AA Soldiers Beat Civilians After Attempted Rape in Myanmar’s Chin State

By Lei Lei 13 January 2020

YANGON—Arakan Army (AA) fighters reportedly beat several civilians and attempted to rape an ethnic Khumi woman in Chin State’s Paletwa Township last Wednesday.

“An AA fighter attempted to rape a woman. AA fighters beat community elders of the village as well as her parents who tried to stop the rape,” U Saw Mya, coordinator of the Khumi Affairs Coordination Council, told The Irrawaddy.

The council reported the attack in Paletwa’s Kye Lei Village in a statement released on Friday. The AA also kept many of the young people from the village away from the incident, leaving them out in the sun by the Kaladan River as a form of punishment, according to the statement.

“Previously, villagers had only been forced to carry rice and they were robbed of their clothes. This time, the [AA soldiers] have done too much,” said U Saw Mya.

The AA also reportedly threatened villagers and told them to keep silent about the incident, warning that they would be punished if they revealed what happened.

On Sunday, the AA denied that its soldiers attempted to sexually assault the young Chin woman involved, but confessed to beating some residents and promised to take action against the soldiers involved. The AA’s statement said that the fighters went to the village to threaten informants for the Myanmar military. The ethnic armed group also accused the Khumi Affairs Coordination Council of supporting the Myanmar military.

The Khumi Affairs Coordination Council’s statement also said that an ethnic Chin teacher and an ethnic Rakhine resident of Se Pha Laung Village were abducted by the AA on Jan. 7 and killed.

“It is a baseless accusation. We didn’t do it,” AA spokesperson U Khaing Thukha told The Irrawaddy. “The village they mention is located behind Light Infantry Battalion 289 [of the Myanmar military] in Paletwa. It would be impossible for us to arrest them in a place with such tight security.”

The Khumi council’s statement said that the AA had recently detained another ethnic Chin teacher from Paletwa as well.

Chin State government spokesperson U Soe Htet, also a Paletwa resident, has said that 212 of the township’s 384 basic education schools have been closed for months for security reasons.

The council’s statement condemned the violence against women and right abuses against local ethnic Chin people that have come with clashes between the Myanmar military and the AA, calling on both sides to hold perpetrators accountable.

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