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KHRG #97-03 Part 2/2 (Chin)
SLORC ABUSES IN CHIN STATE
An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
From Information Provided by the Chin Human Rights Organisation
March 15, 1997 / KHRG #97-03
*** PART 2 OF 2 - SEE PREVIOUS POSTING FOR PART 1 OF THIS REPORT ***
[SOME DETAILS OMITTED OR REPLACED BY 'XXXX' FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.]
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. A
meeting was held on 18 December 1996 to decide on further labour
assignments on these roads for the villagers.
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. A total of 30 people are doing sentry duty every night at the six
posts, from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. These people have to bring along catapults
[slingshots] and a long knife. From 5:30 onward, two people from each
post are forced to patrol the town, a total of 12 people. 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.
The people have already paid a lot of money because sometimes they are
sick and sometimes they have to do their own work so they cannot do the
sentry duty. They and their families are facing financial problems.
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.
NAME: "Ki To" SEX: M AGE: 48 Chin Christian farmer
ADDRESS: XXXX village, Matupi township
The people from XXXX village were ordered to construct the police
station in Lailenpi, which is 35 miles away from XXXX village, from
5 April to 10 April 1996. Our duty was to complete a quarter of the police
station which is 40 x 20 [feet] within five days. We had to work from the
early morning until night. We had to build it until they were satisfied with
the building. They provided nothing. We had to work with our own food
and no wages at all. The order was sent by U Pe Ku, who is in charge of
the Lailenpi police station.
[Other villagers reported that the villagers from YYYY village,
Matupi township, received a written order (Reference number XXXX)
dated XX April 1996 to build one quarter of the
Lailenpi police station. They were ordered to reach Lailenpi on 30th May
1996. At that time the villagers had to work on their fields and could not
go, so every household was fined 200 Kyats.]
NAME: "Tha Pa" SEX: M AGE: 35 Chin Christian
FAMILY: Married, 6 children
ADDRESS: XXXX village, Matupi township
[This account has been paraphrased from the description given by "Tha Pa".]
One person per family, a total of 96 people, from my village have to build
the Matupi to Haka road. Their duty is to complete 15 kyin [of crushed
stone; one kyin is 10 x 10 x 1 feet (100 cubic feet)] each. So 1,440 kyin
must be completed by our whole village. 50 men, 20 women and 26
children under 17 years of age have been working there. The youngest was
15 and the eldest 60. Once every year we have to do this. Even if we pay
money we cannot escape it.
The work place is in Lung Hlaw village, 5 miles away from our village.
The working hours are from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. They promised to pay us
100 Kyats for each kyin but they took off 50 Kyats for the Students'
Festival fund [the "All-Burma Students' Festival" is to be held in Haka in
December 1997] and 25 Kyats for the Township Sports fund. Only 25
Kyats are left. They provide nothing, we have to work with our own food.
There is no medical care. We cannot go back home unless we have
completed our duty. The soldiers come to check on us three times a week.
This work has been ordered by the SLORC under the Border Areas
Development Programme. In total, 7,500 people from 50 villages in Sing
Tlang Village Tract have been forced to work on this road construction
project. If someone fails to work he is fined 1,500 Kyats.
NAME: "Khung Boi" SEX: M AGE: 28 Chin Christian
FAMILY: Married, 1 child
ADDRESS: XXXX village, Matupi township
[This account has been paraphrased from the description given by "Khung
One person per family, a total of 125 people, from my village have to build
the Matupi to Min Dat road. Their duty is to complete 15 kyin each, so
1,875 kyin must be completed by our whole village. 80 men, 25 women
and 15 children under 17 years of age have been working there. Some are
very old men aged 65. The youngest was 14. Once every year we have to
do this. Even if we pay money we cannot escape it.
The work place is in Chan Pian village, 30 miles away from our village, at
the 202 milestone. The working hours are from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. They
promised to pay us 100 Kyats for each kyin but they took off 50 Kyats for
the Students' Festival fund and 25 Kyats for the Township Sports fund.
Only 25 Kyats are left. They provide nothing, we have to work with our
own food. There is no medical care. We cannot go back home unless we
have completed our duty. The soldiers come to check on us three times a
week. This work has been ordered by the SLORC under the Border Areas
Development Programme. In total, 3,800 people from 40 villages in Dum
Nen and Dai Nen Village Tracts are forced to work on this road
construction project. If someone fails to work he is fined 1,500 Kyats.
