CHRO

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).

 

AP News| Thantlang, a town near the Indian border, has also been emptied of its people after four months of heavy fighting, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization. Drone footage shot by the group in October and December and seen by the AP shows fires raging inside buildings and charred churches, collapsed schools and ruined homes. The footage matches fires detected by satellites and interviews with villagers.

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Now, around 2 million square feet have burned, according to The Post’s analysis of available imagery. That represents roughly 30 percent of Thantlang, or about 600 of the town’s 2,000 buildings. Almost all of the town’s shops and businesses were destroyed, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

How Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, targeted civilians by burning Chin State villages – Washington Post

Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday said that his government would continue to make efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Myanmar nationals who fled their country following a military coup and took refuge in the north-eastern state.

During his interaction with leaders of Myanmar nationals, Mr Zoramthanga gave an assurance that his government will try its best to assist them.

The chief minister said that his government has taken up massive efforts and will continue to do so in the future to help those Myanmar nationals.

Mr Zoramthanga said that he had also urged the Centre several times to provide political asylum to the Myanmar nationals.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Mr Zoramthanga had urged them to provide assistance to the people of the neighbouring country.

Mr Zoramthanga had earlier said that the Centre assured the Mizoram government that it will take measures to ensure that the state government can continue to provide assistance to the Myanmar nationals.

“Though the Centre is very willing on its side, it can’t directly help the Myanmar refugees because India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol,” Mr Zoramthanga had told reporters earlier.

Thousands of Myanmar nationals are currently taking shelter in different parts of Mizoram.

While many live in relief camps or temporary shelters set up by villagers, others are accommodated by their relatives and some live in rented houses.

Most of the Myanmar nationals are from Chin state, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos.

Apart from the government, the NGOs, villagers and individuals provide food and shelter to the Myanmar nationals.

Mizoram shares a 510-km-long international boundary with Myanmar.

The north-eastern state is already home to thousands of Chin communities of Myanmar, who migrated to the state since the late 1980s fleeing the military junta in the neighbouring country.

Mizoram To Continue To Provide Humanitarian Aid To Myanmar Refugees (ndtv.com)

Junta troops from Light Infantry Division 11 and 77 are occupying the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Kanpetlet starting from December 11. The same units were accused of the brutal killing of  pastor Om Kuai of the Kanpetlet Church of Jesus Christ on Sunday, December 12. He was arrested by the soldiers on his way back to Kanpelet Town after visiting his grandmother living in a nearby village. His body was found on December 13 near Pan Lay Pyi Hotel, with a headshot wound and bowels cut open. Pastor Om Kuai, in his late 20s, had been living in nearby Magwe Region’s Saw Town as an internally displaced person after fleeing the town due to recent fighting and was returning to the area on a brief visit to his grandmother when he was brutally killed.

 

CHAMPHAI, India, Dec 10 (Reuters) – The former boxer said he and his comrades were perched on a hillside near the town of Mindat, in Myanmar’s northwest, and preparing to ambush a patrol of soldiers when the troops opened fire and a bullet smashed into his forearm.

“I tried to run but I got shot again in the upper arm,” Za Latt Thwey, who requested that he be identified by the name he uses as a boxer, told Reuters near a safe house in India’s Mizoram state, which borders Myanmar.

An Indian orthopaedic surgeon’s note said the 25-year-old had suffered a gunshot wound and an X-ray showed where his bone had been shattered.

That skirmish in mid-May was part of what seven people involved in the rebellion, including five fighters, said was a growing popular resistance to Myanmar’s military in Chin state.

Their accounts include previously unreported details of how the rebellion there began and expanded.

As in other parts of the country, civilians enraged by the military coup in February and subsequent crackdown on protesters are taking up arms. The junta appears to be worried about the threat they pose in Chin.

In the last few weeks, the military, known as the Tatmadaw, has sent reinforcements to Chin, which had been largely peaceful for years, and launched a major offensive against rebels, according to some analysts and rights groups.

