Public-led Meeting on Mandalay’s Crime Crisis Forced to be Postponed

By Zarni Mann 13 September 2018

MANDALAY — A meeting to discuss Mandalay’s public security affairs, which was planned to be held on Thursday, was forced to be postponed because permission from local authorities had not been granted on time.

The discussion, organized by local civil society groups and elders of Mandalay, was to be about how the public would take a role in security matters of the city.

“The local authorities asked us to apply for permission and we submitted the permission [application], however, we did not receive any reply regarding the permission to hold the event so we have to postpone it,” said U Tin Ko Ko Oo, one of the organizers.

Organizers said the application for permission was submitted on Tuesday to Chan Aye Tharsan Township administration office, Mandalay’s district administration office and Mandalay’s regional administration office, but no reply has yet been received from officials.

“Since the authorities asked us to seek permission, we do not want to hold the meeting without it in order to avoid any confrontation with the local authorities, we decided to postpone the event until we receive the permission,” U Tin Ko Ko Oo said.

An increase in crime and robberies around Mandalay, especially in late evenings, have caused locals and travelers to feel threatened and this is what motivated the local CSOs to organize the meeting.

The aim of the meeting is to find out how the public and CSOs could work to decrease the crime rates and reduce public fear.

“Our ambition is to find a way to educate the public on safety measures and how they can help the security personnel, police and victims if they witness a crime,” explained U Tin Ko Ko Oo.

“We are not going to push the authorities or put the blame on them, however, we suspect that because the local authorities do not want us to interfere with their job, they dare not give us permission for our discussion,” he added.

In recent weeks, Mandalay has seen a wave of deadly incidents in which robbers used guns, swords and daggers to rob the victims’ motorcycles, mobile phones and money. The incidents have evoked fear in the locals and discourage them from going out alone in the late evening.

Some local CSOs and individuals have taken it upon themselves to form small groups to patrol their respective areas at night and one such group has been able to arrest a couple of robbers and hand them over to the police.

Starting this week, the chief minister of Mandalay Region and the divisional police chief have begun leading a patrol of about 300 police every night, covering every corner of the city and crime rates are said to have significantly dropped already.

“The news of the robberies has affected us in many ways, especially psychologically, and we are afraid when night falls and we feel unsafe. The buzzing Mandalay nights have gone because of this fear and Mandalay is not the same the city,” said U Nyi Pu Lay, the famed author and an elder of Mandalay.

“We are here to give our opinions on how can we help or how can we participate to revive the safety of Mandalay, but we are speechless that there is still no permission for holding the meeting,” he added.