Latest Rakhine Casualties Bring Civilian Death Toll to 67

Thursday, August 29, 2019

At least 67 civilians have been killed in Rakhine State so far this year as clashes between government forces and the insurgent Arakan Army (AA) in the state continue to intensify, according to the Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC), a local civil society organization.

“According to our statistics, 67 civilians have been killed, including three children. Nearly 180 people have been injured,” Zaw Zaw Tun, the secretary of the REC, told NMG.

The latest deaths occurred last Saturday when an artillery shell fired by the Burma Army landed on a house in Pang Myaung, a village in Minbya Township. The incident claimed the lives of three children and left three other villagers injured.

The families of the victims told media outlets they wanted justice for their children.

The shell was fired on the morning of August 24 by an army unit based on the nearby Aung Mingalar Pagoda Hill. Local sources say the village is now largely deserted, as most of its inhabitants have fled in search of shelter outside the conflict zone.

In addition to the dead and injured, there have also been numerous cases of civilians being detained on suspicion of involvement with the AA, according to the REC.

“There are two kinds of detainees—those who have been arrested and prosecuted, and those who are being held in custody pending charges. Altogether, the total is more than 150 detainees,” said Zaw Zaw Tun.

Hearings have been held in two cases in the past week.

In the state capital Sittwe, 22 residents of the village of Letkar attended their seventh hearing on August 22, while in Ponnagyun Township, five of 11 detainees suspected of having links to the AA appeared in court on August 23.

“We want the authorities to release our son as soon as possible. It’s not good to detain innocent civilians. I don’t know what I should do. Travel costs are a big burden for us because we want to be here for every court hearing,” said the father of one detainee.

Meanwhile, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state continues to climb, although the exact figure is difficult to determine due to the lack of communication in some remote areas. However, nearly 4,000 people living in and around Pang Myaung are known to have fled in the past week alone.

The AA has reported that it clashed with Burma Army forces around Pang Myaung and at other locations in Mraybon and Ann townships on August 27.

On August 18, the REC reported that there were 61,093 IDPs in the state.