AA threats spark concerns of forced recruitment targeting Chin villages in northern Rakhine State

(Minbya Township, Rakhine State – 29 January 2021)
The Arakan Army (AA) has begun issuing demands for trainees in approximately 80 Chin populated villages in Minbya, Mrauk-U and Myebon Townships, Rakhine State. It is reported that the AA has demanded five people from each village to attend “administrative training” which are to be organized at a later date:
“Three men in civilian clothes who said that they were members of the AA arrived in our village on 3 January. The whole village was summoned to a meeting where we were informed that although we are Chin [the village population] we had to send five people to attend from each village as we live in Rakhine State. We were told that the people we send must be male and under 45 years old. We were also told that the village community would be required to pay the families of those individuals that attended the training the sum of 400,000 MMK (approx. 300 USD) while they were away. Because five people from a village are to attend the training, we will need to collect 20 lakhs [2 million MMK] (approx. 1500 USD) from each village. They did not say when the training would start but told us to be ready,” said a source from Minbya Township who requested anonymity.
Community members interviewed by CHRO raised concerns that given the level of poverty in the rural areas, the village populations would struggle to pay the costs, “in our village, there are a total of 113 houses which includes households run by widows and widowers. If 20 lakhs is to be collected, we will have to pay around 20,000 kyats per household, two-thirds of the people in our village have financial difficulties,” said another local from Minbya.
According to other sources, Minbya, where 30 villages have allegedly been approached, is not the only township where such demands have been initiated by the AA, a further 50 Chin villages in Myebon and Mrauk-U Townships have also been targetted:
“The Chin people in Rakhine State have been subjected to various forms of racial oppression and discrimination by the AA and their supporters. The AA has also threatened that any family members who share information about anyone killed from the AA’s ill-treatment, torture or brutality inflicted upon them will be killed as a punishment.”
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