Even Christian Pastors and Reverends are not spared, but the Buddhists are
not forced to work and the SLORC doesn't ask any money from them.
Dar Ling Football Competition
By order of the Chairman of Matupi Township LORC, a football
competition was scheduled to be held on 12 January 1996 at Dar Ling
village. Sabawngpi, Sabawngte, Hlung Mang, Dar Ling, Lung Cawi, La
Oo, and Ce Paw villages had to participate in the football competition.
After that, some players were to be selected to participate in the Zonal
Football Competition at Matupi. Therefore all the footballers arrived in Dar
Ling from various villages. That day, troops from Light Infantry Battalion
#266 based in Haka, led by Capt. Thein Htet Phyu, entered Dar Ling. The
Captain said, "Without my permission this football competition cannot be
held. I will stop it by force. The security of this region is my
responsibility, so you must inform me of whatever you plan to do or to
celebrate." The Village LORC chairmen explained that the football
competition had been arranged with the approval of the Matupi Township
chairman. However, Capt. Thein Htet Phyu said that the security was not good
and he postponed it until 12 February 1996 [one month later]. All the
participants were ordered to go back to their own villages.
Then on 12 February, with the permission of Capt. Thein Htet Phyu, the
football competition was restarted. During the festival two of his soldiers
deserted, and all the villagers were ordered to search for them until they
found them. The Captain ordered the villagers to go on sentry duty in the
village day and night, and if there was any news about the deserters they
were to report it to him.
Despite this incident, the Village LORC chairmen decided to continue the
competition, while the villagers also did sentry duty as ordered. When the
Captain heard that the football competition was continuing, he called the
Village LORC chairmen and Village LORC members and fined them one
sack of rice each. Each sack costs 1,000 Kyats.
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. This 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.
NAME: "Pu Lai Lian" SEX: M AGE: 58 Chin Christian schoolteacher
ADDRESS: XXXX town, Chin State INTERVIEWED: 7/96
On XX May 1996 at about 9 p.m., I was returning from the hospital with
my wife. On the way home, I suddenly met two soldiers who pointed their
guns at me. Without any interrogation, they started beating me badly. My
wife was afraid and ran back to our home to inform our relatives. Then
the soldiers took me to the Army camp of #XXX Battalion. There they
continued to beat me. My whole body was swollen and I could hardly
breathe. The Army accused me of being involved in three bomb explosions
which took place in XXXX in January 1996. They said they also suspected
me of being in contact with CNF. XXXX I was kept for a few days in
the Army camp. Some teachers from my school who were the wives of
Army officers came to plead with the Battalion Commander to let me go.
Therefore I was released. I was carried to XXXX hospital, but my injuries
were so serious that I needed to be transferred to XXXX hospital. Now, two
months later, I am still hospitalised.
NAME: "Salai Lai Bi" SEX: M AGE: 25 Chin Christian student
I am a final year student in XXXX at XXXX College [outside Chin State] and
I am involved in the University Christian Fellowship.
Each year when the Universities open an amount of 100 Kyats is asked
from every student for the construction of a Buddhist Monastery - including
the Christian students. If a student fails to pay the requested fee, they
are not allowed admission to the college.
Up to now, I have given 400 Kyats during my life at university as they have
required. Our Jesus said, "Do not worship other Gods except me", and we
have to follow Jesus' commandments. But we cannot, since we have to
study for our livelihoods. In 1994, the monastery was built in the campus
with the permission of the SLORC authorities. But when in November
1995 the University Christian Fellowship requested permission to build a
Church for worshipping, the authorities turned down our request.
NAME: "Pu Than Kil" SEX: M AGE: 60 Chin Christian farmer
FAMILY: Married, 8 sons
ADDRESS: XXXX village, Kalaymyo township, Sagaing Division INTERVIEWED: 9/96
["Pu Than Kil" was asked questions focussing on the economic situation
in his area.]
As I am a farmer, I can only earn money by selling my rice. The
production would be enough to feed my family but I have no other way to
make money, so I need to sell some of my rice. Because of that, we don't
have enough to eat. It is also very difficult for the people who don't have
any fields. They don't have enough rice to cook.
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.
