Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Begins Investigation Into WHO Driver's Fatal Shooting

By Min Aung Khine 12 May 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—A committee formed by the President’s Office to probe the fatal shooting of a World Health Organization (WHO) driver in Rakhine State’s Minbya Township has traveled to the area and begun its investigation.

The committee arrived in Sittwe by air on Tuesday morning and has started work on the ground, committee member Dr. Aung Thurein said.

“We will meet those we should meet and make enquiries. I can’t reveal where we will go or whom we will meet. We will release the information only after the investigation is over,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The investigation committee was formed by President U Win Myint on April 28. Chaired by U Saw of the Lower House Committee on Fundamental Rights of Citizens, its members include retired senior adviser to the UN Dr. Su Su Thar Tun, and Dr. Aung Thurein, director of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. Colonel Htein Lin, a former Rakhine State security and border affairs minister, serves as the committee’s secretary.

U Pyae Sone Win Maung was transporting swabs from suspected COVID-19 patients to Yangon when his vehicle came under attack near the Yar Maung Bridge in Minbya Township of Rakhine State on April 20.

He died from his wounds the following day. Another health worker in the vehicle was injured in the attack.

Both the government and military blamed the AA for the fatal attack. The AA denied responsibility and blamed the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw).

With both the government and military blaming the AA for the attack, Lower House lawmaker U Pe Than of the Arakan National Party (ANP) said he would wait and see whether the government formed the committee just for show, in order to ease international criticism.

Many Rakhine people have questioned the credibility of the investigation committee, which includes no respected figures from international agencies or ethnic Rakhine politicians.

However, those who support the decision to form the committee believe it will deliver a report acceptable to the public, as Col. Htein Lin and Dr. Aung Thurein have served in Rakhine State for many years, and have detailed knowledge of the issues facing the state.

“We will work with impartiality in doing our job to find the truth,” Dr. Aung Thurein told The Irrawaddy.

The committee is ready to meet any witnesses who are willing to come forward to give evidence, and will ensure their security, he said.

In the course of its investigation, the committee plans to seek evidence, interview witnesses, assess post-mortem reports, and consult crime and weapons experts. The committee is also tasked with coming up with recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.

It is authorized to question military personnel, police, administrative officials and anyone else it deems necessary, as well as to request documents and to visit all necessary places.

International agencies have called on Myanmar officials to uncover the truth and hold the perpetrators accountable.

On April 21, a Competitive Pest Service Company vehicle transporting disinfectant from Ann Township to a bank in Sittwe was fired upon near Phar Pyo Village in Minbya Township.

The driver of the vehicle was killed on the spot and another employee died of their injuries five days later at Sittwe Hospital.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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