The Irrawaddy

Rakhine Field Investigation Delayed Months after Deadly Mrauk-U Incident

SITTWE, Rakhine State — An investigation team formed by Rakhine State Parliament to investigate a deadly riot in Mrauk-U Township still cannot start the field investigation more than two months after the incident.

It is because members of the team are away on trips, said secretary of the team U Tun Tha Sein, who is also a lawmaker representing Mrauk-U Township in Rakhine State Parliament.

On Jan. 16, thousands of Mrauk-U residents staged a protest after officials banned a memorial event marking the 233rd anniversary of the end of the Arakan Dynasty. Local police opened fire on the crowd. Seven were killed and 12 were severely wounded in the crackdown.

U Aye Maung Thein, the father of one of eight detained protestors, has complained about the delay in the investigation.

“The Rakhine State Parliament formed the investigation team with an official notice. But, the team has not started the investigation. Are they afraid of the government? If the team is of no avail, what a shame for the Rakhine State Parliament,” U Aye Maung Thein told The Irrawaddy.

U Tun Tha Sein said the team plans to start the investigation after the ongoing session of the state parliament ends. The team has conducted an informal investigation so far.

“We are not too late even though we have been unable to conduct a field investigation. Our team held informal interviews with voters, the parents of those who died in the riot, families of the eight detainees and eyewitnesses. We assume that we know about 75 perfect of what happened in regards to the incident,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The investigation team was formed with nine lawmakers from Rakhine State Parliament on Jan. 29. In early February, the Rakhine State government issued an instruction to departments urging them not to cooperate with the investigation team because “it does not comply with the 2008 Constitution.”

On Feb. 7, the state government also sent a letter to the state Parliament dominated by the Arakan National Party, stating that the investigation went against the 2008 Constitution. However, the government and the Parliament later reached a consensus over the investigation.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.