Rhododendron Publication – Volume VII.No.I. January-February 2004

Volume VII.No.I. January-February 2004

Rhododendron News

Volume VII. No. I. January-February 2004






Human Rights


Over 200 Household Forced to Work in Road Construction

Villagers Forced to Work In Rih Area

Villagers Forced as Porters

Burmese Army Robed Chin Farmers

Burmese Army Extort Money from Villagers

Extortion of Money by Burmese Police at Sentung Village

Human Rights Violations in Lailenpi Area as Reported By Mara People Party

The Chins In Washington DC Protest Against Burmese Military Junta





Chin Asylum Seeker died During Police Operation



Scholar Section


Human Rights Violations And The Denial Of Minority Rights In Burma



Human Rights vs. Traditional Burmese Political Values

Human Rights and Self-determination

Human Rights, Religion and Nation Building

Denial of Religious and Cultural Rights under Ne Win’s Dictatorship

Religious Persecution under Current Military Junta (A Case of the Chin Christians)




Over 200 Household Forced to Work in Road Construction




December 2003


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.




Burmese Army Robed Chin Farmer



A platoon of Burmese army led by a Lieutenant (name unknown) from the Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 579 based in Kyawk-Daw has seized two buffalos from Pu Tui Hung, 25 years old Chin farmer from Tinlawng village of Matupi township in southern Chin state on December 8, 2003.




The incident occurred when Pu Tui Hung was on his way to sell the buffalos at Paletwa to cover his ailing father’s medical bills. On his way to Paletwas, Pu Tui Hung and the Platoon has met between Hemapi and Hemate villages. As soon as they met, the Burmese army seized the buffalos and arrested the owner. The army then, demanded Pu Tui Hung 100,000/- Kyats for his release and for the two buffalos. The army threatened the victim that if he fails to pay 100,000/- Kyats, they will detain him in Sinletwas army camp for a long time and he will never get back his buffalos.




Pu Tui Hung beg the army to take 60,000/- Kyats, that is all the money he has, and release him with his buffalos as he was on his way to sell the buffalos to cover his ailing father’s medical bill. The army took 60,000/- Kyats from Pu Tui Hung and released him with his two buffalos.




Burmese Army Extort Money from Villagers



According to a Chin farmer named Ngo Bi from Satu village of Matupi township, Sergeant Tin Soe and his troops from Light Infantry Battalion LIB 268 of Lailenpi camp were posted by the order of camp commander Aung Naing Oo to guard the road between India and Burma to collect money from cross border traders.




On January 16, 2004 Sergeant Tin Soe and his troop seized a cow and four pigs from Ngo Bi and his friend Than Set. The Burmese soldiers threatened Mr. Ngo Bi and his friend that unless they give 25,000 Kyat, they will not get back their cattle. Thus, Mr. Ngo Bi and his friend Than Set had given 25,000 Kyats to the army.




In the other incident at Lailente village on 15 January 2004, the Burmese soldiers extorted 11,000 Kyats from the two girls Cherry May Pan and Thein Sang.




Extortion of Money by Burmese Police at Sentung Village



Dua Chung, a Chin cross border trader from Sentung village report to CHRO that he and his friend has purchased 400,000 Kyats worth knitting wools and yarn to sell in Burma. On their way back from India, Mr. Dua Chung and his friend have met with Police chief Myat Ko Ko of Thantlang police station and eight members of his troops between Sentung and Fanthen village on December 29, 2003.




The police immediately arrested Mr. Dua Chung and his friend with their goods along with two horses that carry their belonging and detained them at the house of Sentung village Peace and Development chairman house. The police threatened them that since the goods are from India, it is illegal and they could face longterm jail term for smuggling foreign goods into the country. Then the police told them that they release them only if they give 50,000 kyats.




Thus, Mr. Dua Chung and his friend borrow the money from Sentung village headman and gave it to the Police.







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.






The Chins In Washington DC Protest Against Burmese Military Junta

Chinland Guardian


February 16, 2004


Washington DC: The Chin people from Burma in Washington DC area stage demonstration against the Burmese ruling military junta State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) here in Washington DC today. The demonstration took place in front of the SPDC’s ambassador residence at about 2 PM.


“We come here to condemn and protest against this illegitimate military regime’s inhuman policy of ethnic cleansing, rampant human rights violations and religious persecutions against ethnic nationalities in Burma, especially in our own homeland Chin sate” said Pu Tial Hu, chairman of Chin Freedom Coalition who organized the demonstration.


The demonstration is prompted by the SPDC disapproval of Chin National Day celebration in Chin state that marks 56th anniversary on February 20, 2004.


About 50 people come to the demonstration some wearing Chin traditional dress to show their distinct ethnic identity.


Some placards read such as “Stop Ethnic Cleansing!”, “Stop Religious Persecutions”, “We Want To Celebrate Our National Day as It is” etc.


