forced_labor.jpg Forced labor is the most common form of human rights violations that is still being practiced in Chin State on a widespread scale. This picture shows shackled convicts being forced to perform hard labor to construct a road in Chin State. Civilians also have to regularly perform forced labor on similar government projects.
PREVENTING FROM RUNNING SELF-SUPPORT PRIVATE SCHOOL
In remote areas of Chin State, especially along the border with India and Bangladesh, many villages do not have a government school. Parents in these remote villages are usually poor and cannot afford sending their children to another bigger village or a town school. Therefore, the villagers themselves, sometimes with the help of the church, have set up their own schools. The teachers’ salaries and school running costs are shared among the village community, and the children can get education with very little expenses.
In order to keep complete control of the education system in the villages, the military junta have now sent orders throughout Chin State for any school non-affiliated with the government to close down. This directive is part of the SPDC anti-opposition tactic, to prevent any contact between villagers and opposition. Similar orders have also been issued in Mon State, and probably other regions of Burma as well.
By prohibiting self-supported schools to run, in many villages, children have no other alternative for education, and have to abandon their studies. Parents are worried that the young people will be roaming around the streets, wasting their lives.
Township Education Office
Letter no. seik-1/(simaan)/,4044/Pa Wa Da
date: 1998 June 23
Basic Higher/Middle/Primary Schools
Subject : To recognize only government affiliated schools
Reference: Chin State and Townships School Inspectors Decision
With reference to Chin State School Inspector’s directions, I hereby inform you that, from the beginning of the 1998-99 School Year, any self-supported private Primary/Middle/High School will not be allowed to stay open. Only Government affiliated schools are recognized.
If we find out any school running secretly after this guidance has been released, severe action will be taken against the Principal.
Thantlang Township Education Office
1. State Education Office, Haka, Chin State
2. Chairman, Township Peace and Development Council(TPDC), Thantlang
3. Chairman, Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC)
4. Interdepartmental circular letter
60 TIMES A PORTER FOR THE BURMESE ARMY IN 1998
Mangte (name changed),a Chin villager from Saek village, Falam township of Chin State, had served as porter for 60 times in 1998. Other villagers also served as army porter as he did. He said: “Most of the time we had to carry chicken, pork, foods and house-wares that the army had looted from the villagers.” Interview with a Burmese army defector
Name : Zonunpuia
Nationality : Chin
Religion : Christian
Age : 17
From : Lungpi village, Falam township, Chin State
I was forced to join the Burmese army in 1994. [Zonunpuia was still a child when he was forcibly recruited]. When I was tending the cattle near my village with my friends, Burmese soldiers came to us and try to convince us to join the army.
Although we refused, they arrested us and sent us to Falam. Then, we were sent to Kalaymyo, Sagaing Division. Two days later, we were sent to Monywa where we spent two months. After two months in Monywa, we were sent to Mandalay, and a week later back to Kalaymyo. There the army gave us basic military training for four months at Sakhankyi military training fields. As soon as the training is finished I was posted at a company post in Falam of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 based in Kalaymyo.
There are many kinds of discrimination among the soldiers. So, most of the soldiers were morally very frustrated. Our salary is very low and always cut for any reason. It is hard to say how much my real salary is. It happened not only to the private soldiers but also to the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO). That’s why we all are waiting for a good chance to run away from the army. The reason why I defected from the Burmese army is that I was forcibly recruited into the army and I don’t want to fight with my own brethren. For a long time I was waiting for a good opportunity to run away. When I was sick, I was hospitalized in Falam Civil Hospital and when I recovered, I fled away on my way to report to the regiment in March 1997. Lt. Col. Myint Thwe was LIB 268 commander while I fled.
CHRO was informed that Lieutenant Tin Hlaing Aung, Company Commander of LIB 383 battalion based in Mawleik, had committed suicide.
His Company is directly controlled by Tactical Commander in Haka. He shot himself dead at 8:00 AM on 22 September 1998 in Tlangrua village, Thantlang township. While he was sitting in the verandah of the village headman’s house, he started cursing his superiors, then he entered into the house and shot himself.
According to the villagers, he left a note of dissatisfaction about his superiors. No soldier could touch the dead body according to the Tactical commander’s order. A company of LIB 226 from Haka arrived at Tlangrua on September 23 and they arrested all of Tin Hlaing Aung’s soldiers. Dr. Hmuh Thang, a Doctor and MP ( elected in 1990 ), came along with LIB 226, and was asked to carry out a post-mortem. The troops took Tin Hlaing Aung’s dead body and his soldiers to Haka. Later Tin Hlaing Aung’s body was brought to Falam to establish a second post-mortem with a specialist. All the arrested soldiers were kept in the Detention Center.
RICE STORAGE FOR WHOM?
Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion 274 is based in Mindat town, Chin State. Company No 3 of LIB 274 led by Lieutenant Han Zaw Aung is posted in Lailenpi village, Matupi township, Chin State.
The platoon came to Pintia village of Matupi township in the first week of October 1998 and inquired about 200 tins of rice stored in the village. They interrogated all the village headmen of nearby villages. First, they interrogated the headman of Pintia village with his hands and legs being tied and hung upside down. He was beaten several times by the soldiers. When they stopped the interrogation, he couldn’t even walk by himself. He was treated by the villagers in his house. Likewise, the village headman of Sabawngpi was also tortured and interrogated. When he could not bear the pain anymore, he was forced to confess that the rice that they had stored were to be sent to the Indian border. As soon as he confessed, the soldiers forced Pintia and Sabawngpi villagers to carry and transport this rice to Lailenpi army camp. The headmen of Tangku, Rekhin, Sumsen, Tisi and Aru villages were also interrogated and tortured by the soldiers while an inquiry was made to find out where the rice came from and why the villagers had stored it. These village headmen were tortured, because the army suspected them to provide food to insurgents.
VILLAGES ELDERS FORCED TO DRINK LIQUOR
Recently, the Burmese army Battalion 266 from Lungler village, Thantlang township, Chin State had thrown a party with food and drinks. The village elders from Dawn, Ralpel, Saikah, Ruabuk, Ruakhua, Zaangtlang and Lungding were compelled to attend the party.
Most of the villages elders do not drink alcohol. Even though they refused, they were forced to drink liquor. When the village headman of Ralpel continued to refuse, the soldiers poured alcohol all over his body.
While the villages’ elders were forcibly drinking, the soldiers took photograph and recorded it. Soon after, the villagers were forced to buy alcohol 5 to 10 bottles every month from the army. The actual price of alcohol is Kyat 250/- but the army charged Kyat 500/- to 1,000/- per bottles.
The commander of Lungler army post accused and threatened the villagers: “I know you consume alcohol, but when the Army offer it to you, you refuse. I don’t understand your behavior! What I know is that you have to pay the price as we fixed.”
A VILLAGER BEATEN IN PALETWA TOWNSHIP
The following incident occurred in Kantlang village, Paletwa township. On 30 July 1998, 2nd Lieutenant Ri Ding, from LIB 374, No.2 company, commander of Kantlang army post, ordered Aa Huat, 18-year old Chin farmer to buy alcoholic drink from Turahaing village, which is a day’s walk from Kantlang village. Aa Huat could not find any alcohol drink and came back empty-handed. As a result, 2nd Lieutenant Ri Ding beat him at the army post with 3 feet long and 3 inches thick bamboo stick on his head, arms, his backbone and all over places of his body until he lost consciousness. He was being treated at home because his family could not afford to take him to hospital.
EXTORTING FOR SELLING CATTLES
In Temahchawng village, which is 2-hours walk away from Paletwa, a 25-year old farmer, named Aung Kyaw, from Paletwa, was imposed a fine of 10,000 Kyats by Corporal Thein Shwe and Private Kyi Thein from Riot Police Department and 10 of his cows being confiscated. He was accused of attempting to sell his cattle in Mizoram, India.
SHOT ON SIGHT
This incident was occurred on 15 July of 1998. Kyaw Naing, 23 years old, a Chin Christian man had one child and was peacefully living in Kuanchawngwah village of Paletwa township. On 15 July 1998, Kyaw Naing and his friend were coming back from hunting. Kyaw Naing was carrying a monkey on his shoulder, as well as a gun slung over the shoulder. They were at a place about 5-hours walk away from Kaletchawng village when Burmese soldiers saw them. These soldiers fired at them without warning, and Kyaw Naing was shot dead on the spot. His friend luckily escaped unharmed.
FORCED RALLY: USDA IN HAKA
The State Peace and Development Council(SPDC), the Burmese military junta, was organizing the Chin people to attend a USDA rally against the National League for Democracy party’s proposal to convene parliament.
