Extortion, Forced Labor Wears Down Chin Villagers
07 September 2011: Chin locals in Thantlang Township, Chin State have been forced to provide chickens and tree trunks as punishment for their animals reportedly entering the military base in Lungler village last week.
Major Ko Ko Aung and his soldiers from Burma Army Infantry Light Battalion (LIB) No. 268 based in Falam town forcibly demanded domestic animals and the tree trunks after claiming that a herd of cattle belonging to Fungka villagers broke through the military fences.
“It is not possible even for people to get into the military quarters, let alone our cattle. The military quarters are surrounded with layers of fences. We have learned that our cattle have been intentionally driven into their fences through the gates of the army camp by the soldiers themselves,” said one of the villagers, who asked not to be named.
The villager also said that the soldiers continually do this kind of coercion and extortion, as they are not provided enough rations by the authorities.
“When this happens, we, the villagers, are the ones suffering. This time, they warned us that they would shoot all the cattle dead if we didn’t meet their demands. They asked for a total of 200 tree trunks besides our chickens, and we were ordered to carry it all to the military camp.”
Based in Lungler village, which is about 4 miles away from Fungkah, Major Ko Ko Aung and his soldiers are still on patrol in the area, forcibly demanding military rations from the nearby villages, according to the locals.
“We hoped that the soldiers would change their behaviour after the new government was established. But so far, we haven’t seen any real changes as we are still suffering from this repression,” complained the villager.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang