In a letter sent to the Chin State chief minister this month, a group of Chin youth slammed the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army for allegedly perpetrating human rights abuses like forcibly recruiting villagers and using civilians as human shields.
The five Chin youth – including representatives from the Chin National Democratic, the Chin Students’ Union, Myanmar and the Chinland Post – visited Paletwa township from June 17 to 26. While on the trip, residents from the township’s ten villages told them about regular abuses they reportedly have suffered at the hands of soldiers.
“Human rights violations such as physical assault, forceful recruitment of residents as porters or guides, robberies and the use of residents as human shields have been committed,” the letter to Chief Minister Salai Lian Luai stated.
According to the letter, hundreds of residents from Pi Taung, Sat Ta Laing Wa, Kin Ta Lin, and Pyaing So villages have fled to nearby villages, while schools in Sat Laing Wa, Sat Ta Laing Wa, Pi Taung, and Kin Ta Lin villages have been closed due to the teachers’ safety concerns.
The Chin youth urged the government to assist in reopening the schools, collecting the list of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and providing necessary support to the IDPs. They also called on the Chin State government leaders to visit the conflict area in Paletwa township so that they can help establish a path for long-term regional stability.
Over 300 residents from Pyin So Village had to flee amid skirmishes between the AA and the Tatmadaw in 2015. They only returned to their village this April under arrangements made by the Chin State government.
Paletwa township, which sits on the remote border with Rakhine State, is one of the poorest areas of Chin State. Sporadic clashes between the AA and the Tatmadaw have occurred there for several years, including last December when 200 people were displaced.