In September 1998, the SPDC forced people from all over Chin State to come to Haka, the capital city of Chin State, to participate in the rally, to oppose the NLD’s party proposal to convene parliament. They forcibly brought people from Matupi township to Haka by truck. On the way, there was an accident. Five people died on the spot and 14 were seriously injured. Those who got injured were treated in Haka civil hospital.
RAPE OF A WOMEN PORTER
A platoon of Burmese army led by Sergeant Aung Shwe, from (LIB) 303 based in Mawleik, Sagaing Division, came to Congthia village, Thantlang township on September 10, 1998. They collected 6 villagers as porters by force. On their way to the next village, the Sergeant ordered his troops and 5 porters to go ahead but he ordered Miss Nunau (name change) to stay behind with him. Then, the sergeant raped her. She reported this to the village elders.
KILLED BY LAND MINES
Since 1997, many land-mines have been planted along the Indo-Burma border and Bangla-Burma border, especially on most of the mountain ranges and between villages. Chin villagers are now facing threat of land-mines. They were afraid and dared not go for hunting, fishing or tending their cattle as usual. The presence of land-mines not only causes death and injuries, but also severely affects the food security of the villagers.
In the first week of September 1998, Salai Ram Hre, 25 years old from Haka’s Farhual block was killed by a land-mine planted by Burmese army at Lahva stream near the border of India on his way to Mizoram State of India. The villagers waited for a few days to pick up his dead body because they were afraid that there could be other land-mines.
The same incident occurred in October 20, 1998 at Ralpel village, Thantlang township, Chin State. Pu Hmar, aged 60, was killed on the spot by land-mine planted by Burmese army while he was going to his farm located between Ralpel and Thingsai village.
VOL.I No. V NOVEMBER 1998
VOL.I No. V NOVEMBER 1998
INTERVIEW WITH A CHIN POLITICAL PRISONER
(The interview was conducted in August 1998, New Delhi.)
Name : Lal Ram (not his real name)
Age : 33
Sex : Male
Religion : Christian
Nationality : Chin
Marital Status : Married, one son aged 3 1/2
Occupation : Farmer and trader
From : Kaleymyo, Sagaing Division
Q. How were you arrested?
A. My eldest brother was involved with a leader of CNF and he was killed in 1995. I went to attend his funeral at the Indo-Burma border. Afterwards, I returned to Kaleymyo. I was watched by the Military Intelligence and interrogated several times. A few weeks later, in June 1995, I went to Lashio to do some business in Shweli at the Chinese border. I was staying in a hotel in Lashio when the MI came to arrest me. They surrounded the hotel and about 17 soldiers, some in uniform, some in civilian clothes, came to my room. They pointed their guns at me and blindfolded me. They took me out and I remember hearing that one of the soldier shot in the air. They took me to the MI Department. They accused me to be a Chin terrorist. They interrogated me and tortured me a lot. They gave electric shocks on the tip of my fingers and on the wrists of both hands. They clipped live electric wires to my fingers. Each electric shock lasted 30 seconds to one minute. It was so strong that I became unconscious. They let me rest for 3 or 4 hours and then interrogated me and gave me electric shocks again. They also gave other kinds of electric shocks which made me itch everywhere. The worst torture was that they made me stand on my toes with a candle lit under my heels and I had to stand like this for 5 or 6 minutes each time. They did that twice a day for one week. I was also beaten so many times with a cane stick all over my body. I was bleeding from my nose and my ears.
I was only given a bottle lid of water to drink twice a day and during the whole week only once I received some old rice to eat. They tortured me day and night like this for one week. They took turns to interrogate and beat me. They always questioned me about the CNF and the other opposition groups in India. During all this time I was forced to stand all the time and I could not sleep at all. After 2 or 3 days, I felt completely mad. I could not think anymore. Then, after 7 days, they transferred me to Lashio jail.
My case was submitted to the military court. However, the judge and the magistrate found that I was not guilty. But the military officer did not approve my release and since he didn’t know anything about law, he ordered the judge to write that I violated Art.17/1. They never gave me any sentence, and sent me back to jail. While in jail, I was summoned to court every two weeks and interrogated every time.
I stayed in jail for 32 months. Some of my business friends and relatives started giving money to the court. When they collected 800,000 Kyats, they released me on bail for 3 months. It was on 13th March 1998. As soon as I left the jail, I returned to Mandalay and Kaleymyo. I picked up my wife and my son, and we escaped directly to India. We have been here since March 1998.
Q. Could you describe the conditions in Lashio jail?
A. In jail, those convicted and those awaiting conviction [those who have not go through the due process of law] were separated. I stayed together with those awaiting conviction. In Lashio jail, there are three large rooms with about 200 prisoners and two small rooms for about 70 prisoners for those who had already received a sentence, and two large rooms and two small ones for those who had not been tried.
There were 200 prisoners in our room, which was 110 feet x 18 ft. We had to sleep like sardines, squeezed against each other with our legs over each other. Like this, for 32 months! Every night 10 prisoners were guarding the others. Outside there was a post with four policemen and every five minutes, those who were guarding the prisoners had to shout to the police that everything was OK.
We were only allowed to go to toilet once during the night, between 12 a.m and 1 a.m. The toilets were inside and they let us go two by two. At any other time, the prisoner was left to use his sleeping space and he would be beaten with a stick as a punishment.
They separated the prisoners, those with money and those without. Those with money could sleep in the most comfortable area. They paid between 10,000 and 15,000 Kyats for their sleeping space. Anyone who gave 100,000 Kyats to the jailer could become a leader among the prisoners. A leader is very powerful and can make a lot of money. He is usually the one who beats the other prisoners. Their family gives the money to the police.
When a new prisoner arrives, the leader demanded money from him for a good sleeping place and light work. The leader then shares with the police. Those who arrived without money are forced to clean the floor of the sleeping room 40 times back and forward, and three times a day. I had to do this at the beginning. Only the convicted political prisoners were forced to empty the toilets. Those not convicted like me had to carry water, do agricultural work, like planting mustard leaves, and washing the clothes of all the jail officers, the police and their families. The prisoners had to buy the soap themselves. Those who paid money just took a broom and pretend to sweep the floors. There was no prisoner with shackles in our room, only among those already convicted. Usually they were sent out to work in a hard labour camp. When they left, I never knew where they were sent to.
Q. Can you describe a day in jail?
A. We had to work everyday, no rest day. We were woken up at 4 a.m. and there was a room call. At 6 a.m. they opened the door of our room and all the prisoners were forced to do planting work up to 9 a.m. without any food. We got our breakfast between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Then we had to fetch water from a very deep well and wash the clothes of the jail staff. Between 3 and 4 p.m., we received our dinner. Afterwards we had to do agricultural work again until 6 p.m. At 6 p.m we entered our room and they locked the doors. Every Monday, the jailer came and checked the prisoners and wherever we were, we had to sit head down from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. When the authorities came and inquired about us, we always had to say that we were OK. For each meal, they usually gave us two handfuls of rice mixed with sand and soda, as well as ngapi and dal [yellow beans] soup.
Q. Have you ever been beaten or tortured?
A. Yes. At the beginning, when I had to clean the room floor, the leader of the prisoners came to ride on my back without any reason. Sometimes too, the leader accused me not to do my work properly even though I did nothing wrong. He would then beat me. After my brother-in-law visited me, the prisoners’ leader ordered me to share the money. I had received no money, but he said that I was lying. For one week he came to beat me regularly when I was working. The police had ordered him to beat me.
Q. Were you ever sick?
A. The first two months I was seriously sick as a result of torture. I was not allowed to go to hospital. I received no medicine. Those with money could pay 50 Ks for one tablet. For example, a 25cc glucose injection costs 700 Kyats. Only when the prisoner could no longer eat, would he be exempt from work. I was able to take some food, so they forced me to work. Sometimes I suffered from fever. Every week, two or three prisoners were dying. They could not resist the jail conditions and became too weak.
Q. Did you get any visit?
A. My wife could not come. It was too far for her to come from Kaleymyo to Lashio. My brother-in-law only came to visit me twice during the 32 months in jail.
Q. What kind of prisoners were staying with you? Who were those who had not been convicted?
A. All sorts! Many were Chinese who had been arrested as illegal immigrants, some criminals, pickpockets, drug users and traffickers, and some students from the 1996 students’ demonstrations. In my room, about there were illegal Chinese and three students. In immigration cases, the detainees would usually pay some bribes to get released. Some prisoners were convicted quickly but for others it could take years. Among the three students, two of them were from Taunggyi College and had not been convicted yet when I left in March 1998. The other student was from Lashio and was sentenced to 9 years. Only the petty drug dealers are arrested, such as a driver or a guard, never the important traffickers. I didn’t see much drug use while I was in jail.
