Plan Int’l Says Employee Shot, Wounded by Army Troops in Mrauk-U

By Moe Myint 29 July 2019

YANGON—A local staff member of Plan International was shot by an army unit in a suburban area of the ancient temple town of Mrauk-U in strife-torn northern Rakhine State on Sunday night, the development INGO said. The military confirmed it had shot a man in the same area at that time for ignoring soldiers’ orders to stop.

A staff member of Plan International’s Rakhine operation confirmed that Mrauk-U project assistant Ko Ye Lin Naing sustained gunshots on Sunday night.

“The case [in Mrauk-U] is true,” the staff member said.

Plan’s staff declined to offer specific information beyond Ko Ye Lin Naing’s role in the organization and referred questions to the organization’s Yangon headquarters. Plan International works to end violence against children and young people globally.

Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy that a motorbike approached the Myin Kon Tan monastery in the Kyauk-Rit Kay area of Mrauk-U with its lights on. He said that when soldiers ordered the driver, whom he did not name, to stop the bike, he attempted to escape, so troops opened fire on him.

“We confiscated a grenade, laptop and motorbike from him,” Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said.

When asked about the type of grenade, he said he did not know the manufacturer. He said his soldiers transported the wounded suspect to Mrauk-U General Hospital at about 8.00 p.m. and turned the case over to Mrauk-U police.

Plan International implements projects in five states and regions in Myanmar—Rakhine, Mandalay, Kachin, Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon—and currently supports two ongoing emergency response efforts in Rakhine and Kachin states, according to its website.

The Irrawaddy contacted Plan International’s country director and program director by email early Monday morning, but had not received a response by 1:00 p.m. When contacted by phone, an employee at Plan’s office said, “The higher authorities are now in a meeting.”

Ko Ye Lin Naing was transferred to Sittwe General Hospital at about 11:00 a.m. on Monday, a hospital employee said over the phone. His condition was unclear.

Multiple phone calls to the Sittwe General Hospital superintendent went unanswered on Monday morning. A source who is close to Plan staff told The Irrawaddy that the military has opened a case against the patient under the 2014 counter-terrorism law.

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said he was unaware of the prosecution or whether the wounded person is a Plan International staff member.

Ko Tun, a resident of the Kyauk-Rit Kay area of Mrauk-U, said two gunshots were heard near the Myin Kon Tan monastery at about 7:30 p.m on Sunday, after a military unit had taken up positions at the corners of the monastery compound during the evening.

Locals were aware of the military deployment in the area and most people avoided driving by the monastery, but a motorbike was seen driving in the street near the monastery. Residents near the shooting site said the driver failed to stop his engine when fully equipped soldiers ordered him to pull over. The driver was then shot twice, they said.

He said he was told by other local residents that the soldiers hid in the smaller lanes near the monastery, rather than forming a checkpoint on the main road, so the driver may not have seen or heard the order.

Ko Tun said that with the exception of his neighborhood, where residents were wary of the military inspections, the town had been peaceful in recent days, so people were strolling along the roads between 7 and 9 p.m. as usual, visiting friends and teashops.

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