Soldiers attempted rape, threatened villagers in Chin State
22 January 2013: Soldiers from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 544 attempted to rape an underage teenage girl and threatened villagers with gunshots in Paletwa Township of Chin State.
A 13-year-old Chin girl, who was travelling to Upe village to help her grandfather, was molested at about 5pm on 27 December 2012 by one of the soldiers from LIB No. 544 under commander Than Htun.
“Villagers saw what had happened and the news spread quickly among our community. The soldier offered the girl hush money of 90,000 kyats,” said an eyewitness to the Khumi Media Group.
The soldier also invited village elders and leaders to enjoy ten bottles of alcohol and a case of beers in order to forcibly make peace on the case, which could affect his reputation, according to the invitees.
“We just had to follow in fear the orders given by soldiers who held guns in their hands. But their seniors must take proper actions so that this kind of incident would not happen again,” said the village elders.
Commander U Than Htun who was under the influence of alcoholic drinks ordered his soldiers to get him young girls from the village of Upe around 2am on 21 December 2012.
The soldiers struck houses with sticks and threatened that the whole village would be burnt down to ashes as the Chin parents would not let their daughters go out at night to serve the commander.
Upe villagers said the soldiers mockingly chanted: “Who are you going to report us to, Tactical Operations Commander or President Thein Sein? We obviously know that you don’t know how to do so.”
‘Drunken’ Commander U Than Htun shot his gun at midnight for no reasons but to threaten the villagers on 8 December 2012.
The village elders complained the Burma Army soldiers in their area were there not to protect but to oppress civilians with their guns, adding: “Their behaviours toward the villagers are still the same. We haven’t felt even a bit of democratic changes.”
Burma Army LIB No. 544, which has recently reportedly transferred to Taungup in Rakhine State following the communal violence, is also active in Paletwa Township, Chin State with their military camp based in Upe.
Upe, a small Chin village close to an international border between Bangladesh and Rakhine State of Burma, is about 20 miles away from Paletwa town, the biggest in Paletwa Township.
Reporting by Peter Lawilu with Thawng Zel Thang