The Myanmar Military Is At War With An Ethnic Group Called Chin

Recently, Myanmar’s military stormed into the town of Mindat, where a militia group had put up tenacious resistance against the armed forces.

After mortars and rockets were fired at the town, the population fled.

According to volunteers, many of them are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, as they have little food or shelter, and no access to medical care.

The army has cut off road access to the town, and cut off the water supply, making life extremely difficult for those who stayed behind.

‘The soldiers patrol and shoot and they raid houses so many people are leaving. That’s why they are leaving,’ a volunteer explained.

Mindat, a town of less than 50,000 people, has inspired protesters throughout Myanmar, who have been holding daily rallies under the slogan Mindat Fighting.

In Chin State in western Myanmar, this scenic mountain town was one of many where protests broke out against the military coup on 1 February 2021, when the army overthrew the democratically elected National League for Democracy, claiming electoral fraud. There is no evidence to support these claims.

The coup triggered more than three months of protests between citizens and the army.

Nevertheless, residents in Mindat say that for the first month they were mostly left alone, as they organized motorbike rallies against a backdrop of forested hills stretching to India’s border.

As in other parts of Myanmar, the military began using lethal force against demonstrators in March 2021. 

In April 2021, the death toll had reached over 500 across the country, and activists everywhere began thinking about how they could fight back. In many places, without weapons, they had few options.

People of the Chin ethnic group in western Myanmar, however, have a tradition of making long guns, called tumi, for which they have been granted government licenses. As a result, they have formed people’s defence forces to mount armed resistance against the regime.

The first armed clashes took place in late March 2021 in areas with large ethnic Chin populations – one of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities.

There were first-time reports of military casualties, but untrained civilians suffered more.

Since Myanmar’s independence in 1948, when the Chin National Front waged sporadic armed campaigns against government forces, the Chin State has been subjected to systematic abuses at the hands of the military.

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