Religious persecution is a problem of major concern in Chinland. Almost 100% of Chins are Christians. Over the past few years, The Burmese military has been forcing Chin Christian villagers to build Buddhist pagodas in their own villages. The Burmese soldiers have been descrating churches and graveyards by turning them into army camps, disturbing religious services and preventing evangelists from preaching.
The following information is provided by Rev-( Name omitted). The incident occured while he was serving in Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention.
In August 1993, there come a telegram to the office of Zomi (Chin) Baptist convention, sent from Kuki Chin Baptist Association office, situated in Homalin, Sagaing Division. This telegram said : Rev Zang Kho Let and 3 other evangelists of the area died. Letter follows. When the follow-up letter arrived the office of Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention, it said that the victims were brutally tortured and shot to death by the Burman army.
It was a great loss to Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention. The letter explained how they were brutally tortured and killed. I brought the case to the Executive Committee meeting of our Convention. When I read the telegram and the letter before 54 decision making persons, I was trembling. All the members shed tears and cried for help and blessing from God. We selected words carefully to make a report to our Central Baptist office. We stood up and had 4 minutes silence in due respect of the dead evangelists, one minute each for the four. The most senior minister among us said a prayer for the dead.
The Central Baptist Office of Burma wrote a report to the Ministry of Religion. The action taken was transferring that army group. Aside from that there was nothing else we could do. All we did with the government was noted and recorded by local State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) office in Hakha, the capital city of Chin State.
LOOTING OF JAGGERY
On 14.2.98, Capt. Zaw Win and his troops came to a sugar cane plantation, 3 miles away from Hmunhalh village in Thantlang township. They confiscated (37) viss of jaggery from the owners. Then they collected (8) men from the plantation and forced them to carry the jaggery to Hmunhalh village. There they forced Hmunhalh villagers to carry the jaggery to Thantlang market where it is sold for the army profit.
FORCED LABOR: BUILDING A FOOTBALL GROUND
In April 1998, the Battalion Commander from Infantry Battalion IB 266 based in Hakha came to Lailenpi village and ordered the Lailenpi company commander Myo Swe to dig a footfall ground in Lailenpi. All the villages in the Lailenpi area were ordered to contribute their labor. The football ground must be completed in 1998. According to that order, Myo Swe demanded every village to send one person per household to dig the ground in Lailenpi. The villagers came to Lailenpi and stayed in relatives’ houses. Since June 1998 each villages came by rotation and worked for 3 to 5 days. Most of the laborers were old men and children, because the young men went to Mizoram, India to work during the summer vacation. This was reported to CHRO by a member of the Pintio village Council in Matupi township. Another villager from Lailenpi also confirmed that: “The working time was fixed by the army commander, from 9 a.m to 12 noon and from 1 p.m to 4 p.m. The villagers were guarded by soldiers while working. Some villagers didn’t bring enough food to stay at the work site for 5 days. They didn’t receive anything from the army and were not allowed to go back to their village. They had to share and could only eat ricesoup.”
MAUNG TAW KYA AUNG ACCOUNT
Under increasing Burmese military control, the Chins are today suffering many of the same abuses as other people living in the border region of Burma. The following is the story of Maung Tawkya Aung, a Chin young man from Ye Aung village, Kyauk Daw township of Arakan State. He suffered all kinds of abuse and harassment committed by the Burmese army in his village area. When his tolerence terminated, he has no alternative but to join the opposition movement of the military government. He provided the following testimony to CHRO field monitor at one of the Chin National Army (CNA) posts.
Name : Maung Tawkya Aung
Father’s name : U Aung Phe ( deceased)
Mother’s name : Daw Ma Huaih
Place of birth : Yeaung village, Kyaukdaw, Arakan State
Nationality : Chin ( Awah Khami tribe )
Religion : Christian
Age : 20-years
Since our village is under the command of Light Infantry Battalion (L I B) 376, all orders come from this regiment. There are three regiments in Kyauk Daw township which are LIB.374, LIB 375 and LIB 376.
I have served twice as a porter. Once was to Athet Tamah village which is one and half hour walk from our village. I carried two army rucksacks. Another occasion was to Ram Chawng army post which is 7-days walk from our village. Ram Chawng army post is laid about the boundary of Mindat township of Chin State. On that occasion there were 12-soldiers with 9-porters. There were 4-porters from our village and 5-porters from Athet Tamah village. I carried two army’s rucksacks and two hens. We had to walk flat land for 5-days and climb up the mountain for 2-days. We were led by a sergeant from L I B No. 376. We had to serve with our own ration without pay. We stayed a day at Ram Chawng army post . On our return we caught a lorry car and reached our village in a day. If a person who is selected for a porter is sick, he has to arrange and find another person for a substitute. He has to pay Kyats 100 (Burmese currency) per day. We had to walk through the jungle to Ram Chawng army post and sleep in the jungle, never sleep in the village.
Concerning forced labour there is Myouk Oo- Paletwah car road reconstruction (Arakan State to Chin State). It has been two years that the construction started. In summer time the car could hardly run from Myouk Oo to Tama Kyi. But it could not reach up until Palatwah. I also worked as forced labourer to pave the pebble on the road. One person per household had to contribute in the construction. There was no exemption for the sick. He has to find and arrange another person for a substitute paying Kyat 100 per day.
We had to gather stones around from hill top and gully. First we had to carry the stones and pave them on the road. And some other people broke stones into pieces of pebble and covered evenly onto the stones previously paved. The quota of length to complete the road the construction for 20 household of our village was a hundred feet long. It took 7-days to complete it. The bigger village got the longer length of quota to be done. The quota for the bigger village like Pyoungtine was 5000 feet and 600-feet for Atetamah. We got nothing for our laboured. All our basic needs had to bring by our own. That was in April of 1998. We have to contribute our labour until the car road is completed.
When the rainy season came we had to bring the things Kyauk Daw army post needs such as woods, posts and bamboo to build the army tent. The army ordered which village has to bring what, how many and how much work to be done. Moreover we had to work pulling seedlings, transplanting on paddy fields owned by army with our own food. In the winter season when harvesting time came we had to work for threshing paddy, reaping the crops with our own food. Women also had to work in harvesting.
Another thing is on bricks the army needs for building. The army put quota of log fire for baking bricks. Our village had to provide them 750-fire log. The logs have to be 5-feets in length with a girth of 1 feet. And the wood must be a good quality. I did cut 40-logs for our family quota. We cut the trees very hardly and carried them to Athetamah village. And then sent them to Kyauk Daw army post. People who could not carry the log had to hire a boat at their own expenses. That wasn’t the end yet. At the brick kiln we had to feed the fire all days and nights without proper sleep. So we got so tired. I had been working for 15 days at the brick kiln. As usual we had to bring our own food. We got nothing for our laboured. I did work as forced labourer just before I left for here. We went to Tanphaya river and collected stones from Tanphaya river and loaded on the boat. First we had to take them to the army battalion headquarters. And we had to pave them on the road between battalion headquarters and the army post. We were so tired. As usual we brought our own food and without pay. Summer, rainy and winter all seasons the army’s works never cease in our area. In early part of summer in 1998 when the revolutionists moved about in our area we had to serve sentry duty. Two man had to guard around our village all days and nights with empty hands. They asked us to inform when the revolutionists came into our village or sensed anything of them. I and my friend had to guard between our village and Kha Daw village until the situation returned to normal.
In that way we have to work for army all the time. We had no time to work for our own. And when my tolerance ended, I decided to join one of revolutionary organisations. I found Chin National Front and joined it on 18 May of 1998.
VOL.I No. IV OCTOBER 1998
INTERVIEW WITH VILLAGE HEADMAN
Mr. Mang Cung (not his real name) was a village tract secretary in Tili village Falam Township, Chin State. He was tortured by the Burmese army in October 1997 because he had contact with the CNF (Chin National Front). The Burmese Army commits the most brutal abuses against civilians in areas where ethnic insurgent group like the CNF operates. The military employs its decade-old “Four Cuts” policy as a counter-insurgency program. The aim is to cut off food, finances, intelligence, and recruits from the opposition in order to undermine their ability to operate effectively. In these areas the CNF is collecting donations and the villagers have to pay. The SLORC, now SPDC, carries out harsh reprisals against anyone suspected of sympathizing or having contact with the CNF and village leaders like Mr. Mang Cung are particularly at risk of abuses. After being beaten, he feared to be arrested and fled to India in November 1997. He has now been granted refugee status under U.N.H.C.R . He was interviewed on 2.7.1998. His face still bears the scars of the gun beatings and he cannot hear properly.
