To : Janek Kuczkiewicz
Department of Trade Union Rights
International Confederation of
Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
5, Bld. du Roi Albert II
B 1210 Brussels, Belgium
Date: 31 August 2005
Re: Chin Human Rights Organization’s submission to the ICFTU and ILO Expert Team on forced labor in Burma/Myanmanr
Chin Human Rights Organization is an independent non-government organization which has been documenting human rights situations along Burma’s western regions of Chin State and adjacent areas inhibited by Chin indigenous people for over the past 10 years. CHRO is registered as a not for profit organization in Canada and maintains information collection centers in Mizoram and New Delhi of India and Bandarban of Bangladesh. CHRO publishes a bi-monthly human rights news letter Rhododendron News and maintains a website at www.chro.org. For the past several years, CHRO’s works have been widely covered in a number of human rights reports on Burma, including the ILO reports, the United States State Department country reports, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Special Rapportuer’s human rights reports on Burma/Myanmar.
We are pleased to submit the attached information on forced labor in Burma. Reports contained in this submission cover forced labor incidents in Chin State from the beginning of the year until July of 2005. Despite Burma’s State Peace and Development Council’s insistence that forced labor no longer exists, it is still a common practice in many parts of Burma, especially in more isolated areas. It is our hope that this submission will help provide the Committee of Experts valuable insights into the prevalent nature of forced labor practices in Burma’s western regions, especially in Chin State.
Orders for compulsory labor are not issued only by local army unit commanders. Many incidents of forced labor are a result of direct orders from Tactical Commands I and II, the highest authorities in Chin State, a clear indication that forced labor incidents occurring in Chin State are not isolated ones, but rather a systematic and widespread practice. This will counter persistent claims by Burma’s ruling military regime that the practice of forced labor has been outlawed in Burma and that those responsible for breaching the prohibition of the use of forced labor has been properly penalized in compliance with its obligations under International Labor Organization Convention 29.
Reported incidents of forced labor in Chin State have gone up in the past year and increased militarization is one key factor. The expansion of army presence in southern Chin State with the establishment of Tactical Command II is largely responsible for increased use of forced labor by the army. The ongoing construction of trans-national highway between India and Burma is also responsible for significant portion of forced labor incident. Many incidents of forced labor can be attributed to infrastructural development projects associated with the naming of two new Townships in Chin State, Rih Township and Ruazua Township. Forced labor is often intimately associated with extortion. While military authorities’ common practice is to directly order civilians to participate in designated work, in many instance, people indirectly engaged in forced labor to escape or avoid extortion by the army.
The forced labor reports compiled in this submission are documented by Chin Human Rights Organization since the beginning of this year. Reports otherwise credited come from Khonumthung News, an independent news organization operating out of India-Burma border, which has made valuable contributions to documenting human rights situations in Chin State. Also, it is to acknowledge that reports documented by CHRO is limited and that the actual incidents of force labor in Chin State are very likely to be higher than information we can collect.
Lastly, Chin Human Rights Organization is encouraged by the continued concerns expressed by the International Labor Organization in the matter of forced labor in Burma/Myanmar. In submitting this communication, we hope that the Committee of Experts would seriously look into the continuing concerns of widespread use of forced labor in Burma. Additionally, CHRO will be happy to respond to any queries the Committee of Experts may have regarding this submission.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang
Chin Human Rights Organization
Forced Labor Reports By Chin Human Rights Organization
Submitted to The International Labor Organization
• Mass Forced Labor Exacted to Construct New Military Camp
• Villagers Forced to Renovate Army Camp
• Military Authorities Compel Civilians to Supply Wood Planks for Construction of Hospital
• SPDC Forced Primary School Children to Porter
• Army Officer Sells off 1000 Round Bamboos Forcibly Collected from Civilians for Personal Profit
• 30 Villages Forced to Contribute Sand to Renovate Army Camp
• SPDC Forced School Children and Civilians to Labor at Government’s Tea Plantation
• New High School Being Constructed with Forced Labor
• New Military Camps: Anguish For The People
• SPDC Use Prisoners for Construction of Hospital
• SPDC Forced 600 Villagers to Engage in Road Construction
• Chin Christians Forced to Supply Construction Materials for New Buddhist Monastery
• Forced Labor Increases Hardship for Impoverished Villagers
• Local Army Chief Orders Forced Labor and Illegal Tax from Civilians
• Hundreds of Civilians Provided “Voluntary Labor” to Construct Road
• Extortion Intensified at India-Burma Border Trade Route
• SPDC Unlawfully Destroyed House of Local Leader of National League for Democracy Party
• Chin Christians Forced to Contribute Money and Labor for Construction of Buddhist Monastery
• Civilians Compelled to Take Militia Training, Conscription Order Issued
• Unjust Order Against Chin Farmers
• SPDC Continues to Practice Forced Labor in Chin State
• Forced Labor: Construction of Rih Hospital Quarter
• Forced Labor at Tea Plantation Farm
• Bullet Speaks Lauder than Words
• Civilian Compelled to Repair Army Camp
• High School Students Forced as Porter
• Supply Wood or Face Severe Punishment
• Forced Labor at Indo-Burma Border Trade Route
• SPDC Practice Widespread Forced Labor In Border Towns
• Villagers Forced As Porter
• Christian Pastors Forced to Take part at Buddhist Water Festival
• Obey the Order or Go to Jail
• Three Chin Christian Pastors Detained One Night for Defying SPDC Order
• SPDC Open 2 New Concentration Camps in Chin State
• Village Headman and It’s Council Member Arrested for Failing to Repair Border Trade Road
• 45 Villagers from Rezua Township Engage in Forced Labor Construction of Kangaw-Matupi Road
• Villagers Forced to Work at Army Camp
• Forced Labor in Thantlang Town
• Forced Labor In Matupi Township
• 11 Villages Forced to Work at the Army Tea-Plantation Farm
• The SPDC soldiers Collect Illegal Tax from Chin Villagers
• Burmese Soldiers on Extortion Rampage
• Over 200 Household Forced to Work in Road Construction
• Villagers Forced to Work In Rih Area
• Villagers Forced as Porter
• Human Rights Violations in Lailenpi Area as reported by Mara People Party
• Prisoners Were Engaged In A Hard labor in Indo-Burma Border Road Construction (Khonumthung News)
• Two Civilians on Full time duty for the Beck and Call of The SPDC (Khonumthung Nes)
Mass Forced Labor Exacted to Construct New Military Camp
August 2, 2005, Aizawl:
(Note: Victims and Informant names in this report are to be kept confidential for security reasons)
Major Tin Moe, patrol column commander from Burma Army Infantry Battalion 304 (under Chin State’s Tactical Command No. 2 based in Matupi) temporarily stationed at Dar Ling village of southern Chin State’s Matupi Township requisitioned compulsory labor to build a new military post at Dar Ling village. More than one thousands civilians from 20 villages in the area have been working at the site since the first week of July, 2005.
The forced labor incident was reported to Chin Human Rights Organization by U Tin Maung, Chairman of the Village Peace and Development Council, Ngaiphaipi village of Thantlang Township.
Starting form 11 to16 July 2005, U Tin Maung and 50 of his villagers were forced to dig a 150-feet long drainage measuring 3 feet in width and 4 feet in depth.
Another 50 civilians and members of the Village PDC from Khuapi village were forced to supply 4,000 round bamboos. Each stick of the 4000 bamboos has to be 10 feet in length. The work to collect the bamboos lasted from 9 to 16 July, 2005.
From 16 to 21 July 2005, for a total of 5 days, 50 civilians and members of the Village PDC from Hlung Mang village (Matupi Township) were forced to dig trenches and bunkers for the army camp.
Civilians from Fartlang village (Thantlang Township) were compelled to supply 50 sticks of wood measuring 10 feet in length. Civilians from other villages engaged in other works such as fencing and building barracks, digging trenches and bunkers, and collecting woods and bamboos.
The work occurs on a daily basis and all workers are required to supply themselves with food and tools for the job. The work starts at 5:00 am in the morning and lasts until 6:30 in the evening. Workers are given breakfast break at 11:00 am and dinner at 7:00 p.m. The work was projected for completion in the month of July and workers are not exempt from working on Sundays, said U Ni Hmung, Chairman of the Village PDC from Khuapi village, Thantlang Township.
