Rhododendron publication – VOL.II No.IX SEPTEMBER 1999

Civilians held responsible for disappearance of army personnel
( Burmese soldiers tortured villages’ headmen in Chin State).

On 26/6/1999 a company of Burmese Army comprising of 34 soldiers ledby 2nd Lieutenant Myo Kyaw from LIB 266 stationed at Lungler Camp set off forLung Ding village from Lungler. On their way to Tlangpi village on 27/6/1999, one army personeldisappeared half way. Stunned by the sudden disappearance, the 2nd BattalionCommander Major Khin Maung Ye, then, led the search for the lost soldier.

According to a villager of Tlangpi, Pu LianMang (name changed), the Major heldTlangpi villagers responsible for the soldier’s disappearance, since the placewhere the soldier was believed to be disappeared was in Tlangpi area. Moreover, villagers from Dawn, Bung Khua, Zang Tlang and Tlangpi were forcibly taken to Lungler to construct road between Lungler and FungKah village without payment. The villagers had to give a total of Kyats300000 to the Major as a ransom for their release, with Dawn and Bung Khua contributing Kyats 120000 each and Zang Tlang village Kyats 80000. Unable to afford for the ransom, Tlangpi villagers are still beingheld at Lungler army camp and are being engaged in the forced labor. The Majoralso took control of the entire rations that the villagers had brought for themselves and gave them on a limited scale. The villagers had to stay hungry as they were given only 34 cups (small milk can) of rice for aday. Heavily guarded by the soldiers, the villagers are threatened that the entire villagers will be punished if anyone attempted to escape. All males in the village have been held and are now in the forced labor camp, as the soldiers are suspicious that some villagers might ran away whenever they arrived in the village. ” The villagers could have been released if they could pay the ransom. But the village is facing financial problems and still had to work”, said Pu Lian Mang. The work started from 5 a.m. in the morning till 5 p.m. in theevening. In a bid to block the soldier who was believed to be defected, from sneaking into India, ferrymen in two major routes to Farkawn and their ferries were confiscated.

Pu Biak Lawm, Pu Van Thleng and Pu Leng Ling were among the detainees who were taken to Hakha Army Headquarters and put in jail. They are yet to be released, as they have no money to bribe. The blockade of Tio river andabsence of ferry service had led to the drowning of Salai Tluang Sawmand Mai Siang Zi (school girls) who attempted to cross the flooded river on19/7/1999. The Chairman and members of Village PDC, all of them 8, are also arrested and jailed in Hakha prison on account of being responsible for the disappearance of the soldier. The members are Pu Tial Awr, Village PDC chairman, Pu Ral Lian Kap, Pu Hnok Kio, Pu Lian Kham, Pu Kap Lian, Salai Peng Thang and two other villagers. They were subjected to several beatings with baton on their feet. Because of these severe torture, they are now unable to walk. During the torture, the Chairman’s calf was pierced with a-4-inchheated nail at least 20 times that his feet were completely maimed. He had to be carried by other people with his hands tied up in the back whenever he was summoned to the Army camp in the hilltop. The fates of the eight victims are unpredictable. Other 7 members apartfrom the Chairman are likely to be able to release on giving bribes to the army authorities. None of them, however, cannot afford it and has to remain in jail .Tlangpi villagers are in dilemma as to how to deal with the 34 villagers being detained in Lungler camp, as well as the 8 village council members being jailed in Hakha and the two villagers drowned while crossing Tio River. They are still busy trying to collect the ransom money for the release of the Village Council members. There is still another major problem for civilians, landmines are being planted by the SPDC troops in areas like Leilet village in Falam Township and along the Mizoram borders of Thantlang areas. According to disclosure of residents of Thantlang township areas, a landmine was found during the month of February1999. Although the primary purpose of planting landmines in these areas is to prohibit the movement of Chin National Army, civilians are rather being impacted. It is estimated that as many as 30 landmines have been laid in the area.

Date of receiving report :23 July 1999.

