Three Arakanese Youth Activists Held in Rakhine

By Moe Myint 11 October 2018

YANGON – Three Arakanese, one from the Arakan National Party (ANP) and two township representatives of the Arakan Youth Conference (AYC), have been arrested by Sittwe police.

The AYC announced on Wednesday that its representative Ko Khine Bo Bo, aka Khine Thaw, was captured by police in his hometown of Pauk Taw, Rakhine State, on Wednesday and transported by boat to Sittwe under police custody today.

Also on Wednesday, ANP party member Ko May Yu Tun, aka Zaw Win, was arrested at the office of Sittwe Civil Society Organization Network. His arrest comes just days after Sittwe police detained Arakanese social activist Ko Aung Zaw Lin, a third-year university student from Sittwe, who is the AYC’s representative for Buthidaung Township.

Police officer U Aye Kyaw from Sittwe Police Station confirmed the detention of Zaw Win and Aung Zaw Lin, saying their arrests are related to the death of military intelligence Corporal Win Htike, aka Phoe Lone, on Sept. 25, without providing any further evidence.

Pauk Taw Township representative for the Arakan Youth Conference (AYC) Khine Thaw who was arrested by police on Wednesday. / AYC / Facebook

The army intelligence official was gunned down at close range while he, his wife and child were walking around a market festival in Sittwe on Sept. 25. The police officer said that a case of homicide has been opened against May Yu Tun under Article 302 of the Penal Code and the Sittwe court has allowed for him to be remanded until Oct. 22.

Both Aung Zaw Lin and Khine Thaw had already been summoned by police for questioning the day following the shooting, and were released a few hours later.

An AYC information committee member told The Irrawaddy under the condition of anonymity that authorities had opened murder cases against the three detainees under Article 302. He urged the authorities to have transparency and announce the reason for their arbitrary arrests. The Ministry of Home Affairs had not issued any statements regarding the detention of the three Arakanese as of Thursday.

The AYC member said the arbitrary arrests Arakanese youth sparks fear and increases tensions between the government and the ethnic Arakanese community.

“Some AYC members are now overwhelmingly concerned by state surveillance as members of the police are going around the city in plain clothes,” he said.

Aung Zaw Lin participates in a freedom of expression campaign earlier this year after his senior, Wai Han Aung (shown in the picture he is carrying), was charged under the High Treason Act for reportedly supporting the outlawed Arakan Army during a lecture in northern Rakhine State’s Rathaedaung Township. Aung Zaw Lin was himself arrested on Tuesday. / Aung Zaw Lin / Facebook

Arakanese Lower House lawmaker Daw Khin Saw Wai said that the arrest of her party member May Yu Tun is totally unacceptable and irrelevant to the death of Cpl. Phoe Lone because her junior, May Yu Tun, had traveled alongside her and other Arakanese lawmakers during their by-election campaign trip to Ratheadaung Township between Sept. 23 and 28.

They were canvassing in Kan Pyin Village of Rathaedaung Township on Sept. 25, the day of the murder and they even they took a group photo near the entrance of Moe Sae Village, also in Rathedaung, on Sept. 28. Daw Khin Saw Wai posted the group photo on her Facebook page on Wednesday, in which May Yu Tun is pictured alongside her and other ANP members.

“The entire Kan Pyin village knows that May Yu Tun was there on September 25. Police can ask every villager there.”

She urged the authorities to explain the arrest transparently.

Despite The Irrawaddy’s multiple attempts to call police officers in Sittwe for comment on Thursday, all were rejected.