Primary School Teacher Detained in Rakhine State

By Min Aung Khine 7 August 2019

SITTWE—A primary school teacher was arrested by Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) soldiers Monday morning while on his way to a Buthidaung Township school as clashes intensified in Rakhine State between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA).

The school teacher, Ko Nay Zaw Lin, 27, was arrested on his way from Thayet Pyin Village to the school in Kyar Nyo Pyin Village, Assistant Education Officer U Thein Tun Win, of the Buthidaung Township Education Department, confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday afternoon.

“He was arrested on Sai Din Bridge around 9 a.m., so we went to see the soldiers on duty on the bridge. We met the deputy battalion commander and we told him that Ko Nay Zaw Lin is on our staff. The military said he was arrested because he was doing something suspicious with his phone. He is still in detention,” U Thein Tun Win said.

According to the Buthidaung Education Department, Ko Nay Zaw Lin is a native of Rathedaung Township and has served as a primary school teacher for over three years. He was originally assigned to the primary school in Buthidaung’s Pyin Chaung Village but residents there were displaced by clashes between the Tatmadaw and the AA, fleeing with their children to Kyar Nyo Pyin Village.

Ko Nay Zaw Lin was staying at Thayet Pyin, opposite the Sai Din Creek from Kyar Nyo Pyin Village, teaching displaced students at the village monastery there.

“Sai Din Creek separates Thayet Pyin and Kyar Nyo Pyin villages and, as he came from Thayet Pyin village over the bridge, he was arrested,” said the village monastery’s abbot. “The current situation [means that] not only laypersons but also those in religious orders have to be afraid.”

Colonel Win Zaw Oo, spokesperson for the Tatmadaw’s Western Command, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday he did not know about the arrest.

“We heard that he answered a phone call as he crossed the bridge and was arrested on suspicion, but can individuals be arrested on suspicion as [the military] pleases? Can an individual be detained for more than 24 hours [without evidence]? What’s more, he is a civil servant,” Lower House lawmaker U Aung Thaung Shwe, of Buthidaung Township, told The Irrawaddy. “There is no law now. They do as they wish.”

The Buthidaung Township education officer has reported the arrest to the district and state education departments.