By THE IRRAWADDY 2 March 2022
More than 100 houses in Thantlang burned down when military regime forces torched the mountain-top town in western Myanmar’s Chin State for a reported 26th time in late February.
Thantlang Placement Affairs Committee-IDPs, a local organization helping people displaced from Thantlang, said in a statement released on Tuesday that 101 houses burned down on Feb. 25 and 27 in the junta’s latest arson attack.
Thantlang has suffered from repeated arson attacks by regime forces since September last year when large numbers of local armed resistance fighters in Chin State inflicted heavy casualties on regime soldiers there.
In late October, junta troops burned down more than 160 houses in the town. Aerial photos depicting smoke rising above a burning Thantlang shocked the world when they were splashed in international media. The US condemned the attack.
Nestled in the mountains of Chin State, Thantlang had around 2,700 houses before the coup in February 2021. Now, after repeated blazes set by regime forces over the past six months, more than 1,000 of those houses are gone.
A local Chin resistance fighter said regime troops are stationed on a hill in the middle of the town, and conduct the frequent arson attacks in order to keep the ground around them clear.
“The resistance forces are fighting [with junta forces] every day in Thantlang. They want to clear the ground so they know when the resistance fighters are close.”
However, he added that regime forces also burn houses in reprisal whenever one of their fellow soldiers is killed.
An official from the Thantlang organization believed the regime’s repeated targeting of the town could be due to the growing number of resistance fighters in the area, as the Chin National Army, an armed wing of the Chin National Front—an anti-regime ethnic Chin party—had gained strength in recent months.
“Regime forces are monitored closely by resistance fighters from the hills near Thantlang,” the committee member said.
Thantlang residents have been forced to flee the town since September, when the arson attacks started. Some have taken shelter in villages nearby, while some went to the Chin State capital, Hakha.
Almost the whole of Thantlang’s population of 10,000 have been forced to abandon their property and flee; the belongings of many have since been reduced to ashes. The town is currently nearly deserted.
“This is the inhumane action of the military council. It is very bad,” the official from the aid organization said.
Source – Irrawaddy News