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The Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) says it has delivered evidence of human rights abuses committed by government troops during the ongoing offensive against the rebel Arakan Army in western Burma.
In a statement released late last month, the ALP accused the Burmese army of executing prisoners from the rebel army and forcing local villagers to act as porters and guides on the frontline.
Those accusations led to a demand from the local authorities, including the police and officials from Arakan State’s Border and Security Affairs Ministry, for evidence of the alleged abuses. The group was given until last Friday to produce the evidence.
“We had all the evidence ready on 29 April and we contacted Border Affairs Minister U Htein Linn so we could hand it over to him that day, but he was unreachable so we phoned the Burmese military the next day and they sent over some officials to collect it,” said Khaing Myo Tun, a spokesperson for the ALP.
“The evidence is a video file containing various interviews with those who were forced to serve as a porter and other crucial information,” he added.
During a meeting with local media organisations last week, Border and Security Affairs Minister Htein Linn pledged action on the military’s alleged human rights abuses if evidence could be provided. Khaing Myo Tun said he hoped that the regional government would keep its promise as the group has now provided the evidence.
“The government should see effective punishment of the military servicemen – officers and privates alike – as they promised if they find our evidence to be authentic,” said Khaing Myo Tun.
Khin Saw Wai, a lower house MP from Arakan State’s Rathedaung Township, said one villager abducted by the military as a porter has yet to return home.
“Our records showed there were about 16-17 people abducted and most of them have returned home, except for one individual from the village of Bodigai. He was identified as a Khami ethnic man and has been gone for about 10 days. His wife is heavily pregnant and the family is very worried,” said Khin Saw Wai.
Reporting by DVB