Rakhine residents in Kayukphyu township have banded together to create a pressure lobby which will push the government to increase security in the beleaguered state, including via the formation of a suggested “people’s militia”, according to members of the new group.
The Rakhine State Security Support Committee was established on August 8 after a meeting of around 200 residents at the Sasana Beikman in Kyaukpyu.
“It [has been established] to put our demands to the government. In other words, our aim is to pressure the government,” said committee member U Tun Myint.
“We started the committee in our own township but it would be preferable if there were such committees established in all 17 [of Rakhine State’s] townships,” he added.
A series of killings and headless bodies found in northern Rakhine State recently has escalated communal tensions. The northern edge of the state has been on lockdown since a new Muslim insurgent group launched a lethal attack on border guard posts in October, killing nine police officers. The military began a counter-insurgency campaign, and both security officials and government representatives have accused the insurgent group of murdering civilians who cooperate with the authorities.
In response to the recent uptick in violence in the area, the new committee called for a people’s militia to be established in order to protest Buddhist residents of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships.
“We are making this demand because the government has failed to protect the lives of the ethnic Rakhine. The problem can be reduced if the committees are established in each township. Otherwise, the situation will get worse,” said lawyer U Htain Lin.
As its first action, the committee will hold a protest on August 13, calling on the state government to ensure better security of Rakhine ethnic residents, after eight Mro villagers were murdered earlier this month.
In a statement released following the Kayukphyu committee’s meeting, the members also denounced the United Nations, international non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations which provide aid in the area as the organizations allegedly supported the interests of the “Bengali terrorists”.