October 23, 2016
The Hlun Htein has ordered the immediate evacuation of much of Kawa Bil in Maungdaw, on accusations they have housed Muslim rebels.
In early morning on Sunday, the commander identified as Thura San Lwin ordered community elders from North and Western parts of the village tract to meet them. Most did not go as earlier 15 community leaders who went to meet security forces were arrested, in nearby Nga Khura and at least two died under brutal ‘interrogation’. Here, only two men went to meet the military at around 9am.
During the meeting, the commander told them that people in Kawa Bil had housed Muslim rebels and given them food and shelter prior to an attack on security forces in the area on October 9. When the two Rohingyas refuted the allegations, and said neither they nor the villagers had any idea of rebel activity, the commander accused them of lying. He then said the village must be evacuated within four hours or face an all out assault by security forces.
The representatives came back to their villages and informed the locals of the decision by security forces. Since then terror has pervaded the area and villagers are leaving their homes with any valuables they can carry. Throughout the day, terror struck villagers were seen fleeing the area. At least 2000 people from approximately 300 households are now living in the open.
Generally, only the male folk escape the village in times like this. However, a spate of rapes and sexual assaults committed by security forces and their collaborators in the past few days has meant this time, the women are leaving too. Local sources say it is especially tough for the women to live in open spaces but they have little choice as anyone left behind is likely to be raped and even killed. In nearby Kya Ri pang, three women and three children were killed by the military, and three others kidnapped after they had stayed behind.
Earlier on Saturday night, military personal broke into the house in the area and raped a young woman in front of her mother. The victim was then hit on the head with a rifle butt. Since then, she is in a serious condition, suffering without medical treatment.
Rights activists say the military uses rape as a weapon to demoralise ethnic minorities and destroy the fabric of their communities to gain control of their areas in times of conflict.