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Burmese Presidential Spokesman Ye Htut said on Wednesday that MP Shwe Maung may be “responsible for defamation and provoking tension” between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims over his comments in a DVB interview that accused local Maungdaw police of involvement or complicity in a 28 January fire in the village of Duchira Dan.
“Police need to know about this evidence, and if he [U Shwe Maung] can provide strong evidence, they will take legal action on them [the culprits]. If not, he will be held responsible for defamation and provoking tension between the two communities,” said Ye Htut in a statement to DVB.
Buthidaung MP U Shwe Maung sent an open letter via social media on Tuesday saying that he had been summoned to two meetings with Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann the day before in which he was presented with a letter from the President accusing him of “defaming the state and Myanmar police force” and of instigating conflict.
The reprimand follows an interview Shwe Maung conducted with DVB last week in which he claimed local Muangdaw police were involved or complicit in a fire which razed about 20 Rohingya homes in the village of Duchira Dan [also written Du Char Yar Tan] on 28 January.
Tin Aye, the deputy-superintendent at Maungdaw Township Police Battalions Command, subsequently rejected the allegation, saying that police involvement in the blaze was “completely impossible”.
In his open message on Tuesday, Shwe Maung said, “I never do anything to defame the State and Myanmar Police Force. What I do is for the good of my nation and people according to [the] Constitution and Pyithu Hluttaw [Parliamentary] law. I always emphasize on stability, peaceful existence, development, rule of law, justice and equal rights.”
Shwe Maung added that he has been cooperating with the concerned ministries and local authorities as requested.
Speaking to DVB on Monday, the Rohingya MP said he was repeating only what his constituents had told him.
Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, said that her group’s sources in Maungdaw could not confirm one way or the other who started the fire on 28 January in Duchira Dan-West.
Speaking to DVB on Wednesday, she said that the blaze was “definitely not accidental”, as the fire broke out in several places at the same time.
Burma’s Vice-president Nyan Tun visited the region on Tuesday, according to state-run The New Light of Myanmar, which said he was accompanied by Minister Htay Aung, Arakan [Rakhine] State Chief Minister Hla Maung Tin, and deputy ministers.
The vice-president reportedly met in Maungdaw with departmental officials, members of social organisations and town elders of the “two communities”.
Following a town hall meeting, Nyan Tun “observed the peace and tranquility and development of the township on a motorcade” the report said.