“The expansion of military establishment in our areas only brought hardship to the local people who rely on farming for our survival. Now that the new army camp is only 5 miles away from our village, it is predictable the kinds of hardship we will have to keep up with,” complained the Chairman of PDC from Hlung Mang village.
“The patrol column commander has already ordered us to raise chickens, pigs and other livestock. He might even call us for another round of forced labor. He said that we cannot ignore his order because it is our civic duty to comply with army orders. Many people from our village are already fed up with the perpetual forced labor and are contemplating to escape to Mizoram across the border,” he added.
Villagers Forced to Renovate Army Camp
5 August 2005, Aizawl:
Platoon Commander 2nd Lieutenant Win Zaw Oo from Light Infantry Battalion 289 based in the town of Paletwa in southern Chin State exacted forced labor from civilians living in an around Shinletwa village to renovate army camp stationed at the village. The work started on 16 July, 2005 and lasted until 19 July.
90 civilians from Salanpi, Saiha and Ma U villages were ordered to report themselves at the army camp one day prior to the day the work was to begin. All the forced laborers were ordered to bring with them their own tools and enough rations for five days. Workers were made to gather twigs and round bamboos needed to fence the army camp.
Lt. Win Aw Oo, in his requisition warned severe punishment for non-compliance with the order.
Military Authorities Compel Civilians to Supply Wood Planks for Construction of Hospital
17 August 2005
On 10 July, 2005, Battalion Commander Lt. Colonel Kan Maw Oo of the Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 269 based in Tiddim Town of northern Chin State ordered residents living in villages across the Township to supply wood planks to construct a new Civil Hospital in the area.
Laitui village has more than 500 households. Each household was forced to supply 2 wood planks of 8’x6″x2″ cubic feet. The planks are to be brought to the site of the new hospital by the first week of September. “Our family had to buy the mandatory 2 planks for 2500 Kyats out of our pocket,” explained a villager of Laitui.
Burma’s military junta started the construction of the new hospital in Tiddim early this year. The hospital is to accommodate 50 beds and two buildings are to be constructed. Civilian residents in the areas have been adversely affected by extortion of money and demands of wood planks as a result of the new hospital. Prisoners from hard labor camp in the area have also been extensively used for the hospital construction.
SPDC Forced Primary School Children to Porter
(Names of Informants to be kept confidential)
8 August 2005, Aizawl:
On 15 July 2005, commander of Lailenpi army camp Sergeant Tin Soe from Burma Army Infantry Battalion 305 based in Matupi, southern Chin State, forced underage primary school children to carry army rations and supplies. U Hla Oo, Secretary of the Village PDC of Mala village reported the incident to Chin Human Rights Organization.
The army rations were on their way to Laienpi camp from Sabawngte army camp. Civilians from villages along the route were forced to carry the rations from one village to the next. But when the supplies reached the village of Mala, most villagers were out working in their farms and the supplies had to be left there overnight because there were no adult persons in the village to carry the loads on to the next village.
Arriving in the village the next day, Sergeant Tin Soe and his troops immediately summoned U Hla Oo, Secretary of the Village PDC and demanded explanations why the rations were still in the village. Sergeant Tin Soe punched him in the face and demanded that U Hla Oo arrange for 18 persons to carry the supply loads within one hour.
The Sergeant dismissed U Hla Oo’s explanation and pleas to have the supplies transported as soon as the villagers arrived back in the village from their farms. Unsatisfied, Sergeant Tin Soe slapped him in the face and said that he will find people to carry the loads himself. Searching for people, he found 10 primary children and 5 government servants and forced them to carry the supplies.
Half way through the journey, two of the youngest children became too exhausted to carry on any longer. Fortunately, they met with 5 Lailenpi villagers making their way back from Mizoram to buy household goods. The five villagers then had to substitute the 10 boys.
The ration loads carried by the ten boys included 10 tins of rice, 10 bottles of cooking oil, 10 viss (15 kgs) of fish paste and 5 viss of dried chili. They traveled a 12-mile distance before being substituted by the 5 villagers.
Army Officer Sells off 1000 Round Bamboos Forcibly Collected from Civilians for Personal Profit
5 July, 2005, Aizawl:
On 10 June, 2005, Company commander Captain Myo Nwe from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 289 stationed at Shinletwa Village of Paletwa Township, southern Chin State sold off more than 10,000 round bamboos he collected from 9 villages in the area to buyers in Sittwe (Ayekyap). All proceeds were kept for his personal benefit.
During the last week of May, Capt. Myo Nwe summoned a meeting of Village PDC Chairmen from the 9 villages at Shinletwa army camp where he ordered each village to bring him designated amount of round bamboos at the latest by June 5, 2005.
U Lai Maung, Chairman of the PDC for Salanpi village, whose community was affected by the Captain’s order complained, “Forcing us to cut the bamboos for his personal benefit seems to be meant only to deliberately afflict our community. He said the bamboos were for renovation of the army camp.”
The following is the quotas of round bamboos for each village to contribute:
Salaipi Village = 1,000, Ma U Village =1,500, Saiha Village = 1,800, Pamu Village = 2,000, Da Thwe Village = 1,500, Khung Ywa Village = 1,000, Shwe Letwa Village = 1,500, Mara Hla Village = 2,000 and Pa Thein Village = 1,500 round bamboos.
30 Villages Forced to Contribute Sand to Renovate Army Camp
8 July, 2005, Aizawl:
Company Commander Major Mhu Win, stationed at Tibual camp from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 268 (Battalion based in Falam Town) requisitioned sands from 30 villages in Falam Township to renovate an army camp at Tibual village. Beginning in the first week of June, 2005, each of the 30 villages was ordered to send in 10 tins of sand.
In his order, Major Mhu Win set the deadline for each village to bring in the sand at the end of July and warned that any village that didn’t meet the deadline would face severe penalty. As a result, some villages were compelled to gather sands from Tio river (A river dividing international boundary between India and Burma), a distance of three days travel by walking. Civilians from these villagers had to transport the sands on horseback. Villages whose communities were too far off from Tio river had to buy the sand for 1000 Kyats per tin from communities that are closer to the sandbank at Tio river.
In a similar incident, on May 5, 2005, Chin villagers were forced to contribute 1 tin of sand per household to construct a Buddhist pagoda at Sabawngte village.
The 30 villages whose communities were forced to contribute sands were;
(1)Tah Tlang, (2)Thing Hual, (3)Tikhuang tum, (4)Tlangkhua, (5)Aibuk, (6)Leilet, (7)Sing Ai, (8)Zawngte, (9)Thing Cang, (10)Phung Zung, (11)Khaw Lung, (12)Bawm Ba, (13)Tiah Dai, (14)Lung Tan, (15)Zan Mual, (16)Da te ti, (17) Hmawng kawn, (18)Khaw Thlir, (19)Phun te, (20)Sa ek, (21)Sial lam, (22)cawng hawih, (23)Khua mual, (24)Hmun luah, (25)cawh te, (26)Lian hna thar, (27)Lian hna hlun, (28)Hai heng, (29)Khuang Lung, (30)Lung Dar Village.
SPDC Forced School Children and Civilians to Labor at Government’s Tea Plantation
25 July, 2005, Aizawl:
U Sai Maung, Chairman of the Township Peace and Development Council for Tiddim Township issued an order requiring Tiddim residents to participate in compulsory labor to work at government’s tea plantation. Workers included ordinary civilians, students and government servants. They are expected to contribute labor for government’s tea plantation once every month beginning early this year.
Each governmental department in Tiddim administrative center was assigned one acre of tea plantation. Government employees from these departments are required to plant tea, pluck off weeds, gather twigs, and roof plantation beds. Supervised by local village PDC Chairmen, those failing to show up for work were fined 500 Kyats for each absence.
On paper, Light Infantry Battalion 268 based in the town was also expected to work at the plantation. However, the Battalion warded off responsibility by forcing civilians to work on their behalf. A civilian who was forced to burden off the army’s work testified to Chin Human Rights Organization.
The Township authorities gave orders to teachers working at schools in Tiddim to instruct their students to collect manures. According to the order, each student is required to bring in one Viss of manure (about 1 ½ Kgs) to the Township PDC office on a designated deadline each month.
