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Friday, March 29, 2019

Civilians hit by Rakhine fighting.

MYANMAR TIMES
FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019

By CHAN THAR


More than 50 civilians have been killed or are missing due to fighting between the Tatmadaw (military) and Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State, according to an investigation by the Arakan National Party (ANP).



Led by ANP Vice Chair Daw Aye Nu Sein, a nine-member commission set up on March 20 investigated the fighting in Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships.

The ANP said it would submit a report of its findings next week.

The report will give the exact number of fatalities, injured or missing people. It will be written by the ANP Central Executive Committee and will be sent to Myanmar’s President, State Counsellor, Commander-in-Chief and the Human Rights Commission, she said. 

“Civilians affected by the fighting have had to flee their homes, and some have died or are now missing. But we found that they were surprisingly calm when they narrated what they been through,” Daw Aye Nu Sein said.

The commission investigated how the fighting had affected civilians, and whether civilians are being arrested or have gone missing after being accused of belonging to or assisting the AA. It also investigated the claims by all the parties involved about who started the fighting.

Poor transportation and the constant fighting were major hindrances for the commission to carry out its investigation, she said.

“We had problems collecting the facts. When we went to Mrauk-U, MPs could not come back as there was fighting,” Daw Aye Nu Sein said.

U Tun Aung Kyaw, secretary of the ANP, said, “We were given seven days by the party, but the final report took a little more time, as there was fighting every day.”

He said people have been killed or injured by the fighting, never came back after being abducted, or disappeared after going outside the village to work.

Daw Aye Nu Sein said they will investigate the damage to some ancient structures by the attack on Mrauk-U. 

“The government has issued statements that its troops were shot at from houses in the city, but Rakhine people and others in Mrauk-U saw which side shot first. This is the truth. Pagodas and Buddha statues were damaged. Experts are checking the damage in Mrauk-U from artillery fire,” said Daw Aye Nu Sein.

The ANP said it met with village administrators, officials from government departments and people who suffered from the fighting, including the loss of family members. 

The military regards the AA as terrorists and is engaged in fierce battles with the group in Northern Rakhine and Paletwa township in Chin State. More than 20,000 civilians from Northern Rakhine have fled their homes because of the battles. Although the government and AA have discussed a ceasefire, there has been no progress.

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