Churches in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township are being forced to meet their communities in the mornings, after local authorities imposed an evening curfew on the area.
“Our church can only hold religious events on Sunday mornings. We cannot hold services at night because of the curfew… The curfew does not allow people to go out after 6:00 p.m.,” Pastor Mosset from a downtown Paletwa church told Khonumthung News.
Paletwa Township General Administration Department (GAD) officer Koe Aung announced the curfew for the township on November 9, citing security concerns after the Arakan Army took parliamentarian Huay Ting into custody.
He instated the curfew under Article 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Critics and rights advocates have long pointed out that the power to invoke Article 144 should be delegated to a judge, rather than administrative officers.
Residents of Paletwa are not allowed to be out between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and must refrain from having gatherings of five people or more.
“For CSOs (civil society organizations) and NGOs, it is really difficult to do our job,” a Paletwa local said, referring to the ban on gatherings of groups. “Fishermen and farmers have faced a lot of problems because of this curfew,” the individual added, referring to livelihoods that require people to be out before dawn.
The curfew will be in effect for at least two months, in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code. Although the order is meant to be temporary and not go beyond 60 days, in other parts of Burma, curfews invoked under Article 144 have been renewed multiple times.
Locals are concerned that it will make it difficult for them to celebrate and observe upcoming Christian holidays, including Christmas.
Southern Chin State has seen intensifying armed conflict between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in recent years. It is considered a war zone, with thousands of people internally displaced by fighting.
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