VOL.I No. III SEPTEMBER 1998
SITUATION OF CHINLAND UNDER THE MILIRATY DICTATORSHIP FOR 10 YEARS (1988-1998)
Present political crisis in Union of Burma is lack of democracy and ethnic issues. The military regime is trying to solve the crisis by military means instead of political means. Therefore, human rights violation by military regime became the worse condition after the military took state power on 18 September 1988.
The military regime practiced a strategy in order to separate between democratic forces and ethnic forces. The military regime abolished political parties in Chinland instead of honoring 1990 election result. Hence, the military regime is practicing cultural genocide and assimilation in Chinland. The policy of military regime to Chin people is to destroy their distinct identities so that there shall be no longer existence of Chin in the world.
Prior to1995, human rights violations in Chinland by the military regime could not be known by outsiders. In 1995, Chin Human Rights Organization was formed and because of their endeavor and actively sacrifice, the outsiders could know what are going on regarding human rights in Chinland. Since NeWin took power in 1962, human rights violation have been committed in Chinland. But most of the Chin people did not know that their human rights were violated. They think it as a habit of the ruler and let it should be.
In accordance with CHRO’s documentation, human rights violations in Chinland is increasing year by year. Now, CHRO is not only highlighting human rights violations in Chinland to the world but also providing human rights education to the Chin people and as a result international community express their concern about the matter. Now, Chin literature and customs are at a stake under the military regime. It’s status is lower than it was in under British colonial rule. Chin literature can be learned in primary level before 1988. Now, it can be learned up to Grade Two as selective subject only in some place.
The military regime neglected in health care program in Chinland. There is one doctor per 17,000 persons (estimated) in Chinland. Now is the worse situation that there is insufficient medicines and health workers in Chinland. Chin traditional festivals, dresses and musical instruments are almost obsolescent under the regime because the regime itself try to destroy instead of encouragement, it could no longer celebrate and sold them because of economic depression under the regime, and other customs are infiltrated in Chin community.
Restriction of Christianity and infiltration of Buddhism has been existed in Chinland for so long but accelerated after 1991. Buddhism Hill Missionary which is established by the regime is actively participated in it. The Missionary persuaded the Chin Christians by various means in order to convert to Buddhism with assistance of the regime. In 1988, Chin Christian Missionaries Chin for Christ in One Century(CCOC) who worked in Paletwa, Mindat, and Kanpetlet, Gangaw townships were forcibly driven out by Burmese Army. Religious persecutions are rampage. For some examples are Christian’s Crosses were toppled and replaced forcibly with Buddhist monuments and institutions, restriction of movements of Christian leaders, restriction of Christian missionary and its services, innocent young Chins were forcibly converted to Buddhists and arbitrary arrest of Christian leaders.
In 1988, democratic upraising was cracked down by military means so that many activists left for India and sheltered in refugees’ camps of Champhai, Saiha, Moree and Imphal. Some people who have relatives in India did not shelter in refugees’ camp but in their relatives and survive with odd jobs. However, they are not recognized as refugees by India authorities. In 1995, Refugees’ Camp of Champhai and Saiha were abolished without any reason. As a result, UNHCR’s refugees in Delhi are increasing. The Chin refugees’ figure could not be made still today. According to Chin Relief and Development Committee, There are about forty thousands Chin refugees in India and three thousand in Bangladesh.
Under the military dictatorship since it took power on 18 September 1988, there is lack of democracy and human rights, cultural genocide, and negligence in social security in Chinland. The Chin community is being destroyed and even for survival and existence is threatened under the regime. Therefore, Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) invite for cooperation in its service in order to restore democracy and human rights.
THE ACCOUNT OF SAWM LIAN
The following statement is given by Sawm Lian. He is one of the refugees who escaped from such ill-treatments of forced labor, day and night forced sentry , forced pottering and planting land mines by No.34 LIB of SPDC’s army and escaped to Bangladesh border villages. The following conversation is received when interviewed with Sawm Lian who escaped to Thing Dawlte village on 17th June of 1998.
Q : Could you please tell us about your story?
A : My name is Sawm Lian. I am 35 years old. My Parents names are Thawn Lian and Tawk zing. My wife’s name is Par Hnem and I have two sons and a daughter. I am from Kantlang village, Paletwa township, Chin State. I belong to Chin ethnic. I am a Christian and I have passed 3rd grade. I escaped on 5th June of 1998.
Q : Do you know what is the name of the company of Kantlang army post or its regiment? Do you know who is in charge of the army post?
A : It is from No. 34 LIB, company 3. I do not know the name of the one who is in charge. He is a warrant officer 2. Because they keep secret of the name of the one in charge. If the villagers who work every day in the army post ask who the in charge of the army post is, the soldiers say that it is not their business.
Q : Do you know how many refugees have escaped to Bangladesh from Paletwa township?
A : I do not know the exact number but I believe there will be between 2,000 and 3,000 refugees along Bangladesh and India border. Because we, 13-villages of Mungnginwa, Petwah, Phuailewah, Muailewah, Satangwah, Samann, Ramritlang, Batlu Tlang, Muaila Wah, Aung Khaing, Long Kado Wah and Long Kado had escaped to India and Bangladesh borders during 1997 and 1998. Most of the people from Tarawa Ai village and Paletwa region which are from the inner part also had escaped from their villages. Without one house remaining, the whole village had abandoned their village. There are Poh Too Wah village, Ong Ti Wah, Kantlang and MeikWah have left to be escaped. I believe that the two villages, Ong TiWah and Pohtowah also have to escape very soon. People keep escaping at their own convenience because we are uneducated and we have no leader. No mass escaping. And also there is no refugees’ camp along India and Bangladesh borders. That’s why I could not give you the exact numberof the escaped.