We also had to build the railway and work on the Zee Chaung hydro
project. Now the villagers have to pay 100,000 Kyats for a meter box to
connect to the power supply from this hydro project. We had to build an
Army camp between Kaley Wa and Kham Phet villages. This forced
labour generally goes on from January to May. The SLORC chooses this
time because there is no farm work then. In my area, the Army does not
behave too badly. They even protect us from thieves.
We have to construct a road by ourselves from my village to another village.
This is a new road under a government scheme, but they have never
supplied anything toward it and we had to collect money amongst the
villagers. [SLORC calls these forced labour and forced payment projects
"self-reliance basis" projects.]
I don't know exactly about government salaries. A high school teacher
earns 1,000 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 [1.6 kg./3.5 lb.]. A shirt that costs less than 500 Kyats is not of
good quality - you have to spend at least 500 up to 1,200 Kyats for a good
one. A longyi [men's sarong] for 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.
One acre produces about 50-70 tangs [one tang = 2 big tins, or about 30
kg./66 lb.] of paddy but we have to sell 12 tangs per acre to the
government at 75 Kyats each, while the market price is 350 Kyats each.
Every field is registered by the government. In my village, all the fields
passed from father to son. The government doesn't allow us to sell these
fields to other people.
NAME: "Pu Than Ceu" SEX: M AGE: 36 Chin Christian carpenter
FAMILY: Married, 7 children
ADDRESS: XXXX village, Kalaymyo township, Sagaing Division INTERVIEWED: 9/96
["Pu Than Ceu" was asked questions focussing on the economic situation
in his area.]
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 70 Kyats for one pyi [1.6 kg./3.5 lb.] but it can be higher according
to the season. The pork and meat is 200 Kyats per viss [1.6 kg./3.5 lb.].
We spend all our money just to buy rice, so we cannot afford to prepare two
or three kinds of curry like before. Before, the government was supplying
sugar, oil, and rice from the cooperatives. Every village used to have two
cooperative societies but now they have been abolished.
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. The son of
my friend Hming Liana was wandering around Kalaymyo town and he was
captured by the Army. When he did not return home his father searched
for him, and they found him at the soldiers' camp.
SLORC Deserters in Chin State
Four SLORC soldiers from #XXX Battalion and one SLORC soldier from
LIB #XXX 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.
NAME: "Myo Aung" SEX: M AGE: 18 Burman Buddhist
FAMILY: Single, 2 younger brothers and sisters
EDUCATION: 6th Standard (Grade 6) RANK: Private, #XXX Battalion
ADDRESS: xxxx village, Mandalay Division INTERVIEWED: 1/96
In 1992, I was studying in 6th Standard at the State High School in my
village and our family was facing extreme financial difficulties. I couldn't
continue my education. I wanted to let my younger brother and sister go to
school. At that time, the rumour circulating in our area was: "Anyone who
joins the Army will be given rations and be paid 600 Kyats per month". I
thought that I would be able to send the 600 Kyats to my family, so that
they could send my brother and sister to school. So I decided to enrol in
On XX August 1993, I went to the recruiting centre in Mandalay [note: he
was only 15 years old]. I started my military training on XX September
1993 and completed it after 4 months. I was posted to LIB #XXX. Then I
was transferred to #XXX Battalion at Tiddim [northern Chin State, just east
of the border with India's Mizoram State] on XX October 1994. This was a
newly established Battalion for the 'Chin People Operation' under the
commander of Northwestern Command, Col. Maung Thein [Northwestern
Command covers all of northwestern Burma]. They selected only
unmarried soldiers for this Battalion and encouraged them to marry Chin
girls and convert them to Buddhism. If the soldier cannot convert the Chin
girl whom he marries to Buddhism or if he becomes a Christian himself, he
is punished and put in jail. If he can, he gets rank and privileges.
Our company commander was Captain XXXX. The company was
divided into two platoons. Our platoon commander was Sergeant XXXX.
Our section commander was Lance Corporal XXXX and I
was the section second-in-command. [A SLORC company is about 100
soldiers, a platoon is about 30 and a section is about 10. SLORC
battalions usually have 4 or 5 companies.] Our company was posted at
XXXX camp near the border of Mizoram, India. Our main duty was to patrol
the border area, which is part of Tiddim and Falam townships in Chin
State. We had to convince the civilians to condemn CNF rebels, and
persuade them to support the Burmese Army. But whenever the civilians
requested any assistance from the SLORC, they got nothing. Whenever the
commanders disliked someone, they ordered us to beat him up and to
harass him. Once, when our platoon was in Hai Mual village, one of the
volunteer labourers [i.e. forced labourers] was not well. My platoon
commander ordered me to beat him up. I hit him four times in his chest
with my gun. After that he couldn't even stand up by himself. I felt so
sorry about that, but an order was an order.
