Thousand Interrogated for Arakan Strife Role

Young people in the Arakan State capital Sittwe line up to collect water. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

More than 1,000 people are being detained for questioning regarding the recent sectarian conflict in Arakan (Rakhine) State which so far has claimed at least 89 lives, according to President’s Office Director Zaw Htay.

The government announced on Wednesday that there is evidence of groups and individuals behind the communal violence in western Burma and action would be taken against those found guilty of instigating the unrest.

Zaw Htay told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that those responsible would be exposed in due course, but declined to elaborate exactly when that would be. “We will announce the facts when the time comes,” he said. “We have not set any date for how long the investigation will take and when the results will be released.”

The government statement said that the renewed wave of unrest threatened national security as it “showed signs of evolving into armed conflict.” A total of 180 percussion-lock firearms were seized during the strife, which began on Oct. 21 and resulted in 89 deaths, 136 wounded, 5,351 houses burnt down and 32,231 people left homeless, according to official figures.

In contrast, local people said that many deaths and injuries were caused by police and soldiers shooting into crowds.

Meanwhile, the state media ordered “saboteurs” to hand over “swords, bayonets and arms” to local security personnel within three days. Otherwise, the Arakan State Police Force will take legal action against transgressors under section 4 (d) of the Arms Act (1878), which prohibits holding “guns, bayonets, swords, daggers, spears, bows and arrows, arms and things related to arms.”

Naypyidaw has formed several investigation committees regarding the ongoing conflict in Arakan State since violence first flared in June, but no official report has been published so far. The government announcement also accused political parties, ceasefire groups and local and foreign organizations of encouraging local people “to commit mob threats, terrorist attacks and violence and arson attacks.”

Phay Than, a Lower House MP for the Rakhines Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), said the government’s accusation that ethnic parties are behind the violence was nothing new as the former military regime would often blame social unrest on minority groups.

“Our parties did not instigate the conflicts in Rakhine, we are even cooperating with the government to solve the problem,” he said. “We want the investigation in accordance with the law and hope that the government will provide peace and stability in the region.”

“I urge the government to let Muslims travel. They should not be locked only in Arakan State, but should be allowed to travel within the whole of Burma in accordance with the 1982 citizenship law,” added Phay Than.

“Similarly, the conflict will be reduced if the authorities act in accordance with the law regarding illegal immigrants.”

Although the government announcement did not specifically name any party or group, the Arakan Liberation Party is an organization which has recently signed a ceasefire agreement with Naypyidaw.

Political parties present in Arakan State include: the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, RNDP, National Unity Party, Rakhine State National Force of Myanmar, Mro National Party, Kaman National Progressive Party, Khami National Development Party, Mro or Khami National Solidarity Organization, which were registered in 2010, and Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), re-registered in 2012.

The ALD, which came in third place during the annulled 1990 general election, also issued a statement last Thursday saying that foreign groups masterminded the recent conflict but did provide any names.

3 Responses to Thousand Interrogated for Arakan Strife Role

  1. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    I hope the government of Burma helps solve problems rather than subsidizing them with its new actions. If the government had taken prompt action with its due diligence against a crime act of rape at the very beginning, Burma wouldn’t have been in this clutter of violence. One thing we have learnt out of these communal riots so far is how little ignorance of Burmese government can brings Burma into such a situation.  

    I hope this is not a part of government’s good management, which is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. Regardless of my sarcasm, and passive aggressiveness, all I want to see is that the government can handle its foster ghosts, hunting the hell of us and its foster parent. It’s not fun at all to play with the lives of humans.  

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

  2.   NEMESIS

    Hope They Find Three Hundred Cowards
    That Lynched And Killed Ten Muslim 
    From Rangoon
    Myaung Mya 
    By Bus In Arakan. 

    Three Hundred Cowards 
    Are Responsible For This Carnage…

    Kindly Inform Thein Sein.

  3. Ne Win, Sein Lwin, Maung Maung and Saw Maung already died. But Than Shwe is still alive. If he took power, he was supposed to take responsibilities too. He failed to tackle  the border security in his watch, and countless Bengali people sneaked into our country illegally. Therefore, the first man to stand for trial is Than Shwe, not the Rohingyas nor the Rakhines. Than Shwe is solely liable for what happen today in Rakhine State. Interrogate Than Shwe first, then others. Than Shwe committed bigger crimes than these poor people.

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