Myanmar Army Detaining Thousands of Villagers in Rakhine State

Myanmar solider guarding detained villager at temple in Thar Si village in Ponnaygun township 

Sittway-April 7, 2020
Arakan News (AN) interviews Thabawa Nady Buddhist monk for thousands of villagers have been detained in their villages, Thar Si and Letway Sardit villages, Ponnaygun township, since April 3. The monk was also detained in the village for two days.  

Thabawa Nadi Buddhist (TNB) monk is a volunteer relief worker and provides humanitarian assistances to Internally Displaced Persons (DIP) in Rakhine State.

AN: We heard that about 2,000 villagers in Taw Phya Chang area have been detained in Buddhist temples and houses in Thar Si and Let Way Sardit villages?
TNB: Yes, it is true that 580 villagers were locked down in the Buddhist temple in Thar Si for 3 days. The government soldiers leave from the temple today. But over 1,000 villagers are still locked down in Let way Sardit village by the soldiers.

AN: What battalions do the soldiers come from? Do they torture the villagers during the detention?And you were also detained and did they treat you well? 
BNT: I was stopped going out from the temple after I came and delivered foods and other assistances to the IDPs for two days. The soldiers did not wear any uniforms but civilian cloths such as short pent and T-shirts so that it was difficult to identity what battalion they came from. The soldiers briefly arrested three villagers and interrogated all villagers and asked whether they were members or of supporters of Arakan Army. 

AN: Why the soldiers detain the villagers? How did the villagers get foods during the detaining?
TNB: I have no idea why they detain the villagers. We collected rice from houses in the village and cooked in the temple and shared the foods but insufficient. 

AN: Do the AA and Myanmar army fight near the villages?
TBN: There was the clash between AA and Myanmar army on two miles from Thar Si village on March 30. There is no more fighting after it, but two jet fighters bombed the mountains near Let way Sardit village on April 2, several civilians were injured and some houses were destroyed in Aung Makyaw village.  Artilleries are still firing to the mountains and near the villages from military bases and navy in Sittway and Ponnaygun. One of the villagers was wounded critically by the shell explosion in the farm a couple days ago. He is in Sittway hospital now. 

AN: What is happening and will happen to over 1,000 villagers in Let Way Sardit?
TBN: I have not been in the village yet, and I don’t know whether the soldiers will allow me to enter into the village. But I will try to go to there tomorrow. What I am told is that they have been locked down in the village for three days and don’t have enough foods. Some people get sick. I worry they will be starved if we don’t provide foods and basic medicines as soon as possible.

AN: Do you get any assistances from ICRC, World Foods, UNHCR or local relief organizations?
TBN: No. ICRC nor HUNCR has provided any assistance yet but the local charity organizations. May Yu Foundation donates dry fishes and some rices today. Pow Hree Pyin Relief Alliance provides nine bags of race. We need a lot of foods and many things now.  

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