Villagers Plan Lawsuit After Shooting Leads to Schoolhouse Standoff

By Zarni Mann 15 August 2014

MANDALAY — Residents of Nyaung Wun village in Mandalay Division say they plan to take legal action against police here who fired into a crowd during a confrontation on Thursday in which three villagers and a police officer were injured.

“We are now planning to sue those policemen at the Sint Gu Township court,” said Tin Naing, a villager. “We want justice for what happened here. We believe there will be rule of law and the police who opened fired will be punished for what they have done.”

On Thursday, dozens of police officers were trapped for hours inside a village school after angry villagers surrounded the building in the shootings’ aftermath. They were eventually allowed to leave the school unharmed, following negotiations at the local monastery late on Thursday evening between village elders and authorities from the Mandalay divisional police.

“The deputy police officer from the Mandalay divisional police office promised that he would take action against the police who fired into the crowd with live rounds,” said U Pannita, a Buddhist monk who witnessed the negotiations. “The villagers handed back the police who were trapped in the school and also told the police that they would sue them to get justice.”

Villagers said negotiations produced several promises from the police, including that they not act violently in the future; take care of the medical expenses of those injured; repair damages to the school compound resulting from the standoff; and take action against the officer who ordered police to fire on the crowd.

The injured woman, San Kyin Nu, has had to have a steel plate inserted into the leg through which a bullet passed and is currently hospitalized at a hospital in the city of Mandalay.

Two other villagers reportedly suffered minor injuries in the altercation on Thursday, and a police officer was wounded when he was struck by a stone hurled from the crowd.

The violence stemmed from a land dispute in the village, with local residents claiming the military had confiscated thousands of acres of their farmland in the 1980s. Protests against the land seizure have been taking place since June.