CHRO

This report details human rights abuses that took place in Mindat Township, Chin State from the period of April to December 2021. In May 2021, Martial Law was imposed on Mindat Town, pre-empting a large-scale assault by air and on the ground in order to engage with the Chin Defense Force – Mindat (CDF-M) and establish military control of the town. During a three-day siege, indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure took place, hospital premises were stormed, and widespread instances of war crimes committed by Tatmadaw forces were reported. Download 

 

(UCA News) — At least 49 buildings including a church have been set ablaze in the deserted town of Thantlang in Myanmar’s western Chin state due to shelling by the military.

Thantlang Centenary Baptist Church — where the slain pastor Cung Biak Hum served as a minister — was burned to cinders on Nov. 25, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

More than 160 buildings, including two churches, were set ablaze in the town in late October and soldiers were accused of torching houses at random.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reviewed thermal anomaly data over the town indicating that the city is once again ablaze. The data captured by VIIRS shows active fires in the early hours of Nov. 25, according to Richard Weir, a researcher from HRW.

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

The latest military assault on churches and residential buildings came amid growing calls by rights groups and civil society organizations for the UN to take action to stop the military’s violence against the people of Myanmar.

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

Prior to the most recent attack, more than 10,000 residents of Thantlang had already fled their homes as the military indiscriminately shot into houses and set off fires by shelling in September.

In recent weeks, the military began sending fresh reinforcements to launch a major offensive against the resistance groups in the region. The UN human rights office has warned that the deployment of troops and heavy weapons by the military may lead to an imminent attack in these areas.

Myanmar’s military has long been accused of committing atrocities, especially in ethnic regions, by resorting to rape, abductions, arbitrary arrests and killings besides vandalizing places of worship and civilian properties.

More than 23,600 people have been displaced in several townships in Chin state since May while 5,200 people were newly displaced as of Nov. 10 and more than 15,000 have already crossed the border with India, according to UN reports.

Catholic and Baptist churches in Chin state, an impoverished region, were targeted by the military in July and August as soldiers camped in the churches and destroyed church property.

Various denominations have condemned the disrespectful acts of the soldiers, including the consumption of alcohol inside places of worship, and called it a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Nearly 1,300 people have been killed by the junta since it seized power and toppled the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1.

 

The New York Times

For decades, armed conflict, political repression and targeted campaigns against minorities have forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave the country. Now many more are expected to follow.

By Sui-Lee Wee

Terrified farmers and families with children in Myanmar are fleeing into India as the military junta that seized power in a February coup continues to seek out and eliminate resistance along the country’s border.

The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has targeted areas that are home to thousands of armed civilians who call themselves the People’s Defense Force. Soldiers have fired rocket launchers into residential neighborhoods, burned down homes, cut off internet access and food supplies, and even shot at fleeing civilians, according to residents.

For more than seven decades, armed conflict, political repression and targeted campaigns against minorities like the Rohingya have forced hundreds of thousands of people from Myanmar to seek refuge in other countries. Many more are now expected to follow.

Aid groups say they are preparing for a flood of refugees, but are concerned that countries surrounding Myanmar such as Thailand may push them back. In Chin State in the northwest of Myanmar, an entire town of roughly 12,000 people has nearly emptied out in the past month. Residents have reported a large buildup of troops in recent weeks, signaling a potential wider crackdown by the Tatmadaw and leaving many people desperate to escape.

After troops burned down his home on Sept. 18 with rocket-propelled grenades, Ral That Chung decided he had no choice but to leave Thantlang, his town in Chin State.

“I love Myanmar, but I will return only if there is peace,” said Mr. Ral That Chung, who walked for eight days with 10 members of his family to reach India. “It’s better to suffer here than to live in fear in my own country.”

In the eight months since the army seized control, roughly 15,000 people in Myanmar have fled for India, according to the United Nations. Catherine Stubberfield, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Asia and Pacific bureau, said the agency has observed some 5,000 people who successfully entered India from Myanmar after recent clashes.

“The brutality in which entire villages are attacked indiscriminately has created a horrific situation in which people are absolutely desperate,” said Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar. “And things are getting worse.”

The refugees say they sleep in forests for days, some of them going without food as they make their way toward India. Once they reach the Tiau River crossing separating the two countries, they take a bamboo raft or boat across to reach safety.

In the tiny village of Ramthlo, Crosby Cung said all 1,000 people who live there were preparing to leave. The villagers, he said, have selected two to three places where roughly 500 people can hide out in the forest until they are ready to head for the Indian border. Last week, soldiers set a neighboring village on fire.

 

“It is really sad to see,” Mr. Cung said. “Leaving your village and fleeing into the jungle is not what we want to do. I want to protect my village so they do not loot and burn down the village. But we, the civilians, can’t do anything. We have no choice but to flee.”

