Chin People Faced Junta’s Post-Referendum Reprisals
Burma’s ruling junta declared the country’s referendum as ‘approved and passed’ but the Chin people are still suffering the aftermath, resulting in forced labour and detention in Chin State, sources unveiled.
Villagers in Shinletwa, Paletwa Township in southern Chin State where the majority voted against the plebiscite, are forced to build military camps on the Indian-Burma border, according to Khonumtung News.
The military authorities allegedly arrested Aung Be, Hla Myint Aung, Tulin and Ko Htet from Paletwa Township in connection with ‘vote no’ campaigns as some other villagers who were reportedly known as voting against the referendum received ‘surprise visits’ as a sign of threat and warning. Also in Thantlang Township, villagers had been detained and interrogated for distributing campaign leaflets ahead of the May 10 referendum.
A statement made by Chin National Council (CNC) on SPDC’s referendum announcement results said that the SPDC, after blatantly rejecting the wills of the people, counted “No” votes cast on the referendum as “Yes” votes while counting the poll results.
“In some places, ‘No’ votes are not accepted and the people are forced to cast ‘Yes’ vote for the second time. In addition, people in the voting booths are intimidated by various forms and forced to cast a ‘Yes’ vote only. In some villages, villagers are forced to vote for ‘Yes’ with a threat to burn down their whole village if they fail to vote for ‘Yes’,” added the CNC’s statement released last month.
The local authorities issued an order that any villager who failed or did not want to participate in the construction of the military camps would be fined and have to pay large amount of money. The military authorities will continue in other villages hunting down those who rejected and voted against the military-controlled referendum, it is believed.
The Chin people, like other ethnic nationalities in Burma, have been for decades suffering from various human rights violations and harassment from the military regime.
Van Biak Thang
05 June, 2008