Name : Mr. Mang Cung (name changed)
Age : 60
Religion : Christian
Marital Status : Married, 5 children
From : Tili village, Falam Township
Occupation : Village Tract Secretary
[Note:The village tract includes 2 villages : Tili village with 35 houses and Tlangkhan village with 25 houses.]
Q. How and why were you tortured by the Burmese Army?
A. On 25 October 1997, a representative of CNF came and collected donation from our village. I gave him the money for the two villages in my tract and CNF gave me receipts in my own name. Shortly after, SLORC came to know about this. I don’t know how. Probably because of the receipts. When the troops arrived in my village, they have already known that I had handed over money to CNF. They said: “Why did you give them this money?” I replied : “We all are afraid of them, because they have arms!” They said : “What about us? Aren’t you afraid of us?” I said: “No, because you are protecting us.” They found the receipts in the Council office with my name on them. There were 8 soldiers. They were drunk. They slapped me on my ears and cheeks. I felt deaf and fell down. Till now my right ear is hurting a lot. They pulled my hair and they hit me between the eyes with a gun barrel. I thought they were going to shoot me but they didn’t. I felt the skin torn out and the blood running down all over my face. I felt unconscious and relatives carried me back to my house. The midwife [the only health worker in the village] came and gave me medicine as well as an injection twice a day. I lied in my bed for four days. On 29 October, I received an order signed by the Township LORC chairman which summoned me to go to the Falam headquarters. I knew they will arrest me and put me in jail. So I fled to India and arrived in Aizawl on 6 November. I came alone. My family fled to another town in Burma.
Q. Did they beat anyone else?
A. Yes, they also beat the headman of Tlangkhan village [the other village from the village tract]. They called him and tied him on a chair and accused him of the same thing but I said :”The money was given by me to CNF.” So, they released him and started beating me.
Q. Do the SLORC troops come often to your village?
A. Tili village is located 10 miles from Falam. The troops often come patrolling in my village. Five to ten soldiers come once or twice a month, inquiring about the movements of CNF. Whenever they come they demand chickens and eggs from the villagers. Sometime they even demand honey which is not available in our village. They never carry ration along with them. They take whatever they want from the villagers. Whenever they come they force villagers as porters. Their belongings are always carried by the villagers. The porters have to served one or two days long journey to the next village. They never get paid for it.
Q. Any forced labor in your village tract?
A. Yes, in January 1996, one person per family from Tlangkhan and Tili villages were ordered to build a fish pond, 25 x 70 feet and 3 feet deep. The location was 4 miles away from our village. Women and children had to go too. Sixty people had to work there for two days. They didn’t give us any food. We had to bring along everything, even water to drink. Then, in February 1997, they ordered the villagers to build trenches and bunkers on the top of a mountain about 3 miles from our village. They called village by village. The village headman was forced to lead his laborers there for 3 days until their assignment was completed.
Q. What are you planning to do now?
A. I would like to get treatment for my right ear.
TWO ACTIVISTS ARRESTED
Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO ) has receive a report of the arrest of two members of the Chin National Front (CNF) by the Burmese military personnel. The report came from a field worker of Chin Human Rights Organization who was informed of the incident by a man who ferried the two arrested across the Tio river which flow a long the border line of India and Burma.
The arrest took place on September 6 1998. According to the ferry man, as their ferry boat embark on the side of Burma, some 20 Burmese military personnel suddenly came out of bushes and took them away without saying any thing to him. He immediately row back to the other side of the river bank and reported it to a CHRO field worker stationed near by village.
Further inquiry by the CHRO has confirmed that those Burmese military personnel are of Battalion no 266 stationed at Lungler village which is a bout 10 miles from the border, and that the two arrested are Mr. That Ci and Mr. Uk Lian Thang, two very active members of Chin National Front which is committed to the fight to end military rule and to the restoration of democracy in Burma.
CHRO has also confirm that Mr. That Ci and Mr. Uk Lian Thang ages 37 and 33 have been taken on the same day to Hakha, the capital city of Chin state. Now concern a bout their safety has been spurred in the populace not only by the fact that their where about is unknown, but also by the fact that they may be so severely tortured that they would become like many others have mentally disable.
The Burmese military dictatorship is known for its inhuman treatment of those who are oppose to the military rule in Burma. In Chin state, members of the CNF are especially the target of the Burmese military dictatorship due to the fact that CNF is the only political organization left in Chin state, which has firmly stood and fought along with other democratic forces for the end of military rule and the restoration of democracy in Burma.
EXTORTION AND ARREST
On 23.3.98 two villagers from Sabawngpi in Matupi township were carrying (20) chickens to sell to Mizoram to pay for their children’s school fees. On the way between Sabawngpi and Sabawngte, they met soldiers from IB 274 mobile column. All of their chickens were taken by the soldiers. Then, the troops sent two villagers from Sabawngte village to sell these chickens in Mizoram and ordered them to bring the money back to Lailenpi camp by 25.3.98. They did not reach the army camp in time and they were arrested on 10.4.98.
CUTTING TIMBER FOR THE BURMESE ARMY
Ma Rai Pai (name changed), a female Chin student from Cangbong Block in Matupi town was interviewed in June 1998 and related the following incident: “SPDC troops led by a Major from IB 274 based in Mindat arrived at Phaneng village on 5.6.1998 ( Saturday )at 8 a.m. they arrested 8 villagers from Phaneng as well as 10 villagers from Ngaleng village. All these villagers were sent to Lunghlaw village and were forced to cut timber. The army did not provide neither tools nor food. Even on Sunday they had to work [they were not allowed to attend church service.
EXTORTIONS IN MATUPI TOWNSHIP
Mei Paw (name changed) is 68 years old and has retired from government service. He is now a farmer in Darling village. He was summoned by Lieutenant Myo Swe to meet him at Lailenpi post on 5.6.1998. “I am quite old and I could not reach Lailenpi within one day. I arrived there the next day because of my late arrival, they ordered the Darling villagers to bring them (8) bottles of lard [pig fat used traditionally as cooking oil in Chin villages] by 8.6.98.” The villagers had to kill one pig worth 20,000 Kyats to get the lard and sent to the camp. The Lieutenant only gave one pyi of rice [= 3 kg] to compensate the villagers. The villagers have to collect 20,000 Kyats among themselves to pay back the pig owner.
Religious persecutions is a problem of major concern in Chin State. Almost 100% of Chins are Christians. Over the past few years, the Burmese military has been forcing Chin Christians villagers to build Buddhist pagodas in their own villages. The Burmese soldiers have been descrating churches and graveyards by turning them into army camps, disturbing religious services and preventing evangelists from preaching.
The Burman regime practiced their egregious policy of Burmanization and Buddhitization among the minority racial groups. The Chins live on mountains. There are certain mountains where the Chins Christians erected wooden crosses to show that the devil have been defeated by the dead and resurrection of Christ. The erections of crosses in Chinland began since ending part of 1980s. There have been crosses around towns and villages.
The military regime began to destroy those crosses in 1995. For example, the crosses erected on Rung mountain by Baptist Christians in Hakha town, capital town of Chin State, was destroyed by unknown persons. It was not burned by fire. It was systematically torn down. The believers tried to re-erect the cross on the same place. The ruler did not allow them on the ground that the Christian cross should only be erected in the compound of their churches. Likewise, there are many crosses destroy by the unknown persons for the unknown reason in many villages and towns.
On the contrary, the military regime, through the Buddhist societies, constructed many pagodas on top of village and towns in Chin State. This is interpreted as the invasion of Buddhist among The Chin Christians who do not hold political power. The Chin Christians are forced to construct the pagodas. Moreover, they are forced to donate money for the constructions.
Many pastors, evangelists, and young volunteer missionaries have been arrested while they actively worked. In May 1993, 30 young volunteer evangelists, sent by Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention, were arrested in the town of Paletwa, Southern Chin State. The Chairman of Paletwa Township SLORC was so brutal to the young people. He didn’t give them food. They were starved for five days. After that he released them on bond that they should not preach in the township. The young evangelist left the town.
