List of Chin Resources
1. All Burma Students Democratic Front, "Indo-Burma Border News", 9/3/97
2. Kuki Students Democratic Front, "Arrest of Activist", 9/2/97
3. Democratic Voice of Burma, "Burma-India Border Heroin Trade", 8/8/97
4. Statement by Dr. Vum Son at UN WCIP, 7/97 - 8/97
5. Dallas Peace News, 7/97
6. The Nation, "Chins Feel the Pinch", 5/2/97
7. All Burma Students Democratic Front, "New Kabaw Valley Project", 5/1/97
8. Panos, "Golden Triangle Heroin Trade Fuels HIV/AIDS", 3/97
9. Free Trade Unions of Burma, 3/97
10. Karen Human Rights Group, "SLORC Abuses in Chin State", 3/15/97
11. All Burma Students democratic Front, "Border Development", 3/12/97
12. Chin Human Rights Organization, "Religious Persecution", 2/97
13. Burma Issues, "Changing Tactics", 2/97
14. All Burma Students Democratic Front, "Indo-Burma Border News", 2/24/97
15. All Burma Students Democratic Front, "Forced Labor Continues to Reign in Chin State", 2/8/97
16. Letter excerpts, 1/15/97
17. Notes from information source, 12/13/96
18. Letter excerpts, 11/20/96
19. Chin Women's Organization, "Request for Chin School", 10/19/96
20. Chin National Front, "No Peace in Chinland", 6/24/96
A Chin Compendium
A Report by Project Maje
8824 SE 9th Ave
Portland OR 97213 USA
"Our forefathers...worshipped the hills and dales in our territory thinking there
were spirits in them. But the reason they worshipped these hills and dales is not
only that they believed in the spirits in them, but also that they have in the
remote regions of their consciousness that they are our protector from the
invasion of the outside world, from the invasion of the alien people. It has been
in some way these hills and dales of ours which have preserved our distinct
national identity to reach this modern age as a people. But we should now
adopt a political means with which we could develop our distinct national
identity, as our hills and dales are no longer enough of a barrier to keep out the
invasions of all kinds." -- Pu Lian Uk, Chin, Member of Parliament
While international awareness of Burma's relentless traumas has increased in recent years, the situation of one particular region has remained largely unnoticed. That is the area of northwest Burma inhabited by the ethnic group known as the Chin people. Bordering northeast India, where turmoil has prevented most outside access, the Chins are isolated even by upland Burma standards. This report seeks to fill some of the information gap by compiling recent documents and articles concerning the Chins in a format accessible to those who are interested in Burma and in indigenous peoples issues.
The contents of this report come from a variety of sources, including journalists, human rights projects, and dissident groups/individuals. Project Maje, the compiler of this report, does not confirm or deny the veracity of any of these documents and commentaries, but hopes they will inspire further investigation and examination of the Chin situation. The contents cover a time period roughly from mid-1996 to mid-1997. Project Maje is grateful to Burma Net for making many of these documents widely available. Others come from private sources who have kindly contributed their impressions to this report.
The identity of the people known as Chins is both distinct and amorphous. Acknowledged facts are that the Chins live mainly in the Chin State and Sagaing Division of Burma, with relatives in India's Mizoram ( Mizos and others) and Manipur (including the Kuki). They speak a Tibeto-Burman language with numerous dialects. Most, though not all, are Christians. The Chins are traditionally a mountain people, but many now live in towns, small cities, and some valley areas. Beyond those basics lies controversy based on ethnic subdivision -- the Chins can endlessly be split into clans, tribes, and subtribes, or recombined into the Zo or Chin identity. Christian denominations add further lines of separation, and coexist, often uncomfortably, with Animism, Buddhism, and even a small Jewish Chin sect.
In the Chin populated parts of India, fragmentation has led to tension and, not uncommonly, outright violence. This contributes to the overall climate of violence that covers India's northeast like mist rolling over the mountains. While these intra-Chin tensions tend not to be as overt on the Burma side of the border, they do exist, with the dire potential for exploitation by Burma's SLORC regime and its typical "divide and rule" strategy.
While Chin soldiers were conspicuous in Burma's military during British colonial rule, they have not followed the example of other indigenous peoples such as the Karens and Kachins in launching a full-scale insurgency during the past decades of Burman-dominated dictatorship. A few small guerrilla outfits have cropped up from time to time, never achieving troop strength of over a thousand or two. Since the suppression of 1988's pro-democracy uprising, Chins who had been students at that time have attempted to revive armed rebellion and bring it up to true fighting strength. Meanwhile, the SLORC regime greatly increased its own battalions in the Chin hills. The SLORC sent troops to Sagaing Division to protect a petroleum exploration concession (of America's Amoco and South Korea's Yukong), which was soon abandoned. The soldiers stayed on to secure trading routes to India, engage in logging for valuable hardwoods, and reportedly participate in heroin trafficking. The Chin State was also targeted by the SLORC's "Border Areas Development Program", with a railway line extension and road building which were undertaken with the massive use of forced labor.
The most active opposition group, the Chin National Front (CNF), has sent small armed bands out to combat the SLORC troops which hugely outnumber them. In recent months, the CNF appears to have switched tactics to an "urban" strategy, using bombs to harass SLORC bases in the towns, and attempting to attack SLORC officers rather than fight the "rank and file" troops. While the CNF claims to thus spare the rural population from crossfire and retaliation, it remains to be seen if this strategy can stay confined to military targets without incurring the civilian casualties and "terrorist" label earned by true believers elsewhere in the world.
The SLORC ignores the existence of rebellion along its western front in its statements to the international community. SLORC officials speak of the Karen National Union, on the Thailand border, as the only armed opponents yet to "return to the legal fold" (as SLORC terms the shaky cease-fires throughout the frontier regions). Smaller groups than the CNF have been lauded by the SLORC for making cease-fire deals, but the present effort, through some Christian clerical go-betweens, to get the CNF to join in, has been slow to progress. Since the CNF holds no territory, it lacks the incentive of a "safe area" to be gained by signing a cease-fire agreement. Also, being a more recent rebellion, the CNF may not have the "battle fatigue" that led other groups into some forms of rapprochement with the SLORC. The CNF itself has suffered at least one factional split, and it is not inconceivable that one segment or the other could sign on the SLORC's dotted line eventually. But at present, CNF operatives are continuing to try to organize support and pursue their "urban" strategy, staying, like Shan, Naga, Rohingya, Tavoyan, Karen, Karenni, and other groups, quite outside the "legal fold" of the SLORC.
It can be too easy to romanticize the violence of India's northeast and Burma's northwest, when much of its impetus probably dates back to the days of spear-wielding warriors staging daring raiding parties for ritual head-hunting. But this legacy of violence nowadays catches many non-combatant victims in its scope, and there is nothing romantic about the hacked corpses of a slaughtered village, whether the killers are SLORC troops or righteous indigenous people. If the Chins of Burma can find a way to resist the SLORC without huge casualties and stay unified amongst themselves, they will have achieved something worthwhile, and -- in their neck of the woods -- unique.
Currently there are a great many Chin people in very uneasy exile in India. This has helped some to contact the international community, form human rights and women's organizations, and seek other non-violent ways to benefit the survival of their people. But pressure for their expulsion, especially in increasingly xenophobic Mizoram, is constantly on the increase. While the Mizos are of the same large ethnicity as Burma's Chins, sympathy for the poor (and sometimes criminal) relations from the land of SLORC is at an all time low. The Indian national government, while supporting democracy for Burma, appears to do very little to assist the refugees in India's northeast. Perhaps the best approach is to push for change in Burma -- through trade embargoes, for instance -- so there wouldn't be refugees. The worst approach seems to be co-operation with SLORC in "counterinsurgency" campaigns on both sides of the border, which accomplish nothing while incurring further animosity from all the indigenous people. The one thing the people of those mountains can agree on is their hatred of outside military occupation, whether it is sent from Delhi or Rangoon.
This report contains information on human rights violations, including forced labor, executions, and campaigns apparently intended to convert Chins from Christianity to a Buddhism which might assimilate them into the SLORC's "national" Burman culture. The fact that the SLORC conducts suppressive campaigns against Buddhist clergy, Moslems, and other religious groups makes its deliberate oppression of Christians no less significant. There is also commentary on environmental and economic conditions in Chin areas. It is worth noting that Chin forests are being clearcut (often by forced labor), the search for rare orchids is hastening deforestation, and the magnificent hornbill bird, a Chin ethnic symbol, is now endangered. The growth of narcotics production is reported, with the related spread of HIV/AIDS. The AIDS epidemic, unchecked in the Chin areas, has the potential to doom large segments of the population, as it has decimated the young people of India's northeast.
Although the Chins are isolated, the outside world can help their cause. In India, pressure can be mounted for protection of Chin refugees, and for investigation of Mizoram's human rights violations such as the death in custody of CNF Vice President Salai Sang Hlun. The handing-over of Chin activists to the SLORC by Indian or Mizoram police must be stopped. Elsewhere, efforts by Chins to document the situation inside Burma, form women's projects, protect the environment, and educate their people about HIV/AIDS, should be supported internationally. India can seriously clamp down on the flow of Burma's heroin (which profits the SLORC) across its borders, along with the influx of illegal timber from Burma's last forests. The rest of the world must reject Burma's heroin, Burma's teak wood, and the multinational petroleum companies (including Total and Unocal) which keep the SLORC -- the Chins' oppressors --in business and well armed.
