The Irrawaddy

Police Arrest 8 Men Hospitalized After Deadly Crackdown on Mrauk-U Protest

Family members wait for injured relatives detained in a ward for prisoners at Sittwe People’s Hospital on Tuesday. / Min Aung Khine / The Irrawaddy

SITTWE — Police on Tuesday arrested eight Arakanese youths who were being treated at Sittwe People’s Hospital for injuries received during last week’s crackdown on protesters in Mrauk-U.

Police are still investigating their role in the protest while they are housed in the hospital’s ward for prisoners, the youths’ parents said.

“Police said that they would move my son to the lower floor [of the hospital] and told us not to worry. But now he has been placed in detention,” U Mya Aye, the father of Ko Che Maung, 18, told The Irrawaddy.

At least seven people were killed and dozens were injured during a police crackdown on Mrauk-U residents who took to the streets last Tuesday to protest the government’s ban on celebrating the 233rd anniversary of the fall of the Rakhine Dynasty.

Eight people who suffered serious injuries were transferred from Mrauk-U Hospital to Sittwe Hospital the following day, while four others who received treatment at Mrauk-U People’s Hospital were discharged on Monday.

U Ba Tha, the father of injured protester Ko Aung Htay, told The Irrawaddy, “My son has not yet recovered from injuries to his leg. He needed to have a metal rod put in his leg and can’t even stand. [Police] took him, saying they were moving him to the lower floor.”

Police officers guarding the hospital’s prison ward declined to answer when asked the reason for the patients’ detention. Family members of the detainees were still waiting outside the ward at the time of reporting.