Myanmar Military Re-Arrests Rakhine Civilians After Court Release

By Min Aung Khine 8 May 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Five residents of Rakhine State’s Taungup Township detained on terrorism charges were discharged by the local court on Thursday due to lack of evidence, only to be arrested again minutes later.

In April, five residents of Sar Pyin Village in Taungup were summoned for investigation by police and officials from the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and later charged under the Counterterrorism Law for alleged ties to the Arakan Army (AA).

The five remanded in custody until the remand against them expired on Thursday and they were brought to trial, where the court ruled that they should be released due to lack of evidence. Within minutes of being released, they were detained again for alleged involvement in local bombings, according to relatives.

“My bother and others were released by the court today due to lack of evidence,” Ma San San Tint, the younger sister of detainee U Pyone Cho told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “We were waiting as we thought they would be released after police procedures were done. But we learned later that they were arrested on another charge and remanded into custody.”

U Pyone Cho is a member of the Arakan National Party (ANP), a Rakhine political party which holds the majority in the Rakhine State parliament.

“At first, they were arrested for allegedly soliciting support, raising funds and supplying food [for the AA]. Less than half an hour after they were released due to lack of evidence, they were charged for [crimes related to] bomb explosions and remanded into custody,” said U Pe Kywe, vice-chairman of the ANP’s Taungup chapter.

The township court has said the five civilians can only be detained until Monday. According to the chief of the Taungup Township Police Force, Police Major Than Naing, the Tatmadaw opened the new case against the five residents to investigate whether they are connected with recent bomb explosions in the township.

“There have been bombings in Taungup. We are investigating if [the detained residents] are connected with them. The first case was opened under the Counterterrorism Law and this case is also opened under the same law, but I can’t say which articles. We have to seek legal advice [from the township legal office] and open the case under the articles they suggest,” Police Major Than Naing told The Irrawaddy.

The Tatmadaw said in a statement on April 6 that based on the interrogation of four AA members arrested in Ann Township, the military arrested the five Sar Pyar residents for having ties to the AA and handed them over to the police in line with legal procedures.

Security has been tightened up in Taungup due to tensions between political parties in the township, according to local residents.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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