Family members of Salai Aung Soe are increasingly anxious after the four-month period has passed since he was abducted by the Arakan Army (AA).
Despite multiple calls for his release from the community and the Khumi Affairs Coordination Committee (KACC), the ethnic armed organization (EAO) has refused to release him.
Salai Aung Soe was taken captive by AA on July 29 along with three other Chin. The youth, who were traveling to Paletwa town, were taken near Nga Tha Rai village in Kyauktaw Township. The others were eventually released, but Salai Aung Soe was not.
AA is embroiled in a conflict with the Burma Army in southern Chin and Rakhine states.
“We want AA to release Salai Aung Soe as soon as possible,” said Ma Nang Wai, KACC’s spokesperson. Salai Aung Soe is not affiliated with any of the armed groups, the spokesperson said. “He’s just a normal civilian and it’s time he’s released.”
Salai Aung Soe’s brother-in-law, Ko Ram Hnin, said he has lung disease.
His father and brother tried to reach AA’s camp to inquire about him, but a village headman turned him away, Ko Ram Hnin said.
“AA said they’ll release him. But he’s still in custody. That’s why we don’t believe what AA says. I don’t even know for sure if he’s alive.”
Since 2015, when clashes with the Burma Army began in Paletwa Township, AA detained 105 civilians, according to KACC. There are still 22 being held by the EAO.