FBR REPORT: Clash between Arakan villagers and Burma Army Leaves Four Soldiers Critically Wounded

Maungdaw Township, western Arakan State, Burma
20 May, 2009

In Maungdaw Township, western Arakan State, Burma, over 100 Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, fearing arrest by the SPDC after a clash between Rohingya villagers and Burma Army soldiers. Four soldiers were critically injured by swords in the attack and have been hospitalized. The clash between the villagers and soldiers broke out at the border village of Thi Chaung under Taungbro Sub Township at about 3pm on April 21. The violence flared up as soldiers started breaking an embankment for shrimp farms to drain the water out before building a fence. The soldiers were seen to be stealing the shrimps, sparking the conflict.

Map of Arkan State


A government employee from the area said, “All men, about 100 in the village
of Thi Chaung, fled after the clash broke out. At present, there are only women, children and elders in the village.”

The border security forces of Burma have been searching for the villagers in order to punish them for attacking the soldiers.

The FBR team reports that “In Burma, no legal court solves such incidents between army personnel and the people. The army authority punishes ordinary people severely if they indulge in any kind of quarrel with the Burma army.”

The clash between the villagers and the soldiers has happened for the first time since the soldiers arrived in the area to construct a border fence. The Burma Army is to supervise construction of a 240km long fence along Burma’s border with Bangladesh and India.

Compensation for loss of land/property is due to be paid to those on the Indian side of the border, but the team leader reports no such compensation is anticipated for those on the Burmese side. Furthermore, it is expected the Arakan villagers will be forced to provide labor for the project.

An FBR team also gave help to villagers in Upper Paletwa township who are suffering the after-effects of a small cyclone which struck the area on April 18. (This is in southern Chin state. Paletwa Township is considered as part of Chin State but is an area populated by Arakan, Chin and other ethnic groups. Some Arakan consider it as part of Arakan State.)

They found that IDPs were suffering from pneumonia, the common cold, fever and diarrhea. Villagers were also suffering the results of being forced to use river water which had become polluted.

This is on top of a massive upsurge in bamboo rats which have eaten much of the harvest in this part of Burma. In Paletwa Township, rice distribution for three months from April has begun. People are reportedly told the aid comes from the State Peace and Development Council, even though it is supplied by the World Food Program and the UN Development Program. The FBR team also reports the SPDC has divided people into four classes, with the so-called upper classes and middle classes not receiving any help, even though they desperately need it.

Villagers also suffer widespread Burma Army oppression such as demands for forced labor, torture, rape, illegal killings, extortion of money, domestic animals, bamboo and wood.

In Buthidaw Township, people are also suffering food problems because of rats eating their rice harvest. In Maungdaw Township, an FBR team reported that all the village schools had closed due to the rats. A team member said: “Now all those schools have closed down due to a lack of food and unlimited poverty. Villagers do not have the chance to take care of their children – they are only trying to get food. Now young children must help their parents to get food.” In the same area, the team found the Burma Army uses village militia (“Praythusate”) to attack the Arakan Liberation Army, give the Burma Army information and lead them to attacks and keep watch over their village at night.

Bamboo flowers which lead to a huge rise in the rat population which then devours villagers’ food supplies
FBR medic distributes medicines and treatment to IDPs
IDPs travel to collect rice supplies