Local Muslim Community Condemns Maungdaw Attacks

By Htun Htun 13 October 2016

Local Muslim organizations have slammed recent attacks on police outposts on the Bangladeshi border in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township, calling them “destructive” to the peace and stability of the country.

“The border line is the security of the country. A terrorist attack on such a place is totally unacceptable since a commission has been formed to […] hold a discussion in line with the law,” U Kyaw Nyein, chairman of Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association, told The Irrawaddy, referring to the Arakan State Advisory Commission formed by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in August. The commission’s role is to explore root causes of tension between Buddhists and Muslims in Arakan State; it is headed by former UN general secretary Kofi Annan.

On Sunday, around 250 assailants—most of whom are currently on the run—launched separate attacks on Kyikanpyin border guard police headquarters and the Kotankauk and Ngakhuya outposts between 1:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.

Nine police officers were killed in the ambush; on pursuing the attackers, police killed eight men and apprehended two, who were taken to the state capital of Sittwe for questioning.

The government so far has not named an organization responsible for the attack.

Meanwhile, eight local Muslim civil society organizations (CSOs) released a joint statement on Wednesday denouncing the attack and expressing their concern that further violence could follow the event.

Ma Darli Myint, leader of a CSO called Social Alliance, said: “We are not talking about religion, but we condemn any act destructive to the peace and stability of the country. I would like to urge the leaders to settle the problem peacefully in line with the law.”

On Monday morning, local Muslims were killed in Maungdaw Township after shots were fired by members of the Burma Army in Myothugyi village. State media reported four casualties, and civil society groups reported seven.

State media and government sources reported that four soldiers were killed in clashes Maungdaw Township on Tuesday by forces suspected to have been involved in Sunday’s ambush. Fighting continued until Wednesday afternoon.

Al-Haj U Aye Lwin, a Muslim member of Arakan State Advisory Commission, said that the commission still cannot make public remarks about the attacks, but he personally can’t accept acts deemed as destructive to the sovereignty of the country.

“I don’t accept violence. A harsh punishment must be given [to the attackers]. In so doing, there needs to be extra caution taken to make sure those who are not involved in the violence are not affected,” said U Aye Lwin.

He said the commission is monitoring the events and is set to meet soon, at which time, they will release a statement.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko