Two UN Staff Jailed for Role in Arakan Strife

People carry food to Rohingya refugees in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON—A court in Burma has sentenced two United Nations staff members to prison terms for their alleged involvement in a spate of bloody communal violence in the west of the country in June, the world body said Monday.

The punishments were handed down Friday in the Arakan (Rakhine) State town of Maungdaw, said Aye Win, a UN spokesman based in Burma. One of those sentenced was an employee of the UN refugee agency and the other the UN World Food Program.

A spokesperson for the world body’s refugee agency in Bangkok, Vivian Tan, called the verdicts “very disappointing.”

Tan said a third aid worker employed by another unidentified humanitarian group partnered to the UN was also convicted.

UN officials said they had no details on the official charges.

The Burmese Weekly Eleven journal reported that the staffers—all believed to be from the local Muslim community—were charged with various crimes, including promoting hatred between Buddhists and Muslims and participation in arson attacks. The paper cited anonymous court sources in its report, and said the sentences ranged from two to six years.

Violence between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims exploded in June, leaving more 80 people dead and thousands of homes burned to the ground. Human rights groups say around 100,000 people were displaced during the conflict. They have accused the government over cracking down too harshly on Muslims, allegations the government has denied.

Humanitarian groups say that in all, at least 12 local staff employed by international aid groups were detained by the government in June for suspected involvement in the unrest. Six have so far been released.

Last week, Doctors Without Borders said that two of its employees were still being held, while the UN refugee agency said two Burmese nationals on its staff were in custody. The World Food Program is also believed to have staff who have been detained, but it has given no details about them.

5 Responses to Two UN Staff Jailed for Role in Arakan Strife

  1. John Bolton said about ten floors of UN building had to be broken down. Now what are UN mem doing? Mr. Ban, please

  2. A Burmese Freedom Fighter

    The fairness and justice has just been carried out with the penalty of two years imprisonment sentence for those International NGOs involved in the communal riots in Rakhine States. Sine Burma is marching toward its democratization with a faith of having tolerance, and openness at its heart in it; it should show its clemency toward 2 UN staffs for their convicted crime in communal riots in Rakhine State of Burma.

    Granting Executive clemency to those International NGOs should come with the condition that requires the defendants do not commit any crimes during the next 2 years or kick them out of Burma. So that tolerance will be seeded at birth of new democracy society in Burma.

    A Burmese Freedom Fighter

  3. It is time for the UN to get their house in order; it has been penetrated by Jihadist working in tandem with Al Qaida and the Taliban who could not get a foot hold in to Myanmar, but are able to do so through the porous back door of the UN.

    I will not be surprised if Islamic moles and operates have penetrated the UN on behalf of an Islamic agenda.

  4. Did they receive a fair trial? If the answer is “Yes”, they have to harvest what they sowed. If they sowed criminal act then their harvest is spending time behind bar.

  5. Why are most of the NGO workers in Maungdaw area Muslims? Is it because the UN has a mandate and precondition for only employing the Muslims to make deliberate moves and empower Rohingya brand of jihad? The policymakers at UN and international NGOs disastrously failed to operate freely and fairly because of their siding with the rohingyas. In a country where people are predominantly Buddhists with Christians, Hindus and even animists, the UN and their sidekicks’ role of selecting Muslims as majority of their staff is not only biased but also motivated for a sinister move. With imprisonment of their staff it has become clear for the world that the roles of UN and other international NGOs were seriously wrong and questionable. I said this for being neutral and unbiased treatment by these bodies to the people of Burma and also not because I have any malice towards the rohingyas.

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