A teacher in the town of Mindat said the military fired artillery into the town so the “houses would shake like an earthquake,” she said. She fled to India in October after her cousin, a member of the PDF, was killed by a sniper.
A half-day’s drive west from Mindat lies Matupi, a town with two military camps that is now bereft of its young people, according to a college student who fled with her two teenage brothers in October. She said the military had locked people into houses and set them alight, hid bombs in churches and schools, killed three protest leaders she knew and left bodies in the middle of roads to terrorize people.
Thantlang, a town near the Indian border, has also been emptied of its people after four months of heavy fighting, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization. Drone footage shot by the group in October and December and seen by the AP shows fires raging inside buildings and charred churches, collapsed schools and ruined homes. The footage matches fires detected by satellites and interviews with villagers. NBC News has not been able to verify this footage.
Still, there are growing signs the military’s strategy of intimidation may be steeling people’s resistance rather than leaving them cowed.
“Instead of dying fleeing, I will use my life for a purpose,” said one Kani survivor.
Likewise, the farmhand who told the AP about the Done Taw massacre is now defiant, vowing to take up with the PDF.
“I have just decided to fight until the end for them,” he said. “I will do whatever I can until I die or until I am arrested.”