The State Peace and Development Council arbitrarily designated Chin State as a tea plantation area in 2002. With the slogan of “Chin State Shall Become a State of Tea Abundance,” the military regime has been forcing local people to work in the project. The tea plantation in this area is located at two miles from Tiddim Town.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL BEING CONSTRUCTED WITH FORCED LABOR
20 May 2005
Aizawl: Residents of Hakha town, Chin State’s capital were forced to construct a new government high school, Basic Education High School No. 3, by Colonel Tin Hla, Chief of Tactical Command No.1, the highest ranking military officer stationed in Chin State. Local residents had to contribute free labor starting from February 2005, despite the fact that there is a 400 million Kyat allocated for the construction project.
Every household from all localities were compelled to carry construction materials such as sand, bricks and woods, with an outstanding order of a one thousand Kyat fine for households that couldn’t afford to participate in the forced labor.
An unnamed resident affected by the forced labor program explained, “Laborers were divided according to their skills and abilities: Those skilled in carpentry, for example, had to work as carpenters while all other unskilled workers were forced to transport sand, bricks and woods to the work site from different places.”
Local headman of Pyidawtha block U Kyi Han and one sergeant from Light Infantry Battalion 266 supervised the construction project.
The local resident complained of the work conditions: “We were forced to start the work from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and now only one building has been completed, with three more buildings left to be constructed. It is hard to know how many times we were going to be forced to work. My family were called to work for four times and paid 4000 Kyats to the authorities. Some people from other blocks were forced to work for more than ten times already because it depended on the demands of the work. Students from kindergarten to fifth class attend in the morning and students from fifth to tenth classes attend in the evening alternately because the construction is still ongoing.”
A local construction engineer by the name of Sui Kio was appointed for the construction of the school but till today he and laborers were not paid for their services properly by Colonel Tin Hla.
NEW MILITARY CAMPS: ANGUISH FOR THE PEOPLE
15 May 2005
Aizawl : The residents of Satu village, Matupi Township, Southern Chin state were forced to carry supplies/rations for the construction of a new military camp in Satu village.
“We seldom experienced this kind of forced labor in our village but since we heard about the new military camp coming to our village we experience such sort of labor everyday,” said a villager from Satu village.
The village headmen never informed Satu villagers for the duration of the labor or the quantity of rice to be provided or transport to the army. Furthermore, one person from every household have to carry supplies for a distance of 20 miles from Bawi Ring village to Satu village, our source reports.
“We, the residences of Satu village, were ordered to provide 38 tins of rice to the army with a promise to be excused from transporting the military ration. Our village provided the 38 tins of rice but the army failed in keeping their promise,” complained a villager of Satu.
Second warrant officer, Kyaw Sein, posted as Chief In-charge of Lailenpi village from Light Infantry Battalion-140 allegedly forced the Satu villagers to transport rations, being supplied from Matupi town.
“The supplies are collected from Hnawte village and passes through Dai Hnan village, Bawi Ring village and finally to Satu village. All the supplies/rations have been collected in Satu village but it is not known, when the construction of military stations will be initiated,” said a trader who is currently at the border area.
Meanwhile, the villagers of Lei Sin village are occasionally engaged in this forced labor of military supplies transportation and in the construction of the new military camps, our source reports.
Since 2003, besides the expansion of Light Infantry Battalions-140 and 204 stations in Matupi town, and Light Infantry Battalion-89 of Falam town, construction of various new military stations have been initiated in the villages along the Indo-Burma border.
SPDC USE PRISONERS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF HOSPITAL
23 May 2005
SPDC authority in Chin state capital have been using prisoners from two hard-labor camps from Haka township for construction of Civil hospital in Haka the capital of Chin state. About 100 hard labor prisoners from Khuathar block of Haka town and 120 prisoners from Zokhua hard-labor prisoner camp have been deploy by the SPDC in the construction since January 2005.
The prisoners have to work from 8 AM to 5 PM daily. Since the authority does not feed them well, some prisoners run away from the labor site and steal from the town residents. In April of 2005, a woman from Haka town was killed and looted her jewelry such as necklace, earring and rings. Even though the authority could not make any arrest on the culprit of the crime, the town people believes that the crime must be committed by the runaway hard-labor prisoners.
Reports said that construction of the 400 bed civil hospital is part of government project implemented by the ruling military junta called State Peace and Development Council. The project of the hospital building seems well funded by the government. However, Colonel Tin Hla, commander of Burmese army tactical one commander has demanded every family from Haka town to contribute 800/-Kyats for the construction.
SPDC FORCED 600 VILLAGERS TO ENGAGE IN ROAD CONSTRUCTION
8 June 2005
Aizawl: About 600 people from 20 villages from southern Chin state were forced to construct a motor road connecting Lungngo – Lotaw, Lungngo – Tingsi village. The forced labor is carried out accordance with the direct order from Colonel San Aung, commander of Burma army tactical II based at Matupi.
Lungngo and Lotaw is 20 miles in distance and Lungngo and Tingsi is about 19 miles.
The forced labor started during the first week of May, and is still continue on the day of this report. Forced laborers were strictly guarded by Captain Htun Myint Maung and his company from Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 140.
According to one of the villagers who witness the working condition report to CHRO that; “the working condition was miserable. They were not even allowed for a day off on Sunday to conduct worship service. As all of the forced laborers are Christians, they expect to get a day off on Sunday, but the Burmese army would not allow them”.
The army compels the forced laborers to complete at least 200 feet per day. Even though the army provided one bulldozer for the construction, it never was working because there was no diesel to run the machine.
The forced laborers have to bring their own food, tools and medicine at the work site.
CHRO source added “The forced laborers manage their own food and tools. Donations were collected from the government servants and the Christian pastors and mission workers, who were exempted from the road construction, in that way vegetable and food were bought with the donation.
“It is weird that the Burmese soldiers who guarded us have demanded food and vegetable from the laborers” said the villager.
Villages who are engage in construction of Lungngo and Lotaw are; Lungngo, Senpi, Balei, Voti, Kelong, Tuphei, Lawngdaw, Nabung, Ranti, Darcung, Khuaboi, Cangceh (Sancet), Suitawng, Daidin, Dinkhua villages while the road between Lungngo and Tingsi is constructed by Tingsi, Tilat, Longka, Theisi, Lungring villages.
CHIN CHRISTIANS FORCED TO SUPPLY CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS FOR NEW BUDDHIST MONASTERY
5 May 2005
Aizawl : Deputy Battalion Commander Major Hla Myint of Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 140 stationed at Sabawngte village, Matupi Township, Southern Chin State issued an order demanding every household in the village and surrounding areas to “contribute” one tin of sand for construction of a new Buddhist monastery, a local resident reported.
The monastery is set to be built inside the compound of army camp and a Buddhist monk has already arrived at the camp to occupy the monastery once completed. The order to demand sand from villagers came out as soon as the monk arrived at Sabawngte village, the villager said.
“As of now villagers are busy gathering sand from riverbanks and nearby streams to have one tin of sand ready for every household to give to the army. But for residents of Hlung Mang village, they have been asked to ‘donate’ 25 bags of cement since they are closest to Mizoram of India,” he explained.
Buddhist monasteries and shrines are increasing throughout State while the SPDC is prohibiting the construction of Christian Churches and unlawfully destroying Chins Christian crosses erected on different top of the mountains and hills. Moreover, the people of Chin state are still being forced to contribute money and labor for the construction of Buddhist monasteries and shrines.
FORCED LABOR INCREASES HARDSHIP FOR IMPOVERISHED VILLAGERS
Aizawl, 16 March 2005:
Seven villages in Matupi Township of Southern Chin State were involved in a forced labor to construct a road between Matupi-Answe-Madu. The forced labor order came from U Soe Nyuntt, Chairman of Matupi Township Peace and Development Council. The work began in the first week of January and civilians from Answe, Madu, Saton, Pantui, Lungpan, Lingtui, Rung and Rohtlang villages were involved in the unpaid labor.
Pu Palai (name changed), one of the forced laborers from Lungpan village said his community tremendously suffered as a result of the forced labor.
“Nine villages, including ours received the order for forced labor on December 15, 2004. Since December is the month of harvesting crops, we pleaded with the local SPDC Chairman to allow us to harvest our crops first. But he told us that it was beyond his power to alter the order and referred us to Lieutenant Colonel San Aung. Only after we gave 100,000 Kyats in bribe, did the Lt. Colonel agreed to harvest our crops and postponed the road construction to the first week of January 2005,” Pu Palai explained.
A budget of 8 million Kyats was sanctioned on paper for the road construction but it was never used. Instead, villagers in surrounding areas were forced to construct the road without pay.
Supervised by Deputy Commander of Infantry Battalion 305 based in Matupi, the work started on January 5, 2005 and lasted until January 26. Pu Palai said there were 59 people from his village tract alone, including four girls under the age of 18. Ten families were unable to send laborers and they were forced to pay money to cover some of the cost for foods and other things.
“We were divided into groups and some of the groups did not have enough food supplies during the work, which lasted more than three weeks. Each group had to dig one third of a mile long of land and everybody had to supply themselves with food and rations during the work,” Pu Palai explained.
LOCAL ARMY CHIEF ORDERS FORCED LABOR AND ILLEGAL TAX FROM CIVILIANS
Aizawl: 14 March 2005
Lieutenant Colonel San Aung, Chief of Tactical Command No. 2 based in Matupi town of southern Chin State ordered Matupi residents to “donate” 70 tins of gravel per household for building roads in the town.
In addition, to build a highway between Matupi and Madu, Lt. Colonel San Aung demanded 4500 Kyats from every household, a local resident told Chin Human Rights Organization.
The order to “donate” 70 tins of gravel did not exempt even widows, elderly and handicapped people. Since it is difficult to find enough rocks to make gravels, the entire town, about 800 households, is working day and night to meet their quotas.
HUNDREDS OF CIVILIANS PROVIDED “VOLUNTARY LABOR” TO CONSTRUCT ROAD
A massive forced labor was used to construct a 7-mile road between Congthia and Hmawng Tlang villages of Thantlang Township, northern Chin State beginning in mid January of 2005. An order released by the Township authorities in Thantlang compelled 250 civilians to engage in what the authorities stated was the provision of “voluntary labor for a self-support development project.”
A memo submitted by local authorities to Colonel Tin Hla, Chief of Tactical Command No. 1 for Chin State based in Hakha, indicated that 10 million Kyats was officially sanctioned for the road construction through the Public Work Department.
However, the money was never used for the purpose and civilians were forced to engage in “voluntary labor” for construction of the road.
One person per household from Hmawngtlang, Phai Khua, Letak(A), Letak(B), Leitak(C) and Aibur villages were ordered to participate in the work starting from the second week of January, 2005. Each person was assigned to dig 20 feet of land and 20 women were among 250 laborers. The women served as cooks for other laborers and foods and rations had to be supplied entirely by local churches.
EXTORTION INTENSIFIED AT INDIA-BURMA BORDER TRADE ROUTE
Aizawl: 12 April 2005
Burmese soldiers and police patrols in Chin State are routinely involved in extortion of money from cross-border traders, one cattle trader told Chin Human Rights Organization. On March 18, 2005, four policemen extorted 100,000 Kyats from a trader who was trying to sell 30 cows to Mizoram of India. The same policemen also collected 80,000 Kyats in illegal tax from another cattle trader for 11 cows. The victim was from Daidin village of Gangaw Township, Magwe Division.
On March 20, 2005, a platoon consisting of twelve Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 268 collected 400,000 Kyats in illegal tax from another trader shipping 90 cows to India.
One trader who recently had his money squeezed by the Burmese army on his way to India explained his situations.
“Even though a cattle trading is not profitable as before, there is no job at home and we have to continue this business under numerous difficulties hoping to gain a meager profit. Since the government asked too many taxes from us, sometimes we did not even gain Ks.50 000. If we calculate our daily wage, it ranges between Ks. 400-500 per day. This sum of money can only buy one bottle of cooking oil. It takes one and a half month for one round of business. We pay a cow from Ks. 100000 to Ks. 200000, as the price is so high now. We get around Rs. 8000 – 9000 per cow in India as the price of cow is not good. We have to report ourselves to a police station in order to buy a cow and we can only buy after obtaining their permission. We have to pay Ks. 1000 tax per head. We buy our cattle mostly from Tilin, Pale, Mait, Kyawtoo, and Saw which are situated in Gangaw Township, Magwe Division. When we shift cattle to Mizoram, we hire 4-5 workers who are paid Ks. 30,000 per person. If we meet soldiers or police on the way to Mizoram, we have to pay Ks. 1000-5000 per cow.”
Extortion of cross-border traders by Burmese soldiers has steadily intensified since 1995. On March 15, 2005, Colonel Tin Hla, Chief of Tactical Command No. 1 issued a decree criminalizing the selling of cattle to India. The penalty includes incarceration and time at hard labor camp.
SPDC UNLAWFULLY DESTROYED HOUSE OF LOCAL LEADER OF NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR DEMOCRACY PARTY
Aizawl 10 March 2005
Lieutenant Colonel San Aung, Chief of Tactical Command No. 2 based in Matupi town of southern Chin State unlawfully seized and destroyed the house of Pa Lian Thang and Daw Hlan Zing. Pa Lian Thang is the Assistant Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) for Matupi Township.
The local NLD leader, now joined in India by his family, fled his native town Matupi to escape arrest by military authorities in July of 2003. After Pa Lian Thang’s escape to India, his family was constantly harassed, interrogated and intimidated by Burmese soldiers. His family home was demolished by order of Lt. Colonel San Aung, leaving Pa Lian Thang’s wife and children homeless.
Pa Lian Thang’s wife testified to Chin Human Rights Organization that their demolished home and its compound had been confiscated by the army. According to her, their two-storied home was worth 8 million Kyats in current market rate. She said half of their home compound was taken for a military intelligence office and another half for a Buddhist monastery.
Pa Lian Thang and the entire local NLD leadership were sought for arrest by military intelligence for their active role in welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi in their town in April of 2003. More than a dozen NLD members fled to India and at least two people were arrested and sentenced for 11 years with hard labor.
CHIN CHRISTIANS FORCED TO CONTRIBUTE MONEY AND LABOR FOR CONSTRUCTION OF BUDDHIST MONASTERY
Aizawl: February 2, 2005
20 villages, most of whose populations are Christians from Shinletwa village tract of Paletwa Township, of Southern Chin State were forced to contribute money and labor for construction of Buddhist Monastery near Shinletwa army camp by the Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 354.
Lieutenant Thein Lwin, Shinletwa army camp commander of Burmese army LIB 354 forcibly collected 5,000 Kyats per household from 20 villages in the area according to the local man who prefers to remain anonimity in fear of retaliation from the Burmese army. The Lieutenant said that the money they have collected from Chin Christians villagers is going to be used to pay for the transportation cost of the cement from Paletwa town to Shinletwa village for construction of a Buddhist monastery near the army camp.
Every village headman from the area was ordered to collect the money and present it to Shinletwa Army Camp commander no later than January 15, 2005.
As the Burmese army camp is going to be vacated for the Monastery, villagers are forced to contribute their labor for relocation of the army camp. Starting from January 15, 2005 one person per every household must participate in relocation of the Army camp.
However, two village tracts, Pathiantlang and Para were demanded to contribute money instead of labor: 70,000/- Kyats for Pathiantlang village tract and 50,000/- Kyats for Para village tract respectively.
The local man explained “It is very unusual that Christian Cross, building and even graveyard are forcibly occupied and destroyed by the Burmese army whenever they wanted to construct their camp. But now, the Burmese army is relocating their camp for the Buddhist Monastery”.
CIVILIANS COMPELLED TO TAKE MILITIA TRAINING, CONSCRIPTION ORDER ISSUED
January 10, 2005
Residents of Leilet and Siallam villages near India-Burma border were compelled to take emergency militia training by Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 based in Falam town of northern Chin State. The one-week training commenced on January 3, 2005 and was conducted by Captain Thawng Lian and his platoon from LIB 268.
Aside from the militia training, Lieutenant Colonel Win Bo, Battalion Commander of LIB 268 had placed a demand on the headman of Leilet village requiring him to select 4 able young men from his village to serve as soldiers in the Burma army. The news of conscription had many young people worried that many high school students studying at Falam Town did not dare to go home to Leilet village for Christmas holidays.
