Accounts of military operations in Mayu hills aim to cover mass rapes in Kyan Taung?

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June 24, 2017

Maungdaw- Doubts surfaced over the Tatmadaw gunfight in the Mayu hills as rebel group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) rejected claims any of its members have been killed.

ARSA released a statement on twitter saying that if any clashes did take place, it was unaware of such an incident, and none of its members have been killed in recent days.  

On Thursday, state media Global New Light of Myanmar reported the Tatmadaw had killed three Muslim rebels and discovered a tunnel used by the group after arresting a financier from the restive village tract of Kyan Taung, Buthidaung.

One man was killed on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday, the report said citing the office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. An ARSA financier was allegedly arrested after a raid on the village tract. Interrogation of this alleged financier led to successful raids and discovery of the tunnel, according to reports in the state media.

Sources within Kyan Taung say that if there was any ARSA financier present in the area, they had long left the settlement as the army has kept up continuous raids since May. So it is more likely the army had arrested a civilian and accused him of being a financier after he had probably paid failed to pay ransom money, which is a standard practise in the Tatmadaw crackdown on Rohingyas.  

Information from Kyan Taung is often hard to get as the village is on edge following continuous military operations and most Rohingyas are spending their days in the hills or keeping a very low profile and avoiding communication with each other to evade arrest and torture.

However, Suu Kyi’s office has often given out false information that has identified civilians as terrorists. The office had earlier claimed in mid February that armed rebels attacked Hlun Htein in Mile post 56 and 57 in Buthidaung, whereas the information was later found by international and local media to be false.

Under such circumstances, many activists are alleging the government had once again manufactured stories about rebel activity in the Kyan Taung area to cover its own atrocities that included the rape of at least 32 women last month in a clearance operation in the area.

The operation followed a blast that killed ARSA personal in the nearby hills.