Postcard from Manila

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


While the international media have covered the plight of the Rohingyas, there is almost zero global awareness of Myanmar’s concurrent persecution of the Christian Chin people, against whom has been waged “a forgotten war”, in the words of human rights activist Salai Ling. Like the Rohingyas, the Chins are native to the western regions of Myanmar and have been oppressed by the authorities ever since the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British colonial government (1885-1948). Even so,
in the Second World War the Chins were fiercely loyal to Britain, fighting bravely against the Japanese while other communities in what was then Burma supported the other side. One of the worst recent atrocities against the Chins was a mass arson attack on the town of Thantlang in 2021 that killed 250 people, levelled 2,000 homes and made refugees of 60,000. There is a strong tenor of religious hatred to these attacks – priests have been assassinated and churches and faith-based schools vandalised or torched.

On October 25th, a landmark legal case on behalf of Chin victims began in the Philippines seeking to hold senior Myanmarese responsible. Complainants include the daughter of Baptist church elder Pu Ral Tu, who was murdered by the army for the heinous offence of supplying medicines to civilians, and the uncle of Pastor Cung Biak, who was gunned down by soldiers while he tried to extinguish fires started by those same soldiers. For good measure, Pastor Biak’s body was then mutilated. His uncle said, “I will not accept that my nephew’s death was in vain. I beseech the authorities here in the Philippines to grant us the justice we pray for.”
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Specialist publicationPrivate Eye
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2023


  • journalism
  • Philippines
  • Asian studies
  • human rights
  • reportage

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