Soldiers Interrupted Christian Conference, Threatened MP in Chin State
20 March 2012: In a fresh public incident that contradicts the new image of Chin State government as a peace-loving authority, Burma Army soldiers interrupted a Chin Christian conference and threatened an MP at gunpoint in Chin State, Burma.
In its statement released today, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said several soldiers from Matupi-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 140 disrupted a Christian gathering of more than 1,000 delegates held at Sabawngte village in Matupi Township on 10 March 2012.
And Captain Aung Zaw Hteik and Captain Myo Min Hteik severely blamed the village headman for not informing them of the event although a prior permission had been officially obtained from the Matupi Township General Administrative Office, according to CHRO.
Pu Van Cin, Chin MP elected last year from the Ethnic National Development Party, was threatened with a gun by Captain Myo Min Hteik in civilian clothes when he came to the scene introducing himself to the army officers.
The Captain was quoted by CHRO as saying: “I don’t give a [expletive] about you being a Member of Parliament. We are not under the control of the Chin State authorities. We take orders from the North Western Regional Command.”
CHRO’s Program Director Salai Za Uk Ling said: “It is very difficult for Chin Christians to hold large gatherings without harassment and disruption.”
The soldiers remained in the village overnight, disrupting the worship service by carrying guns and patrolling around the church, according to the statement.
“As far as we know, no legal or disciplinary action has been taken against these soldiers from LIB140. They violated the right to freedom of religious assembly and threatened a Chin MP in front of dozens of witnesses, and clearly believe they are above the law. This incident highlights the problem of impunity in Burma, especially for members of the armed forces,” continued Salai Za Uk Ling of CHRO, an organization that has monitored human rights situation in Chin State since 1995.
The Christian conference attended by delegates from 80 local branches of the Mara (Chin) Evangelical Church at Sabawngte village in a remote part of Matupi Township took place from 8-13 March 2012.
Although armed resistance group the Chin National Front signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement with the Chin State government in January this year, Chin State remains heavily militarized, with 54 Burma Army camps stationed in all nine main township areas of the state.
Van Biak Thang