Families Displaced by Fighting in Chin State Flee Toward Indian Border: Arakan Army

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 6 February 2019

YANGON — More than 120 residents of Chin State’s Paletwa Township displaced by fighting between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army (AA) are taking shelter in territory under the control of the ethnic armed group near the border with India, a spokesman for the group said.

“There are 124 people altogether, and we are finding out where the other villagers have fled to,” U Khaing Thu Kha told The Irrawaddy.

He said 48 people from Kin Talin Village and 76 people from Khamaungwa Village arrived on Sunday — 32 men, 33 women and 59 children under 12 years old.

“We are taking the best care we can of the civilians who have arrived in our area of control. But it will not be easy in the long run. We will have to find other ways,” said U Khaing Thu Kha.

He said that clashes from Jan. 20 through Monday have displaced people in seven villages including Khamaungwa, Kin Talin, Khaw Sa and Tawagu. But only those from Khamaungwa and Kin Talin have arrived in AA-controlled territory, he added, with the whereabouts of the others unknown.

The spokesman said the military has damaged several Arakanese villages along the Shin Let Wa and Kin Talin creeks with artillery fire.

On Sunday, police in Paletwa arrested 24 people who had recently fled Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township along with two locals sheltering them in their homes, after army Maj. Aung Naing Soe filed a complaint under Section 17 (1) and (2) of the Unlawful Associations Act. They are being detained at Sittwe Prison.

Residents of Shin Let Wa Village told The Irrawaddy by phone that the military had increased security in the village and restricted their movements.

The Irrawaddy could not verify the report independently and could not reach military spokespeople for comment.

The Paletwa Township administrator told The Irrawaddy there were no new displaced people in the area recently.

The military and AA have clashed sporadically in Paletwa since 2015. Fighting there resumed in November and has since spread to Buthidaung, Rathaedaung, Kyauktaw and Ponnagyun townships in neighboring Rakhine State, displacing more than 5,000 people.

On Dec. 21 the military announced a unilateral ceasefire with armed groups in the northeast to last until April. 30. It said it left Rakhine State out because of the ongoing threat posed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

On Jan. 4 the AA attacked four border guard police posts in Buthidaung, seizing more than 40 arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Thirteen police and nine others were injured in the attack. Afterward, the President’s Officer ordered the military to crush the AA.

The government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center is meanwhile taking steps to hold talks with the Northern Alliance, of which the AA is a member.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.