Collective Punishment: Implementation of "Four Cuts"

Publisher: IWGIA / CHRO
Number of pages: 30
Publication language: English
Country publication is about: Myanmar
Region publication is about: Asia
Financially supported by: IWGIA
Release year: 2022
Release Month | Day: 03/01

Tags: Human rights

This report details human rights abuses that took place in Mindat Township, Chin State from the period of April to December 2021. In May 2021, Martial Law was imposed on Mindat Town, pre-empting a large-scale assault by air and on the ground in order to engage with the Chin Defense Force – Mindat (CDF-M) and establish military control of the town.

During a three-day siege, indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure took place, hospital premises were stormed, and widespread instances of war crimes committed by Tatmadaw forces were reported. After the majority of Mindat’s population had relocated - either by displacing to a number of religious compounds in the town, or fleeing to the rural areas outside of the town - the junta reinforced and restructured their operations in Mindat, establishing a new Tactical Operations Command (TOC). Under this command, a number of Light Infantry Divisions (LIDs), including LIDs 101 and 55 began clearance operations across Mindat Township. These operations, together with a blockade on basic necessities entering the region violated a range of provisions within the Geneva Conventions linked to the principles of proportionality and distinction in non-international armed conflicts.

The briefing documents a range of human rights abuses associated with the Tatmadaw’s operations in Mindat which include circumstances that took place during the assault on the town, detailing the use of civilians as human shields, entering medical facilities and attacking medics. The arrest and torture of peaceful protestors in April, leading to the escalation of the conflict is also documented.

In the subsequent months LIDs that were deployed to the region conducted clearance operations. These clearance operations led to the widespread looting and pillaging of rural villages. During the documentation period, respondents described instances of theft, arson, the killing of livestock, and the destruction of food stocks. In rural areas, the targeting of non-military infrastructures, such as local clinics and churches took place as well as camps for the internally displaced.

As the Tatmadaw engaged in livelihood destruction on the ground, thereby increasing the need for basic necessities such as food and medicine, they enforced a tight grip on access into the region. Access restrictions included obstruction of aid, delayed authorization, and enforcement of transport restrictions on aid operations in Mindat town. LID 101 has enforced a blockade on the region via checkpoints across Magway which led to arbitrary arrest and detention of civilians attempting to courier aid into the region.

The circumstances surrounding the torture and murder of an individual associated with the civilian administration, serious injury to a civilian fleeing a conflict area, and issues related to protection concerns in the region are also documented. These include instances of landmines planted near main roads and unexploded ordnance located in areas where indigenous livelihoods take place, such as shifting cultivation plantations.

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