Burma Net (firstname.lastname@example.org
) regularly posts information about the India-Burma border region from the ABSDF and other sources. Karen Human Rights Group has issued reports on the Chin situation. Some background documents on the Chins, as well as contacts with Chin groups, are available through Project Maje [email@example.com
] and through Burma Peace Foundation [firstname.lastname@example.org
For background on the Chins, books include "The Structure of Chin Society" by Frederick Lehman (University of Illinois Press, 1963) and "Zo History" by Dr. Vumson (Mizoram, 1986). Martin Smith's "Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity" (Zed Books, 1991) outlines the development of Chin rebellion, and Sanjoy Hazarika's "Strangers of the Mist" (Penguin India, 1994) gives an overview of India's turbulent northeast.
NOTE: In the following sections, minor spelling and grammatical editing has been done on a few documents, for clarity. Variations of spelling of names of Chin places (Haka, Falam, Than Tlang, etc.) and people are left as in the original documents.
All Burma Students Democratic Front-Western Burma, September 3, 1997 INDO-BURMA BORDER NEWS
On 3.7.97, local villagers found three corpses with gunshot wound in their heads in a hut of hillside cultivation field near Zaothe village. Zaothe village is part of Falam township, in Chin state of Burma. Two bodies are male and one is female. They are;
1. Tun Lin- Sergeant from Burma Regiment No (268)
2. Soe Myint - Rifleman from Burma Regiment No (268)
3. Ms. Van Lai Pal- Local Villager
Details of the events are as follows. On the night of 30.6.97 between 11 and 12 pm, three people escaped from regimental lock-up of Falam based Burma Regiment No (268) after removing the iron bar of a ventilation window in the cell. All of them were soldiers from Burma Regiment No (268). Sergeant Tun Lin was put into the lock-up due to the misuse of money collected from cow smuggling dealers as tax. Two other riflemen, Soe Myint and Ko Oo were put into regimental lock-up because they tried to run away from their regiment. A platoon of Burma Regiment No (268) started the search operation to arrest the deserters in the same night. That platoon reached Zaothe village on 2.7.97 and platoon commander threatened the village chief and villagers that the village would be burnt down and all male villagers would be exterminated unless they disclosed the place where the deserters were hiding. So the villagers disclosed the place of hiding. The army surrounded the hut inside the hillside cultivation field near Zaothe village, where the deserters hid the afternoon of the same day. At that time three deserters and Ms. Van Lai Pal, a local woman were in the hut.
Although they tried to escape, the army apprehended all of them except rifleman Ko Oo. Three arrested people were interrogated the whole day in that hut. Ms. Van Lai Pal confessed that she agreed to send the deserters to anti-SLORC revolutionary forces staying at Indo-Burma border. Colonel Ohn Thwin, Commander of Military Tactical Command No (1), North-West Command ordered Major Khin Maung Wai, Deputy Commander of Burma Regiment No(268) to terminate all the deserters including the woman and then to report as death in an encounter.
Tun Lin, Soe Myint and Ms. Van Lai Pal were killed at the night of 2.7.97 in the same hut. Major Khin Maung Wai brutally beat rifleman Aung Myint Tun unconscious and put him in the lock-up without giving him any food. Rifleman Aung Myint Tun was on guard duty for lock-up when the three soldiers escaped from there.
News and Information Unit ABSDF (Western-Burma)
KUKI STUDENTS DEMOCRATIC FRONT: ARREST OF ACTIVIST September 2, 1997
Mr. Paul, of Kuki nationality and a democracy activist from the Moulnoi village of Homlin township, Saggaing division of Burma was arrested by military intelligence in Rangoon on 2nd October 1996. Mr. Paul left Homlin for Rangoon in mid September 1996 to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the present political situation of Burma, attitude of NLD party on ethnic nationalities affairs and the future role of Kuki nationality in Federal Union of Burma. He was arrested by the MI persons on the way to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's residence when he was trying to cross the road blockage by security forces on the way to her residence.
During the period of interrogation he repeatedly faced brutal torture by MI persons and he was forced to confess to being a representative of outlaw Kuki underground organization. After that he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by a military tribunal at Rangoon and now he is kept in the notorious Insein jail in Rangoon. The authorities in the jail do not allow him to meet with his relatives and friends. He does not receive regular, adequate and proper food. He is continuously being tortured physically and mentally by authorities of the jail. Although he is suffering from serious illness he has no chance to achieve medical care even at the jail hospital.
We, the KSDF (Burma), personally know Mr. Paul as an active and sincere Kuki youth who has no contact and activity with any anti-SLORC organization in exile. He personally tried to meet and discuss with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi based on his personal political outlook. There are a lot of such political prisoners in several jails of Burma. We the KSDF (Burma) strongly condemn the SLORC for arresting his own people who have political consciousness and tried to meet and discuss with democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. SLORCs manner clearly shows that they do not accept Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a national leader and they consider her an outlaw person even though they dare not arrest her. The SLORC is attempting to crush all persons those who are politically conscious and anti-SLORC minded by using Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as bait. We strongly believe that similar happenings will occur with increasing frequency in the future and no political problems can be solved unless the SLORC refuses the dialogue with its opposition.
We are worried about the condition of Mr. Paul and we would like to appeal to all international communities, human rights organizations and all NGOs to try with great effort to achieve the release of Mr. Paul who is now in Insein jail of Burma. The Kuki Students' Democracy Front (Burma) has recognized and recorded Mr. Paul as a brave active youth and his goodwill towards Kuki people.
Democratic Voice of Burma (radio) -OSLO August 25, 1997 [translated from Burmese] DVB correspondent Kyaw Moe BURMA-INDIA BORDER HEROIN TRADE
Large amounts of heroin from Burma are reported to be flowing daily into Mizoram, India. Heroin packages from Burma bearing Tiger Head, 555, and Double UO Globe brands have the appearance of legal commodity. One-kilo packages from Lashio are repacked into one-pound packages when they reach Tahan in Kalemyo. In the trade, a one-kilo package is referred to as a Lashio package while a 1 lb. package is called a Tahan package by heroin traffickers.
It has been learned that the present market price for a 1 lb. package of heroin is Kyat 200,000 and for a one-kilo package it is Kyat 500,000 in Kalemyo. Heroin is transported from Lashio to Tahan in cars, and both cars and human labor are used for transporting heroin from Tahan to the Indian border via Tiddim. There is a method of transporting heroin to the Indian border from Tahan using SLORC [State Law and Order Restoration Council] (?defense force members). This is called a carry [preceding word rendered in English] arrangement. SLORC police also carry heroin under various pretexts such as pursuing absconders, tour duties, and home visits. Sometimes, they carry heroin on their return trip after sending witnesses to Monywa and Mandalay. According to a private source, a SLORC military officer himself transported by car 50 700-gram Globe brand heroin packages to a creek near the Tamu border on 10 August. One one-pound package of heroin fetches Rupees 300,000 and a one-kilo package fetches Rupees 700,000 in Aizawl in Mizoram, India. It has been learned that a heroin trafficker arrived in Aizawl on 15 August and has been reportedly trying to sell 50 packages of heroin transported by the SLORC officer at 75 percent of the market price.
According to unconfirmed reports, as opium plantations increase in the Chin Hills heroin refineries are kept inside the SLORC military camps in Kalemyo. According to local people, heroin produced from these refineries is sent to Champhai through (Taung Creek) at the border and then sent on to Aizawl. On 21 August, authorities from the Excise Department of Mizoram confiscated two kilo of heroin carried by three Burmese nationals. The government television in Mizoram reported on 22 August that the amount of Burmese heroin seized by the Excise Department in Mizoram exceeded 100 kilo in 1997.
Statement by Dr. Vum Son, representing the Chin National Council, to the United Nations Working Group of the Indigenous Populations, Geneva, Switzerland July/August 1997
The Chin indigenous people habitat the N-Western part of Burma, the Chin state and surrounding areas. In the matter of land rights -- it is difficult to say whether the Chin people have the rights to their properties, their domestic animals or to their own daughters and sons, to their houses, not to mention rights about their land or territory. No Chin is a member of the government of Burma or Myanmar and no Chin is a member in the administration of the Chin people. The Burma Army with the name of the State Law and Order Restoration Council is the government of Burma and the administrator of the Chin people.
Let me give you a typical example how the Chin people are administered: in February this year a unit of the Burma Army, from Battalion 269 visited the village of Lunglel. The soldiers entered people's homes without invitation and took anything they desire and ate the meal cooked without invitation. They hunted and killed chicken and other domestic animals for their consumption. Young men of the village were rounded up, interrogated and beaten up, whom they were accused to have help the armed opposition forces. The commander of the army unit, Captain Kyaw Nyein demanded that three girls should spend the night with him. The house he chose to spend the night at, the owner had to vacate it. When the army unit left the village, the villagers were ordered to carry their luggage, their military supplies, and things taken from the villagers to their next destination.
