The disappearance of local people in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township has raised alarms among government officials and human rights groups as conflict in the region continues to claim civilian victims.
According to a statement released last week by the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), the latest case involves a farmer and his wife who both went missing earlier this month.
The statement said that Ku Huay, from the village of Thayar Kon in Paletwa Township, disappeared on October 5 while he was tending his fields. When his wife, Thanda Oo, went looking for him later that day, she also disappeared.
According to a report by the CHRO, three local civilians from Won Chaung Wa, another village in Paletwa Township, have not been seen since September 14 when they went to buy rice, cooking oil, and other foodstuffs in San-Oh, a village in neighboring Rakhine State.
The CHRO reported that at least 15 local people have disappeared in Paletwa since clashes between the Burma Army and the insurgent Arakan Army (AA) began in the area. Both sides have denied any involvement in the disappearance of civilians.
“This is a conflict-affected area where people are disappearing for no reason. The Burma Army and the AA are chiefly responsible for this situation. This is a very serious matter. It should not be like this. All stakeholders need to consider the safety of local people,” Pu Htet Ni, the general secretary-3 of the Chin National Front (CNF), told Khonumthung News.
The government of Chin State says that it has informed Burma’s Union government about the problem.
“The Chin State border affairs and security minister has reported it to the Union government. The region is still unstable, so the police cannot investigate these cases,” said Soe Htet, Chin State’s minister for municipal affairs, speaking on behalf of the state government.
He added that the government has also sought the assistance of other ethnic armed groups to help resolve the issue.
“We have discussed this with the CNF, which has negotiated with the [Kachin Independence Army] and the AA. The CNF successfully negotiated for the release of a village headman and police officer, the commander of the Than Htawng police camp, in the past. This way of negotiation is much faster than any other,” he told Khonumthung News.
Many local people have accused AA forces of abducting the villagers—a claim the group denies. Khine Thukha, a spokesperson for the AA, has rejected all accusations and said that Burma Army soldiers sometimes pretend to be AA soldiers when committing crimes.
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FACEBOOK: “The Burma Army and the AA are chiefly responsible for this situation. This is a very serious matter. All stakeholders need to consider the safety of local people,” said Pu Htet Ni, the general secretary-3 of the Chin National Front.
TWITTER: The disappearance of villagers in #Paletwa, in southern #ChinState, has been linked to the #conflict between the #BurmaArmy and #ArakanArmy. #Burma #Myanmar