Think tank releases data on villages burnt in Rakhine State


An aerial view showing the burnt-out village near Maungdaw township in Rakhine State, western Myanmar, 27 September 2017. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

The Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security (MIPS), in a preliminary assessment based primarily on open source information entitled “Attack, Arson and Exodus in Rakhine,” provides statistics on the number of villages burnt in Rakhine State in the wake of the August terrorist attacks.

MIPS seeks to provide information on the crisis taking place in Rakhine State without interpreting the data and analysis and without coming to a conclusion on the findings.

As the think tank notes, the latest round of violence and the ensuing exodus of Muslims in Rakhine into Bangladesh continues to receive a high degree of attention from the international community. However, much of the information from the ground is still not yet publicly available. While the international media relies on sources primarily from the Bangladeshi side, local media cites sources from the Myanmar side. These reports often carry diametrically opposing views.

According to the government, ARSA launched 52 organised attacks against security forces between August 25 and 31.  In that same period, 90 further clashes took place for a total of 142 armed clashes (including IED explosions). Using open sources, MIPS Township-based Conflict Monitoring System (TCMS) collected a total of 119 individual incidents of either armed clashes or IED explosions. Among them, 118 of these incidents took place between August 25 and September 5, with the final incident occurring on September 22. At least 63 villages and wards throughout Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships experienced one or more incidents.

In her September 19 public address, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi stated that military “clearance operations” in Rakhine State ended on September 5.  Data from open sources indicate that only a couple of IED explosions were reported after that period until the end of September.

MIPS assessed villages burnt in the northern Rakhine townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung. They report a total of over 232 villages, mostly Muslim, were destroyed by fire.

At least 63 villages and wards throughout Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships experienced one or more incidents of armed clashes or IED explosions.

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