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Myanmar junta troops tell residents of villages near Sittwe to leave by Friday

The military has been preparing for an attack on the Rakhine state capital by the rebel Arakan Army.



By RFA

June 11, 2024



Credits @FFHR.CZ


Junta troops ordered residents in western Myanmar, near the Rakhine state capital, to leave their villages ahead of anticipated attacks by the Arakan Army, an ethnic minority insurgent group that has been battling the military for control of territory. 


The residents of five villages in Sittwe township were told on Saturday that they must move into Sittwe city by Friday, several residents told Radio Free Asia on Monday.


A resident said that troops threatened people with a massacre similar to what took place last month in nearby Byain Phyu village that left nearly 80 people dead and came amid intense fighting in the area between junta forces and the Arakan Army, or AA.


“The junta troops entered the villages in their military vehicles, and ordered those who can afford to move themselves,” the resident said. “Those who cannot will be evacuated by junta vehicles.”


“If the locals do not leave their villages during the specific period, they will experience similar incidents like Byaing Phyu village,” he said. 


The AA ended a ceasefire in November that had been in place during the military’s February 2021 coup d’etat. It now occupies nine townships in Rakhine state, as well as Paletwa township in neighboring Chin state.


A battle between the AA and the junta for control of Sittwe has been anticipated for several months. Junta troops have been preparing for the defense of the city by deploying heavy weapons, warships and a large number of ground forces in the surrounding villages, several residents said.



Potential human shields


The five rural villages – Yae Chan Pyin, Aung Taing, Kyet Taw Pyin, Pa Lin Pyin and Ohn Yae Paw – are all located on the banks of the Mayu River.  


A Sittwe resident said the junta may have concluded that AA troops would like to use the villages for their attack on the city.


“So, the junta has removed all people from the villages,” he said. “They are making human shields to protect their base in Sittwe city.”


The forced removal of people from their homes is a violation of human rights, AA spokesman Khaing Thukha said.


“It is different from the evacuation of people from conflict-affected areas,” he said. “But now, people are being forced to move only into the city – not to any other areas.”


The junta hasn’t released any information about the removal of people from the five villages.

The junta’s spokesman for Rakhne state, Hla Thein, didn’t answer his telephone on Monday when RFA tried to call him for comment. 


Translated by Aung Naing. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.




Source: rfa.org


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