Myanmar Junta Rounds Up Rakhine Civilians as AA Clashes Increase

By The Irrawaddy 26 October 2022

Family members are concerned about around 20 Buthidaung Township residents in Rakhine State who were detained by Myanmar’s military regime on Sunday.

Troops from the 15th Military Operations Command rounded up residents at the central market in Buthidaung, including shopkeepers, traders and porters, according to relatives of the detainees.

Among the detainees was a policeman from the town’s jetty office. Others included 10 ethnic Rakhine and seven Muslim traders and three porters, said residents.

Their whereabouts are unknown.

A former Buthidaung lawmaker said: “I think they are making arrests just to instill fear. They ask for ransoms and if their relatives can’t find the money they find trumped-up charges. They are crooks and do whatever they want.”

Since fighting escalated between Myanmar’s regime and the Arakan Army (AA) in August, the junta has not been able to launch offensives against the AA. Instead, it is shelling villages, blockading roads and waterways and arbitrarily arresting civilians.

On October 14, junta troops detained a treasurer of the Garuna Network charity in Maungdaw at his house and charged him and other members under the Unlawful Association Act over alleged ties with the AA.

On October 12, junta troops detained nine boats coming from Rathedaung, Ponnagyun and Maungdaw to buy food in Sittwe, the state capital. The regime released the passengers but crews remain at Sittwe police station.

The regime has detained hundreds of residents in northern Rakhine and in Taungup, Ramree, Manaung and Kyaukphyu townships to the south since August. They are often charged under Article 505 of the Penal Code and the Unlawful Association Act. Many are being held incommunicado, according to Rakhine charities.