|Villagers from Pha Yar Poun village are sleeping on the ground after Myanmar army set fire their houses on September 3.
AN. Sittway. September 10, 2020
Background of Two Foot Soldiers
Recent development of two deserted foot soldiers from Myanmar army and reportedly appeared in Netherlands in this week is encouraging for both Rakhine and Raohingya communities for at least International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Court of Justice (ICJ) may able to produce more evidences of crimes committed by Myanmar army against Rohingya Muslim in 2017.
Moreover, after Arakan Army, freedom fighting ethnic Rakhine revolutionary force emerging, two communities are brought in harmony to seek for justice, protection, and interaction in every level of grassroots in the villages, in towns, and among the key political leaderships in recent years.
The video clips released by Arakan Army in June revealed that the two soldiers, Private Myo Win Tun, 33, and served for Light Infantry Battalion 565, and Private Zaw Naing Tun, 30, and served for Light Infantry Battalion 353 had involved in ‘clearance operations’ in 2016 and 2017 and killed a number of Rohingya after given orders from their superiors.
International news said Myo Win Tun and Zaw Naing Tun are now in the custody in Netherlands after they requested protection in Bangladesh in August. The news said Bangladesh authority contacted to ICC after the soldiers sought asylums.
Arakan Army Spokesperson Khine Thu Kha told our news agency the two former soldiers appeared in Netherlands are run-away military service men from Myanmar army but not Prisoner of War, or ‘POW’. He said AA did not detain them at all but helped them for certain extent of providing foods, cashes, and shelters for temporary basis before they went out themselves to settle private lives elsewhere.
“These two soldiers are run-awayfoot soldiers from Myanmar army. They reached to our camps. We documented what they have done and really experienced on the ground that we have already released some video clips,” he said.
Khine Thu Kha said, “In order to save valuable human life, we have cooperated with the international community because Myanmar army is killing innocent Rakhine civilians daily, randomly arresting villagers, setting fire houses, looting private properties, and stealing and slaughtering cattle for foods, in terms of rampaging all kinds of violence over the general populations that have to be stop one way or another. In Myanmar, domestic law does not protect civilians but the international law. So, we ought to cooperate with the international community in order to prevent such atrocity carried out by Myanmar military.”
“As we have made an announcement, we have provided some mass grave locations to the international community. And, we hope that the international community will somehow prevent the lawless killing over our people by enforcing the international law,” he said.
Arakan Army announced on January 26 and stated, “While Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) is being investigated for war crimes at the International Criminal Court, they are brazenly continuing to commit like this even today. Therefore, if any organization that loves the truth and other independent organizations take steps to establish the truth, we stand ever ready to extend our hands of cooperation.”
According to AA sources, it has handed over some evidences of Rohingya mass graves and the locations to the international organization in June shortly after it made the announcement.
Local sources said there are several high ranking military officers and hundreds of deserted foot soldiers who obtain evidences and experiences in the massive atrocities done over the Rohingya community during the clearance operations in Buthedang and Maungdaw townships in 2016 and 2017.
Rakhine and Rogingya Villagers Helping Each Other
When Myanmar army declared ‘clearance operation’ in Kyautan village track in Rathedaung township on June 24, over 30,000 residents were fleeing from the villages in fear of get killed and arrested. But several Rohingya villages were remaining untouched by the military. Rakhine villagers asked the Rohingya to look after their cows, buffalos, and some properties while they were running out of the villages.
Ahr Kar Taung and Kan Sit are some Rohingya villages close to the Yet Khone Taing and Tha Mee Hla Rakhine villages where all residents have been fleeing since June. The villagers handed over hundreds of cows, buffalos, and farming-machines to the Rohingya villagers to temporarily take care of.
“Five cows and three buffalos are given to my Muslim friend in Ahr Kar Taung village to look after before I come back to my village. They are well taking care of the cattle,” said U Kyaw Thar Aung, a villager from Tha Mee Hla village.
There are many stories like these in in Rathedaung and Buthedaung townships.
Ko Ann Thar Gyi, a charity volunteer, assisted and transported several wounded Rohungya to the hospital in Minbya township in June. The video clip of assisting the Rohingya patients appeared on social media. He told the local media, Rakhine people ought to help the Rohungya patients because they are suffered the same as Rahkhine people are facing today by the Myanmar military randomly attacking and firing motor shells.
Arakan Army Set a Tax Free Zone for Rohingya Villages
Rohingya villagers reported the village chairman collected tax of 20,000 Kyat (About 18 US dollar) to per cow before the Muslim Eid day celebration in Than Htuang and Ya Ba villages in Kyauktaw township. They reported the village chairman, Mro ethnic, was collecting taxes for Arakan Army.
After AA got that report and investigated the tax collection, it found out the local Rohingya villagers had to pay taxes to the local authorities for many years. The village chairman had collected the taxes to pass the authority and police. But the police and the authority could not come to those villages at all because AA has been controlling that region since last summer.
Then, the AA leader in the local base instructed the village chairman to give back the tax money to the Rohingya villagers, and ordered from now on, these villagers do not have to pay any tax to the local authorities. Now, the Rohingya villagers are saving a lot of money.
Similar case took place in Buthedaung township when 10 stolen buffaloes were captured by AA administrator in May.
Traders were heading to the Bangladesh border with 10 buffaloes in the morning of May. AA administrator was reported that those buffaloes were stolen from Zay Taung village. Then AA stopped the traders on the border and investigated it.
AA found out the buffaloes belonged to the Rohingya. AA gave back the cattle to the owners.
One of the key AA leaders said some Rakhine came and claimed those buffaloes belonged to them. But it was not true. He said justice has to be fairness and does not matter they are Rakhine or Muslim, the properties must be given to the rightful owners.
High Level Leaderships Interaction
Some high level of liberal Rakhine and Rohingya leaderships are discussing their view point how to cooperate and build unity among themselves in order to have bargaining power when negotiating with the central government and how their future will be look like in term of achieving freedom and equality.
The discussions are going on local and diaspora leaderships level. They discuss they would like to have a common agreement between Rakhine and Rohingya community in basic terms of freedom of movements, right to citizenships, right to equality, and right to voluntary return of refugees. They believe these kinds of common agreement may empower themselves to negotiate with the central government and implement the recommendations of late UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
In different point of views among the diaspora leaderships, they even discuss radicalized approach in cooperation between the two communities and prosecute individual Myanmar generals at the ICC, and even lead to further discussion of forming a political and military collation to fight together for total independence from the Myanmar authority and create a new nation where everyone can enjoy equal rights and equal opportunity whereas AA has manifested 'Way of Rahita.'
For the leaderships and organizations that are involving in the political discussions, Arakan News is requested to off publishing on media due to their security concern. .