Even though the Chin people around the world have celebrated February 20 as their national day, the ruling military regime in Burma did not allow the Chin people to celebrate their national day as it is in their own homeland.


The birth of Chin National Day date back to 1948 February 20 the day more than 5,000 representatives from allover Chinland attended a conference to determine their future administration system in their capital town of Falam. The conference abolished feudalism and give birth of democratic system among the Chin people. The event was presided by the newly independent union of Burma’s first president Sao Shwe Thike and February 20 is recognized as Chin national day, official holiday in Union of Burma during the sort live democracy rule from 1948 to 1962.


In 1962 the Burmese military led by General Ne Win stage coup, abolished 1948 constitution and ruled the country in the name of Revolutionary Council till 1974. In 1974 when General Ne Win adopted the new constitution to legalize the Burmese Socialist Program Party, the Chins were granted state hood on January 3, 1974.


Since then, the successive Burmese regimes BSPP, SLORC and SPDC try to replace Chin National Day with Chin State Day.


“In Chin state, the authority never allow the Chin people to celebrate Chin National Day, they always substitute our national day with state day, every body knows that it is not fair but no body dare to speaks up” said Aa Ciang, a Chin woman in her 20s who come to the US as refugee.


Representative of the Chin National Front in the United States said; “Substitution of our national day with state day is totally unfair. It is discrimination against our people. In other words the Burmese military junta is trying to eliminate the existence of our people, and you can call it as parts of the SPDC’s systematic ethnic cleansing”.


Pu Dawng Khan Khup of Chin Freedom Coalition based in the United States said that; “If the SPDC or anybody wants to celebrate Chin state day, they are welcome to do so on January 3, but not on February 20. They can’t replace Chin National day with Chin state day. They have very different meanings”.


“During parliamentary democracy rule in Burma, February 20 is recognized the Union government as Chin National Day and Prime Minister U Nu or the president never fail to send letter of congratulations to the Chin people on this auspicious day” said Pu Lian Uk, member of parliament elect from Haka the capital of Chin state during 1990 general election in Burma.


Pu Lian Uk, independent MP elect who never took office is exile in the United States and now living in Washington DC. Two other Chin PM elect from the Chin National League for Democracy and the Zomi National Congress are also in Political exile. While some Chin MP elect served long-term jail sentence by the SPDC, at least four Chin nationalist parties that compete and won some seats in the 1990 elections are declared as illegal organization by the ruling Burmese military junta.


Apart from political suppression, the Chins are not allowed to learn their own language after grade 2, and they are persecuted for their Christian faiths. Crosses, symbol of Christian faith, planted in all major town in Chin state have been destroyed by the Burmese military regime and replaced with Buddhist pagodas.


According to Chin Human Rights Organization, the Chin people in Burma are suffering rampant human rights violations committed by the Burmese military junta and there are about 50,000 Chin refugees living in Mizoram state of India.






A Chin Asylum Seeker died During Police Operation



Chin Refugee Centre


Feb. 17, 2004, Kuala Lumpur


Mr. Khai Tin Mang (age 32 ) from Chin State, Myanmar who fled Myanmar in fear of military arrest and registered himself as an asylum seeker in UNHCR liaison Office here was knocked down by a car on 16 / Feb / 2004 and died on the spot. The victim tried to escape from the police arrest during an illegal immigrants operation conducted by police and immigration authorities at a construction site in Sungai Buluh and crossed the Highway where he was knocked down by the oncoming car. His body was brought by police to Kuala Lumpur and later contacted the Chin Centre.




The CRC members went to KL hospital and identified the body. His body will be buried at KL Christian Cemetery tomorrow ( 18 / Feb / 2004- Wednesday at 1 : 00 PM ) by CRC and CCF members.


Chin Refugee Centre


Kuala Lumpur














By Lian H. Sakhong



Burma’s thuggish ruling elite traffics in drugs and in people—in forced labor, child labor, slave labor. It throws people into medieval torture chambers at the slightest pretext: for owning a fax machine, for making jokes about the regime, for listening to foreign broadcasts. There are some 1,800 political prisoners. Universities have been shuttered for much of the past decade, and poverty has deepened.


The Washington Post, July 16, 2001








When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, Burma was one of the first newly independent countries, which enthusiastically endorsed the Declaration.[1] In fact, the smaller countries in the third world like Burma were very enthusiastic about the Declaration because this was the first international agreement that recognises the equality and dignity of all peoples, regardless of the size of their country, regardless of their geographic or ethnic origin. U Thant, the Burmese Ambassador to UN and who later became the Secretary General of the UN in 1962-1971, said that “the Universal Declaration is the Magna Carta of humankind,” for its provisions constitute “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”[2]




Today, however, we have a military regime in Burma, claiming that the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights are based on Western concepts of government and human nature, that it is a tool of Western cultural imperialism imposed on us, and that it ignores the distinctive cultural values of the Burmese people. General Saw Maung, Chairman of the SLORC, for example, said, “I tell you if anyone wants to enjoy the human rights they have in the US, England and India, provided the country accepts; I will permit them to leave. But in Myanmar [Burma], I can only grant human rights suitable for Myanmars [Burmese] people.”[3] As the regime rule the country under the Martial Law, he also said, “Martial Law is no law at all, but the use of force.”[4]




Present military junta in Burma can best be described as one of the most repressive regimes in the world. After the bloody coup in 1988, gross violations of human rights, including the draconian suppression of political freedoms, arbitrary detention, torture, rape, disappearances, extra-judicial killings, oppression of ethnic and religious minorities, and use of forced labour are continuously increasing. The Index on Human Misery in 1992, therefore, ranked Burma as one of the world’s most miserable countries, estimating that over 16 million of 46 million inhabitants were under the poverty line, and living under insufferable conditions. The year 2003 represented no improvements in human rights in Burma; in fact, the situation of the common people is continuing to worsen. Systematic abuses of economic, social and cultural rights by the regime and army has been continuing to grow as the ruling military junta called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) consolidates its power at all costs.[5]




Since 1991, the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have for 12 consecutive years adopted consensus resolutions condemning the military’s systematic gross abuse of human rights and its refusal to accept the will of the Burmese people as expressed in the 1990 general elections. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has in effect, expelled Burma from the ILO for the regime’s widespread use of forced labour.




Political crisis, civil war and human rights violations in Burma are always related with notorious golden triangle drug trade. Since the 1950’s, unable to repel the Chinese Kuomintang troops and unable to pay local defence forces, the Burma Army authorised militia to trade in opium to finance their operations. In the 1960’s more militia to fight Shan nationalists were raised and again they were paid by allowing them to trade in opium. Worse yet, in 1989, fearing that some ethnic armies would join the democracy movement; the military signed cease-fires with them. In exchange for not joining the democracy movement, some of the ethnic armies, among them is the United Wa State Army (UWSA), were given the right to ‘trade’ without any restrictions. So, until recently, Burma was the biggest producer of opium and heroin. The current level of annual production is about 2,000 tons. However, the drug lords in Burma are now switching from heroin to the production of amphetamines which is more lucrative. The fact that cash can be deposited in Burmese banks with no questions asked and the fact that Burma’s drug lords are now known as successful ‘entrepreneurs’ in Burma’s new economy and live in Rangoon, all point to the fact that the regime benefits from the drug trade.




In addition to drugs, Burma is a major source of HIV/AIDS infection, which will in the long run affect regional stability. Burma after India and Thailand has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in Asia. It is understandable that India with a population of 1 billion has the highest number. Thailand’s HIV/AIDS problem is caused by its rampant sex trade. But through public education and good policies, the situation is slowly being brought under control. Burma’s HIV/AIDS epidemic is mainly caused by drug addiction. It is illegal in Burma to own a needle. Addicts, therefore, share needles. In testing drug addicts in northern Burma over 90% tested positive. The problem is compounded by contaminated blood. When the military requires blood transfusion, the blood is taken from prisoners. There is no screening. The next factor is the fact that more and more Burmese women and girls are being sold into the sex trade in Thailand. When they test positive, they are shipped home without any explanation and the military sends them back to their home villages. There is no information, education or treatment program. The military in Burma is still denying that HIV/AIDs is a problem. The World Health Organisation and other independent sources estimated at least 500,000 HIV/AIDs positive cases in Burma.




Another major problem, which has a bearing on the matter, is the fact that education in Burma has virtually become non-existent. In the past 14 years, universities have been closed for about 9 nine years. This means that Burma does not now have educated people who can help develop the country. Unable to win the allegiance of students, the military has opted for keeping the universities closed and students scattered rather than provide them with an education for fear that they will organise anti-regime demonstrations which could spark nation-wide unrest. In addition to university closures, an even more disturbing trend was reported by the World Bank recently. According to statistics provided by the regime, in 1989 the education budget was Kyat 1,200 per child per year. In 1999, this figure had decreased to Kyat 100 per child per year! The World Bank also reported that half of the primary school-aged children are malnourished and on average it takes a Burmese child 9.5 years to complete 5 years of primary school. This means that Burma is facing an enormous crisis. Without an educated population, how can anyone build a nation? The statistics take on an even more disturbing aspect when it is realised that this neglect of education is a deliberate policy and not an oversight. During the period that the education budget has been declining, the regime has more than doubled the size of its army from 180,000 men to 450,000 men and purchased US$ 1.8 billion worth of arms from China. The question is why because Burma has no external enemies. The only possible answer is that the regime intends to remain in power at all cost even to the extent of sacrificing the future of Burma’s children.




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To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles