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Police in Maungdaw, Arakan State, have rejected an accusation by Rohingya MP Shwe Maung that they were complicit in an arson attack in Duchira Dan [also written Du Char Yar Tan] on 28 January that left at least 16 houses destroyed.
Tin Aye, deputy-superintendent at Maungdaw Township Police Battalions Command, claimed police units deployed for security were positioned away from the scene of the incident.
“This is completely impossible – the police were positioned a distance away and they were there to prevent arson. We are not in a fight with them [Rohingyas], so it would be very wrong for them to speculate otherwise. We had an order from our supervisors not to even go over there, let alone set fire to their houses. I assume this is just another accusation they have been making, as usual. We have explained our case to foreign diplomats citing solid evidence,” said Tin Aye.
Win Myaing, Arakan State Government’s spokesperson, said Shwe Maung should not have made such an allegation.
“If the village was on fire, then the residents should have come out of their houses and put it out. But instead, they started fleeing – it was the security forces we sent from here that suppressed the fire,” said Win Myaing, though he had previously stated that police units had orders not to approach the area.
“Shwe Maung, as a parliamentarian, should not make such a groundless statement,” he added.
Shwe Maung, MP for Arakan State’s Buthidaung Township, spoke to DVB in an exclusive interview last week, stating that local sources told him they had witnessed police starting the fire, which followed shortly after an alleged fatal row in the village that the UN and other international bodies claim has resulted in at least 40 deaths, almost all stateless Rohingya Muslims.
The incident has prompted several calls for an independent investigation, and is the latest in a series of communal riots in the troubled coastal state.