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HomeMyanmarEthnic IssuesMyanmar military’s fire wipes out much of Thantlang, leaving broken hearts, broken...

Myanmar military’s fire wipes out much of Thantlang, leaving broken hearts, broken dreams

Melbourne –  A 53-year-old businessman, who has a retail shop selling a variety of items ranging from essentials, rice, car tyres, other workshop materials to many other household items at the ground floor of his three-storey building in the middle of the town, has learned the news of his house and business being burned to ashes in the fire caused by the rocket-propelled grenade of Myanmar’s junta troops on 29 October. 

Mr Dawt Lian Ngan, a father of 3 children, has a thriving and well-established business in Thantlang. He said he was doing well and enjoyed life in a small town with a population of more than 10,000 in the mountainous state until January 2021. 

Mr Ngan with his family, including his two daughters at one of unknown location in Thantlang township during the family trip. Photo/Handout

At first, his dream of expanding his business in the coming years had faced an uncertain future following the military coup on 01 February. “Things are quickly changing and quite difficult to predict afterwards”, he said. 

Then his hope of being one of the largest retail suppliers in the town came to a dramatic end after the fighting broke out in the middle of the town between local Chinland Defense Force – Thantlang and the junta on 17 September, from which all residents were forced the next day to flee for their safety.

Mr Ngan and his family fled first to Thau village in Thantlang township and later crossed the border into India. 

They are seeking temporary shelter in Lawngtlai Town, where Hakha – Chin dialect is widely spoken. During the telephone interview, he said that he feels okay and comfortable due to the same language being widely spoken in the town, although it is different from a different country. 

Like Mr Ngan’s family, thousands have crossed the border into India to seek shelter and become part of the exodus that landed in Mizoram State, India. 

When asked about his future plan, Mr Ngan said in a very energetic tone that he could not wait to go back to Thantlang and rebuild the town from the scratches. 

Alongside Mr Ngan’s business, Chindwin has learned that more than 100 business shops, 400 residential houses, and four Christian Churches have been burned down by Myanmar’s junta troops to date. 

From a place where he and his family are sheltering in Mizoram state, the family had always worried about their retail shop and could not have a moment of good sleep in a foreign land. The news about the aftermath of their property and business that has around 11,00 rice bags worth around US $50,000, essentials worth US $100,00 and car tyres and other materials worth around US $50,000 has come to the family like many others on 29 October.

The family has, but no choice, learned the terrifying news from India – a foreign where they seek shelter that their house and business are of the 163 properties destroyed.

Myanmar’s junta fired rocket-propelled grenades on civilian houses on 27 August and had damaged several residential properties. The junta’s fired grenade that landed in the property’s backyard had exploded later at the hands of children, killing a father on the spot and his son died later at Hakha hospital from his injury. 

Massive fire caught during the October 29 from the western mountain side. The fire was ignited by the firing of rocket-propelled grenade by Myanmar army based in Thantlang at the hilltop.

Gradually, the town has turned into a red zone for the war as the clashes between the military junta and CDF – Thantlang were increasingly intensified on 09 and 17 September, which reportedly resulted in high causalities from the side of the junta. 

In an attempt to revenge against the local CDF-Thantlang forces, Myanmar’s junta fired the rocket-propelled grenades toward civilian houses that had completely destroyed 19 houses the next day on 18 September, forcing all inhabitants of the town to flee their homes for safety. 

A complete exodus has started that ensued the threatening clashes in the town. 

Exodus began following the intense fighting occurred on 17 September between Chinland Defense Force and Myanmar’s junta in the town. Photo/TRC.

Our extensive investigation has revealed that the junta troops in Thantlang received an order from the top based in Hakha to destroy the town in early September following Chin National Army (CNA) that has its headquarter based in Thantlang Township has an agreement signed with the National Unity Government.

By signing an agreement with NUG, CNA became the first ethnic armed organization that declared siding with NUG from 14 other National Ceasefire Agreement signatories. 

To carry out the order to destroy Thantlang, the junta sent new reinforcement that had to go through the deep and thick jungles on foot between Hakha and Thantlang as the junta troops sought ways of avoiding armed confrontation with Chinland Defense Force who were awaiting standby on the main Hakha – Thantlang road. 

A comrade from Chinland Defense Force – Thantlang who requested anonymity as he is not the authorized person to talk to media said that the junta soldiers believed to be around 150 went through the thick jungle from the middle of Hakha – Thantlang road and not daring to pass the main road as the junta troops feared that CDF would attack them. 

Finally, the reinforcement had arrived in Thantlang by the end of September. And the mission to burn the town has begun in October and continues in November.

Our source, whose name cannot be revealed due to security reason as our source has not joined CDM (Civil Disobedience Movement), said he had warned his friends in Thantlang that the Myanmar junta is prepared to hit the town hard and the town will be ruined. 

Thantlang town is home to more than 10,000 residents and 2,000 residential properties and a 23-mile distance from the state’s capital – Hakha.

After more than 400 residential properties have been destroyed, the remaining more than 1600 properties are at risk of an arson attack in the coming days or weeks.


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