In the Kabaw valley, Chin villagers were ordered to build new houses by forced labour for the people who were brought in from other parts of Burma, that means Myanmar people or Burman to live in the new houses. Then the original villagers were ordered usually at gun point, to leave their villages. Forced relocation of Chin people is also common so that army camps could be built in the grounds that are to the taste of the army.
As officers of the army are dominantly ethnic Burman or Myanmar, members of the majority people in Burma, this kind of actions are taken to groom and instill hatred between the indigenous people and the Myanmar mainly to instigate the indigenous people to attack the Burma Army thereby prolonging the military rule of Burma.
I hope this will inform a tiny fraction of the conditions of the Chin people concerning the land rights and human rights in Burma.
Dallas Peace Times, July 1997
The Dallas (Texas) Peace Center (1-214-823-7793) seeks donations of funds or frequent flyer miles, to bring the children of a Chin political dissident minister/teacher to join him in the US, where he is a refugee.
THE NATION (Bangkok newspaper) May 2, 1997 by Aung Zaw "CHINS FEEL THE PINCH AS BURMA, INDIA..."
The small ethnic group fears it may be next in line for a Rangoon offensive:
Shortly after Indian army chief Gen Shankar Roychowdhury visited Rangoon in March to meet Burma's top military leaders Chin rebels based along the border with India began preparing for a major offensive against their jungle camps. "I think they [Burmese military] are going to attack all our camps before the rainy season," said Sui Khur, a spokesman for the Chin National Front [CNF]. The Chin have been under pressure since last year when rebels based in India's Mizoram state came under attack from the local police and army forces following the launch of "Golden Bird" operation.
In January about 150 Indian soldiers from the 19th Assam rifle attacked one of the CNF camps. The CNF did not resist and deserted the camp without a fight. The soldiers then burned down all houses in the camp. "At the moment, the Indian army is very hostile," the Chin rebel leader said, adding that Indian officials were also allowing their Burmese counterparts to enter Indian territory as far as 25 kilometers in pursuit of Chin rebels.
India's warming relations with Burma are a response to fears in New Delhi over the growing ties between Chin and Burma. China is Burma's a main arms supplier and is believed to be seeking access to various sea installations off Burma's coast. Once a supporter of the pro-democracy opposition in Burma, India now has changed tack and is siding with the regime. It has sent several delegations including business missions to Burma in the last six months.
The Burmese junta, officially known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council [Slorc], has also been lobbying Bangladesh government to cooperate in its counter-insurgency campaign against the Chins. Sui Khar said he believes that "sweet relations" have been restored between Burma and Bangladesh. Bangladesh's Sonali Bank has opened a branch office in Rangoon and Dhaka has told Burmese dissidents operating in the country to leave. But so far no drastic action has been taken place.
Chins on the western border tell the same tales of human rights abuses, forced labour, and poor health conditions as the Karen, Mon and Shan people on the eastern border. Approximately 40,000 Chin refugees and migrant worker are in Mizoram state. "Pressure is mounting but we are surviving," says the Chin rebel.
Set up in 1980s the CNF, with 300 men under arms, is led today by Thomas Tang No. The rebel has responded to the situation by launching urban guerrilla attacks against Burmese soldiers in major cities in the area. Last year the CNF planted bombs at army officers' houses and intelligence offices in Falam, Haka, and Htantalang.
Now the CNF has a new target: bars in Chin state. "The local army officers have been encouraging Chins to open bars everywhere. This is how they intend to destroy our youth," says Sui Khar. Chin youths in Haka, Matupi, Htantalang, Falam and other Chin cities are becoming addicted to alcohol, he said. "This is one of Slorc tactics - they have done similar evils in some areas including Shan state and even in Rangoon," accused Sui Khar. "The only difference is that here it is alcohol not heroin," he said.
Local Chins also complain that local Slorc officers are trying to encourage young Chin women to work in bars. "Chin parents are upset. The Chin people asked us to help shut down all the bars", Sui Khar said. The CNF has responded by warning bar owners to shut down their operations. Those who don't face the risk of being bombed. The CNF has already bombed bars in Htantalang, Haka and Matupi. "We have no intention to harm people so we detonate bombs at midnight after the bars are closed," Sui Khar said. A curfew has been imposed in many Chin towns accompanied by an order to shoot whoever is on the streets after 9:00 pm.
All Burma Students League May 1, 1997 REPORT: NEW KABAW VALLEY PROJECT IN SAGAING DIVISION: New Kabaw Valley (or) Death Messenger Project by the military regime in Burma
Kabaw Valley, a fertile agricultural place, is situated in Sagaing Division and borders India. The present military regime, SLORC, has been trying to establish this deserted valley as a human-settlement. This project, namely "New Kabaw Valley Project" is being assisted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Although the regime officially stated the objective of the project as a part of its "border developmental programme", the two ulterior motives behind the project are : (1) to counter armed groups based in the region, and (2) to prevent any external invasion (of India, in this case) in the future.
However, the SLORC, starved with the foreign exchange reserves at hand, has been misusing the financial assistance provided by the UNDP. Instead of spending the money for its stated objective, SLORC is using it for the military expenses of its armed forces. The prisoners, mostly political prisoners, are being used in the construction works under the project. The villagers from the Upper Burma were lured by promises of money and job opportunities to settle and work in the Kabaw Valley but later they were forced to work as "voluntary labourers" without receiving any of the financial and material benefits promised. Hundreds of local people in the region, particularly from Sagaing Division, are being forced to work in the various construction projects as "voluntary labourers" as the government terms it.
The "New Kabaw Valley Project" was started in 1990. It is being monitored and implemented by the Office of Regional Control under the army based at In Thein Kyi in Kalay Township of Sagaing Division. In the beginning of the project, the authorities lured the farmers from Shwe Bo, Mon Ywa, Ye Oo, Pa Le townships with (20) acres of land, Kyat 5,000.00 for house building and materials for farm ploughing for each person to come and settle down in the valley. New villages, such as "Aung Zay Ya", "Ba Yint Naung" and "Yan Gyi Aung" were set up in the valley and the farmers were moved into the new villages. However, after some time, they ran away from the villages to other parts of the region due to the difficult terrain, problems with several diseases and the absence of the promised assistance from the authorities.
"Prisoners Camps" are set up in the townships of Aung Zay Ya, Yan Gyi Aung, Watt Shu, Myo Thit, Tha Nan, Yar Za Gyo, Sa Khan Gyi in Sagaing Division for the use of labour of the prisoners in the construction works of the project. The camps are under the control of Prison Department and the various units of the Office of Army Regional Control. Makeshift huts are made inside the camps for the prisoners to stay in. The camps are surrounded by three-layers of barbed wire. About 250 to 300 prisoners are put into a camp and a total of 4,000 prisoners are in all the camps to serve the New Kabaw Valley Project. According to the information given by an escapee from a camp, between 1 and 5 prisoners die in a week due to mal-nutrition, over-fatigue, malaria, typhoid and other seasonal diseases and lack of medicine. Sometimes, in bad weather, from 15 to 20 people die in a day. The escapee who was interviewed by the members of ABSL in Moreh said that half of the prisoners either died or ran away during the past four years.
The vacancies left by the dead or escapees are filled up by the new prisoners from Insein (Rangoon) Jail, Tharawadi Jail, Myin Gyan Jail, Mandalay Jail and Mon Ywa Jail. Between 1,000 and 1,500 prisoners whose jail sentence are above one year are rotationally sent to the camps every six months for the New Kabaw Valley Project. A prisoner has to bribe the concerned jail authorities with 25,000-30,000 Kyats to avoid being sent to this infamous project. Therefore, the project is named by the prisoners as "Death Messenger Project".
One of the escapees from these camps is Maung Maung Oo, aged 18, from Dawae Township. He escaped from Kan Gyi Village Camp in 1995. Due to his family's economic hardships, he decided to board a boat as a boatman at the age of 14. He only realized after he was at sea that the boat he had boarded was a smuggling boat. On his very first trip, he, along with 15 boatmen were caught by a Burmese navy boat. While others were released by bribing the concerned persons, he without any money, was arrested and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment by a trial court in 1992. His age was 15 at that time. After serving one and half year in Insein Jail, he was sent to the Kabaw Valley to use as a labourer. He ran away from the camp in July 1995.
The Imphal-based ABSL members interviewed him in 1996. According to him, a camp has only one tractor intended for use in ploughing new land. However, this single tractor was usually occupied by Camp Officials for their trips and transportation. Therefore, most of the hard work was done by the labour of the prisoners. The prisoners were made to work in digging, ploughing, cutting trees and clearing forest in the areas. For ploughing purposes, iron roles of length-six feet and weight-500 to 750 Kilos with four people sitting on it were pulled by four prisoners. The prisoners were forced to work from 7 A.M to 4 P.M with one hour lunch break from 11 to 12 noon.