“The Burmese (Army) said that Chin villagers must take the militia training in order to be able to defend ourselves when the “terrorist” come to the village,” explained a local man in the area. “In fact the Burmese (Army) are the real terrorist, they dictate every movement of innocent villagers, but what can we do? They have the gun and power,” he complained.
UNJUST ORDER AGAINST CHIN FARMERS
February 4, 2005
All village headmen from Paletwa Township in Southern Chin State were summoned for a meeting by the Township Forestry Department head U Thein Kyaw in December last week 2004. In the meeting, U Thein Kyaw told the villages’ headmen that no one is allowed to slash the forest for farming.
He coerced the villages’ headmen into signing a paper saying that they agreed not to slash the forest for farming. The agreement paper mentioned that those who broke the order must be properly fined.
“The order is totally unjust knowing that without slashing the farmland we can not grow anything. This is our ancestral land and we have been doing slash and burn cultivation system since time immemorial. Prohibiting slashing the farmland without providing us with any other alternative is totally unfair,” complained one village headmen to CHRO’s field monitor.
“We slashed our farmland anyway, and we are prepared to pay the price for it. We have collected 2,000/-Kyats each from every household, and with that money we are going to bribe the Burmese authority” he further explained.
Usually the farmland had to be slashed by January and burnt by March. However, due to the order, the farmers can barely start slashing their farmland in February and that will delay burning of the farm.
“If the rain comes early, we will not be able to burn our farmland and that will result in famine in the whole region,” said the village headman.
Last year, the Burmese authority issued the same order, not to slash the farmland, but we were allowed to slash the farmland after every household paid 500/-Kyats each to the authority.
In a similar incident, farmers from Matupi township of Southern Chins state were allowed to slash their farmland only after the farmers bribed more than 200,000/- Kyats to Burma Army Tactical 2 Commander, Colonel San Aung.
The farmland between Matupi and Phanai village were to be slashed for farming in 2005-2006. However, Colonel San Aung of Burma Army Tactical 2 Commander issued an order saying that no one is allowed to slash the farmland because the area was a designated land for the Burma army.
Thus, villagers collect 500/- Kyats each household and approached the Colonel to allow them slashing the farmland. The Colonel refused the bribe money. Then, the villagers collected 1,000/- Kyats more per every household and approached the Colonel a gain. Only then, Phanai villagers were allowed to slash their farmland.
“We are humiliated and badly treated by the Burmese (army). What a shame! We can’t even cultivate freely on our own ancestral land” complained the local man.
SPDC CONTINUES TO PRACTICE FORCED LABOR IN CHIN STATE
February 2, 2005
According to one local man whose name is withheld for security reason, the Burmese military government known as State Peace and Development Council SPDC is still using forced labor in Chin state.
In accordance with the order issued by Thantlang Township Police Chief on December 15, 2004, villagers from Hmawngtlang area were compelled to repair Hmawngtlang police camp. The work involved digging trenches and repairing a 2000-meter long fence.
About 400 villagers from Hmanwgtlang, Leitak (a), (b) and (c), Congthia, Phaikhua, Aibur had to pack their own food and tools to engage in forced labor for two days repairing the police camp.
“This is not the only time people are forced to construct and repair the police camp, it is a yearly routine” said the local man.
In another incident, Burma Army Tactical commander Colonel Tin Hla on December 6, 2004 issued an order forcing residents of 9 villages to repair a road connecting Tibual village and Rih Town. The order was implemented by Rih Township Administration Officer Mya Win.
About 350 people, including men, women and children and elderly, were compeledl to engage in the labor for about 1 week. Villages that participated in the forced labor are; Tibual, Satawm, Sialam, Thingcang, Saek, Phunte, Khuahlir, Rih khuathar, Rih khuahlun.
FORCED LABOR: CONSTRUCTION OF RIH HOSPITAL QUARTER
December 14, 2004
In accordance with the order issued by Colonel Tin Hla of Burma Army Chin State Tactical No. 1 Commander, 17 villages from Rih township were forced to engage in construction of Rih Hospital quarters from November 22 to December 10, 2004.
One person from every household has to pack his/her own food and tools for the job. The work involved digging the ground and producing bricks for construction of the buildings. One local man who participated in the forced labor informed CHRO that a Lieutenant from Burmese army was assigned to supervise the forced laborers. The Lieutenant was constantly yelling at the villagers throughout the course of their work.
“Most of the time we have to engage in forced labor. It never cease, we are just waiting for one order to another. We do not have time to work at our farms,” said the villager who prefers to remain anonymous.
The villages engage in forced labor are; Tibual, Satawm, Siallam, Thingcang, Saek, Phunte, Khuahlir, Rih khuathar, Rihkhuahlun, Cawnghoih, Lianhna(A), Lianhna (B), Haiheng, Cawhte, Hmunlawh and Ticirh.
Rih village, which is situated at India-Burma border trade route, was granted township headquarters status by the SPDC in 2002. Ever since Rih was granted that status, the surrounding villages were constantly forced to work at government project such as road construction, and other development infrastructure.
FORCED LABOR AT TEA PLANTATION FARM
January 13, 2005
An order issued by Lieutenant Colonel Myint Tun, commander of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 266 based at Rih, forced 150 people from Rih town to work as tea plantation farm from January 3 to 6, 2005.
The local man who participated at the forced labor told CHRO that the Burmese army has divided forced laborers into two groups. The first group starts their work from 7 AM to noon. And then, the second group continued the work from noon to 5 PM.
“As usual, we have to bring our own food and tools to work for the army. But this time, students were exempted from forced labor,” said the local man.
He said that farmers did not produce enough food to eat due to extensive forced labor and bad weather in the past harvest season, and has greatly affected their livelihood.
In Tiddim Township, township Peace and Development chairman U Sai Maung Lu and Burma army LIB 269 Battalion commander Colonel Kan Maw Oo have forced people from Luaibual block to work at tea plantation farm.
Everyone, including government employees and students, was compelled to work at the plantation.
Four years ago, the then North Western Command Commander Lt. Gen. Soe Win (now Prime Minister of SPDC) has proclaimed that the government (SPDC) will transform Chin state into tea plantation farm. Thus, tea plantation project was implemented with forced labor in every township of Chin state. So far, the project is a failure.
BULLET SPEAKS LAUDER THAN WORDS
Aizawl: September 9, 2004
The village headman of Ruava village from Rezua township in Chin state was terrify by unusual order he received from Major Khin Maung Cho, Company commander of Burma army LIB 274.
On August 10, the headman received a letter with G3 bullet from Major Khin Maung Cho saying that he must send 14 porters to Rezua army camp no later than 11 August. The order further threatened that there will be a consequence if he fails to obey the order.
Being terrified by the order that comes with a bullet, the headman and the village elders arrange 14 porters, accompanied by one of the village elders, and send them to Rezua army camp the next day.
The Major demanded 2 more porters on August 12. Thus, two porters and the headman himself went to the army camp as soon as they got the order. They all were kept at the army camp till 16 August. After a several days of waiting to serve as porter in the army camp, the Major told them that he does not want the porters any more since the trip was cancel and he will call them whenever he want.
Since Ruava villager is located near the Burmese army camp, they have been consistently forced to work such as repairing the army camp, and to serve as porters. At the time of this report, Burma army demanded 2000/-Kyats and 10 chickens from the village for unknown reason.
CIVILIAN COMPEL TO REPAIR ARMY CAMP
Aizawl: September 6, 2004
11 villages surrounding Sabawngte area were summoned to repair the army camp by the order of 2nd Lieutenant Htun Kyaw, Company commander in-charge at Sabawngte army camp, Burma army LIB 274. According to the order, every village must provide 1000 bamboo poles and a chicken without fail.
The villagers have no other choice but to obey the unfair order, and thus they pack their own food and tools to work as forced laborers for the army. It took three days (from August 24 to 26, 2004) each for every village to cut 1000 bamboo poles in the forest and transport it to the army camp.
The name of the 11 villages are; 1. Ngaphaipi, 2. Fartlang, 3. Khuapilu, 4. La-U, 5. Darling, 6. Ruamang, 7. Sapaw, 8. Tawnglalung, 9. Sabawngpi, 10. Sabawngte, 11. Hlungmang.
In another incident, 15 villages from Rezua township were forced to construct a new Burmese army camp for Company base at Rezua town. The (oral) order issued by Major Khin Maung Cho of Burma army LIB 274 on August 10, 2004 demanded that one person per household from Rezua and surrounding 15 villages must contribute their labor to construct a newly extended army company base.
