Dozens of Village Administrators Tender Resignation in Rakhine: Lawmaker

By Moe Myint 16 January 2019

YANGON — About 30 village administrators across Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township submitted resignation letters to their local General Administration Department on Tuesday for fear of being wrongly accused of association with the Arakan Army (AA), according to a Union lawmaker with the Arakan National Party.

Daw Khin Saw Wai said the administrators played a key role in delivering public services in rural areas and that their departure en masse could destabilize the local government but that they increasingly felt under pressure from both the Myanmar military and the AA.

“They have to maintain good relations with everyone, otherwise it will be quite risky for them. But now they are afraid of being sued by senior authorities,” she said.

The lawmaker said the township General Administration Department has asked senior officials how to handle the resignation letters. The Rathedaung department office could not be reached for comment.

The government recently announced that it would be transferring the General Administration Department from the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government, which is under civilian control.

Daw Khin Saw Wai said two of her constituents, Yae Gaung Chaung Village Administrator U Maung Tun Hlaing and another man, were accused by the military of having ties to the AA in December.

“Many administrators assume that kind of action could happen to them in the near future,” she said.

Yae Gaung Chaung resident U Tun Hlaing said the two men were detained on Dec. 18 and that the administrator of neighboring Tha Yet Pyin Village in Buthidaung Township was recently charged under the Unlawful Associations Act.

A high-ranking military official recently sued the administrator of Say Taung Village for accusing the military of forcing 11 locals to act as human shields in the area for its soldiers. The administrator has been summoned by the court three times but yet to appear.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Myanmar military said it had detained 15 people in Tha Yet Pyin on suspicion of having ties to the AA and released all but two — the village administrator and another man — who confessed to informing the AA of the military’s movements. It said two residents of Rathedaung Township’s Kyein Thar Village were also detained for allegedly using their phones to take photos of its soldiers in the area and send them to the AA.