More than 215 civilians killed by Rakhine clashes since COVID-19 began

Myanmar border guard standing near a group of Rohinhya Muslims  Myanmar border guard standing near a group of Rohinhya Muslims Richard Sargent / AFP Photo

14 September 2020

Myanmar’s military reportedly ignored calls for a nationwide ceasefire including Rakhine and Southern Chin states

 Since the COVID-19 outbreak, at least 215 civilians have been killed amid clashes between the military and the Arakan Army (AA), a state-designated terrorist organization that operates in Rakhine and Southern Chin states. In addition, 350 have also been injured since 23 March 2020, when Myanmar recorded the first two cases of the disease.

From the end of August until the beginning of September 2020, several civilian victims have been identified. Shells landing in Nyaung Kan village in Myebon township last week, made victims two seven-year-old children. In addition, the townships with the most civilian deaths from the conflict are Paletwa in Southern Chin, as well as Buthidaung, Rathedaung, and Kyauktaw.

The figures are particularly worrisome as they suggest that civilian casualties from the conflict have increased dramatically this year. One of the explanations for this increase might be the threat that the COVID-19 pandemic represents. Another reason lies in the cease-fire extension until the end of September by the Tatmadaw, the national Myanmar army. The military decision kept refusing to geographically extend the cease-fire in Rakhine and Southern Chin, further implementing clashes in those areas.

Finally, it is very hard to confront the parties directly involved. On the one hand, journalists’ attempts to reach representatives from the AA face major risks because of the current anti-terror laws. On the other one, Tatmadaw’s news team is not accepting calls for comment by local news.



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Author: Barbara Caltabiano; Editor: Gianmarco Italia]

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