According to Pu Khua Do, who participated at the forced labor, his village is 12 miles away from the army camp. They brought 200 bamboo poles and 10 chickens for the army when they come to work as forced laborers. They work at the army camp from 16 to 19 August for four days digging trench, building barrack and sharpening bamboo. The army did not provide tools, food or any thing. The villagers bring their own food and tools to while working for the army.
Pu Khua Do said that another villagers from Lekhan, which is 7 miles away from Rezua were also working at the time. The army demanded at least 50 people from Lekhan village but only 30 people could show up because Lekhan village is too small and could not manage to contribute 50 people to work at the army camp. There are several woman among the forced laborers said Pu Khua Do.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FORCED AS PORTER
Aizawl: August 26, 2004
On July 24, 2004, 21 high school students including several girls from Sabawngpi High School were forced to serve as porters by Captain Myo Min Naing of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 274
A group of Burma army led by Captain Myo Min Naing of Burma army LIB 274 was preparing to station at Sabawngte camp on July 24, 2004. The troops requested 70 porters to carry their ration and ammunitions. They just drag whoever they find in the village to serve as porter. Among the porters were 21 high school students including several girls.
The students had to carry army ration and ammunition from Sabawngpi village to Sabawngte army camp. Since the load they carried were too heavy and they have to walk overnight, the students were too exhaust and some of them could not make their class for the following week.
On the previous day on July 23, 67 villagers from Lailenpi village were forced to carry the army ration and ammunition from Lailenpi village to Sabawngpi village by the same Burmese troop.
SUPPLY WOOD OR FACE SEVERE PUNISHMENT
Aizawl: August 25, 2004
17 villages in Matupi township from Southern Chin state were ordered to supply 200 cubic wood-plank per village to build teachers quarter at Leisen government middle school. The order was issued by Leisen village middle school headmaster U Cang Toi in the month of April with the approval made by Colonel San Aung of Burma army No. 2 tactical commander based in Matupi town of Chin state.
The order mentioned that every village must submit their quota to Leisen middle school before the end of July and those who fail to comply the order will face severe punishment from the authority. Thus, villagers have hired laborers to saw the wood. Since many villages have no car or cart road, the villagers have to carry the wood on their shoulders from their respective villages to Leisen middle school which is several miles away.
When Colonel San Aung visited Leisen village, he told the villagers that the government will supply nails and zinc for the roof of the school and the rest must be contributed by the surrounding villages.
The villagers are routinely summoned to work at the farm of Leisen government middle school headmaster. Since the teachers, like all other government servants, did not get sufficient salary from the government, they have to find any possible means for their survival.
There are 7 teachers and more than 100 students at Leisen government middle school. The following villages are covered by Leisen government middle school;
1. Leisen, 2. Valangte, 3. Koela, 4. Vangkai, 5. Cangtak, 6. Thiboei, 7. Leiring, 8. Bunghung, 9. Khobal, 10. Thangping, 11. Anthaw, 12. Luivang, 13. Boiring, 14. Daihnan, 15. Khohung, 16. Vamaw, 17. Lalui.
FORCED LABOR AT INDO-BURMA BORDER TRADE ROUTE
August 24, 2004
Ever since Rih, a small town at India-Burma border trade route, was granted township headquarters status a year a go, the surrounding villagers have been endlessly forced to contribute their labor to implement various government projects by the authority of the ruling Burmese military regime known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
Pu M…….(name withheld for security reason) one of the village council members from Khawthlir village complains that 15 surrounding villages have been forced to engage with construction of road and other infrastructure such as hospital, school etc. from mid 2003 to August 2004 accordance with the order issued by U Mya Win, the newly established Rih town administrator in northern Chin state.
Whenever the authority asked for forced labor, one person per household have to pack his/her own food and tools to work as forced laborer.
“Even though we heard that the government has sanction about 20 millions Kyats for construction of this new town project, the villagers never get paid for what they have done” said one of the villages council members from Khawthlir village.
The most recent forced labor lasted more than a week starting from July 12, 2004 to July 18, 2004 including Sunday. The order was issued by Major Maung Myint of Light Infantry Battalion 269. One person per house hold from 15 villages has to contribute their labor to repair India-Burma border trade route between the two villages Haimual and Lentlang. The villagers who are engage in forced labor were not even allowed to go to Church on Sunday July 18.
The 15 villages those who are constantly engage in forced labors are;
Rih Khuathar, Rih Khuahlun, Tio, Khawthlir, Phunte, Thingcang, Saek, Sianlam, Cawnghawih, Khuamual, Hmunluah, Cawhte, Lianhna thar, Lianhna hlun, Haiheng.
In another incident at Tiddim township in northern Chin state, Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 267 forced villagers along the road from Tiddim to India border including Laitui village, which consist more than 500 household were forced to work in road repair for more than a month. One person per household have to bring his/her own food and tools to work as forced laborer.
Those who fail to complete their quota have to pay 4,800 kyats to the authority.
Pu M further told CHRO that whenever a column of Burmese army is traveling around the villages along Indo-Burma border trade route, they never bring their own ration and villagers must supply them with whatever they demanded. The Burmese soldiers take whatever they want from the villagers. They didn’t spare chickens, pigs or vegetables from the farm and they drag villagers as porters whenever they want.
Border trade agreement was signed by the two trade ministers of Burma and India in 1995.
SPDC PRACTICE WIDESPREAD FORCED LABOR IN BORDER TOWNS
August 5, 2004
The newly established border town Rih residence has been forced to construct streets in the town accordance with the order issued by Colonel Tin Hla, commander of the first tactical command of Burma army in Chin state on July 3, 2004. The order was implemented by township administrator U Mya Win office.
The authority ordered residences of Rih town to take responsibility for laying concretes in the town’s major streets. According to local source, every household have to complete their quota, which is to lay concrete on the street 10 foot wide and 6 foot long, before August 10, 2004.
“It is a grueling job for the town residents” said one of the village council members from nearby village Khawthlir. At the first step, villagers have to carry stones from the nearby stream to lay on the bottom of the street. After that, they have to lay gravel on it and then pour sands over and at the final stage lay the concrete.
It is likely that the town residents will not be able to finish their respective quota before the deadline as most of them have only completed the first step by the time of this report.
Similarly, residents of Teddim town in northern Chin state are compel to engage in extension of the town street and laying concrete since May 2, 2004. U Sai Maung Luu, chairman of Township Peace and Development Council of Teddim town has ordered the town residents that every home owner must complete their quota to repair the street as the standard set by the authority before the end of August.
The order mentioned that anyone who fails to comply will be effectively punished.
As the civilian have to work as forced laborer most of the time, they have no time to work for themselves and it has greatly effect their survivals especially the poor and farmers.
VILLAGERS FORCED AS PORTER
August 5, 2004
Major Win Maung, company commander of Darkhai camp from Burma army Light Infantry Battalion 269 based in Tonzang township northern Chin state has constantly ordered villagers from Tonzang township to carry army supply from Rih army camp to Darkhai camp which is 30 miles away.
Villagers are routinely ordered to carry army supply including ration, arms and ammunition for the whole company. Every village had to contribute 15 horses and 10 persons to serve as porter for every month since the beginning of this year.
CHRISTIAN PASTORS FORCED TO TAKE PART AT BUDDHIST WATER FESTIVAL
Aizawl: June 21, 2004
According to Rev. C……(name withheld for security reason) of Matupi Baptist Association, Colonel San Aung, Commander of Burmese army Tactical no.(2) Chin state, has ordered several Chin Christian pastors from Matupi town in Southern Chin state to participate at an opening ceremony of Buddhist water festival on April 12, 2004.
At lease 15 Chin Christian pastors, most of them are reverend, were forced to take part in the ceremony wearing their Christian religious robe. They were seated with the Buddhist monk at the front raw of the stage where the ceremony was held.
CHRO source said that the ceremony was recorded by Mya-Waddi television station to propagate that Burmese Buddhists are in harmony with Chin Christian leaders. Mya-Waddi television station is the Burmese army propaganda television station.
Chin Christians from the town were forced to construct marquee at the middle of the town to conduct the Buddhist water festival. Besides, every household is compel to contribute 1000/-kyat for the festival.
Young girls are compel to perform cultural dance at the ceremony and one person per household must attend the ceremony.
Rev. C….. further mentioned that it is totally unjust as most of the town residence are Chin Christians and there are only about a dozen Buddhist who are Burmans coming to the town as government servants.
OBEY THE ORDER OR GO TO JAIL
Three Chin Christian Pastors Detained One Night For Defying Spdc Order
Aizawl: June 4, 2004
Three Chin Christian pastors in Matupi town were detained by the SPDC authority for a night on April 16, 2004 for failing to obey the order, issued by Colonel Hla Swe of Burmese Army Tactical Command No. 2 of Chin state, to construct the road between Matupi town and Duma village.
The three pastors are Rev. Thuan Ting of Christian Reform Church at Longvan block of Matupi town, Rev. Kui Dim of Matupi Baptist Church at Ngala block, and Captain Dup Ding of Salvation Army church at Longvan block.
The three pastors were arrested by Captain Aung Myint Tun of Matupi police station and detained them for a night at the police station lockup. On the next day, the three pastors were brought to Colonel Hla Swe.
The Colonel ordered the three pastors to get dress with their respective religious robe and meet him again with their uniform. When the pastors come back with their uniform, the Colonel told them to choose whether they wanted to go to jail or engage in road construction. The Colonel warned them that he will not tolerate if they defy his order in the future.
Construction of the road between Matupi town and Duma village was started with forced labor in March 2004. All the town residence and surrounding villages, including government servants, are compels to contribute one person per household to participate in the forced labor. Widows are exempted from the labor if they can pay 4,000/-kyats. 8,000/- to 10,000/- kyat fine was imposed on every family those who are not widow and fail to participate in the road construction.
SPDC OPEN 2 NEW CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN CHIN STATE
Champhai: May 6, 2004
CHRO source reported that the Burmese military junta State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has expanded two new concentration camp at Rih town and Lentlang village at India-Burma border trade route in March 2004.
There are about 30 prisoners who are engage in construction of civil hospital at Rih town and another concentration camp at Lentlang village have about 50 prisoner who are engage in construction of road between Tiddim town and Rih town in India-Burma border.
Source said that most of the prisoners are from Kalaymyo prison. They are strictly guarded by both police and Burmese army. Villagers and civilians are not allowed to contact with the prisoners.
The SPDC made two other concentration camps in Chin state at Matupi town and Tlangzar village of Falam township in 1997.
VILLAGE HEADMAN AND IT’S COUNCIL MENBER ARRESTED FOR FAILING TO REPAIR BORDER TRADE ROAD
Champhai: June 4, 2004
“Village headman and it’s village council members of Kaptel village from Tiddim township, northern Chin state were arrested by the local authority for failing to repair India-Burma border trade road between Haimual village and Tiddim town near India-Burma border” said the local villager who cross the border to India side.
The local villager inform CHRO field monitor that the headman of Kaptel village Pu Khai Bawk and village council member Pu Jacob were arrested and detained at Kaptel police lockup. They were arrested for failing to repair their imposed quota which the authority ordered them to repair in the beginning of May.
About 30 villages from the border area were compels to repair India-Burma border trade road since the last week of March this year. However, as most of Kaptel villagers have to cross Indian side of the border to find any job available to support themselves, they have no time to work at road repair to fulfill their quota. Even though the village headman made petition in advanced to the authority about their situation, the authority ignored his petition.
Kaptel villagers are now trying to approach the local authority to release their headman and the village council member.
In March 2004, village headmen and village council members of Phanai and Lungtum villages from Matupi township were arrested and detained for failing to repair Midat-Matupi road.
45 VILLAGERS FROM REZUA TOWNSHIP ENGAGE IN FORCED LABOR CONSTRUCTION OF KANGAW-MATUPI ROAD
Aizawl: June 21, 2004
30 persons per villages from 45 villages in Rezua tonship were forced to construct Kangaw-Matupi road since March 2004 and the forced labor is continue till this report date. U MW (name withheld for security reason) of Rezua town reported to CHRO field monitor.
Major Kyaw Sein Win of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 50 based in Kangaw, Sagaing Division issued the order that construction of the road must be completed before the end of June. Major Kyaw Sein Win appointed Captain Win Hlaing as in-charge and supervisor of the road construction.
The SPDC does not provide any thing for construction of the road and the villagers have to bring their own ration and necessary tolls to the work site.
Three villages Lungrang, Sawthing and Resa were fined 80,000/- Kyats each by Captain Win Hlaing that their job performance is not satisfactory.
VILLAGERS FORCED TO WORK AT ARMY CAMP
Aizawl: April 27, 2004
Sergeant Major Maung Myint of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 55 at Sinletwa army camp had ordered Sinletwa and surrounding 4 village tracks to repair the fence of the camp starting from April 10, 2004. 12 persons per village track have to go to the army camp to repair the fence of Sinletwa army camp.
The villagers have to bring their own ration and tools to work at the camp for seven days. The forced laborers start their daily work at 5 AM in the morning. They were allowed to take their breakfast at 12 PM noon and continue to work till dark. Then they have to cook their supper after dark.
FORCED LABOR IN THANTLANG TOWN
March 22, 2004
CHRO received a report that starting from the first week of March, Thantlang town resident in northern Chin state are forced to construct the sidewalks for the town’s main street.
Thantlang Township Peace and Development Council Chairman U Luu Tin ordered the town residents to finish the sidewalk of the main street before the end of March 2004. According to the order, any household that does not complete their quota before the end of March will be punished by the authority. Additionally, the residents are to face punishment if their work does not meet the standard set by the township landscaping office.
The authority does not provide any necessary material to construct the sidewalks and the local residents have to purchase brick, stone and cements etc out of their own pocket. Thus, some residents have to spend as much as 100,000/- Kyats to 200,000/-Kyat, in addition to their labor, to construct the sidewalks.
FORCED LABOR IN MATUPI TOWNSHIP
March 25, 2004
Over two hundred villagers are being forced to work at road construction between Sabawngte army camp and Darling village. Major Thant Zin Oo, deputy battalion commander of Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268, ordered civilians to repair the road connecting Sabawngte army camp and Darling village in central Chin state. The forced labor started on March 8, 2004 and continued till the day this report is made.
The villages that are engaged in the forced labor are; 40 people from Sabawngpi village, 19 people from Malang village, 15 people from Lungcawi village, 30 people from La-Oo village, 57 people from Darling village, 43 people from Sabawngte village, and 10 people from Hlungmang village. There are 27 women among over two hundred forced laborers.
The villagers have to bring their own tools and food to the work site.
The Major ordered the villagers to complete the works before the end of March. However, according to CHRO source, it is likely that the work will not be completed before the end of March as the road between Sabawngte army camp and Darling village is 37 miles in distance and only about half of the works have been completed on the day (March last week) of this report.
This road was first constructed in the year 2000 with forced labor to connect Rezua, Sabawngte and Darling.
11 VILLAGES FORCED TO WORK AT THE ARMY TEA-PLANTATION FARM
According to information received from the local villager, eleven villages in southern Chin state near India-Burma border are being forced to work in the army tea-plantation farm. The order was issue by Major Thant Zin Oo, deputy battalion commander of Burma army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 on January 23, 2004. The order mentioned that any village that fails to obey the order will face the consequence.
No one dare to defy the order and the forced labor work started from the second week of February 2004.
The affected eleven villages who are; Ngaphaipi, Fartlang, Khuapilu, Lauo, Darling, Ruanmang, Sapaw, Tonglalung, Sabawngpi and Sabawngte. Every village has to provide 6 people per week to work at the tea plantation farm owned by the army. The villagers, except for villagers form the forced labor site, have to travel a week-long journey to Sabawngte to work at the farm. They have to bring all the necessary tools and food to the work site.
The forced laborers have to water the tea-plantation farm by carrying water from the stream which is about half a mile away from the plantation farm. Since the Major did not mention the duration of the works in his order, no one knows how long the forced labor is going to take place. It is likely that the forced labor will take place till the end of summer.
Starting from the year 2000, the SPDC started tea-plantation farm in Chin state by using excessive forced labor.
THE SPDC SOLDIERS COLLECT ILLEGAL TAX FROM CHIN VILLAGERS
February 15, 2004
The Chin Human Rights Organization received a report that the SPDC soldiers have illegally collected cattle tax from villagers in southern Chin state.
