Clashes Continue in Rakhine State Despite Onset of Annual Monsoon

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army (AA) have continued in Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung and Mrauk-U townships in Rakhine State into the third week of June, taking a major toll on civilians.

According to Zaw Zaw Tun, secretary of the Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC), consecutive clashes occurred between June 15 and June 21. While clashes have decreased in some townships this month compared to previous months, it is because the nature of the fighting has changed with the weather, he explained.

“The number of clashes has decreased this month because they cannot launch airstrikes in the rainy season,” Zaw Zaw Tun said. “Another thing is that streams and rivers are full of water after the rain. It is difficult for the navy to pass through the waterways. In some townships, the Tatmadaw has reduced its military offensives. That’s why number of clash decreased this month.”

However, even in these conditions, fighting continues to persist around multiple villages.

“Clash occurred in Apoukwa village in Kyauktaw township yesterday,” he said on Monday. “Another clash occurred near Kyauk Seik village in Ponnagyun Township. Another clash occurred near Kyauktan village in Rathedaung Township. Another clash occurred between Weisali and Pouk Taw Pyin village in Mrauk-U Township. These are minor clashes, not big clashes,” he explained.

A Kyauktaw local said that two people were injured in the clashes there on Sunday morning at around 7:40 a.m., nine miles from Kyauktaw town.

“It wasn’t really a battle. Soldiers randomly fired after an explosion,” the local said. “There were villagers near the clash site including those in Thazin, Apoukwa, Ohnkyo, and Yinder village. A man and a woman, who live in Yinder village, were injured in the clashes.”

Oo Tun Win, a parliamentarian for Kyauktaw Township, said that those injured have received treatment in Kyauktaw hospital.

According to Ponnagyun parliamentarian Khin Maung Latt, there was a clash near Kyaukseik village in his constituency on June 19, and some passenger boats on the area’s river were hit by bullets, injuring a woman. The Burma Army reportedly shot at the boats as people fled across the river.

Locals said that thousands of people fled fighting in Rathedaung on June 15.

“Clashes occurred near Kyauktan and Ohnchaw village. More than 1,000 people fled. It’s difficult to gather the exact number of people,” a local working with a civil society organization told NMG on the condition of anonymity. “People from Kyauktan, Ohnchaw and Yayzo villages can not live in their villages. They have had to flee. These people sought refuge in town. They remain afraid to return to their villages.”

NMG tried to call both the Burma Army and the AA for comment but received no response at the time of reporting.