Burmese Soldiers Sell Alcohol Despite Ban
11 April 2011: Burmese soldiers are accused of breaking their own rules by selling alcohol in Matupi Township, Chin State – against a ban they supported, Chin Human Rights Organisation’s source revealed.
Burma army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 140 and No. 304, both based in Matupi Township, set up a place offering alcohols for purchase near Phaneng and Hnawte villages, according to a Chin local, who asks not to be named.
“The sale of alcohols in Matupi had been banned by the local community and religious groups in partnership with the military authorities. Some locals who sold alcohols were even arrested and put in jail. Now that the authorities themselves do not follow their own orders, the people start drinking again,” said the local from Matupi Town.
Tactical Operations Commander Zaw Min Oo, now the Chin State Minister for Border Security Affairs, was said to have imposed an order, prohibiting the trading and selling of alcohols in the region since last year, with a warning of imprisonment and fine in place.
“Some locals who continued selling alcohols were jailed for over two months in Pakoku prisons. But no actions have been taken against the soldiers being engaged in this business,” said the local.
The local religious groups were reportedly said to have funded the anti-alcohol action programme in efforts to combat alcoholism in the area.
Traditionally, Chin Christians do not approve of drinking alcohol and have taken a very conservative view of the use of alcohol, according to a report Carrying The Cross: The military regime’s campaign of restriction, discrimination and persecution against Christians in Burma by Benedict Rogers.
“To undermine this, since 1992, the SPDC has brought in large quantities of a liquor known as ‘O.B’, a mix of methyl and ethyl alcohol, from Rangoon,” said the report.
“Not only is it highly addictive, it is also extremely toxic. This is sold on the streets, especially on Sundays, to young people. Boys and girls as young as 12 years old have been sold the alcohol by the army and the police.”
In some parts of Chin State such as Thantlang and Hakha towns, local communities and religious groups have been actively engaged in fighting against the trade and use of alcohol.
Alcohol-related cases topped the list of problems facing the Chin communities in Malaysia, according to a recent report by CDAC (Chin Disciplinary Action Committee), a volunteer community-based organisation tasked with tackling domestic issues.
Van Biak Thang