Moreover, the prisoners were being shackled while working. The prisoners suffered from mal-nutrition, typhoid, malaria, skin diseases and there was not enough medicines for them. When they could not bear any more of pain and suffering, the prisoners had to take care of themselves with whatever medicinal leaves and fruits available in the jungle. Although a prisoner got two sets of rough clothes at the time of their arrival at the camp, their clothes were easily torn apart within 3 months of their work in the area. They did not have spare clothes and had to wear the same clothes all the time. Sometimes, they had to dry themselves under the sun without any clothes. The regular meal for them is rice, watery peas and Ngapi.
One civilian who took part in the project estimated that a total of 3500 to 4500 prisoners died between 1990 and 1996 and 6000 acres of agricultural land were explored in the above-mentioned period. News came out that in March 1997, a 12 year-old prisoner died because of the camp officials' beating in Yar Za Gyow Camp situated on Kalay-Tamu road. The prisoners of this camp are made to work in the farms owned by the Burmese Army. It was estimated by the officials that they had a stock of more than 3000 Tins (one Tin is approximately equal to a bushel) of peas. However, in reality, only 1500 Tins of pigeon pea were found when the army came and to collect. The prisoners were accused by the camp officials of stealing the peas and the said 12-year old prisoner was beaten to death in the process of investigation. In fact, the prisoners were often beaten to the point of vomiting blood if they were caught eating peas even before they were reaped. Usually, camp officials and concerned departmental personnel smuggled the peas out of the camps and the prisoners were made the victims of their actions.
Therefore, the project being done by the military government as a part of their "Border Area Development Programme (BADP)" is given a new name by the local people and prisoners as "UN-sponsored BAD programme).
Compiled by : News and Information Bureau, All Burma Students League
PANOS: GOLDEN TRIANGLE HEROIN TRADE FUELS HIV/AIDS April 1997 By Rupa Chinai and Rahul Goswami
KOHIMA, INDIA (PANOS) - The expanding heroin trade in Southeast Asia's 'Golden Triangle' - the world's largest source of illicitly grown pure heroin - is bringing with it a wave of new HIV/AIDS infections in Myanmar and a remote corner of India.
The Golden Triangle comprises 38 million hectares of rainforest-covered mountains in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma). Bordering Myanmar are three northeastern Indian states - Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. Sometimes racked by insurgency and girded by the Himalayan mountains, these states are among the poorest in India and, for the most part, closed to foreigners for security reasons.
But not to the opium trade evidently. On both sides of the border, opium and heroin addiction is destroying tribal populations, while contributing to an alarming rise in HIV infection and AIDS. Underdevelopment in Myanmar in particular is fueling an opium-driven economy, which depends not only on opium cultivation but also its use as a means of barter.
In India's northeastern states - there are seven altogether - large sections of the youth are now threatened by a rising HIV infection, drug and alcohol abuse and other chronic killers such as malaria and tuberculosis. "Millions of migrants are pouring out of Myanmar into China, India and Thailand, carrying HIV with them," says the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board's 1997 report.
In Myanmar, needle sharing, a proliferation of brothels, lack of public awareness campaigns and a weak public health infrastructure have contributed to an explosion in the number of HIV-positive cases, the New York-based The Nation magazine reported last December. The UN reports that 60-70 percent of intravenous drug users in Myanmar are HIV-positive. Myanmar-wide HIV figures cited by the United States' Bureau of the Census are equally disturbing. Surveillance at 20 sites in 1995 found infection rates of 18.2 percent among prostitutes, 10 percent among patients of sexually transmitted diseases and 55.2 percent among injecting drug users.
The World Health Organisation believes there are 500,000 heroin addicts in Myanmar - or one percent of its population. The Southeast Asian Information Network, a Thai nongovernmental organisation (NGO) working on AIDS prevention, says the real figure may be two to four times higher.
Over the Indian border in Manipur, rates of HIV infection among intravenous drug users jumped from zero in 1988 to nearly 70 % in 1992, according to the US Census Bureau. Infection rates in the region are among the highest in India. "We know there is a lot of movement [of heroin]," K.N. Singh, a police officer in the border town of Moreh, said. "About 1,000 people come and go every day. There are searches but we hardly ever find anything - when we do, its through tip-offs from sources. Many people are involved. Last year a senior police officer was arrested and imprisoned for trade in marijuana," he added.
Today's heroin trade follows old opium routes of the British colonial era and takes advantage of porous borders. In Mon, a Nagaland border district, large groups of Myanmarese youth, walking for days, recently arrived as refugees fleeing poverty in Myanmar. Many brought opium with them. "This is the only medicine we have," said one refugee. Another teenage refugee said she had walked 18 days through north-west Myanmar to reach Mon. She spoke of villages heavily affected by tuberculosis, with no local primary health care and where every family grows opium.
A report by a Myanmar-based NGO smuggled out of the country corroborates the account. It documents widespread opium cultivation and addiction in virtually every village in the Chin province of northern Myanmar, bordering India. In Hpa Kant in Kachin State - famous for its jade - about 50 percent of the youth are thought to be addicts.
While several UN agencies have been conducting AIDS awareness and prevention programmes for many years in Myanmar, there appear to be constraints affecting health projects in the northern provinces. These have been waging an insurgency against the Myanmar regime and the state authorities are wary of any community activity.
In 1994, a US public health expert reported that Myanmar did not allow regional programmes to warn people in Kachin and Shan states about AIDS. Community-based organisations are not allowed to exist and ethnic-or Burmese-language materials are banned. Reports from the Indian Intelligence Bureau, the Indian Army, the Konyak Mother's Association and refugees interviewed for this article suggest little has changed. "There are no roads, no schools, no medicines, no doctors, no communications in the villages on the other side," say the Reverend Yamyap Konyak of the Baptist Church in Mon.
Indian border police and customs officials admit that considerable amounts of heroin pass into India, but there are no reliable figures. The recent opening of a trading post with Myanmar facilitates the trade. And the border is so open, anyone can walk through with a headload. Heads of anti-narcotics agencies of India and Myanmar have held several meetings to work out a joint offensive against the drug trade. But little has changed. The Indian Narcotics Bureau struggles for funds and has only 380 employees country-wide.
For Nagaland and Manipur, the combination of HIV and drug abuse is having devastating consequences, especially for the youth. In 1996, 28 young people died from drug abuse in Mon town alone, according to Father Joe, who works at a drug rehabilitation clinic there. He says he doesn't know how many have HIV, because there are no testing facilities./PANOS
From: "Free Trade Union of Burma (Western Burma)"
During the 1st week of March 1997, The villagers from Min Tha village were subjected to forced labour. Men, women and even aging were used to forced labour to take out the Teak from the jungle for Burmese Army BN228. Forced labourers were beaten up by soldiers in work place as usual. One villager were severely beaten and broken his leg, but Army denied to give any medical treatment. Relatives brought him to Tamu Government Hospital but admission was not accepted. Therefore they went to the Kalay Myo for long distant and took medical treatment there. They have afraid to put on trial for their case against Army personals. Responsible person for the case is Capt. Tun Swe from BN 228.
Excerpts from "SLORC Abuses in Chin State", March 15, 1997, report by Karen Human Rights Group from information provided by the Chin Human Rights Organization
Introduction: "The Chin Human Rights organization (CHRO) was formed in 1996 to begin independently documenting the human rights situation in Chin State of northwestern Burma. The information in this report was collected by CHRO and translated and organised partly with the assistance of KHRG. We have reproduced it in this form to help give the events in Chin State as wide exposure as possible. As can be seen in the information in this report (see also the related reports 'SLORC Orders to Villages: Set 97-A' (KHRG #97-04, 16/3/97) and 'The Situation in Northwestern Burma' (KHRG #96-06. 30/1/96), the Chin people (also known as Zo) are suffering human rights abuses at the same level as people in Burma's other conflict areas. The Chin National Front (CNF) is an armed resistance group which continues to actively fight SLORC forces in the area, though SLORC never includes the CNF in the list of groups which have not signed ceasefire deals, preferring to pretend internationally that the CNF does not exist."
"Meanwhile the SLORC follows a policy of oppression, extortion and forced labour against Chin villagers and tortures or executes any of them suspected of having any contact with the CNF. A large proportion of Chin people are Christian, while many others (particularly in the south) are Animist or Buddhist/Animist. There are active SLORC campaigns to persecute Chin Christians and make them convert to Buddhism. A lot of forced labour on infrastructure and extortion is also now being conducted in the name of the '8th All-Burma Students' Festival', which SLORC has declared is to be held in Haka in December 1997.
Arrest of Village Elders: "Between July and September 1996, the headmen of most villages throughout all of Than Tlang township were arrested by the SLORC Army and accused of having contact with the Chin National front (CNF). At various times during these 3 months, headmen were called from Than Tlang township to the town of Haka by Colonel Thein Lwin, Chairman of Chin State LORC, and Major Saw Hlaing, Chairman of Than Tlang Township LORC and commander of LIB #266 camp in Than Tlang. Those who came to Haka were arrested and detained in Haka police station. Those who could pay 20,000 Kyats were released immediately. However, the leaders of at least 11 villages (the villages of Than Zang, Banawh Tlang, Tlang Pi, Tlang Lo, Far Rawn, Cawng Thia, Tlang Rua, So Pum, Hriang Khan, Thau, Tlang Te) were detained longer because they could not pay."
