Myanmar Army’s Recent Covert Clearance Operations Forcing 35,000 Civilians Out of Homes in the South and North of Rakhine State in spite of International Pressure

Location of LID-55's clearance operations in Mrauk U township since July 3, 2020 and villagers fleeing areas

AN. Sittway. July 9, 2020.


Myanmar army has been launching covert clearance operations in Rakhine State, Myanmar, since June 24. 


The operations have forced over 35,700 civilians displaced in Ann, Mrauk U, Ponnaygun, and Rathedaung townships. 


Minster of Rakhine State’s border and security affair Col. Min Than publically instructed villagers to leave from their homes during the military clearance operation in Kyauk Tan village tract in Rathedaung township on June 24. The minister later revoked the announcement after embassies and UN issued concerned statements over the massive civilians displaced. 


Local aid organizations report the operation is still going on in Kyauk Tan areas even though the state government withdrew the order. 


Lawmakers of the townships reported over 25,000 villagers have fled to Rathedaung and Sittway township since the operation is taken place in June.


The military does not stop in Rathedaung township, but it goes to Ann township. 


Regional military commanders met Buddhist monks and elderlies in Dar Let on June 27 and told Myanmar army would launch clearance operation in Dar Let village tract and instructed all villagers to leave. 


“Between 6,000 to 7,000 villagers have been fleeing from Dar Let village tract since June 27, amid the clearance operation. 1,500 IDPs have lived in two separate camps in Ann, and 2,000 new comers are sheltering in different wards in the town,” said U Myo Lwin, aid volunteer and head of Ann New Generation Youth Association.


Local news agencies had previously reported there are 1,255 villagers have taken shelters in Ann and Magway Division between April and June. Total displaced civilians in the township are reached to 8,255 in the second week of July. 


He said local individuals and charity organizations are responding the emergency needs of the refugees. No government agency nor ICRC and WFP is assisting the large new comers of internally displaced person (IDP). 


“Myanmar army is opening the roads now for the villagers to leave, where it has been blocking road and water transportations since last November. They are not allowed to come back at all. Our charity workers are banned to go in. Look like the military is opening the exit door to clear entire communities,” he said. 


Dar Let village track is contained with 48 villages. Out of 48 villages, all residents from 28 villages have already fled, leaving the entire village empty. Three quarter of residents are also fleeing from remaining 20 villages. 


“They are fleeing to Ann, Zu Kaing and Ken Htun Gyi villages, and some villages are running to Magway Division. One thousand five hundred internal refugees have been taking shelters in two IDP camps in Ann while 2,000 new comers are staying in different wards in the town,” U Myo Lwin said.


He told our news agency his organization has documented 5,000 IDPs so far, but 2,000 villagers are still missing, whom his organization is unable to document. He said they may have been encamped somewhere in the village tract by the military, or he cannot be known where they are running to since the members of his organization are not allowed to go into the restricted villages to see it by their own eyes. 


“These 28 villages are totally ruined. All houses are left without unattended; unremovable properties are remained unguarded; cattle and home grew animals such as pigs, goats, chickens, and pets are wandering around without caretakers and feeding,” he said. 


He said, “Over 2,000 residents are staying inside the half empty 20 villages, mostly trapped in Naw Maw West and Dar Let North and Dar Let West. They are starving since food supplies are blocked to reach the communities.”


Narinjara news reported on July 8, Myanmar military has confiscated 139 canoes and one engine small boats in Dar Let village track. 


A fresh report of quiet clearance operation comes from Mrauk U township, where thousands of civilians have been fleeing away from their villages since July 3 when a large column of Myanmar soldiers entering and searching in Kywe Tel, Kant Tha Ri, Na Gar Kwyal, Kha Maung Tel, and Nga Me Pyin villages. 


“4,500 residents are fleeing from six villagers since July 3 when a large column of soldiers is searching the villagers along the way to southward. Hundreds of soldiers are still patrolling in that areas,” said Pine Pine, a charity worker in Mrauk U township.


He said, “The villagers are fleeing to Par Taw village and to Kyauktaw township. Kywe Te village has 500 houses and 2,000 residents. Kha Maung Tel has 250 houses. They all are fleeing, and the villages are empty.” 


He said some were returning back to Kywe Tel and Kant Tha Ri on July 7, but the rest are still taking shelters in neighboring villages. 


Similar covert clearance operation is taken places in northeast region of Ponnaygun township since middle of June. Hundreds of Myanmar soldiers have been stationing in the hillside of Nat Taung village since May. 


The military has been blocking road and water transportations in the village track. The restriction effects 5,000 residents in 13 villages, facing shortage of foods and difficult access to local markets.


A 54 years old villager was shot and killed by the soldiers stationing near the Nat Taung village on June 29 when he was canoeing to pick up his wife in the neighboring village. 


The residents from Nat Taung and Ken Taunt Kyi villages also reported the military had shot and killed 16 cows and a buffalo and then ate in May and June. 


Local news has reported a 200 fresh internally displaced villagers who have been taking shelter in Oh Rama village need immediate food assistances. 


Local analysts said the military is conducting the same pattern of systematic clearance on civil communities in Rakhine and Chin states while internet is blackout. 


Amnesty International yesterday called for UN Security Council to take an action against the military for committing war crimes since it indiscriminately bombed and shelled into the populated villages, which killed dozens of civilians in Rakhine and Chin states. 


Similar call is made by global Arakanese community on UNSC members to take concrete actions, including economic sanctions and war crimes investigation into the military. 


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