Instead of teaching us good things, the officers frequently ordered us to
steal whatever they wanted. When we entered a village, they ordered us to
steal chickens and wine. During my 3 years of service, we stole more than
500 chickens from the villagers. The commanders are always very happy to
eat the chickens. Sometimes we stole the locally made Zupi, which is the
most appreciated traditional wine. Once in Thing Lei village the section
commander, XXXX, ordered me to steal a jacket worth 1,000
Kyats from a person who lived in the house where he was staying.
The salary of a private is 600 Kyats per month [it is supposed to be 750].
But every month the officers cut it: 1 Kyat for donation [alu ngui], 5 Kyats
for Buddhist religious funds, 10 Kyats for social welfare, 100 Kyats for
savings in the bank, 40 Kyats for a Battalion Certificate. Only those with
this Certificate were allowed to meet the Battalion Commander, and it was
valid for one month. The remainder of our salary was not sufficient for a
uniform. We had to save money for 3 or 4 months to purchase a full
uniform. By the time we could afford to buy one part of it, another part
was already torn, so we didn't look much different from the volunteer
soldiers [the militia units which are forcibly conscripted in the villages].
I escaped because I was not satisfied with my salary or with the relationship
with our higher officers and the civilians. I came to realise that the
Burmese Army is not supported by the people and is not working for our
country. Most of the Privates and some NCO's [Non-Commissioned Officers,
i.e. Corporals, Sergeants etc.] from #XXX Battalion would like to escape but
they have no chance. I discussed running away with Lance Corporal XXXX,
YYYY and 6 other soldiers. Three friends and I planned to flee on 3
December 1995 at 11 p.m. with the help of a villager, but our plan fell
through because our officers were drinking and gambling up to midnight.
On 4th December at 3 a.m., I replaced ZZZZ on duty and we took off. At 4
a.m. we reached xxxx village and hid in the forest. The SLORC was
chasing us. They reached xxxx village at 8 a.m. and there was fighting with
the CNF. As soon as the SLORC left, we went to a farm and asked for
food and drink. The villagers helped us to meet with the CNF on
XX December 1995.
NAME: "Za Kap" SEX: M AGE: 20 Chin Christian farmer
FAMILY: Single, 2 brothers and sisters
EDUCATION: 4th Standard (Grade 4) RANK: Private, #XXX LIB
ADDRESS: xxxx village, Paletwah twp., Chin State INTERVIEWED: 1/96
I joined the Army in September 1993 [at age 17]. After 15 days in the
recruitment centre of Sittwe [capital of Arakan (Rakhine) State], I was
moved to the No. 9 Training Centre of Arakan State. After completing the
training, in January 1994 I was posted with LIB #XXX. The Battalion
Commander is XXXX, the commander of Company #2 is Captain XXXX,
the platoon commander is Lieutenant XXXX, the
section commander is XXXX and the section second-in-command is XXXX.
The main duty of my battalion was to provide security for Than Tlang
camp by patrolling the areas of Swe Let Wah and Salain Wah. The area is
very rural and the people there have never seen a car or a motorcycle.
There is no middle school, only one private primary school. They are poor
and isolated from the Burmese. When I got there, no chickens were
available because the previous soldiers had already stolen them all. The
porters were very weak. Their heavy loads made them fall down again and
again. They were scolded, punched and beaten continuously. We never
carried our own rations. Wherever we went we demanded food, money or
animals from the villagers. Often the villagers were suspected of having
contact with the rebels. The saddest thing I heard in my life was when a
Captain from Infantry Battalion #376 killed more than 10 villagers because
they were members of CNF. Then he took people as porters to the
SLORC camp, and he was given a promotion. I do not remember his name.
I planned to flee with XXXX but he stayed behind. I ran away from my camp
on XX December 1995, and with the help of a villager I reached xxxx village
at 6 a.m. Then I reached yyyy village the next day, and waited for a week
before contacting CNF.
- [END OF REPORT] -
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