Police Detained for Beating Villagers in Northern Arakan State

By Htet Naing Zaw 2 January 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Four officers were detained after footage of police beating self-identifying Rohingya villagers in Arakan State’s Rathedaung Township went viral, the State Counselor’s Office said Sunday.

The footage of clearance operations in Koe Tan Kauk village on Nov. 5 was shared widely on social media at the weekend and drew severe criticism of the government which has strongly rejected accusations of human rights violations in Arakan State.

The head of No. 2 Border Guard Police Force Police Maj. Htun Naing, Police Sub-Lt Tay Zar Lin, Pyae Phyo Thwin, and Zaw Myo Htike—who shot the video—have all been detained and will be punished, said the statement.

Authorities were also identifying other officers involved and will take action against them in line with the police code of conduct, added the statement.

“[We] have time and again stressed the need to be careful with each and every action, to make sure there is no violation of human rights and to act in line with the law,” U Zaw Htay told reporters after the peace discussion between State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic youths in Naypyidaw on Sunday.

“[We] have instructed both the military and the police at different levels. [We] already said that [we] would take actions against responsible persons at different levels,” he said.

Zaw Myo Htike shot the footage of ten police officers lining up villagers for investigation on his mobile phone while combined troops of No. 2 Border Guard Police Force and No.2 Security Police conducted a clearance operation in the village of Koe Tan Kauk on Nov. 5.

The statement explained that the troops were acting on a tip-off that six suspects involved in the deadly attack on Nurula police post in Maungdaw Township on Nov. 3 evening were hiding in the village of Koe Tan Kauk.

Police arrested three men along with weapons—seven knives and a type of fork—in connection with previous attacks and released all other villagers after investigation, said the statement.

“Following this incident we’ll also investigate if such things happened or could happen in other places,” said U Zaw Htay.

The video footage comes after more than a dozen Nobel laureates including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai urged the UN Security Council to end “ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” in troubled Arakan State.