Soldiers Extorted Domestic Animals in Falam Township

Name : Hrelian
Occupation : Farmer
Place : Lungpi, Falam township

A troop of 10 soldiers from LIB (268) Falam Battalion led by 2nd Lt. Khin Than was posted in Lungpi village of Falam township to collect fire woods for brick kiln. The soldiers ordered nearby villages Mangkheng, Rialti, Lungpi, Lungrang and Thlanrawn to provide two chickens per week to the soldiers without fail. Since the villagers can not afford to provide the requested chickens, they went to Falam and complained to the Battalion Commander. As soon as the Battalion commander received the complain, he sent a group of soldiers to the said villages. The soldiers entered village by village and took all the chickens ( no matter big or small ) by force. The villagers were pointed with guns when they tried to prevent them. Besides, the villagers were ordered to weave baskets to keep the chickens. After that the soldiers collected porters to carry the chickens that they had looted. PDCs chairmen from Lungpi, Mangkheng, Thlanrawn, Rialti and Lungrang villages went to the commander of LIB 268 and report the incident. However, the Battalion commander threatened them that the civilians have responsibility to feed the army and have no rights to complain or take any action on the army. If any body create trouble to the army, the whole village or town has to suffer.

Burmese troops terrorized Indian villagers

12 Burmese soldiers led by Sergeant Tin Oong (Ration Supply Unit) under company 2 commander, Lt. Myo Kyaw from Light Infantry Battalion(LIB)268 based at Falam, Chin State made their way to patrolling the Indo-Burma borders on 15 July 1999. During such operations the soldiers usually carried out brutal acts against the civilains. Pu Suan Do (name changed) and 5 other traders from Kui Thang village of Tiddim Township (Chin State) were at that time setting off for Mizoram State of India to sell 10 pigs and 18 chickens. These pigs and chickens were sold to Zote villagers of Mizoram State who received them at Tio River, which borders India and Burma. On hearing this news, the Sergeant immediately chased the Indian villagers who just bought the pigs and chickens up to one mile inside the Indian Territory and forcibly took one pig worth 20000 kyats, one chicken worth 1000 kyats in Burmese currency, and Rs.500 in Indian currency in cash from them. According to the Nu Biaki(one of the traders), the soldiers killed and ate a pig at FarTlang village in Tidim Township. The Mizoram public was enraged over the conduct of the Burmese troops looting and extorting money inside their territory. Making an excuse to clear suspected Chin National Army’s bases around the areas, the sergeant-led company had been carrying out extortion and confiscation. Such brutalities in the border have prompted the Indian Army and Mizoram armed police to carry out fresh operation against the Chin National Army, which has been leading armed resistant movement against the Rangoon government for democracy and self-determination for the Chins. It is being observed with great concern that the Chin peoples in these areas, who solely depend on selling livestock to Mizoram, will face severe hardship if the Burmese troops continue to commit intrusion and brutalities in the Indian side.

Date of receiving report : 23 July 1999

Civilians engaged in road construction as forced laborers

Date of interview : 4.7.99
Name : Ngun Hmung (Village tract chairman)
Age : 40
Gender : Male
Occupation : Farmer
Village : Khua Bung (A), Thantlang Township, Chin State
Nationality : Chin
Religion : Christian
Family member : 8 including 6 Children

By using the name of ” Border Trade between India and Burma” the military government of Burma, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), constructed roads merely for better links between army camps in the border areas. The junta forced the people to construct road between Hriphi army camp and newly constructed Vuangtu camp, which is 13 miles in distance. One thousands villagers from the surrounding 30 villages were working for this construction as forced laborers. Moreover, these laborers had to carry their own tools, equipment and ration supplies during the road construction, which lasted from 1st February to the first week of June. The soldiers guarded the laborers and threatened that the entire concerned villages will be punished if anyone from any village ran away from the work site. The laborers were forced to work from dawn to dusk and were allowed to sleep only by their respective work sites where the soldiers assigned them. No medical treatment was given to the sick during the construction. The army allotted the work to each village and the villagers were forced to finish their allotted work before the first week of June that started from March 23. Major Khin Maung Ye, from Company 2 of Hriphi Camp and 2nd Battalion Commander of LIB 268 stationed in Falam, was directed to supervise the construction. Known among his inferiors who helped supervise the construction were Sergeant Nyo Win, Corporal Win Kyiang and Corp. SoeMyint. Firing 5 or 6 shots in the air the Major would often threaten the tired laborers with dire consequences if they did not follow his instruction. Therefore no one dare to complain their tiredness and had to stay calm. Sometimes the laborers were even robbed of their rations such as rice, dried meats that they brought from the village. The soldiers also stole five hoes from the laborers, which were brought from ZaBung village. Moreover, 4 persons from each village along Thantlang and Hriphi were forced to carry an empty diesel tank (50 gallons-capacity) from one village to another – any group that could not carry the tank were punched and beaten. The age of the laborers from each village ranged from 67 years to 15 years, including school children. Among the laborers who worked in the road construction were 3 elderly men, over 65 years, 3 widows and 5 school children from ZaBung village; 4elderly men (around age 50) from Zephai village; 1 elderly man and 4 middle school students from Nga Lang village and people from different age group even children and some Christian religious teachers from Hriphi village. While working on the construction, Ni Awi, a 23-year-old youth, son of Nun Hei from Hriphi village fell off the wall of the road and broke his right arms. Ram Cung, a 17-year-old youth, son of Hei Mang received serious chest and back injuries from the same incident. No medical treatment whatsoever was given to the victims. The newly constructed road had crossed private farms owned by HramThang, Sui Mang, Lian Te and Hre Cem of Hriphi (B) village were destroyed. The farmers received no compensation so far. These farmers are likely to face serious difficulties in the coming year, as their farms were destroyed without compensation. According to a reliable information, despite reportedly sanctioning Kyats 500000 and 140000 worth diesel for bulldozer. However, nothing was spent for the construction, instead forced labor was used. After completing the construction the laborers were forced to work on the army farms.