CHURCH LEADERS TORTURED IN LAUTU TRACT
The Lautu Baptist Churches Conference [under the Zomi(Chin) Baptist Convention] was scheduled to be held on 22.2.1998 in Thantlang township. The church leaders went to Hakha to get permission from SPDC office. They got no reply. Shortly after, Burmese Army troops from IB 266 and IB 50 came with 100 soldiers to Lautu Village Tract. In every village of Lautu tract, they arrested all the Church leaders. The soldiers accused Churches leaders of supporting CNF insurgents. Church leaders were forced to lie down under the sun at noon and ordered to look at the sun by the soldiers. Those who closed their eyes were beaten. The army ordered them not to hold that conference. All the villagers felt so upset because the Army had prevented them from holding the Church Conference.
TRADER ROBED BY LIB-50 IN TIDDIM TOWNSHIP
On 1.7.98, Dal Lian, a Chin trader from Lailo village, Tiddim township, was traveling between Tonzang and Tiddim townships. He told CHRO: “Troops from IB 50, Company 1, from Cikha camp, led by a Sergeant were patrolling in that area. My friend and I met them between Bapi village and Vanzau village. The soldiers stopped us and checked our belongings thoroughly. They found Ks. 23,000 and Rs. 2,500. they confiscated all the money from us.”
DEMANDING PORTERS AND A PIG
Pau No is a Chin village headman in XXX village, Tonzang Township(name changed and village name omitted for security reason). He complains that the troops very often come in his village and always demand porters and money. He said : “On 3.6.1998, 30 soldiers led by Major Thein Zaw Win, came into our village and spent one night there. On the next day, they ordered me to collect 28 porters. They threatened that if I fail to meet their demand, my village will have to provide them one pig. I managed to arrange 28 porters for them. However, they still demanded one pig.
LOOTING OF JAGGERY
On 14.2.98, Capt. Zaw Win and his troops came to a sugar cane plantation, 3 miles away from Hmunhalh village in Thantlang township. They confiscated (37) viss of jaggery from the owners. Then they collected (8) men from the plantation and forced them to carry the jaggery to Hmunhlalh village. There they forced Hmunhalh villagers to carry the jaggery to Thantlang market where it is sold for the army profit.
FORCED LABOR BUILDING A FOOTBALL GROUND
In April 1998, the Battalion Commander from Infantry Battalion IB 266 based in Hakha came to Lailenpi village and ordered the Lailenpi company commander Myo Swe to dig a footfall ground in Lailenpi. All the villages in the Lailenpi area were ordered to contribute their labor. The football ground must be completed in 1998. According to that order, Myo Sew demanded every village to send one person per household to dig the ground in Lailenpi. The villagers came to Lailenpi and stayed in relatives’ houses. Since June 1998 each villages came by rotation and worked for 3 to 5 days. Most of the laborers were old men and children, because the young men went to Mizoram, India to work during the summer vacation. This was reported to CHRO by a member of the Pintio village Council in Matupi township. Another villager from Lailenpi also confirmed that: “The working time was fixed by the army commander, from 9 Am. to 12 noon and from 1p.m to 4 p.m. The villagers were guarded by soldiers while working. Some villagers didn’t bring enough food to stay at the work side for 5days. They didn’t receive anything from the army and were not allowed to go back to their village. They had to share and could only eat ricesoup.”
VOL.I No. III SEPTEMBER 1998
SITUATION OF CHINLAND UNDER THE MILIRATY DICTATORSHIP FOR 10 YEARS (1988-1998)
Present political crisis in Union of Burma is lack of democracy and ethnic issues. The military regime is trying to solve the crisis by military means instead of political means. Therefore, human rights violation by military regime became the worse condition after the military took state power on 18 September 1988.
The military regime practiced a strategy in order to separate between democratic forces and ethnic forces. The military regime abolished political parties in Chinland instead of honoring 1990 election result. Hence, the military regime is practicing cultural genocide and assimilation in Chinland. The policy of military regime to Chin people is to destroy their distinct identities so that there shall be no longer existence of Chin in the world.
Prior to1995, human rights violations in Chinland by the military regime could not be known by outsiders. In 1995, Chin Human Rights Organization was formed and because of their endeavor and actively sacrifice, the outsiders could know what are going on regarding human rights in Chinland. Since NeWin took power in 1962, human rights violation have been committed in Chinland. But most of the Chin people did not know that their human rights were violated. They think it as a habit of the ruler and let it should be.
In accordance with CHRO’s documentation, human rights violations in Chinland is increasing year by year. Now, CHRO is not only highlighting human rights violations in Chinland to the world but also providing human rights education to the Chin people and as a result international community express their concern about the matter. Now, Chin literature and customs are at a stake under the military regime. It’s status is lower than it was in under British colonial rule. Chin literature can be learned in primary level before 1988. Now, it can be learned up to Grade Two as selective subject only in some place.
The military regime neglected in health care program in Chinland. There is one doctor per 17,000 persons (estimated) in Chinland. Now is the worse situation that there is insufficient medicines and health workers in Chinland. Chin traditional festivals, dresses and musical instruments are almost obsolescent under the regime because the regime itself try to destroy instead of encouragement, it could no longer celebrate and sold them because of economic depression under the regime, and other customs are infiltrated in Chin community.
Restriction of Christianity and infiltration of Buddhism has been existed in Chinland for so long but accelerated after 1991. Buddhism Hill Missionary which is established by the regime is actively participated in it. The Missionary persuaded the Chin Christians by various means in order to convert to Buddhism with assistance of the regime. In 1988, Chin Christian Missionaries Chin for Christ in One Century(CCOC) who worked in Paletwa, Mindat, and Kanpetlet, Gangaw townships were forcibly driven out by Burmese Army. Religious persecutions are rampage. For some examples are Christian’s Crosses were toppled and replaced forcibly with Buddhist monuments and institutions, restriction of movements of Christian leaders, restriction of Christian missionary and its services, innocent young Chins were forcibly converted to Buddhists and arbitrary arrest of Christian leaders.
In 1988, democratic upraising was cracked down by military means so that many activists left for India and sheltered in refugees’ camps of Champhai, Saiha, Moree and Imphal. Some people who have relatives in India did not shelter in refugees’ camp but in their relatives and survive with odd jobs. However, they are not recognized as refugees by India authorities. In 1995, Refugees’ Camp of Champhai and Saiha were abolished without any reason. As a result, UNHCR’s refugees in Delhi are increasing. The Chin refugees’ figure could not be made still today. According to Chin Relief and Development Committee, There are about forty thousands Chin refugees in India and three thousand in Bangladesh.
Under the military dictatorship since it took power on 18 September 1988, there is lack of democracy and human rights, cultural genocide, and negligence in social security in Chinland. The Chin community is being destroyed and even for survival and existence is threatened under the regime. Therefore, Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) invite for cooperation in its service in order to restore democracy and human rights.
THE ACCOUNT OF SAWM LIAN
The following statement is given by Sawm Lian. He is one of the refugees who escaped from such ill-treatments of forced labor, day and night forced sentry , forced pottering and planting land mines by No.34 LIB of SPDC’s army and escaped to Bangladesh border villages. The following conversation is received when interviewed with Sawm Lian who escaped to Thing Dawlte village on 17th June of 1998.
Q : Could you please tell us about your story?
A : My name is Sawm Lian. I am 35 years old. My Parents names are Thawn Lian and Tawk zing. My wife’s name is Par Hnem and I have two sons and a daughter. I am from Kantlang village, Paletwa township, Chin State. I belong to Chin ethnic. I am a Christian and I have passed 3rd grade. I escaped on 5th June of 1998.
Q : Do you know what is the name of the company of Kantlang army post or its regiment? Do you know who is in charge of the army post?
A : It is from No. 34 LIB, company 3. I do not know the name of the one who is in charge. He is a warrant officer 2. Because they keep secret of the name of the one in charge. If the villagers who work every day in the army post ask who the in charge of the army post is, the soldiers say that it is not their business.
Q : Do you know how many refugees have escaped to Bangladesh from Paletwa township?
A : I do not know the exact number but I believe there will be between 2,000 and 3,000 refugees along Bangladesh and India border. Because we, 13-villages of Mungnginwa, Petwah, Phuailewah, Muailewah, Satangwah, Samann, Ramritlang, Batlu Tlang, Muaila Wah, Aung Khaing, Long Kado Wah and Long Kado had escaped to India and Bangladesh borders during 1997 and 1998. Most of the people from Tarawa Ai village and Paletwa region which are from the inner part also had escaped from their villages. Without one house remaining, the whole village had abandoned their village. There are Poh Too Wah village, Ong Ti Wah, Kantlang and MeikWah have left to be escaped. I believe that the two villages, Ong TiWah and Pohtowah also have to escape very soon. People keep escaping at their own convenience because we are uneducated and we have no leader. No mass escaping. And also there is no refugees’ camp along India and Bangladesh borders. That’s why I could not give you the exact numberof the escaped.
Q : Could you please brief us, what is the main reason that makes you abandon your own village?
A : We have many reasons to say. There are 60- houses in Kantlang village. It is only 200-yards away from the army post. Every day we have to contribute two persons to carry water, 6-persons for sentry to the army post without pay. Moreover, we have to contribute 20-persons weekly to do cutting woods, digging trench, cutting bamboo trees to build army tent. They also asked us to inform them immediately when Chin National Army come into the village and we are forced to do sentry duty every night reasoning for village security. We also have to serve as porters every month. Whenever they sense Chin National Army movements, we have to serve as porters. Regularly, we serve pottering from Kantlang army post to Meik army post at the rate of one porter for one soldier. Especially in rainy season we have a very hard time to serve as porters because there are many dangerous big and small streams with its full speed of running water to crossover. It is only a day walk from Kantlang to Meik army post but it takes about 4 or 5 days in rainy season. We have to build bamboo raft for the soldiers because they do not know how to swim. We suffered different kinds of trouble because they do not provide food or medicines. Moreover we have nothing to cover from rain and no footwear either. The worst thing is that people and animals are often killed by land-mines planted by the army in and around abandoned thirteen villages. People are afraid of going to the forest because they often hear explosions of mines. In May of 1998 one villager was killed by land-mine when he went out to collect leaves in the forest. One reason of planting the land-mines is to prevent the donation given to the Chin National Army and another reason is that the army collected money, Kyat 7,000 per head from people who are doing selling cattle and doing business. So the cow merchants avoid through the forest in order to escape from money collection. In May of 1998 three merchants (names unknown) had been killed by land-mines.
Now there is a shortage of food in our region because of SPDC’s army’s way of oppression: forced labor, forced pottering and planting land-mines as we are depending on cultivation. We have no time for our own work. We have to buy rice from Tarawaine which is 3-days’ walk ( to and fro)at the Kyat( Kyat is Burmese currency) 130 per Pyee( 3-Kg). For a few more money, some people pulled their animals to Bangladesh and sold them there. They in turn buy some rice at Ruma Bazaar at the rate of 15-TaKa per Kg (Taka is Bangladesh currency). It takes 5-days (to and fro). We have to buy Bangladesh currency at Kyat 6 for one TaKa. The reason we abandoned villages and escaped to Bangladesh is, because of such horrible troubles made by SPDC’s army and hardship created by them. I do believe that it would also be the reason for the people who escaped.
Q : How do you survive in here? Did you ask for any assistance from local authorities? If so, did you receive any assistance? Or did you ask any help from any organization? If so, did you receive it?
A : I work a blue-color job. I work with local people in their fields. And I work as porter for local people. I could barely get for food in that way. The worst thing is there is no such a regular job to do. Now, in here, Bangladesh border area, people also face shortage of food, we have a very hard time to struggle for our daily food. We have to go into the forest and dig out some tree roots and bulbs of plant. We, older people have more resistance but it is very sad to see the children’s suffering. We could provide them sweet rice once a week only. We feel very sad when children’s are crying when they are hungry. But one thing we feel completely at ease with forced pottering.
Although we have asked food and medicine assistance from local Kalbary(village headman), we have not got anything till today. We could not make our request to higher authorities because of language problem and lack of money. So we have no alternative but to bear. We believe and hope that one day we could be able to escape from the pit of such horrible nightmare by the Grace of God. Although we receive some medicine from an organization called Chin Relief and Development Committee, it is not sufficient. We receive only a very little assistance.
Q: Do you have anything to add?
A: By the mercy and out of pity of Bangladesh border authorities and its army, we are allowed to have a refuge temporarily in here. However, we would like to let the higher authorities of Bangladesh know our situation and let the world know our misery and sufferings if you could help us.
The following pamphlet has been widely distributed in Burma, and the copies have been obtained in Rangoon, Mandalay, and various eastern border areas. Missionaries, honourable Monks,Cleansing Organisations The facts to attack Christians:
1. To attack Christian families and the progress of Christians
2. To criticise the sermons broadcast from Manila the Philippines
3. To criticise God as narrow-minded and egotistical, who himself claimed that “There is no god but eternal God”.
4. To counter corrupt youth and inappropriate fashion
5. To criticise the preaching of Christians wherever it has penetrated
6. To criticise Christianity by means of pointing out its delicacy and weakness
7. To stop the spread of the Christian movement in rural areas
8. To criticise by means of pointing out “It is not salvation but purchased by blood”
9. To counterattack by means of pointing out Christianity’s weakness and to overcome this with Buddhism
10. To counter the Bible after thorough study
11. To criticise that “God loves only Israel but not all races”
12. To point out the ambiguity between the two testaments
13. To criticise the point that Christianity is partisan
14. To criticise Christianity’s concept of the Creator and compare it with the scientific concepts
15. To study and access the amount given in offerings
16. To criticise the Holy Sprit after thorough study
17. To attack Christian by means of both non-violence and violence.
VOL.I No. II AUGUST 1998
CHINS FACE THREAT OF LANDMINES
The Chin people have been facing life-threatening China-made landmines planted by the Burma Army LIB(36) and (379) since June 1997. The most affected region is in the border areas of Bangladesh-Burma, especially in the Paletwa township of southern Chinland and southern Indo-Burma border areas of the western Kaladan river. Many people as well as a lot of domestic animals such as cattle, buffaloes, goats, and mithuns have been killed by landmines. The Burmese soldiers kept the news secret and never informed the people of the areas concerned about it. For their survival, most of Chin people depends on slash and burn cultivation, and breeding livestock.
Today, the villagers are unable to cultivate their fields freely and openly for fear of landmines. The purpose of planting them in and around Chin villages is to wipe out the activities of the Chin National Army (CNA), which is an armed wing of Chin National Front (CNF) and to cut the support of the people. One of the CNF’s political aims and objectives is for the restoration of genuine democracy in the Union of Burma and self-determination of the Chin people.
The Chinland had an independent territory before the British annexation in 1895. The Union of Burma was co-founded by Burmans, Chins, Kachins, and Shanson the basis of equal footing. But the 1962 military coup forced them to take up arms against the military regime as a last resort. Infighting against the CNA, the Burmese soldiers have been facing difficulties as the CNA’s strategy is a guerilla warfare with the civilian support in the bordering areas. For this reason, the Burmese soldiers started planting landmines in Chinland.
In the persecuted areas mentioned above, there was no hospital, dispensary, or health care center. No physician or doctor. There is no place for medical treatment for villagers at all. Another type of the most severe punishment is forced RELOCATION of villages. They ordered many villages to live together at one designated place where the Burmese soldiers are being stationed. For instance, the Maretwa neighboring villages were forced to settle together at Maretwa. Villages such as Pungyingawa, Pakawa, Poktoewa, Satangwa, Muiletwa, Aungkhai, Phuiletwa and Samang along the Kaletchaung river were relocated during the early part of 1998. Because of landmines, many Chins take refuge in other neighboring countries like India and Bangladesh.
On April 16-18, 1998 U Ohn Kyaw visited Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government raised the question of landmines in the Bangladesh-Burma border areas to the Burmese military delegate at their meeting. No result to date.
FORCE LABOR AS PRISONERS OF WAR
This report is given to Chin Human Rights Organization by U Ta Lai, aged 40, Ngaleng village of Matupi township. He was personally involved at the scene. On 18 April of 1998, a corporal and a private from 274 Light Infantry post at Matupi town came to Phaneng and Ngaleng villages. They gathered 80 people from Phaneng village and 60 people from Ngaleng village and forced them to remove landslip between Haka and Matupi car road. They did not provide any food, medicine or equipment for it.
They took them to Lung Hlaw and Khua Ngang villages which are a day walk and ordered them to remove a landslip along the way until 10 p.m. without taking a break. They forced them to work for 4 days without giving a time for break and bath. Among the forced labours there were 10 old men, over 50 years of age, 4 children under 15 and 8 housewives. Taking an advantage of the soldiers’ order, aiming at their own benefits, U Khung Khen, an officer of Matupi township road construction department and Maung Bik, a technologist, distributed rice bags to Phaneng and Ngaleng villagers and ordered them to reconstruct the remaining road in landslip along Hakha and Matupi. They issued an order that if anyone fails to present, he would be given a severe punishment by higher authority and also said that no one could be exempted from portering.
The villagers who dared not oppose the order and work in road construction had no time to work for their own living. Hence, U Ta Lai and some of the villagers had left their lovely homes to work in Mizoram State of India. Now, they worry how they would solve their problems when they get home.
