This weekend at the Miss Universe pageant, Miss Myanmar Ma Thuzar Wint Lwin asked audiences to “Pray for Myanmar” with her outfit in the national costume segment, as Deseret News reported. Lwin’s costume came from the Chin region, the area currently under attack by military forces.
- This weekend, thousands of residents fled to the jungles as military forces attacked the town of Mindat in the Western Chin state, Reuters and Fox News reported.
- According to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) via Al Jazeera, the military may have already committed war crimes in Mindat.
Miss Universe Myanmar was one of several contestants to call attention to social and political issues with their national costumes.
Myanmar’s protests against the military coup
In February, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, seizing power from the president. Millions of people took to the streets to peacefully protest the new government and have been met with lethal force, Al Jazeera and Reuters report.
- According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners via Reuters, military forces have killed 802 civilians and detained 4,120 more people.
- Since late April, opposition groups have begun arming themselves with clashes escalating in recent days, particularly in Chin state, says Reuters.
Recent attacks in the Chin region
Near the border with India, Chin state is a rural and mountainous region, one of the least developed areas of the country, Al Jazeera says. The area has become a fierce battleground of resistance to the junta and military government.
- Armed fighting began in Mindat and around Chin in late April over the military’s refusal to release seven detained youth, says Al Jazeera.
Last week, the junta declared martial law in Mindat, then began a three-day-long siege against the town on May 13. Military forces have attacked with ground troops and helicopters, using artillery, rocket grenades and automatic machine guns, Al Jazeera reported.
According to CHRO and Al Jazeera, the military has even used youth as human shields while attacking. Civilian Defense Forces in Mindat have countered the attack with homemade hunting rifles and makeshift explosives.
- “Mindat is only the beginning,” the director of the CHRO told Al Jazeera. “We are now basically witnessing a humanitarian disaster in the making.”
According to Fox News, both the British and U.S. embassies in Myanmar have expressed concerns over the recent developments in Chin state.