More than a dozen so-called Chinland Defence Force (CDF) opposition groups have sprung up in the state, according to three of the sources, who described an expanding network of fighters whose knowledge of local terrain is a major advantage.

They said the groups had established supply chains, food stockpiles and weapon depots and linked up with a long-established ethnic group called the Chin National Front (CNF) to train in combat and better coordinate operations.

The military has said all resistance forces and the shadow government are “terrorists”.

CNF spokesman Salai Htet Ni told Reuters the group had helped train Chin youth and protesters in basic guerrilla warfare after the military coup.

“Our unity and public support is our strength,” said a 32-year-old fighter from Chin’s capital Hakha.

Reuters was not able to independently verify some claims made by the sources about the strength of the rebellion and scale of the Tatmadaw’s response.

Myanmar’s military spokesperson and the Ministry of Information did not respond to requests for comment on the growing resistance in Chin or the armed forces’ deployments.

The Tatmadaw’s response to resistance in Chin and elsewhere has prompted warnings from the United Nations and United States that the brutal clampdown on Rohingya Muslims in neighbouring Rakhine state in 2017 risked being repeated.

More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine that year and refugees accused the military of mass killings and rape. UN investigators said the military had carried out the atrocities with “genocidal intent”.

Myanmar authorities said they were battling an insurgency and deny carrying out systematic atrocities.

The military has not released details of overall battlefield losses since the February coup.

NOODLES AND SHOTGUNS

Before he took up arms, the fighter from Hakha said he was a postgraduate student of history who joined widespread public demonstrations against the February coup.

Like the four other fighters Reuters interviewed in Mizoram, he said his decision to join the resistance was triggered by the military’s suppression of peaceful protests that demanded civilian rule be restored.

Local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says junta forces have killed more than 1,300 people and detained thousands in a bid to crush opposition to the coup.

The military has outlawed AAPP, saying it is biased and uses exaggerated data. The AAPP has not responded to that accusation.

Groups of young protesters in Hakha began stockpiling food including rice, oil and noodles and medical supplies in multiple locations in the jungle surrounding the township of around 50,000 people, two of the fighters said.

In April, some CDF groups met in Camp Victoria, the CNF’s headquarters, to coordinate armed resistance against the Tatmadaw, according to the fighter from Hakha.

The CNF, which has a military wing, has become pivotal to the resistance, providing training and other support to several CDF groups across the state, said two fighters and a senior leader of the National Unity Government (NUG).

The NUG, effectively a shadow government, comprises pro-democracy groups and remnants of the ousted civilian administration. It has held talks with foreign officials, including from the United States.

In the early months of the resistance, nearly 2,000 volunteers from Hakha were sent to Camp Victoria for combat training under the CNF, the two fighters said, a level of coordination not previously reported.

NEW KIND OF CRISIS

By May, three of the CDF fighters said they were taking on the Tatmadaw in several parts of Chin, a 36,000 square kilometre province with nine major townships.

Outside Mindat, Za Latt Thwey said he was among the guerrillas, some trained by the CNF, who targeted Tatmadaw patrols.

In cellphone footage taken by fighters, and shown to Reuters by Za Latt Thwey, small groups of young men could be seen perched on wooded hillsides firing homemade guns and automatic rifles. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.

Financial support for the rebels in Mindat has mostly come from the Chin diaspora and the NUG, said an ousted Chin lawmaker, who declined to be named.

Through multiple routes, including from India, the lawmaker said food, clothes, medicine and equipment were reaching the rebels each month.

Weapons and explosives were the hardest to procure, according to the lawmaker, the NUG leader and three of the fighters.

The CDF Hakha, with some 2,000 volunteers, is run by a 21-member council that oversees command stations, smaller camps and supporting units, two of the rebels said.

Across Chin violence has escalated in the last four months as the Tatmadaw clashes with a rising number of rebel groups, according to analysis from the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO).

