The Chin State government accused the Arakan Army (AA) of robbing rice destined for civilians in food-strapped Paletwa township but Chairperson of the Paletwa Food Ration told Khonumthung Media Group they tried to buy the rice at regular rates.
The government claimed the AA intercepted a vehicle carrying 100 rice bags to the township on March 29 and stole all it.
But Sein Tun Hla, chairperson of the Paletwa Food Ration Transportation Committee, said the armed group tried to buy the rice at regular rates and the AA soldiers only asked for 20 bags. “They requested assistance from us…That’s why our committee allowed it,” Sein Tun Hla told Khonumthung News.
He said the rice was purchased in Pokkhuku town in Magwe region for 25,000 kyats (about US$18). With transportation costs, it cost 32,000 kyats a bag to transport to Paletwa town (about US$ 22.80).
AA promised to pay 640,000 kyats (about US$456) for the 20 bags at a later date, and the remaining 80 bags made it to Paletwa without incident, Sein Tun Hla said.
Due to the March 23 designation of the AA as an unlawful organization by the Burmese government and the crackdown on media representatives for speaking with them, Khonumthung Media Group is unable to include their statement or response in this story.
Paletwa township depends on rice, cooking oil, salt and other food products from Kyauktaw in northern Rakhine State but fighting has prevented most deliveries from reaching the beleaguered township since early February.