Attack on Nga Lang Village and Murder of Bawi Kung: "Hniar Ling, age 45, former village LORC chairman of Nga Lang village, was called by the commander of Than Tlang for a meeting on 12 July 1996. While he was travelling to Than Tlang he was told that there would be no meeting but that he would be arrested, so he did not attend. Due to his absence at the meeting, the commander Saw Haling sent troops to Nga Lang village in order to arrest him on 5 October 1996, but fortunately he managed to escape. Another group of troops led by 2nd Lt. Win Than were sent to arrest him on 9 October 1996, and this time also he escaped because he was in his farm field. He was therefore dismissed from his post as Village LORC Chairman of Nga Lang and replaced by someone else. The soldiers accused him of being a member of CNF and this means that if he were arrested he would surely be killed. He therefore left the village and went into hiding. His whereabouts are still unknown."
"Second Lieutenant Win Than is commander of Hriphi post, Than Tlang township, under #266 LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] based in Haka. On 9 October 1996, he led a group of 20 troops to Nga Lang village to arrest former Village LORC Chairman Hniar Ling. Without any warning they surrounded the village. At about 5 p.m. that day, Bawi Kung from Haka town and his two friends 'Pa Sui' [not his real name] and Dawt Hlei Thang were on their way back from Mizoram State [in India], and arrived at Nga Lang village planning to spend the night there. As they were approaching the village, the Burmese soldiers suddenly fired many rounds towards them, without any questions or warning. Bawi Kung was wounded and later killed. Dawt Hlei Thang was arrested, taken away along with the soldiers and nothing is known about what happened to him. 'Pa Thang' managed to escape... The headman, Church secretary and other villagers were beaten, the village was ransacked and the troops took 16 porters and 4 horses to carry away their loot."
[village witnesses] "I was ordered to bury the body of Bawi Kung immediately. They wouldn't allow us to carry his body to Haka, which is his native place [according to Chin tradition, a dead person should be buried at his native place]..." "Early the next morning the villagers went to bury his body. They secretly checked the body and found not only gunshots but also marks of knife stabbings and they saw pieces of intestine hanging out of his belly."
Forced Portering and Beatings of the Elderly: Interview with "Pu Ar Ceh" [not his real name], age 63, Than Tlang township. "'Pu Lian Peng', aged 62, from our village, and I are very old but we want to stay active, so on 23 August 1996 we went together to the outskirts of the village to cut some bamboo. We met Major Naing Aye and 40 soldiers. We were questioned by Major Naing Aye in Burmese language about the situation. We told him that we could not speak Burmese. That Major said: 'You are under the control of the Burmese. Why can't you speak Burmese?' Then each of us was beaten five times with the bamboo we had just cut. After that, we were taken back into our village and we were forced to carry the Army's cooking equipment from there to [...] village, 4 miles away. We weren't given anything for this. I felt very weak because of exhaustion. When I asked the soldiers to give me medicine, I was told, 'We have no medicine for you.' As we were not able to carry anymore, we were sent back to our village. After the villagers heard about our beatings they were very afraid, so each time the Army comes to the village they run away and hide in the jungle."
Forced Road Labour and Sentry Duty: "Throughout 1996, villagers in Haka and Than Tlang townships were forced to work on the Haka-Gangaw and Haka-Than Tlang roads. One person per household had to go in shifts of two weeks each. Working hours were from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. No payment was given, and the villagers had to take their own food and tools. No health care was provided. Anyone who failed to do the work, even for health reasons, was fined 3,000 Kyats. Anyone whose work failed to pass inspection by the authorities was forced to do another shift of labour. Labour on these roads is continuing in 1997. In January 1997, the villagers were ordered to provide 22,500 kyin [1 kyin = 10 x 10 x 1 feet] of crushed stone for the Haka-Gangaw road. Any household failing to provide their quota is fined 135 Kyats per kyin..."
"In June 1996 Major Saw Hlaing, Than Tlang camp commander of #266 LIB of Haka, forced the people from Than Tlang to build six sentry posts. Since then 5 people at a time have been forced to do sentry duty at each post....They are not allowed to sleep and soldiers are checking on them frequently to make sure they are doing their duty. If someone is not doing their duty properly, he or she will be beaten 20 times. If a person cannot do sentry duty for one night, he or she will be fined 50 Kyats. Even if they are sick, they have to pay this fine of 50 Kyats. On 25/9/96 at about 8:30 p.m., one Corporal and 5 soldiers came to check the sentry posts and said: 'You have been on duty for 4 months now but you have never arrested any CNF rebels'. For punishment, everyone was beaten five times each... On 9th June 1996 at 9:30 p.m. Rev. Biakkam, 65 years old, from Than Tlang Baptist Church, was coming home after a religious meeting. Two soldiers stopped him and asked him where he was coming from and what he had just done. Although Rev. Biakkam gave explanations, he was beaten up seriously. He had to be hospitalised."
Haka, Paletwa and Other Locations: "SLORC began construction on a new road from Paletwa [southwestern Chin State] to Kuah Daw in January 1997. The road is being built entirely with forced labour. One person per household from every village in Paletwa and Kuah Daw areas has to be provided for the labour. Any household which fails to send a person is fined 1,500 Kyats each time they are ordered to go."
"The All Burma Students' Festival is scheduled to be held in Haka in December 1997. This is the biggest Students' Festival ever held in Chin State. The festival is organised by SLORC. For this purpose, the SLORC has collected 5,000 Kyats from each landlord and 2,000 Kyats from anyone who is paying rent not only in Haka town but in all of Chin State. Each student has had to pay 50 Pyas (1/2 Kyat) every month since 1st December 1995. For this school year, every student will have to pay 100 Kyats more as a contribution to the Festival. At the same time, the people of Haka are being forced to work in order to extend the football ground and to build a stadium and roads. The people who have their homes along the main road leading to the festival ground were ordered to repair and repaint their houses, and all buildings in bad condition must be removed. Besides this forced labour for the Students' Festival, the people of Haka township also have to repair the Haka-Falam road, the Haka-Matupi road, the Haka-Than Tlang road and the Haka-Gangaw road. The people are complaining that they have no time to do their own work."
Interview with "Pu Than Kil", 60 year old Chin farmer, Kalaymyo township, Sagaing Division (excerpts): Recently, we have not been able to afford sugar and milk. One viss [1.6 kg./3.5 lb.] of sugar costs 120 Kyats. The sugar comes from India -- we cannot get any sugar from our own country. There is no chance to do paid labour, even to earn 30 Kyats per day. Nobody can employ workers because they do not even have money to pay them... A high school teacher earns 1,00 to 1,500 kyats [per month]. Even lecturers [college or university] only earn between 1,500 and 1,750 Kyats. Now rice costs 50 Kyats per pyi [1.6 kg./3.5 lb.] and pork and other meat are at 200 Kyats per viss... A longyi [men's sarong] so 800 Kyats is of medium quality. To have one shirt with long sleeves sewn you have to pay 200 Kyats, and with short sleeves 140 Kyats."
Interview with "Pu Than Ceu", 36 year old Chin carpenter, Kalaymyo township, Sagaing Division (excerpts): "The people now live in poverty. Some do not have enough rice to eat. Instead they mix some red beans with corn. And they cannot afford to purchase medicine when they are sick. We cannot eat like before. The cost of rice is getting higher and higher. In my village, the price of rice is 55 to 75 Kyats for one pyi [1.6 kg./3.5 lb.] but it can be higher according to the season... When I have work, I can earn 50 to 80 Kyats per day. But I don't have work everyday. If we do not do volunteer labour [i.e. forced labour], we have to pay more than our daily wage [as a fine]. So we have to do forced labour. Even though we do it, we don't earn anything from that. Moreover, for widening the main road and the railway each household has to provide the government with one kyin [10 x 10 x 1 feet] of small stones... In my area, the young soldiers aged between 13 and 15 are bad. They steal chickens and clothing from the villagers. Young boys who are found roaming around the town are forcibly recruited by the Army..."
SLORC Deserters in Chin State: "Four SLORC soldiers from #269 Battalion and one SLORC soldier from LIB #550 surrendered to CNF troops in December 1995. They then crossed into India and reached New Delhi on 25 January 1996. They applied to UNHCR (the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Delhi to be recognised as 'persons of concern'. The status was granted to them. Then they went back to stay in Manipur but were handed over to the SLORC by Indian authorities in August/September 1996. No one knows of their whereabouts. They have almost certainly been tortured, and have quite possibly been executed or sentenced to life imprisonment by SLORC."
News And Information Unit: Date March 12, 1997 All Burma Students Democratic Front (Western Burma)
SLORCs border development has reached to the Chin State. There are eight townships in Chin State. They are Tunzam, Teddim, Falam, Hakha, Thangtlang, Matupi, Mindat and Palatwa. SLORC will construct the roads in Chin State. There are 1. Hakha to Gangaw road 70 miles 2. Hakha to Kalaymyo via Falam road 115 miles 3. Hakha to Matupi road 173 miles and 4. Matupi to Palatwa via Mindat road 137 miles.
