Arakan security forces search for missing Maungdaw menfolk

Arakan security forces search for missing Maungdaw menfolk

Maungdaw security forces have launched a search for the Rohingya men of Duchira Dan [also written Du Char Yar Tan] village who have apparently gone into hiding since the disappearance of a local police sergeant in the village on 13 January when his patrol reportedly came under attack by a mob.

Kyi San, administrator of Maungdaw Township, said the authorities are now looking to question the menfolk of Duchira Dan, who have presumably taken refuge in nearby villages.

“I assume the men are hiding because they were involved in this incident,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Arakan State Chief Minister said authorities are working to expose the culprits. “Security measures are currently in place in the region – the police are searching for Duchira Dan villagers following the slaying of the police sergeant. However, neither the body nor the weapon [firearm] has yet to be recovered.”

He noted that all the men from the village have run away while the women and children are currently sheltering with relatives in a nearby village.

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The United Nations has stated that it believes at least 48 Muslims appear to have been killed when Buddhist mobs attacked the village, apparently in retaliation for the disappearance of the police sergeant. However, Burma’s government vehemently denies such a massacre took place.

A delegation of Burmese government officials, as well as international representatives Barbara Babista, coordinator of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and Roka Kodo, resident representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), were taken on a tour of Duchira Dan by Arakan State’s Chief Minister Hla Maung Tin on Friday to inspect the site and meet with locals in Maungdaw, state media reported.

Babista was unavailable for comment when contacted by DVB on Monday; however, the UN’s Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has released a statement calling for an immediate inquiry into the loss of human lives in Duchira Dan and demanded justice for the alleged victims.

Meanwhile, Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) released a statement on Friday condemning “foreign media and some international agencies [for] issuing press releases based on unjustified conclusions drawing from unverified information in relation to the incidents which took place … on 13 January in Duchira Dan.”

MoFA reiterated the government line that a five-member police patrol was first set upon by 100 Bengalis [Rohingyas] wielding sticks and knives; during the withdrawal, the leader of the police patrol team was “lost in the mob”, it said.

“Remobilized police and security forces revisited the same vicinity in search of the lost police sergeant,” the statement read, but were this time threatened by more than 500 Rohingyas armed with sticks and knives.

“In order to deter from being physically attacked [sic], eight warning shots were fired. However, there were no civilian injuries or causalities,” said the ministry statement.

It was reported by newswire service DPA on Friday that Presidential Spokesman Ye Htut had indicated that international observers would be allowed into Maungdaw to investigate.

But when contacted by DVB, Ye Htut said he was misquoted and that the government “will consider and plan for [such a] visit.” The spokesman stressed that he had not mentioned an “investigation”.

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