SITTWE, Rakhine State – A 10-month-old boy was shot dead in Myebon Township, Rakhine State, on Saturday. His family claimed Myanmar’s military (or Tatmadaw) was responsible for the death.
The boy and his parents were returning to Nyaung Kan Village from where they fled in December due to clashes between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army (AA) when they said he was shot by Myanmar soldiers on the shore. The bullet went through the boy’s back, his father U Maung Aye Sein told The Irrawaddy.
“My sister said on Friday that many villagers had come back and we could make a living there again. So we returned and we were shot at,” he said.
“I saw them shooting at us from the shore. I want to urge both sides not to abuse their power to trouble civilians,” said U Maung Aye Sein.
It was cowardly to deliberately attack civilians, said Lower House parliamentarian U Pe Than of Myebon Township.
“I heard people say that one side is deliberately shooting to instill fear in the people. It is what cowards do. It is not what soldiers should do. Soldiers should only fight on the battleground. Both sides should take responsibility to avoid harming civilians,” said the Arakan National Party member.
The funeral was held on Sunday.
Colonel Win Zaw Oo, a spokesman for the military’s Western Command, said his forces did not target civilians.
“We are an organization that protects the lives and property of the people, so we do not harm them. We only want to fulfill the requirements of the population. So I would say their claim is inaccurate,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Fighting has been intensifying for more than a year and civilian casualties and arrests are increasing.
According to Rakhine State parliamentarian U Tun Tha Sein, 82 civilians were killed and 126 were injured between January and September last year. More recent figures are not available, but almost daily clashes are reported in Rakhine.
According to The Irrawaddy’s research, 14 civilians were killed and 24 injured in December in northern Rakhine State.
In late September, the Rakhine State parliament approved a proposal by U Tun Tha Sein calling for an investigation into civilian deaths. The state government had not responded to the proposal, he said.
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