PUSHING INTO STARVATION
Since 1997 a company commander of No.539 Light Infantry based in Sinletwa has issued an order to send two persons from each village track of Pa Ra , Shia O and Ramritlang to Sinletwa army post. It takes a day to get there from these villages. When they got there they were forced to work cooking, carrying water, washing clothes, cutting firewood and constructing houses.
They were threatened to burn the village and impose a fine of Kyat 3,000 if they fail to send porters. Every month they had to provide 2-Viss(3.5Kg) of domestic fowl (alive) for the soldiers. The village had to arrange with any possible means because they were threatened to take an action against those who fail to do so. Besides, they were forced to set fire on their hill-side cultivation before the end of February. The army personnel repeatedly issued an order that whoever is against the order would be banned from doing cultivation for a year. The Chin people depend and make living on traditional shift cultivation.
In the process of shift cultivation there are moments of time to start working on clearing bushes, cutting trees, setting fire, transplanting, pulling weeds and harvesting. Setting fire of the cultivation field before proper time could affect the living of Chin people and would certainly lead to starvation.
TREATING AS ENEMY
In May of 1998 SPDC’s army had issued an order not to release domestic animals from their farms. As soon as they released order three times, giving reasons of security, the soldiers started army column from village to village in Hakha and Thantlang townships and killed domestic animals as they like without any payment for it. It is because the government could not provide meat ration for the army. In May of 1998 the army killed and ate 15-cows and 30-pigs both in Hakha and Thantlang townships.
SPDC’s soldiers in Chin State are treating their own citizens like enemy. Although the people dislike the army ,they have no alternative but to bear and follow. The people made complaints to higher officials, but the government would never take action against the military personnel.
OUR ARMY, OUR TORTURER
This is the story interviewed with Rokima, aged 18 a student from Cangtak village. On April 10, 1998 20 soldiers led by a captain (name unknown) of No.274 Light Infantry based in Matupi town came to Cangtak village.
As soon as they got to the village they called 4- members of the village SPDC and ordered them to arrange 20-porters immediately. The Village SPDC members could not, at once find the porters required as all the villagers had already gone to work in the field. So, the soldiers started beating the 4-members with bamboo stick. Using slains and stones, the soldiers killed domestic fowls and ate them as much as they wanted.
The soldiers asked Rosang who is disable if any Chin National Front member ever come into the village. Rosang could not answer their question as he is illiterate and could not speak Burmese. So the soldiers beat him with stick and stroke him very badly until some blood came out from his mouth. The soldiers began getting into house to house and arrested villagers to be as porters. They had to serve portering to Lungpan village which is 4-miles away from the village. Among 20 porters there were three old men, over 50 years of age and three girls, aged under 15. The SPDC’ soldiers often came to our village. Whenever they come to our village, they beat the villagers and killed domestic animals as they like. They never make any request for it. So the villagers hid in their fields because they did not dare to stay in their village. They used to come back to the village on Saturdays and Sundays for their basic needs.
Whenever the soldiers came to the village they had to close the school and hid in their planting fields. But now most of the villagers exiled to Mizoram State of India because they did not dare to live in their own village.
FORCE LABOR IN PALETWA TOWNSHIP
In March 1998 Burma army Battalion 539 and 34 from Shinletwa, Paletwa township , Chin State had issued an order for the following villages such as Para, Sia u, Heimapi, Heimate , Ramri, Sweletwa, Pathiantlang, Sinowa, Ra U, Kinwa, Tahewa, Yokwa, Htonwa, Gilawng, and Mau to contribute 1,000 to 2,000 bamboo poles by each household for the army.
Any village absent to contribute, will face a fine of K1,500 to K2,500. The nearest villages have to walk a day to get to the work site, the bank of the Kaladan river, where the bamboos are located. Some villages such as Ma U and Para have to walk 2 days to get to the work site. The army didn’t provide any necessary material to the villagers . They had to carry their own food , medicine and every other essential thing. In order to fulfil the requirement, a person from every household had to spend at least 4 days to cut the bamboo. The army personnel made bamboo raft with which the villagers had cut bamboos and sailed it down to Arakan State for sale.
There is no any other way for the military personnel to get outside income around Shinletwa region. That’s why the villagers were forced to cut bamboo trees for the army. They were compelled to do this thing at least twice a year. Besides, they were ordered to serve as porters for all year-round. Every village has to provide 4 viss of chicken and a basket of rice (about 20 kg) for a month. Para village has to clear up the rout to No. 18 Indo-Burma border rout to No 18 Indo Burma border pole for three times a year. They also have to clear up the hill top 7 miles north of the border pole. Whenever they had finished doing this, they have to report to the Shinletwa army camp which is 3 day-walk from the village. The villagers didn’t get paid for doing this. The villagers around that region are facing a big problem for their living because they don’t have time to work for themselves.
Therefore, most of them are fleeing to India as they can’t live peacefully in their own village. CHRO have the army original order letter
ARMY’S DISTORTION IN THANTLANG TOWNSHIP
A column of Burma army led by Major Aye Tun of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB 274) from Pakokku was patrolling around Ngaiphaipi, Ngaiphaite, Lailen, Khuapilu, Ngalang, and Lawngtlang villages of Thantlang township, Chin state to drag porters and collect ration in the month of April, 1998.
They collected 2 baskets of rice (1 basket = 20 kg) and 3 chicken from Ngaiphaite village, 2 baskets of rice and 2 chicken from Ngaiphaipi village, 4 chicken and 2 baskets of rice from Lailen village ,and 3 chicken and a basket of rice from Khuapilu village. The army asked 2 persons from each village and they were forced to be porters for army supplies along with the column. On April 3, 1998, they reached Ngalang village and collected 2 baskets of rice and 3 chicken.
They looted every thing they could get from the villagers such as bath soaps and eggs. They asked 30 porters for army supplies and they continued patrolling Lawngtlang village 8 miles away from Ngalang village. On their way to Lawngtlang village, they met Fanthen villagers who came to sell (11) pigs to the town. The army distorted a pig worth K10,000 free of charge. They also charged K5,000 for carrying 10 pigs to the town. In Zephai village, Major Aye Tun and his column collected 5 chicken, 2 baskets of rice and 2 bottles of cooking oil free of charge. They arrived at Tluangram village on 19 May 1998. As soon as they arrived, Major issued a curfew order. After that he called 9 villagers and divided them into 3 groups and sent them to the Bawinu river for fishing. A person from every group has to come to the village to present the army whatever fish they got. The villagers were not allowed to go out of their village. They were compelled to build 4 sentry boxes outside the village and they had to guard 24 hours a day. The Major threatened the villagers that if the rebels came into the village, he would kill all the guards. All the villagers were farmers and they were very busy planting paddy at the time. It is clear that the army did this kind of unfair thing to the villagers because of wanting the villagers to suffer in the coming harvest season.
The army always suspect villagers as rebel supporters and treat them like enemies.
VOL. (I) No. (1) JULY 1998
INTRODUCTION TO THE CHINLAND
Chinland was an independent country before British annexed in 1896 as her colony. In 1948, Chinland decided to form Federal Union with Shan, Kachin and Burmese in accordance with Panlong agreement which guaranteed equal status among nationalities in Burma.
General Ne Win took state power in 1962 and discarded the Panlong agreement. He introduced military dictatorship to Burma. All democratic norms, principles and ethnic rights were abused. Those who raised their voice against the military regime were arrested, tortured and killed. Thus, the Chin people took arm as their last resort in 1964 and civil war has been going on till today in Chinland.
Under the military regime and civil war, human rights violations such as forced porterings, forced relocation, religious persecution, forced labors, illegal collection of money, rapes, arrests and imprisonment for long time without court proceeding, killings are mushroomed in Chinland. In 1988, there was democratic upraising in the whole Burma and the then military government almost came to the point of losing control of their power. However, military generals handpicked by Ne Win took coup d’tat again in 1988. Under the new military regime, human rights violations are still rampaging. Moreover, Chin National Front which is fighting for restoration of genuine democracy in Burma do not enter cease fire agreement with the regime. As a result, human rights violation in Chinland became the worse ever than before now. Unfortunately, Chinland could not be accessible by outsiders because not only the military regime prohibited but also the neighboring countries such as India and Bangladesh have their problems in the border area. As a result, we could not expose to the world about human rights violation in Chinland even though the Chin people are suffering human rights abuses at the same level as people in Burma’s other conflict areas.
Therefore, Chin Human Rights Organization(CHRO) was formed in 1995 by Chin to begin independly documenting human rights situation in Chinland and make internationally aware about the truth.
