An interview with a resident of Ayekani village who was forced to flee because of Myanmar army’s advance
Myanmar army troops have entered Le Shaung, Hteingyi, Khamaungchaung, Ayekani, Wazwantaw, Yange, and Konetharyar villages in Dawei Special Economic Zone (Dawei SEZ) since 8 August, forcing the entire villages to flee to safer areas.
According to local residents, the junta troops arrested villagers, burned and looted houses. Troops remain in the villages, preventing villagers from returning to their homes.
In this interview, a resident of Ayekani – a village in the Dawei Special Economic Zone – tells of the situation on the ground.
Q – How did the military council troops enter the village?
A – I think they came to clear out resistance forces and other armed groups around the village. The junta column of about 100 soldiers made their way into Ayekani, Yagne, Wazwantaw, and Konetharyarinn which form the Ayekani village tract. After they entered, no one dared to stay in the village. Only the elderly did. All the others fled. They interrogated those who remained in the village. Some were released, some were not.
Q – Where have the villagers fled to?
A – The villagers have taken shelter in the woods about four to five miles from the village. Some have fled to the town of Dawei. Those who have no relatives or acquaintances in the town have had to hide in the woods. They have set up makeshift tents in the forests. From there, we can only see the smoke rising from the village. We don’t know how many houses or villages have been set on fire.
Q – What do you know about what is happening in the village after the villagers fled?
A – The villagers don’t dare to go near because if the soldiers find them, they will interrogate them arbitrarily. About 20 people remained in the village. Less than 10 people were released after interrogation. As the villagers left their houses and fled, all the valuables also remained in their houses. Last time, they took two motorcycles with a four-wheeled dump truck. One of the motorcycles belonged to my cousin.
Q – What difficulties are the fleeing villagers facing?
A – They have to share the rice supplies among them. They have nowhere to buy anything. They have been eating only simple meals so as not to starve. They don’t know how they will survive when the supplies they brought are used up. They also don’t have enough medicine in case they get sick. When they cook, they are even afraid that the smoke will rise because it might give away their location. They worry about how long they can hide in the woods.
They have no idea how to go on when the supplies run out. Compared to them, we who fled to the city are better off. We can still find food for ourselves. We can buy food anytime. But in the forests, they can’t buy anything even if they have the money. Therefore, their situation is worse. The military council troops are still present in Ayekani village.
Sent by IMNA.