Myanmar Regime Forces Loot and Vandalize Villages in Chin State
By The Irrawaddy 30 August 2021
Myanmar junta forces looted valuables, destroyed food, killed animals and vandalized homes during raids in villages in Mindat and Falam townships in Chin State, according to locals.
Junta soldiers burned rice and chickpeas stored for the elderly in Wa Kauk Village in Mindat on August 24, and broke into houses smashing cupboards and destroying motorbikes and spare parts, said a villager.
“We have to rely on Gangaw [in Magwe Region] to buy rice. Usually we keep reserve rice for the rainy season because it is difficult to travel during the monsoon. They destroyed the rice as we were about to send it to our parents who have fled previous clashes,” said the resident.
50 of the 55 homes in Wa Kauk village were looted, said locals.
“It is totally unacceptable that the military, which is supposed to protect the people, has stolen and robbed peoples’ belongings. After witnessing that, we no longer have any trust in the military,” said another resident of Wa Kauk village.
Junta troops also looted the monastery and houses in Kwe Reng Village in Mindat Township on August 24, said a monk from the village.
“They entered our rooms and searched cupboards. I wouldn’t complain if someone in the village had shot at them. But no one did anything to them and they raided the village for no reason. They killed and cooked a pig on monastery premises and went up to the mountain,” said the monk.
Around 60 junta troops raided the village, firing three shots before entering and looting houses, said villagers.
Local resistance fighters have been fighting regime troops in Mindat for months following the February 1 coup and the junta’s subsequent brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters. Locals said the looting on August 24 was the first incident of its kind, although regime troops have entered the villages before from time to time.
“We don’t know why they have done this. The villagers just lead a peaceful life here. What they did was worse than robbers. Even robbers would not do that to a monastery. What they did is ugly and inhuman,” said the monk.
The monk said it took almost ten years to build the monastery in hilly and remote Chin State, which is the poorest state in Myanmar and has only a basic transportation network.
Chin civil society organizations have also strongly condemned the junta’s raids in Tarl Village in Falam Township. Junta troops raided the village twice, once in July and once in August. During the July 20 raid, around 90 junta troops fired shots as they entered the village, before ransacking 21 houses and killing domestic animals.
Civilian resistance fighters in Mindat said junta troops destroyed houses and food in villages on the outskirts of the town after the villagers had fled.
“They killed chickens and pigs raised by villagers. According to the customary way of life in this hill region, poultry is important for the survival of the people here. Junta soldiers have destroyed food the villagers had saved over time,” said the resistance fighter.
He also accused the regime forces of destroying schools, hospitals and religious buildings, saying they are evil to destroy houses of worship.
Regime spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun defended the military, claiming that villages are not raided unless there is a reason to do so. He admitted only to a clash near Paleik Htwe Village on August 24.
“We briefly engaged with them and they fled. And we captured a gun. That’s all,” he said.
The military regime has imposed martial law in Mindat and attacked local resistance fighters both on the ground and by air. There were over 20 clashes between the military and local People’s Defense Forces between late April and early June.
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