Govt Releases Findings on Northern Arakan Amid Further Arrests

By Moe Myint 5 January 2017

RANGOON — Security forces arrested four militants and confiscated 14 homemade guns near Maung Gyi Taung village in Arakan State’s Buthidaung Township on Tuesday evening after a tip off, according to the State Counselor’s Office information committee.

An investigation will be carried out in line with Burma’s laws, according to a statement released Wednesday.

The arrests and seizure is the first in Buthidaung Township, which has seen less police action than neighbouring Maungdaw, according to head of Buthidaung Township police Maj. Tun Wai.

‘‘The situation is calm down here despite some rumors spread by the residents,” he told The Irrawaddy, refusing to provide more information but stating that counter-insurgency operations are currently handled by the border police.

Buthidaung resident U Aung Ko told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the arrests had not disturbed residents.

The government released a statement on Tuesday saying that eight Muslim residents had been found killed in northern Arakan State since Oct. 8, while three are missing and two have reported receiving death threats.

An interim report from the Vice President U Myint Swe-led Arakan State Investigation Commission claimed that villagers who cooperated with government departments and organizations were at risk of violence from “terrorists” for being government informers.

Since attacks on police border posts by suspected militants on Oct. 9, 10 government border police and eight soldiers have died in security operations, according to the report. Meanwhile, 80 suspected militants have been killed.

The report states that 485 individuals were detained in 49 separate cases, of whom 10 have been released. Twenty-eight cases have gone to court, with convictions being handed down in three cases so far.

The 13-member commission made “special investigations into the allegations” of Burma Army human rights abuses by international organizations, including accusations of rape, torture, extrajudicial killings, and arson.

Referring to the self-identifying Rohingya community as “Bengali,” the Arakan State Investigation Commission reported that the group’s presence in Maungdaw Township, in addition to “the increasing population of Mawlawi, mosques and religious edifices,” served as “proof that there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution in the region.’’

The commission reportedly interviewed local women in regard to rape allegations and found “insufficient evidence to take legal action.” The report stated that accusations of arson, illegal arrests, and torture were being investigated.

The commission reported that 26 village bazaars and two township markets in the region had reopened, along with 171 schools of the 183 that were closed. The report claims there were “no cases of malnutrition in the area due to the area’s favorable fishing and farming conditions.”

The commission concluded that recent attacks in northern Arakan were designed to draw the attention of the international community and is harming the sovereignty of the State.

It also described the situation as more “complicated” than previous incidents in northern Arakan State, as it alleged that area “militants” have connections with overseas organizations.