‘These Bengalis are killing members of their own community’: administrator discusses curfew, stability in northern Rakhine

  • Written by Narinjara
  • Published in Interview

June 11

The curfew has been extended in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships now eight months after the government launched a counter-insurgency campaign in the area. The evening curfew remains in effect from 9pm through 5am in Maungdaw, and between 10pm and 4am in Buthidaung.

Narinjara News interviewed Maungdaw Township Administrator U Myint Khine to ask about the two-month extension of the night curfew, which was ordered on June 9.

Q: Why has the night curfew been extended in these areas?
A: The reason is a lack of regional stability. These areas don’t have 24-hour electricity. The night curfew was issued as we don’t have full [visibility] at night.

Q: What has caused the instability?
A: Everyone already knows about the incident on October 9 [when an insurgent group staged lethal, pre-dawn attacks on three border guard posts]. After the October 9 incident, there are still killings in the villages at night. You must have heard about the Bengali people who are being killed at night in retaliation for cooperating with the government and relying on the administration. We will need to impose the night curfew as long as these issues continue.

Q: Who is responsible for the killings? Which organizations are they from?
A: The killings are related to the October 9 incident. In the past, there was an insurgent group called the RSO [Rohingya Solidarity Organization]. Now, there is a group called the Arakan something [Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army]. These Bengalis are killing members of their own community.

*Editor’s note: Social media accounts that self-identify as representing ARSA have repeatedly issued denials about attacking civilians.

Q: Have there been any more attacks against security forces?
A: They haven’t attacked the Tatmadaw or the Border Police forces. They are only staging attacks among their own community. They haven’t attacked the [Rakhine] ethnic people, government officials, the Tatmadaw or the police. They are only attacking [Bengalis] who have assisted the government.

Q: What is your opinion about these killings among the Bengalis?
A: I believe they are doing it to disturb the mechanisms of the administration and to attempt to scare the public to prevent further cooperation with the government.

Q: What security measures are being carried out by the township administrators to improve stability in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships?
A: Tatmadaw and Border Police forces continue to operate in these areas. We have been discussing the issue [of the murders] at meetings that are held twice a month. When these incidents happen, we try to find out the truth. But because the murders are happening within their community, we are unable to discern the whole truth. They tend to keep things among themselves. It’s not good for them to be united in such a bad way. Even when they know about someone breaking the law or know who is responsible for the killing, they are very afraid to act as a witness. So, it’s difficult to reveal the truth. We are doing our best but we still need to impose the night curfew as long as instability exists.