“We have never had this kind of crisis before in Chin,” said CHRO’s Salai Za Uk Ling.

Once a thriving settlement of some 10,000 people, the hilltop town of Thantlang is now virtually deserted, surrounded by soldiers who set alight more than 500 buildings since early September, according to two former residents and the CHRO.

The U.S. State Department singled out events in Chin, and Thantlang in particular, in a statement last month urging the military to end the violence.

Pa Hein, 55, who said he was among the last people to leave the town in late September, told Reuters by telephone that he saw Tatmadaw troops ransack shops and set buildings on fire.

The Myanmar military has denied the accusations, and blamed insurgents for instigating fighting in Thantlang and burning homes.

SEEKING TREATMENT

After the first police defectors trickled into India’s Mizoram state in early March, followed by Myanmar lawmakers and thousands of others seeking shelter, the mountainous border province has become a buffer zone for Chin guerrillas.

The Indian government did not respond to a request for comment.

Mizoram authorities estimate around 12,900 people have crossed over from Myanmar, including 30 ousted state and federal lawmakers, according to a senior Mizoram police official who declined to be named.

Some of the lawmakers and leaders have been helping the resistance, and as fighting intensifies they are seeking to unify and support the rebels.

The NUG wants to bring all armed resistance groups under a single command with the assistance of the CNF, said the Chin lawmaker and senior NUG leader.

CNF’s Salai Htet Ni said the group and the NUG had agreed to work together, with the CNF “taking a leadership role in Chin State’s defence and military warfare.”

After he was shot, Za Latt Thwey said he tried for months to find a safe route to the Myanmar city of Mandalay, but eventually deemed the journey too risky.

In early November, he collected money from family and friends and undertook a five-day journey, mostly by motorcycle, to cross into India.

“I can’t box anymore,” Za Latt Thwey said. “But I need my arm to be fixed so that I can continue my normal life, so that I can farm.”

By Devjyot Ghoshal and Chanchinmawia

The Chin Human Rights Organization observes this year’s International Human Rights Day with our full support behind the Silent Strike across the country. On this auspicious occasion, we renew our commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights and democratic ideals, promoting justice and accountability and to ending impunity in Burma/Myanmar.

CHRO Team

A Pentecostal church in predominantly Christian Chin state was set ablaze by the military on Dec. 4

UCA News reporter

As the military junta has escalated its attacks on civilians, houses and churches have been the primary targets in predominantly Christian Chin state in western Myanmar.

A United Pentecostal church and its clergy quarters in the deserted town of Thantlang were set ablaze along with residential homes in an arson attack by the military on Dec. 4, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

The group said the deserted town once again came under an arson attack when 19 structures were burned down by soldiers.

The latest attack came just a week after St. Nicholas Catholic Church and several residential buildings were burned down on Nov. 27.

More than 450 houses and five churches have been set ablaze in Thantlang since Sept. 9, according to right groups and local media reports.

At least 22 churches have been burned or destroyed by the military along with more than 350 civilian homes in Chin state between August and November, according to the CHRO.

More than 10,000 residents of Thantlang had already fled as the military targeted homes during indiscriminate shooting and shelling

Christian-majority Chin state has been at the forefront of resistance to the junta and has witnessed fierce attacks by the military including air strikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Hundreds have been arbitrarily detained and dozens killed.

More than 10,000 residents of Thantlang had already fled as the military targeted homes during indiscriminate shooting and shelling incidents in September.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil following the Feb. 1 military coup which toppled the elected Aung San Suu Kyi-led government after ending a 10-year democracy experiment.

Suu Kyi was jailed for two years on Dec. 6 after being found guilty of incitement and breaching Covid-19 rules in a ruling that drew global outrage.

