Rakhine Administrators Accuse Army of Killing Colleague, Threaten to Quit

By Min Aung Khine 18 December 2019

SITTWE, Rakhine State – More than 60 village and ward administrators in Rakhine State’s Minbya Township have demanded justice for three Seittaya villagers who were allegedly killed by the Myanmar military.

The administrators pressed the demand after they met at a monastery in Minbya on Monday in response to the killings.

“There is no guarantee for the lives and property of administrators. We planned to resign because of torture and killings, but the township administrator said resignation won’t solve the problem and asked us what we want. So we called for justice for the three who were recently killed and action to be taken against the perpetrators,” administrator U Thein Tun of Pyi Taw Hla Village in Minbya told The Irrawaddy.

According to witnesses and family members of the victims, government troops entered Seittaya Village at around 11 p.m. on Dec. 11 and hit the village administrator U Nyan Thein with rifle stocks before executing him. They also shot dead Daw Phyu Phyu Win, who lived opposite the administrator.

The troops also reportedly abducted eight members on the village administration committee, and one of them, U Maung Me Che (also known as Kyaw Aye Maung), was found dead at the foot of Minpu Hill.

The Minbya administrators also demanded that troops stop torturing village administrators and that the government fully protect the lives and property of village administrators.

“If administrators violate the law, legal action can be taken. But we can’t accept troops entering villages and torturing and killing village administrators. We will perhaps continue to serve if the government guarantees that it will fully protect us. If not, we will resign,” U Thein Tun told The Irrawaddy.

Administrators said they will wait a week to see if the government will promise to protect them.

“[Witnesses] said that my nephew was injured in his arm when arrested,” said U Kyaw Hla Phyu, the uncle of U Maung Me Che.

“We searched for him after his arrest. On Dec. 14, we found his body with his throat slit. And one of his arms was cut off. I have filed a complaint with the police,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Relatives of U Nyan Thein and Daw Phyu Phyu Win have also filed complaints with the police.

However, the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services said in a statement that troops returned fire after the Arakan Army (AA) opened fire on them from a house in Seittaya.

An officer was injured in the shooting and the AA troops withdrew to the south of the village, it said.

The troops then searched the house from where the AA opened fire and found U Nyan Thein and U Maung Me Che shot dead and arrested seven villagers, the office said.

The statement did not mention details about their injuries or about the death of Daw Phyu Phyu Win, who is survived by two children.

“We don’t accept the military statement. We have filed a complaint with the police. But the police said we can’t say in our complaint [my nephew] was abducted by the troops. They said they would accept the complaint only when we say [my nephew] went missing from Seittaya and his body was found at the foot of a hill,” U Kyaw Hla Phyu told The Irrawaddy.

Minbya Township administrator U Tun Nyein Naing and township police chief Police Major Ko Ko Lwin were unavailable to comment.

Minbya police have reportedly opened a case under Section 304 (a) for causing the death of the three villagers by negligence.

Village administrators in Mrauk-U Township have resigned due to the arrest and murder of members of village administration bodies.

In Kyauktaw Township, more than 40 village administrators have resigned for the same reason. Deaths, injuries and arrests of civilians have been on the increase amid clashes with the AA. The administrators say no murderers have been identified.

At the same time, the AA has arrested the Buthidaung Township National League for Democracy (NLD) chairman for planning to organize a rally in support of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last week. It has also held NLD Upper House lawmaker U Whei Tin since early November.

Most of the individuals murdered were administrators, Myanmar military veterans, security personnel and political party members.

The Irrawaddy’s research points to more than 20 murders between Dec. 24, 2018, and Sept. 22.

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