The Burmese/Myanmar police force have gone to Buthidaung township in western Rakhine State, seized land and have begun plans to set up a regimental base, according to local news outlets. When the non state-run, local news outlets asked the Burmese police whether or not this land was acquired legally, they were not met with answers, however they have confirmed that the compound is being built.
Part of this land is unharvested farmland owned by Rohingya villagers, as the village is Rohingya. The police simply warned the villagers not to let their livestock on their newly acquired land, flagging off their newly claimed property.
Rakhine State has seen pushes from both the Burmese police forces and military alike, attacking civilians and militants in a brutal offensive that the U.N. has called “textbook ethnic cleansing,” and that has brought condemnation from the international community, including the United States. The numbers of Rohingya on the run for their lives continue to steadily increase, and are bordering on 700,000.
Multiple reports coming out of the area document these forces committing all sorts of human rights abuses, while the Burmese military continues to blame “terrorists,” specifically known as Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
Buthidaung township has not seen direct violence like other villages in the area, but many villagers have fled nonetheless. This happens during major government offenses in other states throughout Burma — not everyone is going to wait for a fatal attack on their village and family before they leave.
This is a common tactic within the Burmese military, something they continue to do across the entire country. The government is currently under cease-fire with the Karen, and yet they preposition military infrastructure deep into enemy lines under the pretense of peace — that way if and when the fighting breaks out again, they have the advantage. Being the governing authority in the area, the Karen (and now Rohingya) cannot fight back or resist without breaking any peace treaties and provoking the government even more.
In Karen State to the east, anonymous sources tell SOFREP that the government is even building a very precise system of measuring distances along roads they are building throughout Karen State (that are of course, restricted from Karen use). This system is similar to our mile marker system, with one exception: it’s far more precise, which is strange that far out in the jungle, and the primary fear is that it will be used as a way of directing heavy artillery fire if and when the cease-fire fails.
The Burmese government seems to be using this tactic again in Rakhine State against the Rohingya — they build military or police infrastructure deep into ethnic territory, peace or not, and use that as a base of operations as the continue with their offensive.
Featured image: A Rohingya child, newly arrived from Myanmmar to the Bangladesh side of the border, stands by a wooden fence at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)