Security Forces Kill Detained Villagers

“They were killed while in custody; the villagers didn’t have weapons,” said Khin Maung Latt, an MP for Rakhine State.

By Network Media Group

May 4, 2019

Burmese security forces shot and killed six villagers and wounded eight after rounding up the men and detaining them in their village in northern Rakhine State.

A statement released by the office of commander-in-chief claimed some of the prisoners tried to attack the police during an investigation to determine if they are members of the Arakan Army (AA). They had no choice but to shoot them, said the statement.

“Police were cross-checking names of detainees with family registration documents when they tried to attack them. At first, shots were fired in the air as a warning but they tried to take the weapons from our security forces and they shot them,” said Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, joint secretary of Tatmadaw’s (Burmese Army) True News Information team.

The Burmese Army doesn’t target civilians, he said. AA soldiers were hiding in Kyauktan village and security forces were trying to find them.

“We shot at AA soldiers and not civilians. (Killing civilians) is strictly prohibited.”

Villagers and a Rakhine State MP claim the detainees are just regular villagers and not connected to AA.

“They were killed while in custody; the villagers didn’t have weapons,” said Khin Maung Latt, an MP for Rakhine State.

The army and police rounded up over 275 people, he said, and interrogated them on suspicion. They can’t do this without evidence.

“They are victims of the fighting (between the Burmese Army and AA),” Khin Maung Latt said.

Every male in the village was taken under custody, said an anonymous villager. During the interrogation, they released the very old and young.

“(Detainees) were kept in the sun (during the investigation). We heard gunfire from 11 pm to 2 am yesterday night (May 20). The wounded were transferred to the Sittwe hospital.”

Villagers are still in custody. Locals said during the investigation they have been tortured and at times deprived of food.

Arakan National Party (ANP) is demanding that immediate action for the fatal incident be taken by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Commander-In-Chief of the Army Min Aung Hlaing and Burmese Human Rights Commission.

Villagers shot by security forces are innocent, said ANP. The Army hasn’t returned their bodies to their families.

“These kinds of (extrajudicial) killings not only happened in Kyauktan but also in Buthitaung, Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw townships,” said an anonymous villager.

Last week, three villagers were killed by Burmese security forces in Let Kar village in Mrauk-U township after twenty-seven villagers were rounded up for interrogation.

Fighting between the Burmese Army and AA caused the displacement of over 35,000 villagers in northern Rakhine and southern Chin states. Aid groups have reported the Army is restricting food rations to some of the camps where the displaced are sheltering.