, 2019):

On 16th July, 2019 four people from Baung Wa Kyaw Village Paletwa Township, Chin State went missing as they made their way home from work. The victims were identified as Lin Naing (23), Kyaw Sein (31), Kyaw Kyaw Than (28) and Kyaw Lin (25) who all work as motorcycle carriers who transport quarry workers producing rocks for construction of the Lawng Kadu Bridge project.

Locals interviewed by CHRO believe them to be abducted by the Arakan Army (AA). One villager from Temawah stated to CHRO, “Only the AA troops are active in the area where they went missing. There is no movement of the Burmese military there.” When the four men did not arrive back, local community members rallied in order to search for the missing party. One local from Baung Wa Kyaw Village who spoke to CHRO described the events:

After the victims failed to show up that evening the Namada Village Administrator and the Bawng Wa Village Tract Administrator and I went out in search of them. Midway between Namada and Bawng Wah Villages, we found a motorcycle lying in the ditch on the side of the road. We rushed to inspect the spot but there was no one there. It wasn’t an accident as we found no trace of a body or blood. As we proceeded further down the road in search of a second vehicle, we heard a group of people from a distance and we immediately turned back to the village out of fear. We have often seen armed AA soldiers roaming around that particular area before and we were quite sure it was the AA who took them away. The Burma army would notify the family if they arrested any villagers but this time the families have not been informed. This makes us believe that it was the AA who arrested them.

The village administrators have reported the matter to the Tatmadaw. All the victims have families and are married with children. Similarly, a villager of Than Daung, Maung Pu Kui Myat (20) disappeared after being taken away by AA solders at Moe Yua Thit Village near Myauk Oo Town along with his boat at 2 pm on 9th August 2019 as he made his way back to the village:

On the day he was taken away, the AA soldiers stopped 7 boats at Moe Yua Thit Village. Maung Pu Kui was arrested and taken away. He has totally disappeared since. He was carrying on his boat metal roof plates and cement worth over 500,000 Kyats. He and his boat and all the goods just disappeared to this day,” a villager of Ku Phe told CHRO.

In similar circumstances, U Kyaw Aye (58) went missing from the same village after being arrested by AA soldiers on 14th June 2019 as he returned from Myauk Oo along with his boat. Locals from the area informed CHRO that the AA has been looting goods from villagers who use the Lemro River to transport commodities such as rice, cooking oils, salt and fish paste etc. One interlocutor stated that the AA “also arrest and take away people traveling along the river and people in the area are really afraid.”

(Mindat – 27th Jan, 2019):

On 24th Jan, 2019 the Township Administration officer from Mindat General
Administrative Department, Southern Chin State, issued an order that permission needed to be applied for two weeks in advance in order to hold religious ceremonies and trainings, meetings, workshops by INGO/NGOs, reported by a local to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

He continued that in the order, it is stated that in the application for conducting the training, facts such as affirmation letter of applicants, short biography of trainers, summary of the subject, banner of the training, number of trainees, recommendation letter from ward/village tract administration officer and police station, and date and time of training have to be submitted two weeks in advance and conducting training will be only allowed when the application is approved.

In relation to the above matter, a staff member working at a civil society organization based in Mindat said, “In order to conduct training in a village just for two or three days, we will have to get recommendation from village administration officer and return to Mindat, and have to submit letter of request to government two weeks in advance. Therefore, it will cost about 1 lakh Motorbike fare for a round-trip journey from Mindat to a village. It also depends on the availability of villagers to attend training and so, we can’t set exact dates by ourselves”

As transportation is difficult and motorcycle fares are unaffordable, villagers complained that it would be impossible to go to the village administration officer for a recommendation letter. One villager told CHRO:

“There is no mobile communications network in the villages and so, we can’t communicate in advance and it is a huge difficulty to get recommendation from village administration officer. It is true that all events are held with prior permission in the urban areas but the obligation to ask for permission from Chin state government even for a short-term education program in remote area is unrealistic. We civil society organizations are not rich and therefore, we can’t spend too much money for transportation. It is like bullying us.”

In the above-mentioned order, it is also stated that the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture have instructed the fact that maintenance, repair, renovation and construction works of Buddhism, Islam, Christian and Hindu religious buildings in districts and townships of Chin state have to be done only after obtaining permission from Naypyitaw Council and relevant region/state government.

(Paletwa – 12th Jan, 2019)

On 10th January, 2019 four motorcycle taxi drivers were arrested by members of the AA in Kyun Chaung Wah village, approximately 5 miles away from Miza village in Paletwa Township, Chin State. The motorbike riders were arrested at 9 am in the morning.

The motorbike riders were investigated and threatened for 2 hours and had their
mobile phones confiscated before being allowed to leave. Clashes between the AA and the Tatmadaw are common in this area, located in the upper region of the Kaladan River and sources reported hearing regular gunfire on the 9th and 10th January and also the presence of a helicopter gunship circling regularly.

To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles