Indefinite power of a Burmese army officer
Human rights violations in Chinland, and Burma as a whole, is increasing year after year. In 1988 the military took state power after a nationwide pro-democracy uprising in Burma. When the military took power,( by force,) they promise to held a free and fair election and transfer power to elected representative of the peoples. Even though the National League for Democracy NLD party and its allied won more than 85% of contested seats in 1990 election, the military still refuse to transfer power to elected representatives.
Instead of honoring the will of the people by transferring power to elected representatives, the military regime intensify human rights violations up on the opposition parties and the citizens to consolidate its power.
There was only one army battalion in Chin State before the military took power in 1988. At present as many as ten battalions are operating in Chin State. As a result of the increasing military operations in Chin State, Chin peoples have faced all kinds of human rights violations. Torture, rape, pottering, force labors, extortion of money, killings and long term imprisonment without a fair trial are frequently taking place in Chinland under the rule of military regime called State Peace and Development Council SPDC. The following incidents indicate how the military rule effects the life of the civilians in an ethnic inhabitant area like Chin State in Burma. These incidents are the result of a patrolling troop led by Major Khin Maung Ye. There are several major military operations performed by the SPDC regime in Chinland every year and as consequences, thousands of Chins people are seeking refuge in neighboring countries Bangladesh and India. Major Khin Maung Ye of Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 266 Haka, Chin State of Burma, took position as temporary commander of Lungler army camp.
Leading company 3 of the battalion, he started patrolling the areas in July 1999. On the 25th of August they captured Van Peng, Chin National Army and two other villagers at Pu Than Rawl’s house, Bungkhua Village, Thantlang township. At the same time Za Mang , chairman of Village Peace and Development Council of Fungkah village and two other villagers were also arrested, alleging them as supporters of Chin National Front CNF. All the captives are tightly chained and took them to Lungler army camp. They were tortured day and night in the camp. An eyewitness said, “Their condition in the camp is very bad. They could died or would certainly become disable persons”.
The patrolling troop arrested some other 32 villagers in Tlangpi village.
They are also accused of supporting Chin National Front and sent to force labor camp. These 32 captives are not allow going out side the camp, they are constantly forced to work in the road construction between Thantlang and Lungler army camp. The Soldiers tightly guarded them and they are beaten up every night by the army for not obeying their orders properly. The commander, Major Khin Maung Yee of Burmese army, demanded a bribe in exchange of their release. However, the villagers could not effort such a big amount of money because they are just a poor slash and burn farmers. Thang Zawl 52 and Van Peng 45 are the oldest men among these captives.
Villagers are not paid for their labour instead they were kicked, punched and beaten up by the Burmese army while working. Moreover, they had to bring their own tools and food to work for the army. As Chin people are mostly depend on slash and burn, shifting cultivation, it is the most important time(moon soon season in Burma from June to September ) to work on farm for the next crops. Even though the Burmese army knows very well the fact that it is the crucial period for the farmers to work in the farm, they still forcing villagers to work for the army. If they could not work in the most needed time, starving would certainly ahead in the near future.
A frustrated soldier defected
Frustrating of his superiors’ course of action on civilians, in July of 1999 Aung Thu, a Burmese soldier, defected his unit with a G-3 riffle to Chin National Army when a troop led by Major Khin Maung Ye marched from Lungler army camp to Tlangpi village.Village elders and some other villagers were held responsible for the defected soldiers and beaten up by the Burmese army.
All the arrested elders were taken to Haka (the capital of Chin State) police lockup and the rest 30 villagers were taken to Lungler army camp. All of them were forced to work in the farm (owned by army) and in road reconstruction. Among the arrested villagers Ngun Chawng 29 was taken to Thantlang army camp and kept in lockup. Any of Tlangpi villager dare to embody in village council members because they afraid of the military injustice treatment on the village elders. However, when Major Khin Maung Ye ordered Tlangpi villagers to form a new village council, the villagers have to obey the order in fear of his brutality. Thus, the village council was formed with four persons. Right after the village council was formed, the four elected members were summoned to Lungler army camp and detain for no reason.
(This kind of actions by the army is to create fear among the civilians in order to cut off the contact between the opposition groups and the people. This kind of unjust treatment on the civilians is practiced by the Burmese army in many parts of ethnic areas in Burma)
Kyat 80,000 Bribe saves a life
On 10th August a patrolling troop led by Major Khin Maung Ye arrived in Bungkhua village. As soon as they arrived to Bungkhua, they arrested Thawng Cung, (VPDC) president, and took him with his arms tied on his back to Lungler army base.
He was tortured for 9- days. When he could not bear his torment, he asked his family to arrange 80,000 Kyats. He was released from the army camp only after the money is bribed to Major Khin Maung Ye. He was hospitalized but had no money to buy medicine. As a farmer like Thawng Cung, his life is in full of adversities for the money that he borrowed and for his family living as he could not work anymore in the farm.(Note : In Burma, especially in the rural areas, the sick one has to buy the medicine from pharmacy by themselves. Nursing aid only is provided in most hospital but no medicine at all).
Major Khin Maung Ye, LIB 266, ordered the three villages: Saikah, Ruakhua and Ruabuk to present one person per family with their own tools and food in reconstructing road between Sopum and Sihhmuh village. The villagers have started reconstructing the road since 23rd September because they did not dare to resist the order. As most the Chin people are farmers they have no time to work in the fields.Escape in fear of arrest: Hre Ling and Sui Ceu had escaped to Bualpi village, Mizoram State of India when a troop led by Major Khin Maung Ye came to arrested them. The army accused them to be supporters of CNF. Later on, friends and relatives send their families to them on September 8. Sui Ceu has 4 children and Hre Ling has 5 children. They said ” It is not easy for us to depend on friends for our living in Bualpi”.
Shot on Sight (Innocent Chin civilian Killed By Burmese army)
Pa Mawng (28) was shot death by a troop of 30 soldiers led by Capt. Maung Zaw of Burmese army. Pa Mawng’s death resulted his younger brother arrest, alleging as member of Chin National Front (CNF) on groundless proof. The incident occurred on 12 August 1999.
A troop of Burmese army marching from Vanzang village to Thantlang town deliberately shot death Pa Mawng between Vanzang and Sopum village while he was coming back from visiting his relatives in Vanzang village. The dead body was left on the roadside. The villagers took the dead body and buried it. Capt. Maung Zaw ordered Sopum village headman to bring all Pa Mawng’s belongings to Lungler army camp. The Captain found out Pa Mawng’s green shirt missing. The headman explained him that his younger brother kept it as a remembrance.
Capt. Maung Zaw immediately summoned Pa Mawng’s brother to present himself at Lungler army camp. And the Captain alleged him to be a member of CNF and arrested him. It is said that no villager dares to travel alone.
CHRO’s Interview (Tragedy of village president )
Name : Thakulh Age : 28
Occupation : Chairman, Village PDC Cawnpi village, Falam Township
Nationality : Chin Religion : Christian
Marital status : married, 5 children
Date of interview : 29 September
Q. Why did you flee your village?
A. Van Siang Mang, a villager of Zawlte, and Cung Cung, a villager of Rulbu came to our village to request us to cook some food for 5 Chin National Army who would arrive to our village and Ngaltli village. Believing that we cooked for them, the two informers then reported to the SPDC army in Tuibual camp. On June 23, 1999, 8 soldiers led by Sergeant Major came to our village to arrest me. I escaped before they arrived to our village. I later came to know that they were SPDC informers and were paid money for it.
Q. How and where did you escape?
A. I desperately fled towards Tiphei village where a Police out post is stationed and after evading the post, I walked down towards Tio River, India border until I met some CNA who were on duty there. After spending three nights with them, I headed to Farkawn of Mizoram State, India..
Q. Do you have relatives at Farkawn?
A. Yes, my sister in law is staying there. I was sick for two-and-a-half months as the result of fear and had to be looked after by her. However, she also had difficulty of affording for my treatment as days went long.
Q. Do your wife and children suffer any kind of harassment for your escape?
A. My wife was threatened to arrest if she failed to find me and bring back. But she was excused after she, with the help of my relatives, gave a bribe Kyats 40,000 to the soldiers. However, it didn’t last long. The soldiers again asked her more money, which she refused them by denying that we have been divorced. They didn’t believe her and kept on demand money from her. She will also has to flee after all since she has no more money to give to the soldiers.
Q. How did you come to know about your family?
A. After a slight recovery from my illness, I secretly went back to my village at night a acompanied with my younger brother.
Q. How was your family situation during your absence?
A. They had no money at all. Since they could no longer work in the farm, they had nothing to eat. Moreover, the soldiers stole my wife’s sarong worth about Kyats 800 during the search in my house.
Q. How do you plan to do now?
A. If I return to my village again, I will definitely be arrested because the soldiers got my photo with them. I won’t dare to return because I have no money to give to the soldiers. I am thinking to settle in a safe place in Mizoram when I can take my wife and children. I am also aware that our subsistence will be too difficult in Mizoram since I usually fell ill of Malaria. The soldiers said that I would be killed if they caught me.
Q. Are there any other who suffer like you?
A. At present, each of the 40 villages in Falam Township are demanded Kyats 5000 for allegedly harboring and showing sympathy to CNA members.
Q. How do you think why the soldiers acted like this and how do you see this kind of attitude towards the villagers?
A. What appeared to be the main reason is that, the soldiers are so much afraid of the possible out break of mass revolt and that was why they used various kind of intimidation including arrest, assault and torture as a precaution. Moreover, the soldiers are now well aware that they have no support from the Chins and are jealous of Chin National Front CNF, who they know we sympathize. Having no sufficient ration and money has also compelled them to do everything to get money. Intimidation is a single means left for them, as they are very well aware that they have no public support.
Two Pastors arrested in Thantlang, Chin State
Chin Human Rights Organization CHRO received the following report on 20th September 1999 from reliable source. On 26 June, 1999, a soldier of the 266 Light Infantry Battalion led by 2nd Lieutenant Myo Kyaw, deserted his unit, near Tlangpi village.
The villagers of Tlangpi and of Farrawn, which is one of its neighboring villages, were in no way responsible for his defection, but the chairmen of these villages and other neighboring villages were arrested, taken to Haka, and severely tortured, for it. The chairman of Tlangpi village was given a twelve-year sentence with rigorous imprisonment and the others also two to three-year sentences, with rigorous imprisonment All the chairmen of the villages in Zahnak Tlang area of the Thantlang Township, Chin State viz. of Lungler, Bungkhua, Dawn, Ralpel, Saikah, Fungkah, Thangzang, Sihhmuh, Ruabuk, Ruakhua, have also been arrested by the same Battalion. Also all the chairmen of the “yatkwets” ( block ) in Thantlang Town, viz Pu No Lal Ling of School “Yatkwet”, Pu Van Hnun of Market “Yatkwet”, and Pu Ceu Hnin of TABC “Yatkwet”, have been arrested and tortured, and one of them, viz Pu Ceu Hnin of TABC “Yatkwet”was so severely tortured that all his front teeth were knocked out. A good civilian in Thantlang town, by the name of Al Bik, was also arrested, taken to the Camp of the Military Intelligence at Rung Tlang in Hakha, and has been kept in isolation, allowing nobody to see him. All these arrests were allegedly made on the flimsy evidence that they were in sympathy with the Chin National Front CNF.
When all these arrests and atrocities were taking place, the senior pastor of the Thantlang Baptist Church, the Rev. Biak Kam, who is over 60years of age, and the General Secretary of the Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches, the Rev. Thawng Kam, called a meeting as to how to negotiate with the military authorities in charge of the area and to make a request for their release. But before they could meet with the military authority, the military authority have them also arrested at night on September 7,1999, accusing them of calling a meeting without their knowledge or permission. They were sent away hastily and secretly by night the same night, onfoot,30 miles away, to the Military Out Post in Lungler village. They have been kept there. Nothing has been heard about them, as no one was allowed to see them; hopefully they were not tortured. These two Baptist pastors were almost arrested once at the time of the problem which arose out of matters related to erecting a cross on a hill west of Thantlang in January 1999 and it could very well be that they were secretly observed and shadowed.
Thantlang Baptist Church is the biggest church in Thantlang Township with a membership of over 3000 and Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches(TABC) is a full fledge association, with a membership of 44 village churches, under the Zomi Baptist Convention, which in turn is a full fledge convention under the Myanmar Baptist Convention, which is a national convention of all the Baptist Churches in Burma. There is a great fear that all of them would be tortured and their lives be in danger of death. All the men in Thantlang town have evacuated for fear of being arrested by the military.