The case involving Daw Soe Chay – an Arakanese woman who was publicly humiliated by a mob for allegedly supplying food rations to Rohingya refugees – has been handed over to the public prosecutor’s office in Myebon.
“We handed over the case to the public prosecutor’s office on 29 September. When we get a response from that office, we will continue legal proceedings,” said Aung Pyae Moe, chief officer of Myebon Myoma police station.
On the afternoon of 12 September, Daw Soe Chay was berated by a local mob and accused of “giving rations to Bengalis [self-identifying Rohingya Muslims]”. She was punched and had her hair hacked off, before being paraded through the village of Ywa Thit with a cardboard placard around her neck, reading: “I am a national traitor”.
After the humiliated woman reported the incident to police, three suspects were detained and charged with assault and defamation. Each was released on bail.
“My chest is still in pain where they punched me,” Daw Soe Chay told DVB. “They cut off my hair and took all my money. I want justice.”
However, Khin Aye Win Kyi, one of the three defendants accused of assaulting Daw Soe Chay, said she had nothing to do with it. “I did not commit any assault and I am prepared to go to court [to prove that],” she said.
Khin Thein, chair of the Arakan Women’s Network, likewise denied that any members of her group were involved. “We are not the ones who go around checking the rations,” she said. “We have nothing to do with this case.”
A nearby refugee camp currently hosts more than 3,000 members of the self-identifying Rohingya community. Rations from aid organisations are reportedly seized or checked frequently by self-appointed monitors who accuse aid groups of favoring Muslims over Buddhists.
Tensions are running high in many towns and villages across Arakan State due to the most recent flaring of conflict between Arakanese Buddhists and members of the self-identifying Rohingya Muslim community. Since 25 August – when militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army staged a coordinated assault on some 30 police posts in northern Arakan State – it is estimated that at least 400 people have been killed and more than 400,000 have fled their homes to take refuge in Bangladesh.