The number of people who have gone missing in Chin State’s restive Paletwa Township has been increasing, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) reported this week.
In an August 12 report, CHRO said that armed organizations were likely to blame for the disappearances—mostly of young men—but did not identify particular groups. Battles between the Arakan Army and the Burma Army have been intensifying in the southern Chin State township.
Aik Kyaw Lin Naing, 23, Aik Kyaw Sein, 31, Aik Ky Kyaw Than 28, and Aik Kyaw Lin, 25, disappeared after being arrested by soldiers at around 7:00 p.m. on July 16 while returning from the Long Kadu bridge construction site in Paletwa. They all came from Bawngwa village and worked as motorbike taxi drivers.
“We don’t exactly know which armed group arrested these Chin villagers,” Salai Terah, CHRO field director, said. “Nobody has gotten any follow-up information about the disappearance of the Chin villagers. Their families are so worried about their safety. They should not arrest innocent people. These people are not concerned with any armed organization. They are just normal villagers.”
Salai Terah said that if it is somehow deemed necessary that the villagers be detained, the group responsible should inform the men’s family members about why they were taken into custody.
Family members of the four men reported them as missing to the Paletwa Township General Administration Department office, the police station, and the Burma Army.
In addition, Maung Pu Kwe, also known as Myat Maung Maung, age 20, disappeared on August 9 and U Kyaw Aye, age 58, disappeared on June 14. Both were arrested when returning from a market in Rakhine State, although they live in Than Htawng village in Paletwa.
“We haven’t gotten any information about them since that time. We are afraid to look for them,” another Than Htawng villager told Khonumthung News.
Three more men, Kho Lo, 60, Benjamin, 14, and Maung Kyaw Naing, 15, found themselves trapped when clashes broke out between the Burma Army and the AA in October 2018 when they went to look for edible plants in the jungle. They have not been seen since.
Khonumthung News called AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha for comment but his phone had been shut down.
The Burma Army does not typically respond to questions regarding reports of abuses against civilians.