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Indo-Burma border news (r)
RELIGIOUS RIGHTS VIOLATION IN NAGA HILL TRACT
Date. 18th January 1997
We are informed that native Naga people of Saggaing division are
forced to covert
from Christianity to Buddhism.
In early November 1995 State Law and Order Restoration Council
division chairman and commander of North-West command Gen. Hla Myint Swe
order in which all the battalions deployed in Saggaing division were
ordered to do all the
possible ways for the propagation of Buddhist orders among native Naga
There were forced conversion from Christianity to Buddhism in
this region after this
order had been issued.
One village chief said that State Law and Order Restoration
Council forced the
villagers to construct Buddhist monasteries and sent abbots to each
monastery in Pansat,
Kokailong, Kutki, Phongtharet, Leyon and Ngakyan villages in Sumra Naga
hill tract. These
abbots taking protection of Burmese army are organizing the local
Christian people to be
converted into Buddhism.
In these regions local Christian people are forced to cut down
the bamboo and wood
and have to carry for the construction of monasteries.
When the army authorities summon the village chiefs to army camp
in order to instruct
them for the construction works, they used to send a piece of bullet or
charcoal or chilli
enclosed with the letters. The village chief explained that
-bullet means if they fail to come to the army camp they will be killed.
-charcoal means if they fail to come to the army camp the villages will
be burnt down.
-chili means if they fail to come the army camp they will be tortured.
Soldiers from Light Infantry Regiment (229) and (222) deployed in
these regions were
asked to marry with local Naga girls and those who married to the
soldiers were forced to
convert into Buddhism. After they had converted into Buddhism were sent
to Big cities like
Rangoon and Mandalay for touring and provided good clothing. In this way
authorities persuade more local Naga girls to convert into Buddhism.
In addition native Naga people who converted into Buddhism are
provided (500) to
(1000) Kyats by the army authorities. The army authorities also organize
the native Christian
people that they will provided ration supplies and clothing regularly to
those who have
completed six months after conversion. Ministry of home and religious
affairs has funds for the
propagation of Buddhism in hill tract. From this funds they bare all the
expenses of above
Furthermore Buddhism people from these regions are freed from
labour and supply rations to Burmese army. Only Christian people were
asked to work. And
they were forced to do village sanitation, constructions of the roads and
army camps on
Sunday. Majority of the local people are Christian and they usually do
not work on Sunday.
Going to the Churches and saying prayers on Sunday is the must for
Village chief also that one day army commander of the said region
angrily shouted at
the villagers that what he ordered them to do is only for the sake of the
development of the
villages and village people. As such village people have to work whether
it is Sunday or not.
The commander added that those who refused his order would be in trouble.
There was an order issued by the army authority in which if the
pastors want to hold
prayer meeting or bible training course or youth gathering or any
religious function, firstly they
have to ask permission from the Buddhist monks. Regarding this matter the
pastors were not
satisfied. So, they complained to the ministry of home and religious
affairs but yet any
appropriate action has been taken.
Moreover, the army authorities made the Christian youths busy at
work a week ahead
of Christmas in order not to celebrate Christmas functions in this
region. They order them to
carry army supplies from Leshi town which took ten days journey on foot.
When they got
back home the Christmas was over. Three Christian youths who refused the
order were badly
beaten by the soldiers.
One villager said in the year 1995 in Sumra village while the
village people were
celebrating Christmas function, the Burmese soldiers deployed in that
village fired in the air
and came over to the place and order them to stop the function
immediately for security
purpose. The section commander explained to the villagers that according
to their information
insurgents were planing to enter the village on that very night. In fact
there were no insurgents.
But the army did purposely in order not to celebrate the Christmas function.
The above mention villages are located in Leshi township. But
local people said the
Burmese army is practicing the same tactic in other townships of Naga
Previously, Khamti, Namyon, Leshi, Lahe and Homlin townships were
Naga hill tract. But after the National Convention held by the SLORC,
only Namyon, Leshi
and Leha townships were considered as " special autonomous area ". Almost
all the Naga
people are not satisfied on this decision.
Finally the village chief said that to eradicate all the Naga
insurgents, the SLORC is
creating a problem between Buddhist and Christian people in Naga hill
tract as they did in
Karen state last two years back.
News and information Unit