Arakan Army forces 300 Chin to flee to India: newspaper

Nearly 300 Myanmar have been driven out of their homes in Chin State and forced to flee to neighbouring India by an armed ethnic group, the Arakan Army, an Indian newspaper has reported.

Most of those who crossed into India’s Mizoram State on May 19 were women and children, the New Indian Express reported on May 22, quoting sources in the paramilitary Assam Rifles.

The report said male villagers were held back by the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army, which has become increasingly active in recent years.

The report did not identify the religion of those forced to flee but most Chin are Christians.

The Assam Rifles said that after being told of an influx of a large group of people from Myanmar it despatched teams that found more than 200 Chin in one village and 77 in another, the newspaper reported.

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“The refugees revealed that they were residents of Ralie village in Chin State … They said they were threatened and pushed out of their homes by Myanmar-based ethnic insurgent group, Arakan Army, while most male villagers were held back,” a senior Assam Rifles officer told the New Indian Express.

Mizoram home minister Mr R. Lalzirliana said the Chin were staying in schools and community halls and the state government was providing them with food.

The Assam Rifles had contacted the Tatmadaw to discuss arrangements for the safe return of the Chin to their homes, the report said.

Fighting in Rakhine State last year between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes.

A Tatmadaw battalion commander was among those killed in clashes in Kyauktaw Township in April last year that were reported to have claimed the lives of 20 soldiers.

The Tatmadaw had vowed to eliminate the Arakan Army in Rakhine after fighting began in Kyauktaw Township in December 2015.

The AA is one of three groups, along with Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, that were excluded from signing the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015 and the three groups remain outside the peace process.

Many AA troops were trained by the Kachin Independence Army, another non-signatory of the NCA.

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