State coun­sel­lor pledges ‘fair’ han­dling of Rakhine un­rest

Three days after a deadly as­sault on bor­der po­lice posts in Maung­daw and Rathedaung town­ships, au­thor­i­ties re­main tight-lipped about who was be­hind the vi­o­lence as the in­ter­ro­ga­tion of sev­eral sus­pects con­tin­ues.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG YEE YWAL MYINT news­room@mm­times.com Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Pyae Thet Phyo and AFP

STATE Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi yes­ter­day weighed in for the first time on the deadly bor­der at­tacks and sub­se­quent man­hunt for the per­pe­tra­tors un­fold­ing this week in north­ern Rakhine State, say­ing her gov­ern­ment would en­sure it has all the facts be­fore pin­ning any blame.

“We will con­duct a fair and square [in­ves­ti­ga­tion] un­der the rule of law. As long as we are not clear what is what, we won’t ac­cuse any­one,” she said at the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs in Nay Pyi Taw. “When there is solid ev­i­dence, we will in­dict if we think it should be done.”

Mean­while in Rakhine State, an in­ter­ro­ga­tion of two men – caught dur­ing the co­or­di­nated as­sault on three bor­der po­lice posts on Oc­to­ber 9 – is on­go­ing, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cial in the state. They are be­ing held in Sit­twe Prison, he said.

U Khin Kyaw, deputy chief of the Rakhine State Po­lice, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that it was too early to de­ter­mine the two men’s af­fil­i­a­tion, the sub­ject of much spec­u­la­tion since the at­tacks.

“We have opened a court case against them and the court will try the case,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to state me­dia, the Oc­to­ber 9 at­tacks, which killed nine bor­der guard of­fi­cers, be­gan at about 1am on a Kyikan Pyin vil­lage guard post in Maung­daw town­ship. A sec­ond strike tar­geted the Kotankauk out­post in neigh­bour­ing Rathedaung town­ship, and the last as­sailants re­treated from the Ngakhuya out­post at about 5:45am.

The as­sailants’ af­fil­i­a­tion, if any, has not yet been re­vealed by se­nior fig­ures in gov­ern­ment, though low­er­level of­fi­cials have put for­ward drug traf­fick­ers and a Ro­hingya mil­i­tant group thought to be de­funct as pos­si­ble guilty par­ties.

Four ad­di­tional sus­pects have been ap­pre­hended, state me­dia re­ported yes­ter­day: two on Oc­to­ber 11 and two on Oc­to­ber 10. The men de­tained on Oc­to­ber 11 were iden­ti­fied as Andra Mu­lar Kein and Mawlawi Fordita Laung, ac­cord­ing to The Global New Light of Myan­mar. It did not name the other two sus­pects.

The state-owned daily also re­ported an at­tack by 300 armed men on Tat­madaw troops who were comb­ing Pyaung­pit vil­lage in Maung­daw town­ship on Oc­to­ber 11. Four sol­diers were killed in the am­bush.

Tat­madaw sol­diers and po­lice per­son­nel have come un­der fire mul­ti­ple times since they launched a crack­down in north­ern Rakhine State to root out the Oc­to­ber 9 as­sailants, scores of whom are be­lieved still at large. Dozens of firearms were seized by the at­tack­ers dur­ing the raids.

U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, told Myan­mar Now that se­cu­rity forces were strug­gling to dis­tin­guish be­tween in­no­cent civil­ians in the search area and mil­i­tants.

A to­tal of 29 peo­ple have died in the re­cent clashes, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia, po­lice and gov­ern­ment sources, in­clud­ing troops, at­tack­ers and the bor­der guards killed in the Oc­to­ber 9 raids.

A cur­few in the state is be­ing en­forced from 7pm to 6am.

U Tin Maung Swe, sec­re­tary of the Rakhine State gov­ern­ment, told The Voice yes­ter­day that the at­tack­ers had been plan­ning the raids for three months. He added that two men sus­pected of in­volve­ment in the at­tacks, who fled across the bor­der into Bangladesh, were ar­rested by the Bor­der Guards Bangladesh and trans­ferred back to Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day.

The re­cent un­rest has raised the spec­tre of a re­peat of 2012, when vi­o­lence in Rakhine State left more than 100 peo­ple dead and drove tens of thou­sands of Ro­hingya Mus­lims into dis­place­ment camps. Un­like most of Rakhine, the ma­jor­ity in the north­ern part of the state self-iden­tify as Ro­hingya, and ten­sions be­tween Rakhine Bud­dhists and the largely state­less Mus­lim mi­nor­ity have per­sisted through­out the state since the vi­o­lence four years ago.

The UN res­i­dent and hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tor in Myan­mar, Re­nata LokDes­sal­lien, is­sued a state­ment yes­ter­day con­demn­ing the bor­der post at­tacks and of­fer­ing her con­do­lences to the slain vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, while adding that she “is also very con­cerned about the un­fold­ing sit­u­a­tion and has con­veyed this to the gov­ern­ment”.

“The UN con­tin­ues to fol­low the sit­u­a­tion, urg­ing that rule of law be fully re­spected, civil­ians be pro­tected and all ef­forts made to deesca­late ten­sions. The UN hopes this sit­u­a­tion can be re­solved quickly so that the peo­ple in Rakhine State can move for­ward the peace­ful, pros­per­ous and har­mo­nious fu­ture they all de­serve,” said the state­ment.

A con­tin­gent of Union cabi­net of­fi­cials, Myan­mar’s chief of po­lice and the Rakhine State chief min­is­ter, who met with lo­cal lead­ers in Sit­twe on Oc­to­ber 11, trav­elled to Maung­daw yes­ter­day to ob­serve the sit­u­a­tion on the ground, even as oth­ers de­camped to the state cap­i­tal.

Teach­ers and gov­ern­ment work­ers have fled north­ern Rakhine State, with crowds hud­dled yes­ter­day on the jetty in Sit­twe after ar­riv­ing by boat from near the Bangladesh bor­der. –

Photo: AFP

A po­lice of­fi­cer (right) pa­trols a river jetty in Sit­twe yes­ter­day as crowds of teach­ers and civil ser­vants ar­rive in the Rakhine State cap­i­tal after flee­ing con­flict in Maung­daw town­ship.

Photo: AFP

Bor­der po­lice pa­trol Wei Thar Li vil­lage in Maung­daw town­ship, Rakhine State, near the bor­der with Bangladesh yes­ter­day.

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