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UN expresses alarm over violence against Rohingya; Electricity, phone and internet cut in Arakan State

UN expresses alarm over violence against Rohingya

The Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said that the U.N. is alarmed over escalating violence in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships of northern Arakan State on Monday. Rohingya residents have accused the Arakan Army (AA) of burning down their homes since May 17. 

“We call on all military and political leaders, as well as community influencers to do their part to de-escalate and defuse attempts to reignite intercommunal tensions, particularly between ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya, and to avoid the repetition of past human rights atrocities that we have seen in Rakhine State,” added Dujarric.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called on the AA and the Burma Army to pause fighting in order to allow humanitarian aid organizations to access civilians in need of assistance. The AA denied responsibility for arson in Buthidaung. It has accused Rohingya armed groups and the Burma Army of burning down homes. 

Electricity, phone and internet cut in Arakan State

Residents of Thandwe Township, in southern Arakan State, said that electricity and telecommunication services were cut on May 17. In villages north of Thandwe along the road to Taungup, where fighting between the AA and the Burma Army has been taking place, the shutdown began May 15. 

“When the electricity went out, they couldn’t use motors to pump water, so they couldn’t get water and they couldn’t charge their phones. In the area where the fighting is going on the locals can’t even be contacted by phone,” said a Thandwe resident.

Nearly 20,000 residents have been reportedly displaced from their homes in Thandwe. Ten civilians were killed in Linthi village on May 14. Internet access and mobile networks have been cut in most townships of northern Arakan, according to the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK). The AA has seized control of 10 towns in Arakan and one in southern Chinland.

Foreign nationals implicated in crime hub along Thai-Burma border

An investigation by the whistleblower group Justice for Myanmar revealed that foreign nationals and entities are involved in cyber scam operations run by the Border Guard Force (BGF) in Myawaddy Township of Karen State. The BGF recently rebranded itself as the Karen National Army (KNA).

“Authorities in the region must do far more to investigate the involvement of their citizens, residents and companies in the transnational and international crimes committed in Myanmar,” said Yadanar Maung, the  spokesperson of Justice for Myanmar, which is calling for immediate sanctions against the BGF/KNA. 

Companies and nationals from Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Cambodia are allegedly implicated in the cyber scam operations in Myawaddy. Representatives from EXIM Bank, Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank and Krungthai Bank, have met with the BGF/KNA to discuss financing, according to Justice for Myanmar. 

News by Region

Tonzang Township residents hide in a forest to escape fighting between resistance forces and the Burma Army. (Credit: CJ)

CHINLAND—The Chin National Army (CNA/CNF) told DVB that 11 Burma Army soldiers were killed during fighting for control of Tonzang Township on Tuesday. Fifty firearms and ammunition were seized by resistance forces. The CNA launched its attack to take Tonzang on May 15. 

“We can confirm that we were able to capture the town. Now we are conducting clearance operations. Soon we will likely be in a position to occupy the entire town,” Salai Htet Ni, the CNF spokesperson, told DVB. Nearly 10,000 residents in Tonzang Township have been displaced from their homes due to the fighting, according to a local administration official representing resistance forces. 

ARAKAN—At least two civilians, including a child, were killed and three others were injured when the military conducted drone strikes and airstrikes in Thandwe, Kyaukphyu and Maungdaw townships May 19-21. A woman was killed in an airstrike on Maungdaw May 21. An 8-year-old boy died in an air raid in Thandwe on May 20, Narinjara News reported. Military drones bombed a village of Kyaukphyu on May 20, injuring one. Two Maungdaw residents were killed and five houses were damaged by an airstrike on May 19.

NAYPYIDAW—Anonymous sources in the military told DVB that five generals were sentenced 5-10 years in prison on May 18. They were allegedly involved in cyber scam operations in Laukkai, the capital of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in northern Shan State. They were arrested in Naypyidaw on March 25. 

“There are a lot of officials, including retired ones, who were arrested. The five were put on trial by a military court in April,” one source told DVB. Deputy Minister of Defense Aung Lin Tun, the commander of the Eastern Command Hla Moe, the commander of the Northern Command Soe Hlaing, and former commander Zaw Min were sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption. The director of the Security Printing Works was sentenced to five years on unknown charges. 

Tune-in to the Weekly Briefing every Friday. Listen on YouTube Music, Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music or Apple Podcasts. Find DVB English News wherever you get your podcasts


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