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Members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s security detail were briefly stopped from entering the volatile city of Taunggok in Arakan State on Thursday evening after rumors spread that Muslims were coming into the heavily Buddhist area.
Lynn Lynn, who is also a well-known rock singer, was driving with other guards to Arakan ahead of Suu Kyi’s trip there when they were unexpectedly stopped. To get to Sandoway [officially known as Thandwe] – where Suu Kyi began her Arakan campaign today after flying in from Rangoon – drivers normally have to pass through Taunggok.
Lynn Lynn posted on his Facebook page that a local official “suggested” that they go back because local residents believed they were Muslims. They aren’t, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. Lynn Lynn wrote that they would continue anyway and it seems that they have already passed without any trouble.
Contact information for the official was not available. Lynn Lynn did not return a phone call seeking comment, and he declined to comment when reached by the Voice.
Taunggok played a sinister role in the 2012 interfaith riots between Buddhists and Muslims when 10 Muslim travellers were killed there. The local community has reportedly said they want it to be a “No Muslim City.”
Suu Kyi is scheduled to visit the area during her Arakan trip, according to Reuters, but is not slated to visit Sittwe, the capital of the state and the epicenter of Rohingya Muslim and Buddhist tensions.
Earlier on Friday, Arakanese nationalist group Rakhine National Network (RNN) released a statement to coincide with Suu Kyi’s arrival in the region, expressing hopes that she will be able to “reflect the social and livelihood woes of Arakanese people” and “focus more on working in their favour”.
The RNN statement acknowledged concerns about Suu Kyi’s security during her visit to the restive region, pledging full responsibility as a host and congratulating her for making such a trip.
The Arakan headquarters of her party, the National League for Democracy, said around 700 personnel have been assigned security for her visit.
Read more of DVB’s 2015 election coverage