Politics State & Urban World Affairs

Myanmar Military’s Notoriety Against Ethnic Chin: A Reminiscent of Rohingya’s Fate

Myanmar Military's Notoriety Against Ethnic Chin

On January 6, while returning condo, Put Tui Dim, a journalist and human rights activist from the Chin state of Myanmar, was arrested by the country’s military. Nine other civilians from the same village, including a 13-year-old boy, were also detained along with him.

The villagers later found the bodies of Pu Tui Dim and the rest of the apprehended. The hands of the corpses were trussed behind their rears with some having had their gullet laceration and Others stab wounds in the midriff. This egregious episode is just a tip of tantamount brutality Tatmadaw has long been unleashing against Myanmar’s own people-further increased both in scale and intensity since the military coup on February 1, 2021.

One of the old tactics of the Myanmar military is to use its brutality against the minority ethnic groups, as in the case of its genocidal assault against the Rohingya ethnic group in Rakhine, in order to clench power and gain the fulcrum of the extremist Bamars.

Of the 14 states and territories in Myanmar, Chin, one of the smallest states in Myanmar, is located in the northwest corner of the country, with an area of 13.9 thousand square miles and home to 4 lakh 78 thousand including 2 lakh 21 thousand children. In addition to the Chin group, about 50 other sub-groups sponge in this montane and besieged state.

Being the poorest state in Myanmar, more than 7 out of 10 people live beneath the poverty line. only 21% of people live in metropolis and the remaining 79% live in peripheral hamlets. Underdevelopment and penury have timbered the state one of the most deprived regions in Myanmar. Surprisingly distinct in the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, 85.4% of the people in this state are Christians and 13% are Buddhists.

The Christian-majority Chin state is at the forefront of resistance against the junta, and in turn, is witnessing horrific military attacks- including airstrikes, heavy artillery and indiscriminate repression of civilians.

Given the Myanmar’s enduring Civil war since its independence in 1948 and, subsequently, the Tatmadaw’s long legacy of notoriety against its very own people, be it Rohingya, Kachin, Shan, Karen or Karenni ethnic groups, there have been numerous paradigms of minority villages having been burned down by military forces.

In consequence, the residents have been forced to take refuge in nearby countries or communities or forests as their homes were reduced to ashes. Just as the Rohingya have taken refuge in Bangladesh in the face of ethnic cleansing mayhem by the Myanmar military, so have about 16,000 Chin taken refuge in the Indian state of Mizoram.

Arbitrary detentions of civilians, torture, executions, indiscriminate shootings in civilian areas and cities, night raids and destruction of private property have become daily phenomenon across the Myanmar, particularly over the past year. Meanwhile, the military has tried to prevent independent groups from collecting evidence of human rights abuses and harassment. Part of this effort, mobile internet services have been blocked in 24 townships in northwestern Myanmar since last September, with mobile networks being shut down from time to time. 

As the military junta has stepped up attacks on civilians, homes and churches have become the primary targets in the Christian state of western Myanmar. In January, at least 13 civilians were killed and 15 others wounded in a junta artillery attack. Junta forces are orchestrating a large-scale assault in the Chin state while local militia forces are fighting back against the junta, using old, improvised hunting rifles, leaving the resistance effort fight overwhelmingly nonpareil.

Moreover, all humanitarian assistance programs have been suspended through imposing martial law, restrictions on movement and obstruction of relief operations. The movement of goods and other life-saving essentials to Chin and northwestern Myanmar has almost completely halted, resulting in severe food and humanitarian crisis. Between August and November last year, the military burned and destroyed at least 22 churches in Chin, including more than 350 civilian homes, according to the CHRO, a non-governmental organization.

In April 2021, a resistance force called the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) was formed in the Chin state in support of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD-led pro-democracy National Unity Government (NUG). In January, a total of 71 clashes between the CDF and junta forces took place in eight townships in Chin. Of these, 29 were in Matupi township and 14 in Mindat township. Clashes with the military are intensifying as the CDF, along with another old armed ethnic group called the Chin National Front (CNF), builds resistance.

Myanmar’s military has a notorious legacy of employing the scorched-earth tactic, burning down anything that might be useful to the enemy, as part of its so-called counter-insurgency operations. In a brutal 2017 operation in the western Rakhine state, troops burned more than 200 villages, forcing more than 700,000 Muslim Rohingya villagers to seek security in Bangladesh across the border. Myanmar’s military has been charged with crimes against humanity and genocide for its actions against the Rohingya, including killing and raping civilians.

The military’s crackdown on post-coup anti-military protests has also led to accusations of demolition of homes and genocide of civilians. For example, on December 23, the military launched indiscriminate airstrikes on two Chin villages in the Sagaing region. Troops stormed the village as civilians tried to flee, killing at least 19 people.

On the eve of Christmas, the military burned to death at least 35 people, including women, children and aid workers, in the state of Kayah. According to a non-governmental organization called AAPP, since the coup, the junta has killed about 1,572 civilians and arrested 12,000 without trial. In addition, an estimated 442,000 people have been displaced across Myanmar since the conflict began in February.

Despite relentless rise of this type of attacks, the world conscience seems to be in unprecedented inertia. Even after repeated calls from the various non-governmental and human rights groups, the UN Security Council have drastically failed to take a firm stand. As the international community is muddling in the maze of geopolitics, Myanmar’s military is keeping its brutality on -with utter impunity – resulting in endless suffering of ordinary people. The horrors of the minority Chin, unleashed by the Myanmar brutal junta regime, are reminiscent of the horrific episode once orchestrated against the Rohingya minority.

Related: Relationship between Bangladesh’s Zero-Tolerance for terrorism and Northeast India’s peace and prosperity

Tonmoy Chowdhury is a Bangladesh based independent researcher and freelance writer. He is interested in Refugee and Migration, Human Security Issues, South Asian Politics and Economic Diplomacy. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected].


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