Village Administrators Resign En Masse in N. Rakhine

By Min Aung Khine 6 June 2019

SITTWE—Forty-five village administrators in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township submitted their resignations and handed over their seals Tuesday evening.

The administrators said they resigned out of concern for their personal safety, as the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, has detained administrators in the nearby villages of Min Thar Taung and Shwe Pyi in the wake of heightened armed fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) in the area.

“If the military unlawfully arrests and does as they wish with administrators, we would rather not perform this duty,” U Tun Hla, an administrator in Pyaung Seik Village, told The Irrawaddy.

The mass resignation followed a General Administration Department (GAD) meeting of village administrators in Kyauktaw Township on Tuesday.

Kyaung Tu Village administrator U Kyaw Thaung said if the Tatmadaw wants to investigate administrators, it should seek the approval of the concerned township GAD, then police should investigate following established rules and procedures.

“We are local administrators, and we can’t run away when either of the two sides (the Tatmadaw and AA) want to meet us. But then, what is happening is administrators are being arrested by the military and detained for several days, and their families are not allowed to see them. This concerns us,” U Kyaw Thaung said.

On May 15 and May 29, one administrator from Shwe Pyi and Min Thar Taung villages, respectively, were arrested by Tatmadaw soldiers at their homes. Locals say they are both currently being held in police custody at Kyauktaw Police Station.

On May 26, a 40-year-old from Min Thar Taung Village died of wounds at Kyauktaw Township Hospital five days after being arrested and interrogated by Tatmadaw soldiers while on his way to a nearby mountain to look for bamboo.

In their joint resignation letter, Kyauktaw Township administrators called for the release of the two detained administrators and said that, if necessary, village administrators be interrogated at their township’s GAD instead of being directly detained by the Tatmadaw in the future. The military need to first inform the township, which could launch a local investigation and, if further inquiry is found to be needed, an investigative committee should be formed with the approval and input of the Rakhine State government, they said.

The administrators said they would withdraw their resignations and resume their administrator duties only when these demands are met.

On February 28 around 90 local village administrators in Mrauk-U Township submitted resignations after the military detained four administrators there for no reason.

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