The recent exodus has been most pronounced in Chin State, a stronghold of the People’s Defense Force where civilians have often suffered the brunt of the Tatmadaw’s cruelty. In August and September, 28 out of the 45 people killed in the rural border region were civilians, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization.

Chin State borders the Indian state of Mizoram and is predominantly Christian. Many of the locals in Mizoram are also ethnic Chin and have close ties to the Chin people in Myanmar, but their patience has been tested by a recent Covid outbreak that Mizoram officials have blamed on refugees.

A district official in Mizoram who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said even though the Indian government’s policy is to keep the borders closed to refugees, the locals are unofficially helping those fleeing Myanmar. If the locals did not provide assistance, the official said, the refugees would die.

Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, warned that the situation facing the refugees would become more difficult over time. “Resources will become increasingly scarce, and there may be pressure to send them back,” he said.

In India, the refugees live in shacks with tinned roofs or plastic tarps overhead. Van Certh Luai, a refugee who arrived in Mizoram after walking for three days, said her family of six gets only three gallons of water a day for drinking, washing and bathing. Mosquitoes feast on their skin. But the family says they are staying put.

“I do not want my three children to grow up in fear,” Ms. Van Certh Luai, 38, said.

The fighting in Chin State started in August, when 150 soldiers arrived in the town and started firing mortar rounds, injuring people and damaging houses. On Sept. 6, the Chinland Defense Force — the Chin arm of the People’s Defense Force — said it killed 15 soldiers.

Rights activists say the junta has targeted Chin State because it is home to the Chin National Front, the first ethnic armed group to throw its support behind the so-called National Unity Government, the organization founded by Myanmar’s ousted elected leaders. The rebel group has also been training thousands of anti-coup protesters who have taken up arms against the military.

Cer Sung said she heard gunshots and bombs falling at around 4 p.m. on Aug. 15 while she was boiling popcorn at home in Thantlang, in Chin State. In a state of panic, she looked for her 10-year-old son, who was watching his favorite Hindi cartoon on television, remote control in his left hand. As she entered the house, fragments of artillery shells started falling between her and her son.

Ms. Cer Sung, 44, recalled seeing the left side of her son’s body go up in flames. His left index finger, the one on the remote control, was blown off. He died on the spot.

“I am angry with the Myanmar army for brutally killing my only son,” Ms. Cer Sung said, sobbing.

She and her family have decided to remain in Myanmar for now, frightened to stay but also scared to find out what life would be like if they were to leave. Other families have scrambled to leave so quickly that they did not have much time to prepare.

Sui Tha Par said she found her husband, Cung Biak Hum, lying on the side of a road with two gunshot wounds to his back and chest after he rushed to extinguish a fire caused by Tatmadaw troops in Thantlang on Sept. 18. His ring finger had been cut off and his gold wedding band was missing, according to family members.

“They shot my husband to death,” Ms. Sui Tha Par said in tears. She is pregnant and expects to give birth next month, she said. After burying her husband, she and her two sons, 11 and 7 years old, decided to leave for Mizoram.

Thousands Flee Myanmar for India Amid Fears of a Growing Refugee Crisis – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The Protection and Humanitarian Affairs Division has been created within CHRO to lead the organization’s efforts to respond to unfolding humanitarian crisis in Chin State, which is now literally a disaster in waiting.

The Division aims to address the emerging humanitarian and protection needs of the already vulnerable population of western Myanmar, particularly, Chin State, where new armed conflicts and worsening COVID-19 spread have brought new levels of humanitarian crisis and human insecurity to the region since the February 1 coup in Myanmar. The new Division seeks to bridge the widening gaps in the humanitarian response measures towards the rapidly deteriorating conflict situation and the fast-spreading deadly Coronavirus in the region, by working together with new and existing local partners to try and coordinate intervention strategies and provide synergy to the work of various humanitarian actors operating in the region. The Division also aims to assist with protection issues arising from the ongoing political crackdown, as well as those confronting internally displaced population and refugees, including special protection for women in armed conflict situation. Under the purview of the new Division will be advocacy work associated with protection issues faced by refugee communities in India and Malaysia.

Programmatically, this new division will operate under the management and supervision of the Peace, Development and Democratization Program (PDDP) of CHRO. The Division oversees two operation units, tasked with specific mandates and functions: Protection Unit and Humanitarian Affairs Unit.

The United States Commission On International Religious Freedom

Public Hearing 

After The Saffron Revolution, Repression, And The U.S. Policy Option  

For Burma”

Statement By Salai Bawi Lian

Of

Chin Human Rights Organization

The Capitol
Washington DC-December 3, 2007 

Thank you. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and the honorable commission.