On January 31, 2004 Pu He Thang of Tinam village in Matupi township was accused of trying to sell three pigs to India without permission and badly beaten up by 2nd Lieutenant Win Sein from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 and commander of Lailenpi army camp. Besides, the Lieutenant had extorted 6,000/-kyats from Pu He Thang charging 2,000/-Kyats per pig of the three pigs he was to sell to India.
The victim explained that because of poverty and economic hardship the villagers have to sell whatever they have to India in order to survive. Pu He Thang was on his way to sell the three pigs when he was intercepted by the Burmese soldiers near Lailenpi village.
On January 28, 2004, 2nd Lieutenant Win Sein and his troop also extorted 2,2500/-Kyats from U Maung Shwe and Daw Ni Sung. U Maung Shwe and Daw Ni Sung were on their way to sell some pigs and goats when they were intercepted by 2nd Lieutenant Win Sein and his troop. When the Lieutenant and his troops threatened to beat them up, the two villagers paid to the soldiers two goats and 2,2500/-kyats at the rate of 2,500/-Kyat per pigs for five pigs.
BURMESE SOLDIERS ON EXTORTION RAMPAGE
March 25, 2003
According to Laise (name changed for security reason) of Satu village near India-Burma border, Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 Lailenpi army camp in charge Lt. Tin Soe and his troop extorted money and domestic animal from the local villagers who were on their way to sell their cattle to Mizoram state of India. In most of the following incident, the Burmese soldiers threatened to beaten up and seize all their cattle if they fail to pay.
On March 4, 2004, Lt. Tin Soe and his troop extorted 6,000/-kyats and two chickens from Vua Chawng and Bi Khe of Aru village. The incident occurred when the two villagers were on their way to sell chicken and pigs to Mizoram state of India.
On March 9, 2004, 20,000/-Kyats was extorted from Lay Maung and Laise by Lt. Tin Soe and his troops by threatening them that 7 buffalos from them will be seized if they refuse to pay the money.
On March 5, 2004, Lt. Tin Soe and his troops extorted 5,000/- Kyats from Cherry May and Zordan from Lailente village.
On March 1, 2004, 5,000/- Kyats was extorted from Khai Lawng of Ruanvan village by Lt. Tin Soe and his troop.
In another incident on February 27, 2004 Lt. Tin Soe and his troop extorted 15,000/- Kyats from a group of eight Thongbu villagers of Matupi Township.
OVER 200 HOUSEHOLD FORCED TO WORK IN ROAD CONSTRUCTION
Saiha: Over 200 households in Rezua town from southern Chin state were forced to work in road construction by the State Peace and Development Council SPDC authority. In the month of November, the authority ordered residences of Rezua town to take responsibility for laying concretes in the town’s major roads. However, as the town residences were busy working at their farm as it was harvesting season, they could not start the road construction in November. Thus, the SPDC ordered over 200 households to finish construction of the road before Christmas. The SPDC issued an order that anyone those who fail to construct their quota in construction of road before the deadline will be severely punished.
The forced laborers have to manage for all the necessary tools and food as the SPDC provide them only cements.
The SPDC granted Rezua village to town status in the year 2002 and residence of Rezua were forced to engage as forced laborers in construction of most of the town’s infrastructures such as school, hospital etc.[Source: Khawnutum News]
VILLAGERS FORCED TO WORK IN RIH AREA
Colonel Tin Hla, commander of tactical one in Chin state from the Burma army visited Rih area (India-Burma border) on December 8, 2003 to inspect the progress of India-Burma border trade route which is schedule to be opened soon. The Colonel issue an order before he leaves that every household in the area should send a person per day to construct a hall to celebrate the opening ceremony of India-Burma border trade route.
The army told the villagers that; as there will be many dignitary people along with foreigners coming to the opening ceremony, they wants the construction of the hall to be elegant.
VILLAGERS FORCED AS PORTER
A local resident from Matupi report to Chin Human Rights Organization that Major Thant Yin Oo and his troop from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 266, Sabawngte camp, traveled to Sabawngpi village on January 5, 2004. The Major and his troops forced 14 villagers from Sabawngpi to serve as porters. Some women and under age school children include among the porters.
On their way back from Sabawngte village on January 17, 2004, Major Thant Yin Oo and his troop stole vegetables from the farm along with four chickens from Pu Vel Lei of Sabawngte village. When the villagers complained the stealing of vegetables and chickens to the Major, the Burmese Major told them that they didn’t stole but they just took necessary food from the people.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN LAILENPI AREA AS REPORTED BY MARA PEOPLE PARTY
1. According to the order issued by Captain Aung Naing Oo of Sabawngte army camp on February 16, 2004, three villages Phaphe, Hloma and Meisakotlah are forced to repair the fence of Sabawnte army camp.
2. On February 9, 2004, Sergeant Kyaw Htun of Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (55) has badly beaten up Pu Kawng Rim from Lailenpi village and robbed 800,000 Kyats from him. The incident occurred at Sau-U village, Paletwa township of southern Chin state.
3. On February 15, 2004 Captain Sein Win of Burmese army, Lailenpi army camp commander, seized two goats, a pig and 6,000 Kyats from Maung Maung and his friends of Aru villagers.
PRISONERS WERE ENGAGED IN A HARD LABOR IN INDO-BURMA BORDER ROAD CONSTRUCTION
Khonumthung news Group
Aizawl: 5 August 2005
The Indo-Burma trade road no.II connecting Tedim and Rih town in northern Chin state has been under the construction of about fifty detainees in the Tedim Zebet (concentration camp) by the order of the SPDC.
The Tedim – Rih road of about thirty miles long has been constructed, with the aim of its completion by next year, exploiting the Zebet detainees’ everyday while commandeering the vehicles of the traders to transport the necessary materials in the construction. A man from New Rih town said, “Now, they have completed an asphalt road of about three miles from Tedim and had laid stones along the road till the Mang Chawng Bridge in Run River.”
The man continues, “This area is an accident prone area, where traders and civilians often died in a road accident. The improvement of the road is very much welcome, and the authority promise to complete the road by next year. Will it be completed as being targeted?”
The road in this region is often severely damaged in monsoon, on 2nd May a good carrier slide down the road and killed one Kam Mung (32), a health worker in Health Care Centre of Laitui village. This is the road where more traders and civilians die of road accident.
The detainees in Tedim Zebet are made to work in the road construction from 5:00 am (BST) to 6:00 pm everyday; they were made to collect rocks and lay it on the road. Due to the severity and inhuman working condition, about three to four prisoners reportedly escape every week. However the unfortunate recaptured escapee prison term is extended with another year.
TWO CIVILIANS ON FULL TIME DUTY FOR THE BECKON CALL OF THE SPDC
Khonumthung News Group
Aizawl: 23 June 2005
The military authority posted in Vuangtu Camp, Thantlang Township of Northern Chin State makes two civilians to be on duty as a beckon call workers to do all the necessary work in the camp regularly in a rotatory basis.
A man from Vuangtu village told our reporter that the Commanding Officer of LIB – 268, Captain Thawnghlei, posted in Vuangtu keeps two civilians, regularly, to fetch water, mopping the camp, repair the bunkers and as a messenger to the surrounding villages. On emergency the civilians were made to be on duty for twenty-four hours a day or till 6:00 A.M. in the morning.
The other villagers often have to help out the men on duty when they are too busy and are not in the position to fulfill all the ordered works. The civilians on duty on Sunday missed the Church service and were made to work as another day of the week.
The village chief was ordered by the military authority to send two civilians every day. A block of wood, as a sign of the household chance for duty, was prepared and in the household where the wooden block was placed is an indicator of the chance for duty to the army camp with its nearest neighbor, reports the man from Vuangtu.
The man said, “In time of sickness, we hired another person to be on duty in lieu of the household by paying wages of 700/- or 800/- Kyats.” Meanwhile, the army in Lailenpi and Sabawngte too reportedly forced the people to collect bamboos for repairing the army’s camp.
The army posted in the border area of Chin state reportedly forced the people to work everyday in Rihkhuadar, Falam Township; Lungler and Vunagtu in Thantlang Township; Sabawngte and Lailenpi in Matupi Township and Chinletwa in Paletwa Township.