Sittwe, Rakhine State — Two civilians in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township were allegedly shot dead by Myanmar’s military last week as the state experiences a COVID-19 surge.
A 30-year-old man from Shan Ywa village on the outskirts of Kyauktaw and a 36-year-old woman from Apaukwa village were killed by troops, according to their families.
Ko Maung Naing Win went out to relieve himself at around 10 pm on Aug. 26, said his sister Daw Ma Hla Mya.
“We live on the outskirts of the town and have no toilet. As my brother went out to relieve himself, he encountered soldiers who shot him dead. Then they sent his body to the police station, saying that they killed an AA [Arakan Army] member,” Daw Ma Hla Mya told The Irrawaddy.
Ko Maung Naing Win’s body was covered in bruises besides gunshot wounds, said his relatives.
The military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team said troops on patrol saw suspicious signaling with flashlights at around 1.35 am on Aug. 27 on the Kyauktaw-Wakin road. Two people ran away when troops told them to come for interrogation.
The troops fired warning shots. One escaped but the other died with a Quansheng walkie-talkie and an unlicensed Smash-125 motorbike. The body was taken to a police station, said the information team.
“All the people in our ward know my brother opened a mobile phone shop and was supporting our elderly mother. He had no motorbike. That day soldiers came into our house and drank water. They looked for rice. They asked my husband how many children we had. And they took the motorbike from our neighbors,” she told The Irrawaddy.
On Aug. 27, a woman was killed and two others, aged 33 and 37, were wounded seriously when an artillery shell fell on the farm where they were working in Apaukwa village by the Yangon-Sittwe road at around 10 km from Kyauktaw.
“My sister and four other women were working on a farm to the west of the village at around 10 am on Aug. 27. We heard that troops at Yahtar railway station fired shots at someone from U Sun Taung village. They missed the target because he was riding a motorbike. Then my sister and her friends came out of the field thinking that the shooting was over. She was hit by shrapnel,” said U Hla Maung Sein, brother of the victim, Daw Bu Ma.
The military-appointed Rakhine State minister for security and border affairs, Colonel Min Than, said there were no clashes near Apaukwa on Aug. 27.
“Perhaps the three women were hit by artillery shells. It is unknown which side fired the shells,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Two others are receiving treatment at Kyauktaw Township Hospital and the funeral of Daw Bu Ma was held on Friday.
Myanmar’s military has extended its unilateral ceasefire but not in Rakhine State, while it has seen the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in Myanmar.
In its Aug. 24 statement about the extension of the ceasefire, the military said its ceasefire will not take effect where armed groups are designated by the government as terrorist organizations. Rakhine State and Chin State’s Paletwa Township – where the AA is active – is therefore exempt from the ceasefire.
As the government has declared the AA a terrorist organization, The Irrawaddy was not able to contact the armed group for a comment.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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