Govt Investigation Team to Probe Deadly Magwe Land Dispute

By Kaung Myat Min 29 July 2019

YENANGYAUNG, Magwe Region—Magwe Region Chief Minister U Aung Moe Nyo has formed a six-member team to investigate a riot last week in Yaynanchaung Township that resulted in dozens of deaths.

The investigation team, led by the regional labor minister, was formed on Friday and tasked with submitting its report to the regional government by Aug. 5.

According to the head of the Magwe Region Police Force, Police Lieutenant-Colonel Sai Khem Lu, villagers from Pha Yae Kyun Village went to Kanthar Village and destroyed houses on disputed alluvial land on July 23, leading to the deadly riot.

The villagers were said to have fought each other with knifes, sticks and catapults. When the Pha Yae Kyun villagers tried to escape in a boat, it capsized, throwing the villagers into the Irrawaddy River.

Ten bodies were retrieved on July 24, and 14 more were recovered the following day. Fourteen others are still missing, Lt-Col Sai Khem Lu said at a press conference on Saturday.

“We learned from our inquiries that an estimated 100 people tried to get on a boat with a capacity of only around 40, as rioters fired on the boat with catapults. This caused people to flee to one side of the boat, and it subsequently capsized,” he said.

During the riot, people fired at police boats as well, preventing them from intervening in the fighting, he added.

“At the time, the only boat police could find was a small fishing boat that can only hold four people. Police arrived but, because the two sides were firing at each other and at the police, police could not get onto the bank,” he said.

The small size of the boat rendered police unable to rescue the drowning, he said “so they had to call for assistance. When they returned, the clash was over. Police saw around 60 Pha Yae Kyun villagers on the bank (of Kantha), and they took the villagers to Pha Yae Kyun with three or four boats,” he said.

Police will investigate the deaths and open cases based on autopsy reports, he said.

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