And then in December 1997, SLORC will hold the students sport festival in Hakha, the capital of Chin State. Therefore the authorities of Chin State Law and Order Restoration Council has been collecting the funds from the students by force for the sport festival Kyats 20 per month each since 1996 January. Then TLORC ordered to each villager forcibly to come to Hakha and to clean the bushes and level the ground for the road construction. But some villages can not go to do the work because the villages are very far away from Hakha. Those villages are situated near the Indo-Burma border.
We heard that the chairmen of Teddim and Tunzan township ordered the villagers who cannot come to contribute the work , the villager must pay 1200 Kyats each to TLORC through the Village LORC. Recent time is to prepare for the hill-side cultivation. If the villager cannot do the hill-side cultivation, they will lose their work for the whole year. The villagers do not want to go, they have to pay the taxes to TLORC. Therefore some villagers had to sell the paddies and their belongings to pay the taxes to TLORC.
* TLORC = Township Law and Order Restoration Council
CHIN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION: RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION February 1997 (English slightly corrected by Burma Net for easier reading)
1. Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) Interview with a Chin pastor in December 1996:
The monks who live at Zakam, Rezua, Leisen, Vangvai and Tinsi villages rule the communities. Anyone who doesn't abide by the monks' orders are reported to the SLORC army and he/she is punished by the army. The monks give judgment on all cases. For those who become Buddhist, they are free from any persecution such as forced labour, portering, extortion of money, etc. Whenever and wherever a monk visits, he is accompanied by the army and they arrange a porter to carry the monk's particulars. The villagers were forced to build a Buddhist monastery and temple. But they refused, insisting "we are Christians." Even though the army threatened action against them, they didn't build it yet. Now the monks and army are holding a meeting to discuss this. Nobody knows what will happen.
One pastor gave a sermon with reference to certain passages in the Bible. While he was giving the sermon, the monk entered the church and made him stop the sermon and scolded him saying, "You can't give a sermon with reference to the above verses of the Bible. If you continue, you will be imprisoned." Furthermore, the monks prohibited pastoral visits to families and prayers for them at every village where monks are living.
2. CHRO Interview with a Chin farmer in his 40s (name with held for security) from Matupi Township, in December 1996 [This man had often been elected as a community leader and worked in the Chin National League for Democracy party in 1990.] I was invited to attend social welfare training by the [SLORC] authority from Matupi on 27/2/95. When I arrived at the place, the authority told us that it is to attend Buddhist hill tract missionary training run by a Buddhist monk named U Razinn at Mindat. As we are Christian, we said we didn't want to go. But the monk persuaded us saying, 'it is no problem if you are Christian, it is just religious training.' So 5 other persons and I took part in the 10 day training.
In the training, we were taught the 17 facts of how to attack and disfigure Christians. The facts were to be spread to the Chin Christian community (see the attached document). And we should not get involved in national politics. We were promised that 1200 kyats per month would be provided to those families who became Buddhist and 800 kyats per month for those individuals who became Buddhist. Furthermore, we would not only be provided with rice and other materials, but we would also be free from portering, forced labour, and extortion of money. And our children would be provided with their education by the government.
I became a Buddhist because of such privileges rather than because I think Buddhism is better than Christianity. And then I was called by Captain xxx, from Pakuku, and I was trained for 10 days. At the training, the captain taught me to report the activities of the Chin National Front and to create misunderstanding among Christian denominations. He told that now, Buddhism is supported by the government. The monk who lives in Matupi is a captain of Military Intelligence and the monks who live in Zakam, Rezua, Leisen, Vangkai, and Tingsi villages are sergeants in Military Intelligence. He encouraged me not to be afraid and said that whenever I needed assistance I could ask them and would be helped.
After I had become a Buddhist, all the problems we faced in the kitchen disappeared. However, when I asked for assistance for my son who was studying in a theological college in Rangoon, they rejected my request and also told me not to let him continue his studies. I threatened that if you don't provide from my son, I will quit being a Buddhist. It is in vain, so I informed them that I had left Buddhism. They told me that if I wanted to join again, I could do so at any time and would be provided with more than before.
For those who became a Buddhist together with me, they are provided with whatever they need and get many privileges from the government and now they are very happy. Now they became like real Buddhists. However, for Christians, the government doesn't allow them to ask for any assistance from foreign countries. As we are very poor and have suffered under forced labour, portering, and the extortion of money, some people are interested in becoming Buddhists.
3. Translation of "The facts to attack Christians"
Missionaries, Honorable Monks, Cleansing Organization
The facts to attack Christians
01. To attack Christian families and the progress of Christians
02. To criticize against the sermons which are broadcast from Manila, Philippines
03. To criticize God as narrow-minded and egotistical who himself claimed that "There is no god except eternal God"
04. To be against corrupted youth and inappropriate fashion
05. To criticize the preaching of Christians wherever it has penetrated.
06. To criticize Christianity by means of pointing out its delicacy and weakness
07. To stop the spread of the Christian movement in rural areas
08. To criticize by means of pointing out "it is not salvation but purchased by blood"
09. To counterattack by means of pointing out Christianity's weakness and overcome this with Buddhism.
10. To counter the Bible after thorough study.
11. To criticize that "God loves only Israel but not all the races."
12. To point out ambiguity between the two testaments.
13. To criticize on the point that Christianity is partisan.
14. To criticize Christianity's concept of the Creator and compare it with the scientific concept.
15. To study and access the amount given in offerings.
16. To criticize the holy spirit after thorough study.
17. To attack Christians by means of both non-violence and violence.
Recopy, Myo Chit, Wah Mah Tah, 2639 True Copy (Sa Win)
"Changing Tactics" Burma Issues, February 1997 by N. Chan
The Chin National Front (CNF) is one of the smaller groups struggling for self-determination in Burma. They operate in the area where Burma borders with Bangladesh and India. Isolated from the international community, their struggle has never been documented as thoroughly as has the struggle of those groups operating along the Thai/Burma border. For many years the Burmese military did not even mention the Chin when identifying groups with which cease fire discussions had yet to be carried out. Recently, however, the Burmese military has begun to talk more about the need to dialogue with the CNF and its armed branch, the Chin National Army (CNA). There have also been increasing reports of Burmese military movements into the Chin area suggesting that major military campaigns may soon be launched against the people of the Chin State.
In the past, the CNA carried out mostly guerrilla strikes against Burmese military columns and outposts. The military's response to these guerrilla strikes was consistent with their tactic in all other regions of Burma; they took retaliatory action against Burmese military columns and outposts. The CNA took the request seriously and began looking for other options to continue their struggle.
CNF discussions resulted in the formation of a new group called the Urban Ranger Force, or URF. The URF was to operate in the major urban centers of Chin State rather than in the rural areas. The logic for this strategy was simple. First of all, it is more difficult for the military to retaliate against urban populations than it is for the to retaliate against villagers in isolated, unwitnessed terror raids. The villagers would, consequently, be safer. Secondly, if no guerrilla actions were taken against the rank and file would feel less inclined to carry out orders from their officers against the people.
It is generally assumed that the rank and file of the Burmese army do not highly respect their officers who are often harsh and uncompromising with the men under their control. Young soldiers are usually from poor families and have very little education. They join the army, not for ideological reasons, but for financial reasons.
The CNA decided that they should not consider these young soldiers as the enemy, but rather as victims of war. Therefore, no guerrilla actions should be aimed against them. The result could be a growing gap between the Burmese military officers and the men under their control. This would weaken the military substantially, thus strengthening the Chin people's struggle for self determination.
In a recent interview, a CNF representative said that the URF strategy has already had positive results. "The URF is strictly controlled by regulations laid down by the CNA headquarters" he said. "They are not allowed to gather any taxes from the villagers, or take any food or supplies from the people unless it is freely offered to them. They are also not allowed to carry out any action without a direct order from the Chief of Staff of the CNA." This has gained the respect and acceptance of villagers who feel like the CNF took their concerns and their suggestions seriously and is really concerned about their safety and welfare.
The CNF representative also stressed that after the URF stopped carrying out guerrilla actions in the rural areas, retaliation raids by the military has also decreased substantially. Burmese soldiers stationed in the rural outposts feel less threatened, and have begun treating villagers much more respectfully.
While it is too early to ascertain whether or not the URF has been successful in driving a decisive wedge between the officers and the rank and file of the Burmese military, villagers report that young Burmese soldiers who pass through their villages now often voice support for the URF.
For many decades the Burmese military leaders have successfully held on to power by using an army made up mostly of poor rural men to fight against the uprisings of the poor rural communities. The approach of the URF may well break that strategy by highlighting the fact that the rank and file of the Burmese army are not the enemy to fight against, but rather they too are victims. When they no longer submit to military orders, the military will lose its power over the country and democratic change will become more possible.
News and information unit: All Burma Students Democratic Front (Western Burma) Indo-Burma border news Date 24th Feb 1997.
On 1st Feb 1997 Township Law and Order Restoration Council chairman of Leshi township, Saggaing division, Naga hill tract U Mya Han sent a letter to the command of (222) Burma Regiment mobile column Maj. Aung Swe Oo to call civilian porters for carrying ration for (1000) soldiers. Therefore Maj. Aung Swe Oo ordered the villagers from the following villages to come to Leshi town without failure.