Myanmar Christians flee to India alleging persecution

(Source : Rangoon Post)
GUWAHATI, India, Aug 20 (AFP)

More than 1,000 Christian tribal in Myanmar have fled across the border into India this month, alleging persecution by the military junta and Buddhist monks, church leaders said Friday. The Naga tribals, mostly from eight villages in the Sagaing district of northern Myanmar, crossed into the far northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, according to Reverend Zhabu Terhuja, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council. “Buddhist monks aided by Myanmar soldiers have been forcing the Christian Nagas residing in that country to convert to Buddhism,” Terhuja told AFP by telephone from the Naga capital Kohima. There are an estimated 20,000 Naga tribals in Myanmar. “Some Myanmarese Nagas are taking shelter in a border village called Pangsa following alleged persecution by the army,” said local police chief L.T. Lotha. “But there is no law and order as such due to the exodus,” Lothi said, Church leaders said the Naga Christians were being forced to close down their churches, which had then been desecrated or used as kitchens by the Myanmar army. Reverend Bonny Resu, secretary general of the Asian Baptist Federation said the issue had been taken up with the Myanmar Baptist Convention “so that they can apprise the government about the reports of persecution.” However, Buddhist leaders here questioned the validity of the reports. “Even if your father or mother accepts another religion, being a son you cannot force them to reconvert to Buddhism. So the question of converting Christians to Buddhism by force does not arise,” said Gyanpal Bhiku, a Buddhist monk and member of the Northeast Buddhist Federation.

Force to construct police station and army camp

Name : Zamulaage : 35
Gender : Male
Occupation : Farmer ( presently Chairman of Shiao village tract )
Religion : Christian
Family members : 6-Children

The police station in charge and army/company commander of Shinletwa, Paletwa township, jointly, forced the villagers to construct police station and army camp. The villagers were divided into two groups. One group was assigned to build police station and the other was assigned to construct army camp. Para village, Shewlike village, Yayitaung village, Gonepin village, Pondmao village, Kyupyahtin village, Pyiwa village and Khone village were assigned to build army camp. Under a watchful eyes of the guards the villagers were forced to work from morning 6:00 until 5: pm without taking rest. No medicine was provided for the sick from the authorities. At night the villagers had to sleep at the place where the authority had specified. The villagers were warned that anyone who escape from the work field would be severely punished. The villagers had no time even for bathing. “The two constructions simultaneously started in February of 1999. As our group could not complete the construction in February they told us to come back in March. However, I could not go back to the construction because I was busy with my farm works. So when I went for the meeting in the beginning of May, the commander questioned me why I did not show up in the construction work and I was kept under arrest ( kept in the army camp). I requested the commander to allow me to stay in the village because I was so uncomfortable to stay in the army camp” said Zamula. He also added, “even though the commander allowed me to stay in the village, I had to give my signature twice a day at the camp. Moreover, the authority asked me to pay Kyats 500 for the cost of papers and pens”.

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