Paletwa IDPs Say They Were Told Not to Speak Badly of Tatmadaw

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By LE TAUNG – Government authorities in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township have warned internally displaced people (IDPs) not to speak negatively of the Burma Army to the media.

The IDPs fled from their homes following clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in the Daletmay area on the banks of the Kaladan River on January 22. They are now taking refuge in Paletwa town.

Township administrator U Koe Aung visited the IDPs, and according to members of the group he met, he warned them not to speak badly of the Tatmadaw if they were interviewed by reporters.

Khonumthung News confronted U Koe Aung about the allegation, and he denied advising the IDPs in this way.

“I didn’t say anything like that. There was no order for me to say something like this,” he said.

Volunteers working to help IDPs in Paletwa said they had not been restricted by the authorities in their assistance efforts.

Although many people have since returned home, clashes are ongoing in Paletwa, with newly displaced people expected to arrive in the town at any time.

The number of total IDPs remains unknown, but four makeshift camps have been set up along the Kaladan River, hosting 600 people. Another 300 people have fled to Mizoram, India.

The Burma Army and the Arakan Army have fought in Paletwa as well as five townships in Rakhine State. On two days in late January, they exchanged gunfire near Khun Wa and Pakawa villages, some 50 miles from Paletwa town.

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