Name of the village -- Number of porters
1. Summra village -- 130
2. Kuki village -- 125
3. Phontharet village -- 85
4. Pansat village -- 115
5. Ngachan village -- 100
6. Kokailong village -- 108
These porters have to carry ration from Leshi to the places where the soldiers are deployed inside Leshi township. But there is no car road between Leshi and Summra and on foot it takes two days journey. The villages were informed that they would not get any wages and for food they have to arrange by themselves from their homes. Villagers are busy at hill-side cultivation at the moment and due to that the village chiefs requested to the army to reduce the number of porters. But Maj. Aung Swe Oo replied that if the villagers can not fulfill the number of porters that they had been asked, the villagers have to supply the ration for (1000) soldiers. Thus they had to send their full quota of porters to the said place. Due to this forced porterage the villagers from respective villages had to leave Summer season hill-side cultivation.
All Burma Students Democratic Front February 8, 1997 REPORT: FORCED LABOR CONTINUES TO REIGN IN CHIN STATE
Since after taking over power in the bloody military coup in 1988 in Burma, SLORC has been carrying out its infamous "national development programs" which primarily include repairing bridges, building roads throughout the country. The programs are basically aimed at beautification of the out-look of the deteriorating conditions of the country. Through this cosmetic changes, SLORC expects attractions of tourists coming to Burma. However, the programme is being implemented at the cost of local inhabitants. The roads are being built and the bridges are being repaired with forced laborers. The materials required for the constructions were also forcibly collected from the people of projected sites. In addition, people are fined for being unable to contribute the labor. A person per household is ordered compulsory for unpaid labor. Ironically this became official rule in Burma under the SLORC regime.
On 28 December 1996, U Khin Latt, President of Tun Zan township in Chin State of SLORC came under the order of Phalam-based SLORC regiment 268 and Tetain-based regiment 269, the order being to build 100 miles long road connecting Kale Town and Phalam Town. He then passed the order to the villages viz, Hai Tuu, Tui Ton, Tan Twon, Phon Tong and Phai Tun which happened to exist along the projected road to send a person per household for the construction.
The people who are living in all the colonies of Tun Zan township are also included in providing free-Labor for the same. Most of them are local ethnic Chin nationalities. Under the dead-cold weather severed by freezing wind at the mountainous site, unexperienced road builders are forced to carry rocks and dig the ground. Besides, they have to work at their own expenses. Some of them even do not have rice to eat. Therefore they survive with boiled maize and work at the road construction site. The rocks are being collected from the 3 hours away Manipur Streams. Each household is ordered to dig six ditches of 10x10x1 foot big ditch. The construction is still going on till date. The completion of the project is scheduled in April. Therefore, people of that area are not even allowed to go for harvesting their field. A group of 300 people with 6 group works for the construction in rotation. Students in spite of being young under 16 years old, three female and two male teachers of No.8, No.9 and No. 10 of Tun Zan Township State High School are also ordered to provide free Labor for the construction. The question remains unanswered in regard to whom the road will benefit to. According to the local inhabitants of the projected regions, the road surely will benefit the army for the better communication which will help in hunting down the dissidents who are operating in the area.
Information Unit - All Burma Students League
Excerpts from an overseas Chin's letter of advice to the Chin National Front January 15, 1997
"The Burmese Army knows that your movement is too weak to challenge their authority. They use your movement to justify their brutality towards the Chin. They sent out a large contingent of Burmese soldiers, the relation to your strength of 1:1,000, that means they sent out 1,000 soldiers to fight one CNF soldier. They are not interested in fighting you. Their object is purely to fight the Chin society. They are there to bring fear to the Chin people... Now that they control the Chin, they will grow opium. They will make opium available at a cheap price so that the Chin youth will be addicted to it. In a few years time some section of the Chin society will be corrupted like the Burmese society."
"The Burmese Army is in the Chin Hills to divide the Chin people into opposing sections. It will be easy for the Burman to do this because the Chin does not have a common language and they have been suspicious of each other. The only factor that holds the Chin together is that they know from the bottom of their hearts that they are one people. These bonds could easily be broken with the help of the Chin themselves. One denominator is the Chin National Front."
"The forceful takeover of the power from the former president No Than Kap had divided the CNF into two opposing factions, the Haka/Thantlang group against the Falam group. Since the CNF split it became very difficult to unite the Hakha and Falam people. Because of the same reason there is a noticeable division between the Mizo community and the Chin community in Mizoram. Some people were working for it. The death of Lalsanga, who was detained by the CNF unnecessarily for six months which had caused his death. Small events at the hands of undisciplined CNF soldiers had created more and more suspicion and animosity between the Mizo and Chin."
"The killing of the YMA [Young Mizo Association] president of Khuangleng by three CNF undisciplined soldiers had tested the tolerance of the Mizo. It will be up to the leadership of the CNF whether this kind of stupid action be continued or stop. At present time the reports coming to me from the border areas indicate that there would soon be real disturbances between the Haka/Thanthlang and the Paite (Tedim)."
"...I am told that the SLORC is encouraging the people to fight the CNF and the SLORC would supply arms. The Tedim people is of the opinion that the CNF is a Haka/Thanthlang set up, and if the situation continues the Tedim might declare war on the Haka/Thanthlang. I was told that those who call themselves Zomi should separate from those who call themselves Chin."
"...If the CNF wants to work for the people they must have discipline. Without discipline the people will turn against you. I have written to you about the Khuangleng incident. A revolution has to work for the people, that means it should treat its people most respectfully, and gently. The worst would be to fight your own people."
"...You are fighting the Burmese Army because they have no discipline and they abuse their power. Do not follow their examples."
"...It is most important to know who your enemies are. Definitely the Chin are not your enemies. If you abuse your power because you have arms then they will turn against you and become your enemy."
"...The taxes you collected are too difficult for many people...You have to have guidelines and principles..."
Notes from a Chin information source (India), December 13, 1996:
Narcotics: "According to the letter of my friend which I received this morning from Aizawl, Mizoram that some opium fields are found in the Ton Zang area and Falam, Haka township of Chin State. According to local people, these opium fields are made by the local people with the permission of the authority in Chin State."
Human rights: "Human rights violation in Chin State is getting worse nowadays. Since the SLORC army are increasing in Chin State, the violation of human rights are also increasing. Forced labour for road construction and projects of Hydro Electric, Buildings etc. which is called Border area development program led by SLORC, is daily routine for the people of elsewhere in Chin State. Portering is also very much effected to the people of bordering area where CNF are operating. No time is left to work for their survivals. Forced conversion into Buddhism is reported from Northern Chin State. Many of crosses built by Christians were [demolished] by the SLORC army. Even the Christians are forced to work in the construction of Buddhist pagodas. The SLORC authorities took advantage of poverty of the people and they ask the parents to [send] their children in Rangoon for their education. However, the children were sent to monastery instead of sending to the schools. Forced relocation is seen in elsewhere. Soldiers are allowed to rent in the town giving many excuses that camps are being constructed. Rape cases are also reported where SLORC soldiers are being camped."
"M.P.s [Members of Parliament elected in 1991 but not allowed to take office] are confined. According to Dr. Rodinga, son of Mr. Do Thawng who is being jailed in Mandalay jail because of his attendance in National League for Democracy conference held in July (1996), a lot of restriction have been made for the M.P.s. Out of 13 M.P.s from Chin State, 4 had fled for abroad and one is in jail. The rest of the M.P.s are in Chin State under the strict law. The Chin National Front is getting stronger and the SLORC are trying to control the entire Chin State. Curfew is being exercised in Chin State and nobody is allowed to travel without Identity card issued by SLORC in 1990. There is no Chin students movement in Chin State. No party or organization in Chin State have any movement in the region except CNF. Even Churches organizations are facing many restriction when the curfew is being remained. Christmas celebrations will also be restricted."
Environment: "Since the electricity is not available, people have to use wood for cooking and firewood. Even in the town people are facing big problems for this. Now the cost of wood is 5,000 per ton. So people have to cut trees for sale for firewood. There are many orchid in Chin State. Now, orchid is very expensive and become good to make money for the people of Chin. Therefore, people are rushing for getting orchid and they even cut big trees just to get a single orchid flower. As far as I know, a lot of trees where orchids can be found have been cut elsewhere. Chins are totally depend on shift cultivation and they have to clear all the jungle and make fields in order to cultivate for their survival since the place is very backward and no development at all. Therefore if this cultivation continues we have to suffer in near future."
Economy: "Since the cost of animals are good in Mizoram state [India], animal merchants are rushing for getting animals from the villagers in Chin State. Now, goat and cow, buffaloes and about to finish. When the people of Chin are very poor, they have to sale their cattle for getting money. I heard that most of Than Tlang township youths are trying to go for abroad particular in Malaysia to work illegally. In order to go to Malaysia, at least 130,000 kyats is required to get passport and air-ticket and the fee of broker in Rangoon. Therefore they sold all their belongings to get that amount. About two to three thousands of Chin youths are working in Malaysia. The reasons why these youth have made high risk are that since the villagers accused them that strong supporter of CNF. They have to carry as army porters all the times and sometime they were beaten inhumanly."
"The economic situation is very bad now. These are the approximate cost of consumer goods in Chin State. Rice (30 kilograms bag) is Kyats 1,500. Cooking oil, 1 kilogram is 300 Kyats. The salary of primary school teacher is 800 per month. How can a family survive with this amount? Bus services are still not available but only private car service. The cost of petrol is 150 Kyats per litre in black market. So, transportation fare is also automatically high and people could not afford it for their travel. Taxes are illegally taken by various authorities such as immigration, police, tax office and army, etc. The Student Festival is going to be held in Haka by next year and the authorities are taking donation Kyats 5,000 per family of landlord and 300 Kyats per family of renters, by force. All the nearest villages of Haka township are [forced] to work in the construction of Student Festival."
Military situation: "Now they [SLORC troops] are a big number. About 10 battalions have been set up. They can create enough problems for the Chin. There was no report of battle or fighting but bomb blast in the town were made by CNF. No casualties are reported. There were 11 defectors to CNF recently and five of them have been recognized by UNHCR as refugees of concern. Unfortunately, all of them have been arrested and handed them over to SLORC by Indian intelligence. One of the UNDP [United Nations Development Program] officer, namely Ming Hnin, belonging to Chin tribe, was shot to death by SLORC army but they denied it. his wife was forced to claim that the killers are CNF. But she rejected it since she did not believe that the killers are CNF. The incident took place in just near Haka in the summer."
Refugees: "Refugees are sneaking into India for their safety. Unfortunately, the local Mizoram government is not willing to give them shelter in Mizoram. The Chin Refugee Committee (CRC) is trying to establish the refugee camp in Mizoram State since the UNHCR and the government of India is not willing to treat their case in Delhi. Many of the Chin refugees have applied for UNHCR status in Delhi but their request is not yet approved. Some of them have been waiting for their result for almost two years. Their policy on the Chin refugees is still unchanged. Now the CRC is approaching the government of Mizoram and local Churches organizations in Mizoram for establishing the refugee camps. There were many mass detentions of Chin refugees in Mizoram state in this year. Early this year, when former CNF president [John K. Thang] was shot, there was mass detention and many of the refugees who are considered to be a supporter of CNF were tortured inhumanly, even women were not spared. Again, in July and August (1996), mass detentions took place in the whole Mizoram State.
Excerpts from a letter from a Chin in exile, November 20, 1996:
"We are very afraid that there will soon be starvation in the [Chin] State as people there are restricted in their movement in time as well as in distances, not able to work in time in their farm work as there is no security under the military rule who kill civilians at random in addition to the forced labour and conscription of the civilians as porters by the Burmese armed forces, giving them no time to work for their living..."
"What we are informed constantly is the Burmese military in their attempt to wipe out the existence of the Chin nationality and other minority nationalities are encouraging any Burman soldiers to marry these ethnic women by all means. Any Burman soldiers who get married with an ethnic minority woman are to be promoted to the higher rank which means encouraging the soldiers to rape and to kill the ethnic women to [force them] to accept them."
"...80 to 90 percent of the Chin population in the Chin State are all Christians of different denominations. The SLORC force the Christians to become Buddhist by force and built so many pagodas everywhere with the money collected by force for the purpose from the Chin Christians. Any person who has the least complaint about it are arrested and tortured and put in jail without any proper trial. Christians are forced to receive and entertain Burmese monks against their will. Christians are not given freedom to convene their religious conferences and they are ordered to pull down their Christian signboards in many places. On Buddhist festivals, prizes up to thousands in cash are announced to be given to the Christians who would convert to Buddhism. Those Christians who convert to Buddhism are given special privilege to be appointed I the government posts and in appointing councils of local authorities. They create enmity tactics in creating divisions among the Karens Buddhist and Karen Christians. This surely is waging war against Christians by the SLORC which is very difficult for Christians to tolerate."
Chin Women's Organisation: "Request for Chin School in India"
Chin Displaced Women's Primary School has been opened in Aizawl, Mizoram state, India on 19th October 1996.
More than twenty thousand Chin families have been staying in this north eastern state of India since the Burmese Army's take over in 1988. Most of the children of these families have been growing without proper schooling since then.
At the moment, the school is more like a grammar school. Volunteer teachers have been teaching Burmese and Chin so that the children can read and write first. (Though we want to teach them English too, we cannot afford to hire an English teacher yet.) As we cannot afford to rent a room, we have been using a small flat of a Chin refugee as our class room. The students sit on the floor and write on their laps. Due to limited resources, we can take only 37 students (29 children and eight adults) this year. If you can help us, we would like to take more students.
Our aims and objectives are: 1) To give education to the Chin displaced people so that they develop Burma in the future. 2) To teach the displaced people Chin, Burmese and English languages. 3) To promote and preserve our language and literature.
A Chin refugee said that it was too hard to survive in this foreign land when she could not read signboards written in English and when she could not read, write or speak even "one-two-three" in English.
We would like to request everyone to provide us with assistance for this primary school so that we can run it better and continuously. Contact address: Mrs Zatawni, C/O Dr. Za Hlei Thang, Down Queen Colour Photo, Zion Street, Aizawl, Mizoram 796001 India. Zatawni Chairperson Chin Womens Organisation Aizawl, Mizoram, India.
"No Peace in Chinland" June 24, 1996
Chin National Front, Information Service
1. Hospitalization Mr. Kawngluaii: When Mr. Kawngluaii, the middle school
headmaster of Pidawta block, Ha Ka (the capital city of Chin state) is returning
back after worship service the two soldiers of No.226 BN [battalion] had seized
and tortured him without any interrogation on 19th May '96 at 09:00 P.M. Later,
the soldiers had taken him to the battalion. The soldiers allege him for 2 points:
(1): He was involved on the three bombs explosion at Ha Ka in January 1st
(2): He has give and take with CNF. Therefore, he was tortured seriously.
He is in hospital now.
2. Preparing the Whole Burma Students Festival: The 7th anniversary of the
Whole Burma Students Festival will be held in December 1997 at HaKa. As for
that the SLORC has collected Ks 5,000/- to the landlords and who staying by
rents are collected Ks 2,000/- by ordered in HaKa. The same time the people
were forced to extend the football ground and roads. Some landlords are drove
out those who are include their's house without any assistance, buildup army
camps and other gruff works. The local people are suffering a lot and no time for
their's own works. Therefore, some familys fled to India.
3. Mr. Dothawanga (MP) arrested: Mr. Dothawanga (MP) No.2 Kale township
was arrested by soldiers with full arms of No.89 BN on 21st May at night. He has
been detained till today and no one can meet him. The SLORC had tried to
seize Dr. Rodinga son of Dothawnga (MP) and Mr. Zakunga who are activities
opposition the SLORC, fled to India.
4. Held condemnation ceremony of Aung San Suu Kyi and Democracy: A 7,000
over people in Kale township the SLORC called by ordered to the
condemnation ceremony of Aung San Suu Kyi and Democracy held on 5-6-1996. The SLORC propagates it in local TV and shows it video to the villages.
Likewise, 3,000 over people in Haka held on 5-6-96. It will be held in other
townships in June.
5. Again, 5 SLORC's soldiers joined CNF: The repentant 5 soldiers with full
arms joined CNF on 8-6-96. Therefore, the border soldiers press more upon the
local people and business men.
6. The local army commander strongly ordered in Haka and Thlan Tlang
township who so ever must be taken identity card where ever they go. In case of
without card is will fine Ks 1,000/-.
7. When Rev. Biakkam, 65 years old Thlan Tlang Baptist pastor is coming back
after religious meeting the two soldiers asked him, "What he did and where
from?" Although, Rev. Biak Kam explained his points, the soldiers tortured him
seriously on 9-6-96 at )9:30 P.M. Now he is in hospital.
8. Different kinds of the refugees who are from Burma because of bad situation
ruling of SLORC. Illegally, staying in India especially in Mizoram. Almost
servants in Mizoram are from Burma. Some ladies are faced the problem of
rape/pregnant and some gents are faced no get salary properly from their
masters. The school teachers who are serving were tried to drive out, collecting
their name list. When having case of robbery, murder, drug-smuggler, etc. etc.,
the local people allege, who were fro Burma. The local authorities (CID and
police) disturb/arrest as foreigner case and other cases oftenly. By the time
some are staying safely. A 300 over Burmese refugees are in Delhi, some are
trying to get the recognition of UNHCR.
9. Mr. Van Hmung (B.Sc. - Rgn.), a headmaster of Parva village high school,
was arrested by India authorities in April 1st week. He is in Saiha Jail now.
Likewise, Mr. Sa Bah is at Champhai jail (India). Mr. Hre Tling, Mr. Tuli and their
friends are in central jail of Aizawl (India). Sa Buh was arrested in May. Others
were arrested in May also.
10. The SLORC extending army's new camp at Len-Tlang -- Tiddim township
nowadays. Who so ever (local people - or - business men) cross there must do
some works for one hour, the SLORC ordered by force.