Arakan army frees 15 captives arrested during armed conflict with Burmese army

A teacher and five students arrested after a raid on a monastery school in Sinbaungwe commune, Magway region, last week, are still being held by the regime, according to the monk’s chief monk.

The captives, Aye Sandar, a 27-year-old teacher, along with three girls and two boys aged six to 14, were taken from the Myat Gone Yi charity school on November 18, Fri Pandawa told Myanmar Now .

About 20 soldiers searched the school, located in a monastery near the village of Sin Myu Aung, late the night before and warned those staying there not to leave, the abbot said.

During the raid, soldiers seized 1 million kyat ($ 600) in cash, along with rice, oil, medicine, a telephone, and various kitchen tools and utensils, including knives, a- he added.

They also took papers from the monastery, including property documents and application letters from students.

He said he didn’t know why the monastery was raided, but assumed it was because he was suspected of having ties to the anti-regime People’s Defense Forces (PDF).

“I was away from the monastery for two or three months. I think they were looking for me. They seem to suspect that I am a supporter of PDF, ”he said.

“I don’t support PDF. I am a traveling monk. I have to travel a lot and I think that made them suspicious, ”he added.

He said the teacher, who was with 30 students at the time of the raid, had been warned to stay at the school for questioning. She and five of her students were arrested the next day.

“I heard that the children are in an interrogation center and were not injured. We haven’t heard anything about the teacher, ”said Ven. Pandawa.

According to the monk, the children are currently being held at the police station in the neighboring village of Koepin and will be sent to another school in the monastery in Aunglan commune.

Myanmar Now tried to contact the Kopin Police Station for information on the situation of the children, but all calls went unanswered.

It was also learned that the chief monk’s 32-year-old brother, Tun Tun Gyi, was arrested in San Aing, another village in the area, shortly before the raid, but was released on November 22.

According to a resident of Sinbaungwe, around 150 orphaned children between the ages of five and 14 lived at the Myat Gone Yi charity school until it suspended its teaching activities about a year and a half ago.

Following the arrest of their teacher and five classmates last week, the school’s remaining students were sent to live with their closest relatives, according to Ven. Pandawa.

“The soldiers also asked for the teacher’s birthplace and the names of her parents and said if anyone left the monastery he would kill her and the children,” he added.

In July, the military shot dead the father of a regional deputy in Sinbaungwe.