Over 50 Chin Villagers Kidnapped by Arakan Army
05/29/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On February 2, 2019, 54 Kangtlang villagers were abducted by the Arakan Army (AA) to the AA base located between the Myanmar and Bangladesh border. Months have passed and only two were able to escape to recount their tale.
Kangtlang village is located in the Paletwa Township of Chin State, inhabited mostly by the Khumi Chin ethnic group. As confirmed by the two escapees, all of the victims were forced to work for the AA and were given little food.
According to Saw Mya, coordinator of Khumi Affairs Coordination Council (KACC), the AA used the villagers as human shields when the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) attacked with combat helicopters. “The AA said that villagers volunteered to go to the Bangladeshi border, but it’s not true,” he said.
Pastor Moses from Bethany Independent Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (IPCM) told International Christian Concern (ICC), “They are not only [from] my congregation, but also they are my relatives as well. I am really sad and worry for these people. I am glad that two people have escaped, but one of them is suffering from extreme trauma and he became dangerous to [the] community. This makes me more worried for the people who are in still in the camp.”
“They are not only [from] my congregation, but also they are my relatives as well. I am really sad and worry for these people.”
Chin activists and KACC are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of these abducted civilians. They are calling for their immediate release.
“We understand AA has political objectives. They can fight with Tatmadaw wherever they want. It’s their decision. But they shouldn’t take advantage of civilians for their own agenda,” Saw Mya added.
Photos of the missing 52 villagers and their names have been widely circulated on Facebook, yet local and international media have paid little attention to their case.
Fighting between the AA and Tatmadaw in Rakhine State spiked at the beginning of 2019. It spilled over into neighboring Chin State’s Paletwa Township, where the AA reportedly abducted residents from a dozen households. Predominantly Buddhist Rakhine State maintains an aggressive attitude toward people of other faiths, which poses a threat to the state’s primarily Christian Chin ethnic group.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We urge the Burmese government to interfere and rescue the kidnapped Chin civilians who fell victim to the ongoing armed conflict between the AA and the government troops. They should be returned home safely and quickly before their lives are further endangered.”
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