CHIN SEMINAR HELD IN OTTAWA
The Chin Seminar was held successfully on April 29 to May 2, 1998 with the aims of promoting unity among all the Chin democratic forces. The said Seminar, sponsored by the Euro-Burma office, commenced with opening prayer by Rev. Dr. Chum Awi, former General Secretary of Zomi(Chin)Baptist Convention, opening speeches by Pu John MangTling Cinzah(Chin Ex-Member of Parliament and former Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affair), Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister of National Coalition Government of Union of Burma(NCGUB), Mr. Harn Yawnghwe, Director of Euro-Burma office, Mr. Jack Sterken, Burma Donors Secretariat and Mr. Gary Rosema, Burma Relief Centre(BRC). The Seminar was attended by 17 Chin compatriots including elected MPs, respected intellectuals and freedom fighters inside and outside of Chinland of Burma. Following the Chin Seminar(Ottawa, Canada), all the participants agree to form Chin Forum.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF CHIN SEMINAR
The Chin forum was formed with aims and objectives of providing a common forum for all the Chin through which they could continuously strengthen the unity among themselves and also with all the other democratic forces of Burma and other nationalities. Furthermore, Chin Forum will carry out various tasks of research and documentation works for the betterment of entire Chin people under three working groups namely
A) Working Group for drafting Constiution of Chinland
B) Working Group for setting up Communication, Information and infrastrusture amongst the Chin Democratic Forces and
C) Working Group for Education and Health.
For more information, please visit at <http://www.chinforum.org>
THE STATEMENT OF CHIN SEMINAR
1. The Chin Seminar, organized by the Chin National Front(CNF), and attended by 17 Chin compatriots including elected Chin MP’s respected intellectuals and freedom fighters from inside and outside Chinland of today’s Union of Burma, was successfully held in Ottawa, Canada, on April 29 to May 2, 1998.
2. Chinland, a formerly free state, was co-founder of the Union of Burma under the Panglong Agreement.
3. The military regime discarded the 1947 democratic constitution which safeguarded the Panglong Agreement. Therefore we, the Chin people, consider ourselves as a free nation until and unless a constitution which guarantees our rights is proclaimed.
4. The problem of the Union of Burma started because of unequal treatment of the nationalities by the successive Burmese governments since independence. This unequal treatment has been increased by the military dictatorship especialy in the areas where non-Burmans reside.
5. The ,military regime has convened a sham national convention with handpicked delegates to prolong and legitimize the military dictatorship. This national convention deepens the national hatred and suspicions instead of solving the political crisis.
6. Since the military took over power, there are rampant human rights violations, religious and racial persecutions causing an exodus of Chin refugees to India as well as other countries.
7. The cease-fire arrangement between the military regime and some other armed nationality opposition groups can not solve the present political crisis because of the absence of political dialogue.
8. In order to solve the political crisis of the Union of Burma and the refugee situation, we demand tripartite dialogue which has been called for by the United Nations as well as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This involves dialogue between the Burman Democratic Forces, the Burmese Military and the Non-Burman Democratic Forces.
9. Under genuine democracy and the right of self-determination in its fullest extent, we are willing to work together to consolidate unity among all nationalities in Burma to form a Federal Union.
Date : 3 May 1998
Place : Ottawa, Canada
VILLAGERS TORTURED AND RAPED
A group of Burmese Army which was led by Major (name unknown) from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 274 stationed at the Lailenpi Village came to Sabawngte Village of Matupi township on March 20, 1998. The army surrounded the village and ordered the villagers not to go outside the village. The army commander asked to members of village council whether any villager has gone out side the village or not. The members of the village council replied that about per persons had already left for their field just before the army arrived. The commander called four of his troop and ordered them to torture members of village council. The members of village council were punched with fists and beaten with sticks and gun severely. The Chairman of village council was punched and beaten several times on his head so that he got serious injuries. The four members of village council also got many injuries on their bodies. There is no health care center and medicines available at the village. They were suffered pain without treatment in their homes.
And then the troop coercively took a pig and two basket of rice from the villagers and stayed two days at the village. Due to bad weather in last year, the villagers didn’t harvest enough food. Therefore, they have been starving. Most of the villagers collected ….. from the Jungle for their main food.
After the army brutally tortured and took their food for three days, the army demanded 30 persons portering, including women. The village head collected 15 women and 15 men for porters. On March 22, 1998 the porters carried the army’s ammunitions, equipments and rations to Sabawngpi village which is nine miles far from the Lailenpi village. On the way, the women were kept alternately with the army and the men were kept at rear. When they reached at Sabawngpi village, the women were forced to sleep with the army at night. On the next day, the porters were called up to Lailenpi Village where the army stationed their camp. The women porters were coercively slept in for a night and they were released on the following day. The porters did not get any single cent for their labor, rather they were tortured on the way. All women came back with tears. The women declined to disclose the real events because they were afraid of the army. Till today it could not be seen smile on their faces. The parents knew what had happened to their daughters but they could not expose with witness.
LICENSED TO LOOT
Major Zaw Tun Myint (a) Than Zaw Lat from Burma Army Battalion 274 issued an order for Lungcawipi village consisting of 30 houses in Thantlang township, Chin State. The order said that Lungcawipi village had to pay Kyat 150,000 for the building of Hriangpi Army camp before April 8, 1998. The order also threatened that the whole village was to be burnt down by himself if they could not pay the amount at once. It was hard for the village to get that amount and so they paid Kyat 50,000 and a pig. When the Major came to the village, they killed a pig for him. They also requested him to accept Kyat 50,000 and not to demand the rest. Kyat 50,000 was what they could afford. After consuming all the good and accepting Kyat 50,000, he ordered the villagers to pay the rest Kyat 100,000 before the end of May. He also threatened that the village will be burnt down and destroyed in case of failure. Actually, the villagers knew that the money was not for the construction of Hriangpi army camp. It was for his own pocket. But it is difficult for them to deny his order. All the villagers are farmers and they were busy with their farm work at the time. The people are so sad and disappointed and now live in fear and anxiety as it is impossible for them to get Kyat 100,000 as they are poor and not even able to get the necessaries of life.
STUDENTS LIFE IN TONZANG TOWNSHIP
Students from Tualkhiang village, Tonzang township in Chin State have no summer holidays for this year. They were forced to work for Battalion 228 of Burma Army from Tidim town.
The students were compelled to build two sentry boxes outside of the village and forced to guard 24-hour a day. Two persons at a time with percussion lock firearm. Besides, they were forced as porters to carry army supplies to Pakmual and Haicin villages 13 and 20 miles respectively. The villagers around that region such as Haicin, Pakmual, Tuimui, Selvum, Linthup, Khuaivum, Tongcin and Suangbem were asked forcibly to carry army supplies and ammunition during the months of April and May of this year, 1998. At least 20 people had to come from each village and it took three days for a trip. They didn’t get paid for doing it. Moreover, they had to carry their own food. Whoever was absent to serve as porter, a fine of Kyat 600 was imposed for one-time absentee.
Every village has to provide a pig worth Kyat 6000 and 4 viss of chicken to Cikha army camp for a year. They also pay Kyat 50 each per household for the State Peace and Development Council army office in Tonzang town.
PORTERING AT GUN POINT
The following villages Thlualam, Hriangkhan, Sialam, and Humhalh from Thantlang townshp, Chin State were forced to be porters from March 1998 till today by a company led by one major (name unknown) from Burma Army Battalion 309 Katha. 40 People from each village have to come to serve as porters to carry army supplies from Thantlang to Tikir village. One trip takes five days.
About 10 soldiers have been posted at every village along the way through Thantlang town to Tikir village. The villagers are forced to take sentry duty 24 hours a day. The army have threatened the villagers that they will burn the whole village if they were attacked by the rebels. The villagers are very busy to collect firewood, carry water from the well and provide food and all the necessities for the army. Those villagers have been forced to be porters so long and they are now facing a big problem for their living as they don’t have enough time to work for themselves.
LEGALLY STEALING BY SPDC TROOPS IN CHIN STATE
During the 8th Anniversary Students Sport Festival organized under the command of SPDC in Hakha, the army shut down the power for 10 minutes as planned. As soon as the electric power cut, soldiers start stealing the goods and treasures from the shops at the festival place. When the power was restored, the shop keepers found that their valuable Chin traditional dresses, precious jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, bangles, rings and wrist watches were missing. When thieves who are soldiers from the Burma Army were caught by the shopkeepers, the thieves replied that it was a traditional festival. Therefore, the stolen good were not to be returned. It was very strange for the local people who have never ever come across this kind of festival organized by the Burma Army and stealing is allowed legally. And then thieves were set free with stolen goods.