20 January 2018

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04/29/2015 MYANMAR

Rakhine: hundreds of civilians flee fighting between Burmese and Arakan forces

The state has been the scene of violence between Burmese Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya. At least 300 people hastily fled the village Pyingso, in western Myanmar. Activists denounce the lack of food and resources for displaced people. The government’s peace plan now appears in jeopardy.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 300 people were forced to flee Pyingso, a village in the western state of Rakhine, because of clashes between government troops and local ethnic militias. This comes at a time when the country is trying to reach a permanent ceasefire.

Rakhine state had already seen ethnic-religious violence between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. This time, Burmese soldiers were involved in fighting with the Arakan Army, local sources said. This is unusual because divisions in the state tend to be confessional rather than political as in Kachin and Shan.

“People have fled because they are concerned for their security,” said Usteven, chairman of the Khume Youth Organisation in Paletwa Township. What is more, “They don’t have enough food because no organisation has helped them yet.”

Although the Arakan Army is based in Rakhine State, its troops are fighting mainly in other areas where Burmese forces are pitted against ethnic minorities, particularly in the north, in Kachin, scene of a long bloody conflict.

However, between the end of March and April, the Arakan Army clashed on three different occasions with government troops near Paletwa Township.

Because of the violence, hundreds of civilians – at least 500 in Kyauktaw Township alone – sought shelter in camps, forced to live in tents.

The new outbreak of violence in Rakhine State threatens to derail President Thein Sein’s ambitious peace plan to end decades of bloody conflict between the central government and ethnic minorities.

The president wants to reach a historic deal before the general elections, scheduled for later this year. As part of this, a summit between the various ethnic groups to discuss a cease-fire is in the works for 3 May. 

Myanmar is home to more than 135 ethnic groups, who have always struggled to coexist peacefully, especially with the central government, which is dominated by ethnic Burmese.

In the past, when a military junta ran the country, the authorities used an iron fist against the least amenable to central control, like ethnic Kachin in Kachin state, along the border with China in the north, and more recently with ethnic Kokang in Shan state.

After 17 years of relative calm, fighting broke out again in Kachin State in June 2011. Since then, dozens of civilians have been killed and at least 200,000 people have been displaced.

Last August, local bishops made a plea for peace, calling for a lasting solution to the conflict.

See also

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Rohingya, Brussels condemns the Burmese army and prepares targeted sanctions

European diplomacy expresses “great concern” also for Kachin and Shan minorities. The 28 EU states confirm their support for an embargo on arms and equipment. Brussels recognizes the little influence of Aung San Suu Kyi on the powerful Tatmadaw.

23/01/2015 MYANMAR
Thousands of people attend the funeral of Kachin Christian teachers raped and killed by soldiers
Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Khawn Nan Zin were laid to rest this morning in Myitkyina. Memorial services were held elsewhere in Myanmar, including in Yangon, where about a hundred people met. Activists and NGOs demand an independent investigation, and punishment for the culprits.

21/01/2015 MYANMAR
Burmese army rapes, tortures and kills two Christian Kachin teachers
The violence took place in the village of Shabuk-Kaunghka, Shan State. In their 20s, the two teaching volunteers had come to the village to provide education to locals. Revenge for clashes between regular army units and rebels appears to be the reason for the incident. Burma's Churches condemn the crime, noting the work Christian volunteers do in the field of education.

22/06/2011 MYANMAR
Civil war between Burmese army and ethnic militias in Kachin and Shan States
KIA troops hit bridge linking Mandalay con Myitkyina to cut off army supplies. Overnight, three mines are set off near government sites in Kachin State capital. Humanitarian crisis gets worse as more than 2,000 people become refugees. Conflict area is now at risk of cholera risk.

20/04/2016 09:37:00 MYANMAR
Clashes in Rakhine State: 20 government soldiers and a commander dead

For three days fighting has been raging in the western region of Myanmar. Rebel Arakan army sources: "We have no dead". The government does not confirm reports.

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