Q : Could you please brief us, what is the main reason that makes you abandon your own village?
A : We have many reasons to say. There are 60- houses in Kantlang village. It is only 200-yards away from the army post. Every day we have to contribute two persons to carry water, 6-persons for sentry to the army post without pay. Moreover, we have to contribute 20-persons weekly to do cutting woods, digging trench, cutting bamboo trees to build army tent. They also asked us to inform them immediately when Chin National Army come into the village and we are forced to do sentry duty every night reasoning for village security. We also have to serve as porters every month. Whenever they sense Chin National Army movements, we have to serve as porters. Regularly, we serve pottering from Kantlang army post to Meik army post at the rate of one porter for one soldier. Especially in rainy season we have a very hard time to serve as porters because there are many dangerous big and small streams with its full speed of running water to crossover. It is only a day walk from Kantlang to Meik army post but it takes about 4 or 5 days in rainy season. We have to build bamboo raft for the soldiers because they do not know how to swim. We suffered different kinds of trouble because they do not provide food or medicines. Moreover we have nothing to cover from rain and no footwear either. The worst thing is that people and animals are often killed by land-mines planted by the army in and around abandoned thirteen villages. People are afraid of going to the forest because they often hear explosions of mines. In May of 1998 one villager was killed by land-mine when he went out to collect leaves in the forest. One reason of planting the land-mines is to prevent the donation given to the Chin National Army and another reason is that the army collected money, Kyat 7,000 per head from people who are doing selling cattle and doing business. So the cow merchants avoid through the forest in order to escape from money collection. In May of 1998 three merchants (names unknown) had been killed by land-mines.
Now there is a shortage of food in our region because of SPDC’s army’s way of oppression: forced labor, forced pottering and planting land-mines as we are depending on cultivation. We have no time for our own work. We have to buy rice from Tarawaine which is 3-days’ walk ( to and fro)at the Kyat( Kyat is Burmese currency) 130 per Pyee( 3-Kg). For a few more money, some people pulled their animals to Bangladesh and sold them there. They in turn buy some rice at Ruma Bazaar at the rate of 15-TaKa per Kg (Taka is Bangladesh currency). It takes 5-days (to and fro). We have to buy Bangladesh currency at Kyat 6 for one TaKa. The reason we abandoned villages and escaped to Bangladesh is, because of such horrible troubles made by SPDC’s army and hardship created by them. I do believe that it would also be the reason for the people who escaped.
Q : How do you survive in here? Did you ask for any assistance from local authorities? If so, did you receive any assistance? Or did you ask any help from any organization? If so, did you receive it?
A : I work a blue-color job. I work with local people in their fields. And I work as porter for local people. I could barely get for food in that way. The worst thing is there is no such a regular job to do. Now, in here, Bangladesh border area, people also face shortage of food, we have a very hard time to struggle for our daily food. We have to go into the forest and dig out some tree roots and bulbs of plant. We, older people have more resistance but it is very sad to see the children’s suffering. We could provide them sweet rice once a week only. We feel very sad when children’s are crying when they are hungry. But one thing we feel completely at ease with forced pottering.
Although we have asked food and medicine assistance from local Kalbary(village headman), we have not got anything till today. We could not make our request to higher authorities because of language problem and lack of money. So we have no alternative but to bear. We believe and hope that one day we could be able to escape from the pit of such horrible nightmare by the Grace of God. Although we receive some medicine from an organization called Chin Relief and Development Committee, it is not sufficient. We receive only a very little assistance.
Q: Do you have anything to add?
A: By the mercy and out of pity of Bangladesh border authorities and its army, we are allowed to have a refuge temporarily in here. However, we would like to let the higher authorities of Bangladesh know our situation and let the world know our misery and sufferings if you could help us.
The following pamphlet has been widely distributed in Burma, and the copies have been obtained in Rangoon, Mandalay, and various eastern border areas. Missionaries, honourable Monks,Cleansing Organisations The facts to attack Christians:
1. To attack Christian families and the progress of Christians
2. To criticise the sermons broadcast from Manila the Philippines
3. To criticise God as narrow-minded and egotistical, who himself claimed that “There is no god but eternal God”.
4. To counter corrupt youth and inappropriate fashion
5. To criticise the preaching of Christians wherever it has penetrated
6. To criticise Christianity by means of pointing out its delicacy and weakness
7. To stop the spread of the Christian movement in rural areas
8. To criticise by means of pointing out “It is not salvation but purchased by blood”
9. To counterattack by means of pointing out Christianity’s weakness and to overcome this with Buddhism
10. To counter the Bible after thorough study
11. To criticise that “God loves only Israel but not all races”
12. To point out the ambiguity between the two testaments
13. To criticise the point that Christianity is partisan
14. To criticise Christianity’s concept of the Creator and compare it with the scientific concepts
15. To study and access the amount given in offerings
16. To criticise the Holy Sprit after thorough study
17. To attack Christian by means of both non-violence and violence.