UPDATE 9.30 PM UK TIME
Burma Campaign UK has now received reports that almost all the Arakan Army soldiers withdrew from Let Ma village on the afternoon of 2nd August, and that detained villagers have been released.
Villagers were apparently forced by members of the Arakan Army to sign documents and be filmed stating that no human rights violations had taken place.
We have also been informed that two villagers were abducted by the Arakan Army when they left.
We call on the Arakan Army to immediately release the two villagers and to commit to ending all abductions and hostage taking of civilians.
Burma Campaign UK is alarmed by reports we are receiving from several sources that the Arakan Army has occupied and laid siege to Let Ma (Letma) Village, Minbya Township, Rakhine State.
Burma Campaign UK is still attempting to clarify all details, but the risk to life appears so serious we believe it is vital to draw attention to this crisis now.
According to information received by Burma Campaign UK, up to 300 Arakan Army soldiers began the occupation on 24th July. The Arakan Army had ordered villagers to provide meat, cow skins and 15,000 Kyat, which they describe as a tax. Some villagers refused as they also have to pay taxes to military controlled local government authorities.
The family and relatives of 12 villagers who refused were illegally detained and kept imprisoned in a Mosque without food. A month old baby separated from her mother is reportedly unconscious.
We are also receiving information that the occupying soldiers are stealing livestock from villagers.
Lt. Colonel Zaw Min Htun and Major Khaing Kyaw are understood to be commanding the Arakan Army soldiers.
Following some individuals posting about the siege on social media, Twan Mrat Naing, Commander-in-Chief of the Arakan Army, posted an apparent threat on his Twitter account today, stating:
“We promote ethnic diversity and religious tolerance but can’t afford to provide safe haven and breeding ground for the terrorists and criminal gangs. Be aware that you are just about to turn your best friend into enemy by using your best tool of disinformation.”
We call on the Arakan Army to immediately withdraw from the village and to ensure there is no further loss of life and that no further human rights violations are committed.