CHRO

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


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.

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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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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

(VOA) BANGKOK — Rights groups say Myanmar’s junta is tightening its chokehold on humanitarian aid flows to thousands of families driven from their homes by fighting since a Feb. 1 coup, deliberately starving civilians of lifesaving supplies to try to crush a growing armed resistance.

The United Nations says fighting between the military and a patchwork of old and new armed groups is pushing more families out of towns and villages every month, with more than 284,000 people displaced by the post-coup violence as of early December.

Most of them are in Myanmar’s rugged and remote northwest and southeast, where armed resistance from ethnic minority armies and so-called people’s defense forces has been fiercest.

Local and international charities and aid groups are trying to reach families with food and medicine to stave off a wave of disease and starvation. But rights groups say soldiers and police are making it increasingly difficult by blocking routes, seizing and destroying supplies and arresting aid workers.

“What we’re seeing right now is the military, in its efforts to cut off supplies going to the ethnic armed forces and the people’s defense forces that they are in conflict with right now, they are also cutting off vital supplies to the people. And these are the ordinary things, the basic necessities,” Emerlynne Gil, deputy regional research director for Amnesty International, told VOA.

Amnesty released a brief report on the aid restrictions Friday, drawing on interviews with displaced families and local aid workers and volunteers.

In its own update on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar last week, the U.N. said delayed and denied travel approvals from authorities and increased scrutiny of aid supplies and staff were “hindering operations and prolonging suffering.”

Other local and international rights groups corroborated the trend.

“A lot of these areas where the junta has increased its presence are facing an increased militarization, so more checkpoints, which means that aid workers and other local responders in those areas are facing more harassment. Aid workers are being arrested and detained, aid convoys are being turned back, supplies are being confiscated,” said Shayna Bauchner, Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“For the most part, all of these were tools that were certainly used pre-coup,” she added. “But they’ve sort of been … turned up to a new level both since the coup and then also more in recent months.”

Rights groups say that in blocking the aid the Myanmar military is drawing on its notorious “four cuts” playbook for denying armed rebel groups access to food, funds, intelligence and new recruits by cutting off surrounding communities that might sympathize with and support them.

Bauchner said that makes civilians not only collateral damage but deliberate targets.

“Whether they [junta leaders] use the term four cuts or not, this is obviously an effort to essentially punish civilians. I think it’s a very clear measure of the junta’s hostility toward the people of Myanmar, this way that it’s weaponizing lifesaving aid,” she said.

Some of the heaviest fighting has been taking place in the western states of Chin and Sagaing, along Myanmar’s border with India. The U.N. says clashes there have displaced more than 80,000 people since the coup.

Salai Za Uk Ling, deputy director of the Chin Human Rights Organization, said security forces have all but cut off parts of Chin state over the past few months, making aid deliveries from inside Myanmar practically impossible.

He said authorities have allowed the U.N. to ship aid to a few main towns but have refused to let staff travel into the surrounding hills, where they need to go to reach the families that have fled their homes. Local charities pleading with authorities for access to the families have had no luck, he added, and those trying to reach them with aid by skirting checkpoints have been arrested when caught or have gone missing.

“This is intended to obviously starve the people and incapacitate the communities so that … they won’t be able to support the resistance,” Salai Za Uk Ling said. “They are trying to impose a blanket policy affecting all the inhabitants of the area.”

Desperate to help, his team has in the past few weeks started reaching displaced families sheltering near the Indian border with rice, lentils and cooking oil the only way they can — by smuggling them in from India.

But he said their efforts were “just a drop in the ocean” and that some of those displaced by the fighting have already died because they could not risk a trip to the nearest hospital or clinic and because security forces won’t let food and medicine get to them.

“In terms of medical care, there’s no hospitals or anything that they can access, so many elderly people have died,” he said, “People died unnecessarily and from various kinds of treatable disease.”

Gil, of Amnesty International, warned that the death toll will rise if the junta’s stranglehold on aid does not let up.

“More and more people will die, not just because of hunger, but also because of the inability to access vital services, reproductive health care, really just the basics, the things that people who are outside Myanmar would take for granted,” she said.

A spokesperson for the junta could not be reached for comment.

Myanmar Junta Blocking Aid to Families Displaced by Post-Coup Fighting, Rights Groups Say (voanews.com)

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