Myanmar’s Military Blamed for Rakhine Civilian Deaths and Disrupting COVID-19 Quarantine

By Min Aung Khine 3 September 2020

Sittwe, Rakhine State — A village administrator in Kyauktaw Township in war-torn Rakhine State has accused Myanmar’s military of disrupting COVID-19 quarantine in his village.

Troops arrived at Thazi on Monday evening and detained villagers, including 18 people in COVID-19 quarantine. The troops held them for one day at a monastery in a neighboring village for questioning about a missing soldier, according to village administrator U Mya Tun.

“There were 18 people in quarantine in our village. We kept them at the school under instructions from the township health department. And there was a family [in which the mother] had returned from Sittwe after giving birth. On humanitarian grounds, we kept them in isolation at their house. They were also detained by the troops and the quarantine was disrupted,” the village administrator told The Irrawaddy.

Those in quarantine had returned from Sittwe, China, Yangon and Muse, he said. The men were quarantined at the school and women are quarantined in houses, said U Mya Tun.

Daw Ma Aye Ohn, who gave birth to twins at Sittwe Township Hospital, said: “I was in quarantine for around six days since I returned from Sittwe after giving birth. The troops arrived and asked us to leave our house. They didn’t listen that we were in quarantine. They beat people who were reluctant to go out so we left quickly and followed them.”

The same day, a 40-year-old man from Kyaukgusu Village in Kyauktaw was allegedly shot dead by Myanmar’s military. A 27-year-old man from Shwepyi Village also died of gunshot wounds the following day with residents blaming Myanmar’s military.

“Among those who were detained were three women and three children who were in quarantine with me. The soldiers didn’t listen to us. They beat those who were reluctant to leave. The soldiers beat those who were late leaving their homes. One of the women was beaten and her head was bruised,” Ma Aye Khaing Hsan from Thazi Village, who was in quarantine, told The Irrawaddy.

The military denied the allegations that it killed civilians and disrupted quarantine. Major General Zaw Min Tun of the military-run Tatmadaw True News Information Team said a soldier was arrested by the Arakan Army (AA) while going to a river to bathe on Monday evening. Troops searched for him in Kyaukgusu because they heard that he was taken there.

“[Thazi] does not have many residents. Under whose orders and supervision are they conducting quarantine? Would you believe whatever they claim and that they were in quarantine? It appears that we have to ask how many quarantine centers there are [when we visit a village],” he added.

As the Tatmadaw (military) searched for the soldier on Tuesday, Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun said they found a man laying landmines near Shwepyi. The troops shot at him as he ran away and an improvised mine and a grenade were seized, said the military spokesman.

On Aug. 27, a male Shanywa villager and a female Apaukwa villager in Kyauktaw were allegedly shot dead by the military.

The government in Naypyitaw has issued a stay-at-home order in Rakhine but northern Rakhine residents have been forced to flee their homes due to ongoing clashes between Myanmar’s military and the AA.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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