A few months ago, the world witnessed how the Burmese military regime, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) ruthlessly persecuted Buddhist monks in the street of Rangoon. The whole world was shocked. 

In fact, the SPDC have been systematically persecuting religious minority groups such as Chin Christians for decades. I am honored to be invited to this important hearing to tell how the military junta in Burma has systematically persecuted Chin Christians who inhabit Burma’s western territory of Chin State or Chinland. 

My name is Salai Bawi Lian from Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). I am an ethnic Chin from Burma. 

When I and my colleagues founded Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), our intention was to document all incidents of human rights abuses against Chin people without focusing on a single issue. However, as time went on, it was quickly obvious that the issue of religious persecution was a matter of great concern to us. At least one piece of information in the reports that we gathered for our bimonthly newsletter, Rhododendron News, has had to do religious persecution against Chin Christians. The CHRO eventually published a book “Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christian in Burma” in 2005 that can be downloaded from CHRO website at www.chro.org 

When I look back the record of CHRO documentation for the past 12 years, its begin with the news about 5 Chin Christian children lured and forced to become young Buddhist monks and nuns in 1995 and the last information report we received as recently as last month November 2007 that Chin Christian students in one particular town of Chin state are regularly forced to observe Buddhist merit making in the middle of the week that the entire school have to be closed on official school day. Then the entire school has to make up their missing day on Saturday. 

The SPDC and successive Burmese military regime have been systematically persecuting Chin Christians for decades that the SPDC;

  • Prohibit construction of Churches, Destroyed Crosses and Replaced With Pagodas or Statue of Buddhist Monk
  • After 1990s the Chins never get permit to construct Churches
  • Destroyed most Crossed planted in towns and replaced with Buddhist pagodas or Buddhist monk statue
  • The order to destroy cross usually come from the highest military rank in the region
  • The largest Cross remaining, 50 foot tall, in Chin State was destroyed in 2005 with direct order from the highest military commander in Chin State. 

Censor Christian Literature and Publication

  • Since 1962 the Chin Christians never get permission to print the Holy Bible in their own language in Burma
  • In the year 2000 the CHRO received a report that 16,000 Bibles was confiscated by the SPDC in the India-Burma border town of Tamu.
  • The Chins are prohibited to learn their own language in their own homeland.  

Target Clergy 

  • Christian pastors and ministers are highly respected among the Chin people
  • They are highly respected as intermediaries between God and the congregations.
  • The dignitary position of pastors and ministers made jealousy of the military regime that they are the first targets in the regime’s campaign against Chin Christians
  • Rev. Zaangkholet and three of the village elders were brutally killed. Rev. Luai Thang was humiliated and brutally killed. Several other pastors and minister have been humiliated and arrested.  

Restrict on Freedom of Assembly and Worship 

  • All Christians gathering and conference including religious festival require prior authorization by the Military regime.
  • The regime usually impose many restrictions.
  • In some occasion the sermon had to be approved by the authority.  

Discriminate Based on Ethnicity and Religion 

  • Christians with non-Burman ethnic background can not be promoted in high ranking government official.
  • In the Army Chin Christian can not be promoted beyond Major rank unless they converted to Buddhism.
  • There are 3 categories (A, B, and C) designated for those who can not be promoted in the rank. A stands for AIDS symptom, B stands for Hepatitis B and C stands for Christians.  

Selective Forced Labor 

  • Forced labor is a widespread practice in Burma.
  • However, forced labor is specifically directed against Chin Christians in order to coerce them into converting to Buddhism.
  • Those who converts to Buddhism are exempted from forced labor while Christians are forced to work on Sundays.  

State Sponsor Expansion of Buddhism 

  • Since early 1990s the Burmese military regime created Hill Region Buddhist Mission and send many Buddhist monks to Chin state.
  • Chin Christians are forced to contribute labor, money for construction of Buddhist monasteries and Pagodas, and forced to listen the Buddhist monk sermons.
  • Many Chin Christians children have been lured to provide education in a bigger town. However Children are later found to be in Buddhist monasteries with their head shaven to become novice Buddhist monks.  

A People and Culture at Stake 

  • Due to militarization and human rights violations committed by the Burmese military regime against Chin Christians, many can not longer survive.
  • There are 60 thousands Chin refugees living in India.
  • There are between 25 thousands Chin refugees living in Malaysia
  • The Chin people are facing untold poverty and humanitarian crisis  

Recommendation 

  • Needed national reconciliation through dialogue
  • Needed to implement Broad Based Constitutional Review Commission proposed by UN Needed to implement Broad Based Poverty Alleviation Commission  

Thank you very much.

Salai Bawi Lian Mang

Director

Chin Human Rights Organization

To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles