Chin State Minister Implicated in Past Rights Abuse
17 April 2011: Colonel Zaw Min Oo, the recently-appointed minister of Security and Border Affairs of the Chin State government, has been accused of serious past human rights violations in his capacity as commander of Tactical Operations Command, based in southern Chin State’s Matupi town.
The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) – a local watchdog monitoring rights situation in Chin State for the last fifteen years – has said it has documented evidences that Colonel Zaw Min Oo is responsible for a range of human rights abuses against civilians in southern Chin State.
The alleged abuses: Colonel Zaw Min Oo ordered the forced recruitment of underage high school students into the Burma Army in Matupi Township; imposed arbitrary tax on struggling farmers amid the food crisis in 2007; ordered the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of four Chin villagers, including two women in July 2008; troops under his command (from Light Infantry Battalion 304) pillaged livestock belonging to Matupi residents in May 2008. When the owners complained, Colonel Zaw Min Oo asked them to pay for the bullets used to kill their livestock instead.
“How can someone with such a long history of serious human rights abuses be a legislator, much less a cabinet minister?,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO. “This just shows how entrenched the culture of impunity is in Burma,” he said.
Renewing economic sanctions against Burma ealier this week, the European Union (EU) said it supported the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution calling for an end to impunity in Burma.
As commander of Tactical Operations Command No 2, Colonel Zaw Min Oo was Deputy Chairman of the now dissolved Chin State Peace and Development Council. After the November 2010 elections, Col. Zaw Min Oo was one of four ethnic Burman army officers appointed as army representatives to the Chin State Legislature to fill the 25 percent legislative seats reserved for the army under the 2008 constitution.
Born on September 23, 1959 at Lay Myathna Township of Irrawady Division, Zaw Min Oo received a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) degree (distance education) from Pathein University before joining the Burma Army. He was decorated with various military medals – including the Maing Yan-Maetharaw medal – for his role in the offensives against the Karens and Shans in the mid 1990s.