(Paletwa – 22nd July, 2019):
On 16th July, 2019 four people from Baung Wa Kyaw Village Paletwa Township, Chin State went missing as they made their way home from work. The victims were identified as Lin Naing (23), Kyaw Sein (31), Kyaw Kyaw Than (28) and Kyaw Lin (25) who all work as motorcycle carriers who transport quarry workers producing rocks for construction of the Lawng Kadu Bridge project.
Locals interviewed by CHRO believe them to be abducted by the Arakan Army (AA). One villager from Temawah stated to CHRO, “Only the AA troops are active in the area where they went missing. There is no movement of the Burmese military there.” When the four men did not arrive back, local community members rallied in order to search for the missing party. One local from Baung Wa Kyaw Village who spoke to CHRO described the events:
“After the victims failed to show up that evening the Namada Village Administrator and the Bawng Wa Village Tract Administrator and I went out in search of them. Midway between Namada and Bawng Wah Villages, we found a motorcycle lying in the ditch on the side of the road. We rushed to inspect the spot but there was no one there. It wasn’t an accident as we found no trace of a body or blood. As we proceeded further down the road in search of a second vehicle, we heard a group of people from a distance and we immediately turned back to the village out of fear. We have often seen armed AA soldiers roaming around that particular area before and we were quite sure it was the AA who took them away. The Burma army would notify the family if they arrested any villagers but this time the families have not been informed. This makes us believe that it was the AA who arrested them.“
The village administrators have reported the matter to the Tatmadaw. All the victims have families and are married with children. Similarly, a villager of Than Daung, Maung Pu Kui Myat (20) disappeared after being taken away by AA solders at Moe Yua Thit Village near Myauk Oo Town along with his boat at 2 pm on 9th August 2019 as he made his way back to the village:
“On the day he was taken away, the AA soldiers stopped 7 boats at Moe Yua Thit Village. Maung Pu Kui was arrested and taken away. He has totally disappeared since. He was carrying on his boat metal roof plates and cement worth over 500,000 Kyats. He and his boat and all the goods just disappeared to this day,” a villager of Ku Phe told CHRO.
In similar circumstances, U Kyaw Aye (58) went missing from the same village after being arrested by AA soldiers on 14th June 2019 as he returned from Myauk Oo along with his boat. Locals from the area informed CHRO that the AA has been looting goods from villagers who use the Lemro River to transport commodities such as rice, cooking oils, salt and fish paste etc. One interlocutor stated that the AA “also arrest and take away people traveling along the river and people in the area are really afraid.”