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Western Myanmar Conflict Response

Since December 2018, the conflict between the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) and the Arakan Army (AA, Rakhine rebels) in southern Chin State and northern Rakhine State had escalated, which had caused over 30,000 people displaced till the end of May 2019.

In February 2018, CEDAR funded our partner* USD 18,000 (approximately HKD 141,300) to provide food and blankets to 520 families (in total 2,100 persons) from Paletwa in the temporary campsites. Collaborating with us in relief distribution was Pastor Aung Din, who was well-loved by the locals, well-respected by local government and his experienced team. Due to ongoing and increasing demand of the region, we decided to validate our second batch of funds (US$18,000 which is equivalent to about HK $140,000) in June this year to support our partner’s second phase of relief. 363 households (2,472 people in total), including 158 families who were staying inside the government office building, will be benefited from our second phase of relief.

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*Our partner is Full Moon Children Development Family. Full Moon has already collaborated with Pastor Aung Din in ministries for 8 years. They are under the same network of Christian Children Home in Myanmar. Aung Din has also registered youth organisations in Yangon and Chin State to serve the youths.

Know more about conflicts!

Rakhine State is located at the southwest of Myanmar. Since 2017, Myanmar Government has persecuted Rohingya Muslims, and Rakhine State has become the internationally concerned conflicting point. When the society concerned on the deportation or migration of 730,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the conflicts between the Myanmar Force Army and the AA continues in recent months at the north of Rakhine State and south of Chin State.

The AA is an insurgent group founded in 2008, which is mainly constituted of Rakhine ethnic Buddhists. They advocate for Arakanese’s self-determination and a greater authority for Rakhine State. The emergence of the AA was due to the long-term discrimination from mainstream Bamar Buddhist who ensconced in power in the country against 2 million Rakhine Buddhist.

On 4 January 2019, the Myanmar Independence Day, the AA attacked 4 police stations and resulted in injuries and casualties of 13 police officers at Buthiduang in Rakhine. The AA claimed such attack as a response to Myanmar’s military action in northern Rakhine. This incident triggered suppress from Myanmar’s military and conflict occurred in Rakhine State and extended to Chin State, located on the border of India and Myanmar. According to Edith Mirante, a human rights author who had studied Chin issues for many years, the AA used the southern Chin as their military training site. In May 2017, at least 500 Chin State’s civilians were forced to escape from the conflict to India.

The United Nations noted that, before the end of January, the Myanmar’s military and the AA had conflicts at Buthiduang, Rathedaung, and Ponnagyun in Rakhine State, as well as Paletwa at the south of Chin State.

On 11 February, Amnesty International criticised that the action of Myanmar’s military violated human rights, as the army recklessly shelled villages, obstructed food supplies and humanitarian aids to civilians, and detained civilians with ambiguous laws.

Myanmar is a multi-ethnic country with 135 officially recognised ethnic groups. However, conflicts between local insurgent groups and the Government has continued over the history of Myanmar. There are over 20 intensifying conflicts on the border. Independent analyst stated that this conflict implied the penetration of the AA in border regions and the extension of their influence.

(CEDAR’s Graphic)

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