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ARU: Civilian casualties rise as armed conflicts continue in Rohingya areas

  • Published at 06:08 am June 2nd, 2020
rakhine police
File photo: Police forces prepare to patrol in the Maungdaw township at Rakhine October 12, 2016 Reuters

They also demanded immediate implementation of the agreement for safe, dignified, and voluntary return the Rohingya refugees to their original homes in Arakan

The Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) has said armed clashes in the Arakan state of Myanmar has been on the rise in the past few days, particularly along the eastside of the Mayu range from Buthidaung Township to further south in Rathedaung Township, marking a rise in civilian casualties.

“Residents in the Sindi Ferang and nearby villages have been reportedly on high alert as heavy artillery and gunfire is going on and off almost daily,” ARU said in its latest narrative report, submitted by its Director General Dr Wakar Uddin, before the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“In the meantime, there is no sign of abatement of the volatile situation in Arakan State where armed conflicts continue and the rule of law has turned out to be a mockery,” the report added.

The ARU also placed eight demands before the international community to push the Myanmar government to protect the ethnic minority group.

The demands include: expedite implementation of all the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ,  protect Rohingya village residents while it is engaged in armed conflict with any group in Arakan, strictly enforce the rule of law and reinstate its original order of eviction of the illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya properties in Seyton Su in Sittwe, expand the order for removal of the illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya lands to all the townships in Arakan State including the Natala from confiscated Rohingya farmlands, and repatriate the IDPs in Kyaukpyu to their original properties and not to any other isolated locations.

They also demanded immediate implementation of the agreement for safe, dignified, and voluntary return the Rohingya refugees to their original homes in Arakan with their full citizenship and basic rights with security and unconditionally, expansion of the lifting of internet blackout in Northern Arakan, and making healthcare and emergency services accessible to all Rohingya in Arakan.

Armed conflicts continue in Rohingya areas

The report said on May 29, 2020, fighting between Myanmar government armed forces and Arakan Army reportedly broke out at Thazin Myaing village of Rathedaung Township at 2am. A total of 10 Burmese police personnel and a family of three civilians were reportedly missing.

“However, on May 30, 2020, the family of three were released by the Arakan Army. Sources have indicated that the missing 10 police personnel were feared dead and an additional 7 personnel were injured,” said the report.

On May 12, 2020, an explosion in the Shakir village (Thayetpyin) of Buthidaung Township killed two Rohingya children and injured a third one. 

The victims, a 10-year-old girl from Shakir village and a 15-year-old boy from Fui Mali village (Phone Nyo Leik), reportedly came to the part of the deserted Rohingya village of Thayetpyin to collect fruits when they were hit by explosions. 

Submission of Burma report to ICJ

On May 22, 2020, the Myanmar government submitted its first report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) detailing what it has done to protect the Rohingya ethnic minority from genocide.

Earlier, the ICJ issued an order on Myanmar government to file reports, subsequently every six months, on what steps have been taken to safeguard the Rohingya ethnic minority in Arakan State as part of "provisional measures" at the start of a trial that is expected to last years.

Myanmar government issues directives over Rohingya issues

Prior to the submission of the report to ICJ, the Office of the President of Burma released two directives, one on compliance of the provisional measures and the other on preservation of evidence of crimes committed by the Burmese military, the report said.

The Myanmar government also announced the decision to drop charges against Rohingya families who fled to Central Burma to take refuge while the armed-conflict between Burmese military and Arakan Army rages in Arakan, release Rohingya prisoners as part of traditional presidential pardon marking Burma’s New Year, adopt a plan to resettle Rohingya IDPs in Kyaukpyu, lift the internet blackout in Maungdaw Township, and remove illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from occupied Rohingya properties in Seyton Su Muslim quarter in Sittwe.

Rescinding order of removal of illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers

Authorities in Arakan State have revoked a Myanmar government order requiring Buddhist Rakhine settlers to vacate the occupied properties of Rohingya in a Rohingya ward in Sittwe township that was razed in 2012, the report quoted news media RFA. 

 “This is a clear sign of the lack of law and order in Myanmar; if the government would only comply with existing laws, this would solve many problems," RFA has quoted a Rohingya community leader as saying. 

Meanwhile, a Seyton Su Ward Chairman has been reportedly assassinated over eviction orders.

“On May 24, 2020, the ward chairman of Seyton Su was killed by a group of four Buddhist Rakhine assailants wearing masks while he was shopping. The assailants came on two motorcycles, knocked him down and fatally stabbed him three times and fled,” the report said.

Myanmar parliament approves half-a-million US dollars for ICJ genocide defense case

The Myanmar Parliament has approved a budget of 680 million Kyats (US$484,000) for the country’s defence at the International Court of Justice against genocide charges filed by The Gambia, The Irrawaddy Reports.

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