Rakhine Civilian in Sittwe Hospital After Alleged Beating by Myanmar’s Military

By Min Aung Khine 18 February 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State – A civilian in Rakhine State’s Minbya Township is being treated in hospital after allegedly being beaten by government soldiers last week. He was on Monday transferred from a hospital in Minbya for treatment in the state capital, Sittwe.

Ko Htay Hlaing of Phar Pyaw Village was detained and beaten by Myanmar’s forces following a clash near his village last Thursday.

He is receiving treatment for injuries to his head, face, lips and forearm.

Ko Htay Hlaing works at a lamppost factory near his village. He said he fled with his colleagues following fighting between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army (AA) near the factory.

“When I went back to my home for lunch after the fighting stopped, soldiers in the village arrested me and hit me with their rifle stocks. They hit my hands asking me if I used a gun with my hands. When I said I hadn’t, they hit me in my mouth,” Ko Htay Hlaing told The Irrawaddy.

“By the time I got home, all the villagers had fled and soldiers were in the houses. They asked me to come into the house, warning that they would shoot at me if I didn’t. So I went and they hit my head, accusing me of being in the AA. When I said I was not, they hit me in the mouth and I lost consciousness,” he added.

When he regained consciousness, he found that soldiers were on sentry around the house. The following day, he managed to escape.

“I said I wanted to urinate and they allowed me to go. As I walked away, two soldiers shouted at me to come back but I didn’t,” he said.

Ko Htay Hlaing hid and his relatives eventually found him.

“We thought he was still in the factory. No one knew he was being beaten in the village. All the villagers were hiding at the monastery. A villager told us about him,” Daw Hla May, Ko Htay Hlaing’s mother-in-law, told The Irrawaddy.

Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun of the military’s True News Information Team denied any knowledge of the incident.

Myanmar military’s Western Command spokesman Colonel Win Zaw Oo and Rakhine State Minister for Security and Border Affairs Colonel Min Than were unavailable for comment.

The clash between the Myanmar military and the AA left more than 1,000 civilians stranded near Yar Maung bridge and Phar Pyaw Village in Minbya Township last Thursday.

AA information officer Khaing Thukha said the clash with the Light Infantry Battalion of Brigade 55 on Thursday lasted all day with both sides suffering casualties. He said the AA had detained a prisoner during the fighting.

Clashes have escalated in Kyauktaw, Paletwa, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, Minbya and Myebon townships this month.

The AA has reportedly launched attacks on a stronghold of Myanmar’s military near Mee Chaung Bridge in Paletwa Township. The military also reportedly used jet fighters and assault helicopters in the clashes.

Eight civilians were killed and 51 injured in the clashes between Feb. 1 and Feb. 13, according to The Irrawaddy’s count.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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