23 May, 2020 — London, UK — Local residents and parliamentarians said that the Burmese army burnt down 202 houses in Lakka Village, located 7 miles north of Mrauk U Township in Rakhine State at around 1 pm on May 16. According to eyewitnesses, villagers from Bu Ywat Manyo Village, troops departed from Tain Nyo village in Mrauk-U Township and on the way to Lakka Village soldiers opened fire with heavy artillery from a close distance hitting their houses before burning down all the houses in the village. These eyewitnesses identified the soldiers as belong to Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 8 under Burma Army’s 44th Division. Lakka Village is populated Rakhine Buddhist and Burma Army accused the villagers link with Arakan Army.
Burmese Army continues
“Despite Burma facing a case at the International Court of Justice, the Burmese Army continues to disregard international law and the lives of civilians. These most recent attacks on civilians must be met with outcry from the international community and demands that attacks on civilians must stop immediately. The world can no longer remain silent and fail the most vulnerable” said BHRN Executive Director, Kyaw Win.
According to eyewitnesses, around 60 troops from the 44th Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 8v arrived at Lakka Village and began firing with heavy artillery and left the village at about 4 pm. Following the arson attack, 202 homes were burnt down. A middle school, a dormitory for teachers, and a premise in the monastery were also destroyed in the fire. Soldiers also reportedly destroyed a newly purchased tractor owned by Lakka villager, U Thar Tun San.
Skirmishes have become more frequent around the village. Many have been sheltering near Mrauk U after an incident on April 10th, 2019 when a total of 27 people, including two minors, from the village were arrested after being accused of links to the insurgent group Arakan Army and charged with Article 50 (a) and 52 (a)of the Anti-Terrorism Law. Three people who were killed during those interrogations are – U Maung Than Nu 42 years old, Zaw Myo Htet 28 years old and U Tun Sein 40 years old. The other detained villagers of Lakka Village have not yet been released and are currently awaiting trial in Sittwe district court. Members of the victims’ family said the military sent dead bodies to the Sittwe Hospital one month after they were interrogated and killed. The military has not taken any action in this regard nor informed the families of the victims. This is an example of many crimes Burma Army is continuously committing in Rakhine.
Burma must cease all attacks on civilians immediately. The use of heavy weapons in civilian areas must cease immediately. Any military involved in the intentional killing of civilians, arson, or destruction of property must face legal consequences. The international community has an obligation to the civilians caught in this conflict to ensure that Burma complies with international law and makes every effort to avoid causing harm to them. The international community must also take serious steps to negotiate a ceasefire between the Burmese Army and the Arakan Army to prevent further death and suffering.
Background on the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
BHRN is based in London and operates across Burma/Myanmar working for human rights, minority rights and religious freedom in the country. BHRN has played a crucial role in advocating for human rights and religious freedom with politicians and world leaders.
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
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