Myanmar Regime Border Guard Police Desert Their Base in Rakhine State

By The Irrawaddy 9 March 2023

Four border guard police based in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State have deserted their police outpost with their weapons. The four deserted their base in Myin Lut Village in the south of Maungdaw Township, and junta troops are searching nearby villages for them.

A village administrator from a village close to Myin Lut told The Irrawaddy: “I heard the four deserters were new recruits who completed their training two or three months ago. As they took their weapons, [regime soldiers] came and searched potential escape routes and nearby villages. I heard one of the deserters is Karen and the rest are Bamar. [Junta troops] told us to notify them immediately if we spot them in our villages.”

Locals speculate that the four deserters might have defected to the ethnic Rakhine armed organization the Arakan Army (AA), who have bases in the nearby Mayu Mountains. The Irrawaddy was unable to reach AA spokesman U Khaing Thukha for comment.

One Maungdaw resident said: “It won’t be easy for them to escape as none of them are locals. They can’t flee towards the west as there is only the sea there.  And they can’t flee along the road as it is dotted with border guard posts. So they can only flee towards the Mayu Mountains. It is possible that they have taken refuge with the AA.”

He added: “The border guard police reckon that they attended police training because they wanted to get weapons, and fled soon after the training was finished.”

There have been frequent desertions since the coup by military regime soldiers and police in Rakhine’s Rathedaung, Maungdaw, Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U townships.

Last June, AA spokesman U Khaing Thukha said that over 100 soldiers including officers had defected from the Myanmar military to the AA since the 2021 military takeover.

Myin Lut Village was a settlement of ethnic Rohingya people located some 15 miles from Maungdaw Town. It was designated as a sub-township in 2016, but the entire village was razed in 2017 by the Myanmar military as part of a so-called counter-insurgency operation that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

The village has been empty since then, but in 2019-20 the military established a new border guard police base in Myin Lut.