Military arrests rice mill owner for alleged Arakan Army links
- : Aung Htein
Aung Htein | DMG
1 September, Ponnagyun
A resident of Sabarhtar village in Ponnagyun Township, Arakan State, was taken from his home by a military contingent at around 6 p.m. on August 31, according to family members of the detainee.
A naval vessel arriving from Sittwe docked near Sabarhtar village on the afternoon of August 31. Security personnel from the ship entered the village and conducted interrogations of households and the owners of rice mills in the village, locals said.
Members of the security forces arrested a 48-year-old man named U Ye Kyaw Tun and took him in for questioning after they found numerous rice bags at his rice mill, said Ma Su Hlaing Oo, daughter of the detainee.
“The military arrested my father after seeing many rice sacks at the rice mill. The milled rice sacks are to be sold to make a profit. My father is innocent and I am worried that my father will be beaten and tortured by the military,” she added.
Two hours later, the military contingent returned to the village, seized dozens of rice sacks from the detainee’s rice mill and loaded them onto the vessel, the villagers said.
The Tatmadaw True News Information Team released a statement on September 1 saying the military confiscated 80 rice sacks from U Ye Kyaw Tun’s house, adding that the rice was allegedly being stored for the Arakan Army.
Family members of the detainee have denied the military’s accusations, saying he has no ties to the Arakan Army.
“This is a groundless accusation. My brother has no links to any organisations. He earns his living by running a rice mill,” said Ko Kyaw Khaing, U Ye Kyaw Tun’s younger brother.
The confiscated rice sacks will be sent to Sittwe and the detainee will be charged in accordance with the law, the military said in its statement.
The number of people arrested by the Myanmar army on suspicion of having ties to the Arakan Army has risen steadily over the past two years amid ongoing conflict between the two sides in the country’s west.
Several civil society organisations from across Myanmar including a coalition of CSOs in Arakan State issued a joint statement on August 25 calling on the government and the Tatmadaw to end human right abuses, including arbitrary detention and maltreatment in military custody.