Burma

Four Detainees Admit to Being Arakan Army Members: Army

By Moe Myint 8 May 2019

YANGON—After eight days of interrogation during military detention, six out of dozens of detainees from Kyauktan Village in northern Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township were transferred to Sittwe Police Station on Wednesday.

Military spokesperson Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that four of the detainees had confessed to being members of the Arakan Army (AA) and that it will take action against them in line with the laws.

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said that the interrogations uncovered four core members of the AA and two other suspected associates. Until Wednesday morning, the military had held 83 villagers in a school in Kyauktan and in the afternoon they released about 35 detainees. Another 40 villagers remain in the custody of military troops for further investigation. The military released 126 locals on May 2 and another 48 on May 6.

A Kyauktan resident told The Irrawaddy under the condition of anonymity that one of his relatives was among the six accused. He said that on Tuesday night, the six men were blindfolded and taken from the school to a navy vessel. It wasn’t until later when their family members brought food for them to the school where they are being detained they found out that their relatives were gone.

He said the four suspects are Ko Nyi Nyi Htay, Ko Maung Maung Naing, Ko Soe Win Kyaw and Ko Thein Aye Maung but he could not verify the two other detainees’ names. He said that until this morning, the village was surrounded by dozens of lines of soldiers.

Since April 30, the military has arrested a total of 275 locals for questioning and locked down the entire village. Regional lawmakers, and even emergency rescue teams are banned from entering the village. On May 9, six villagers were shot dead by military troops and eight others were wounded in an incident in which eyewitnesses claim the soldiers opened fire into the crowd when one detainee tried to escape.

This counters the report of the military’s spokesperson who told The Irrawaddy that the detainees attempted to grab firearms from the soldiers. Some of the wounded are receiving medical treatment in Sittwe General Hospital. Politicians from the Arakan National Party (ANP) have expressed their doubt about the military’s explanation.

Despite the military’s disputed explanation of the six deaths, Union Minister of the Defense Services Lt-Gen Sein Win told The Irrawaddy on Sunday that the military established an inquiry body headed by five military officers to investigate the shooting and to find out whether soldiers acted in accordance with the law.

The following day, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that the killing of six villagers during detention should be fully and credibly investigated by an independent body rather than a military investigation team considering that Myanmar has a “long history of failing to effectively or credibly investigate alleged abuses by its own forces, rarely holding military personnel accountable.”

HRW’s Asia director Brad Adam was quoted in the statement saying, “An independent and impartial investigation is needed to bring to justice anyone responsible for wrongdoing.”

The Irrawaddy’s Naypyitaw correspondent contributed to the reporting of this story.

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