Twelve villagers from the community of King Tling arrived in an internally displaced people’s camp in Paletwa Township, southern Chin State, last week saying they had fled an Arakan Army (AA) camp on the Bangladeshi border.
Among the 12 people who arrived in Meezer village on June 26 were six children under the age of 13 and three men and three women. They are reportedly among 52 ethnic Chin villagers from King Tling who were taken to the border camp in February.
“Currently, they are living with King Tling villagers in the Meezar IDP camp. They are living with their relatives in the camp,” a King Tling elder told Khonumthung News.
Forces from the Burma Army and the AA clashed near King Tling in Paletwa Township on February 2. Following the fighting, the AA took 52 villagers to the Bangladesh border.
Accounts of the circumstances differ. According to the villagers who arrived in Meezar camp last month—after two weeks of traveling—they had been arrested and detained in the border camp. They said that 39 people remained there, and that one woman had already died.
AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha rejected the accusation that the Chin villagers had been taken against their will. He told Khonumthung News previously that these 52 villagers had been rescued from a battle zone.
The King Tling village elder said that the new arrivals from the camp talk about having to do forced labor.
“They had to work everyday when they were living in the AA’s camp. They were forced to carry food rations, logs, and were forced to work on rotating farmland
. They didn’t have enough food there,” he said. Over 600 IDPs from King Tling, Kon Pyin, Pyi Tawng, Yin Khan Wa, and Satlai Wa village are taking refuge in the Meezar IDP camp in Paletwa Township.