8 Missing Amid Clashes in Western Myanmar’s Chin State

By Chit Min Tun 15 August 2019

YANGON—Several people are missing amid ongoing clashes between the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army (AA) in Chin State’s Paletwa Township, in western Myanmar, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said in a statement released Aug. 12. 

Citing a Baung Wa Village administrator’s report, the CHRO said eight villagers from three different villages—four from Baung Wa, three from Yat Chaung and one from Than Htaung—have gone missing.  

“Villagers are not sure who the abductors are, but eye witnesses saw a Than Htaung Village resident abducted, along with his motorboat, by AA troops,” said the CHRO’s Salai Tera.

The four from Baung Wa Village are motorbike taxi drivers that ferried workers to a nearby bridge construction project; they’ve been missing since the evening of July 16, according to the CHRO. 

The AA is the only armed organization active near Baung Wa Village, villagers said. 

The 20-year-old from Than Htaung Village was abducted on August 9.  

“AA troops stopped and inspected seven boats sailing from Mrauk-U [in Rakhine State] in Moe Thit Village, then abducted a Than Htaung villager along with his boat,” a local was quoted as saying in the CHRO statement.

The CHRO statement also accused the AA of extorting large amounts of money from waterway passengers along the Lemyo River between Chin and Rakhine states, and of robbing them of rice, oil and basic foodstuffs.

“Locals are in a state of sheer panic,” the statement reads. 

It also said that three rural villagers in Paletwa Township have been missing since October 2018, after being trapped amid fighting between the Tatmadaw and the AA. 

“We did not send the statement directly to [the military or the AA], but we released the statement with the hope that authorities from both will be careful in their actions,” Salai Tera said. 

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach the Tatmadaw or the AA for comments as of Thursday. 

Clashes erupted in Paletwa Township in November of last year and spread to various parts of Rakhine State. The clashes have displaced over 30,000 in Paletwa and 50,000 more in Rakhine State.

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