Published: December 07, 2021 08:36 AM GMT

Another church burns in Myanmar junta’s onslaught – UCA News

Singapore: Myanmar’s military junta is resorting to old tactics, stoking anti-Muslim tension, as fears rise about more atrocities being committed in the strife-torn south-east Asian nation.

Ten months after seizing power in a coup, the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has escalated an offensive in the country’s north, displacing tens of thousands of people amid reports of air strikes and foreign government concern about human rights abuses committed by security forces.

In this photo released by the Chin Human Rights Organisation, fires burn in the town of Thantlang in Myanmar’s north-western Chin state on October 29 this year.CREDIT:CHIN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATION

Confronting continued armed resistance, it is also turning to its playbook on inciting racial division, four years after it drove nearly 800,000 Muslim Rohingya from their homes and across the border into Bangladesh in a vicious crackdown marked by killings and rape.

In leaflets which news site The Irrawaddy said this week were airdropped in Mingin, a town in the north-west Sagaing region of the Buddhist-majority country, the military told villagers the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation was providing money and ammunition to support the killing of monks and insulting the Buddhim.

“They will be happy about the current situation where Buddhists are killing each other,” the leaflets said.

Chris Sidoti, an investigator on the United Nations’ 2019 probe into the treatment of the ethnic minority Rohingya, said the strategy was “in line with what the military have been doing for generations”.

“They sow discord, especially against Muslims, as we saw most dramatically in the Rohingya ‘clearance operation’ in 2017,” he said.

“The line here is completely consistent with their past tactics and those of their Bamar Buddhist chauvinist allies.”

Ronan Lee, a visiting scholar at the Queen Mary University of London’s International State Crime Initiative, described the reported distribution of the material as “very worrying”, saying the junta was again “weaponising anti-Muslim prejudice”.

“This kind of incitement previously contributed to anti-Muslim pogroms, forced displacement and genocide,” said Lee, a former Greens MP in Queensland.

The leaflets also threaten the public with the military’s notorious “four cuts” strategy in a bid to suppress resistance, warning villages will be destroyed if there is an insurgency.

It is just the latest instance of the information warfare in a post-coup crisis. The military has killed more than 1300 people and arrested more than 10,000 since the takeover on February 1, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Reuters reported last month that thousands of soldiers were being instructed to open fake accounts on social media to spread military propaganda, monitor dissent and take aim at opponents online.

The Tatamadaw said it took control because of electoral fraud army generals alleged was committed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, claims that were dismissed by Myanmar’s electoral commission and by international observers.

Now, as opposition to its takeover continues, the military has stepped up its deployment of troops and heavy weaponry to combat armed opposition in the north and north-west of the country, leading Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, to warn of “more mass atrocity crimes”.

“These tactics are ominously reminiscent of those employed by the military before its genocidal attacks against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017,” Andrews said in October.

The Australian government also weighed in last weekend, issuing a joint statement with Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, citing “credible reports of sexual violence and torture, especially in Chin state, Sagaing region and Magwe region”.

“In Chin state, it is reported the military has burnt homes, churches and an orphanage in Thantlang village, and has targeted humanitarian organisations,” the statement said.

“We are concerned about allegations of weapons stockpiling and attacks by the military, including shelling and air strikes, use of heavy weapons, and the deployment of thousands of troops accompanying what security forces assert are counter-terrorism operations, which are disproportionately impacting civilians.”

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing how security forces encircled protesters and fired on those who tried to rescue them during a massacre in Yangon in March in which at least 65 people were killed.

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi is facing decades-long prison sentences over a dozen charges filed against her by the junta. They have been taking place behind closed doors in the capital Naypyidaw.

The first of her trials – on charges of incitement and breaching the country’s natural disaster laws while campaigning in a pandemic year – is due to come to a conclusion on Monday.

By Chris Barrett

December 4, 2021 — 5.00am

Sydney Morning Herald

Myanmar junta ‘weaponising’ racial tension with leaflet drops, houses burned in Thantlang (smh.com.au)

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