The leader of Kone Tine Village and the villagers gaze mournfully at the remains of their village. U Maung Hla, the village leader, and the villagers had arrived to talk with the foreign diplomats who came to assess the situation in Rakhine.
“I don’t want to come back here, it hurts my heart,” says U Maung Hla.
Foreign Diplomats comprising of Ambassadors to Myanmar, members of UNRC, UNHCR, WFP, World Bank (Myanmar) and UNODC visited Maungtaw Region on 2 October, a visit arranged by the Union Government.
The Mro people were farmers living peacefully in the hilly region where their Kone Tine Village was located until ARSA terrorists burned the area. Now their home is barren and destroyed, and devoid of people.
The attack on their village happened, four days after ARSA’s attack in the Maungtaw Region on 25 August, and displaced the 247 villagers. About 500 terrorists armed with guns, blades and sticks raided the village, killing villagers and burning their homes.
“Most of the villagers were able to escape because the village sentry sounded the alarm on time,” U Maung Hla said in a hoarse voice filled with sorrow. “The ones who couldn’t flee in time were killed by the terrorists.”
U Maung Hla said he will never forget the images of his villagers beaten and killed as the terrorists surrounded their village and cut off all ways to escape. Three elderly people, two men and a five year old boy were killed and seven people received incised wounds.
The Kone Tine villagers say they fled towards the east of Mayu Mountain and arrived at Pansay Village (Mro ethnic residence) in Buthidaung Township around 8pm. They stayed in Pansay for twenty days and arrived in Laungdone Village (another Mro ethnic residence) in Maungtaw Township on 17 September.
“There was no time to gather our belongings when we had to run for our lives,” said U Maung Hla. “We had to leave behind our livestock too and who knows what happened to our crops.”
The main source of income for the Mro people living in Maungtaw and Buthidaung is agriculture. A Mro villager said that to reach Maungtaw City from their village it takes an hour by foot to reach the main road and then two hours by car to Maungtaw. Their village is located far from any Rakhine village and is closer to Bengali villages thus prompting villagers to refuse to return to their homes unless they were given proper security.
The diplomats met with survivors and remaining family members of the terrorist attacks who told them their firsthand account of the incidents.
The terrorist attacks in August killed 84 people who were Hindu, Rakhine, Mro, Dainet, civil servants, security officers and civilians and 54 people are reportedly missing and there is a suspicion they were kidnapped by the terrorists. The fire had burned and twisted the scythes in the fields, there were pieces of broken pots and plates scattered across the area and villagers searching for what remained of their belongings. As we gazed at this scene, U Maung Hla said in a sorrowful tone, “I want the world to know that Kone Tine was burned and its villagers were attacked and killed.” —Thi Thi Min, Min Thit (MNA)