Junta troops also destroyed furniture and religious books at the local church in Taal
The entire population of a village in Chin State has fled after junta soldiers ransacked homes, killed animals, and destroyed valuables during two separate raids in July and August, locals told Myanmar Now.
About 90 soldiers entered Taal, which is about 12 miles from the town of Falam, on July 20. They stole or destroyed valuables in 21 of the village’s 36 houses and tossed people’s belongings, including religious books, out of windows and onto floors.
Taal’s population of around 160 people fled and hid in the surrounding forests and hills and returned later when the troops had left.
They were among around 800 in Falam Township who fled from four villages that day after fighting broke out between junta soldiers and the Chin National Defence Force.
In a second raid on August 9, about 150 junta troops entered Taal and ransacked the remaining houses. A priest from Taal told Myanmar Now that soldiers beat two villagers, destroyed more property, and killed pets and livestock during the second raid.
“When they came, all the villagers fled into the mountains and forests. They entered the village, ransacked the houses and killed all the poultry birds and pigs,” he said.
Sui Cung, 43, and Peter Van Thawng Hu, 22, were beaten by soldiers while they were on their way back to the village to retrieve some of their belongings.
“The injuries were not serious,” said the priest. “They kicked the villagers. Their eyes became red then they were released by the soldiers.”
The soldiers then spent five days in the largely Christian village, during which time they also ransacked the local church, destroying or damaging furniture and religious texts.
Taal’s residents have since stayed in hiding, with many sheltering in Falam. Some are suffering with Covid-19 symptoms.
“There are no soldiers in the village now but the houses and belongings were damaged and destroyed, so the villagers fled to Falam instead of going back,” said the priest, who is also taking shelter in Falam.
The Institute of Chin Affairs, a rights group, said soldiers had violated the Geneva Convention by destroying civilian property and stationing themselves in religious buildings and schools.
Villagers lost 380 chickens and eight pigs, as well as furniture, household appliances, and blankets, the institute said in a statement. The total losses were valued at almost 30m kyat, it added.
A junta spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
There have also been clashes recently between the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) and junta troops in Mindat, which is adjacent to Falam.