Some employees of the INGOs including UNHCR, who were arrested due to alleged involvement in June’s violent unrests in Arakan State, were released by the order of the home ministry.
In total 5 employees were released from the prisons in Sittwe and Buthidaung on 16th of August. Two employees of AZG (doctors without border) known as U Kyaw Hla Aung and U Win Naing were said to be included among those released from the Sittwe Prison.
A lawyer from Buthidaung told Narinjara that they were released by the order of Pyone Cho who undersigned and mentioned as the in-charge of offices under the ministry of home affairs.
“Pyone Cho whose position is mentioned as the in-charge of offices under home ministry sent a letter here ordering them all freed from their detentions in the prisons. The officials replied to his order with the explanations that their cases were already investigated and were about to be convicted. But he ordered them again to release them acquitting their cases, so they were released”, said the lawyer.
A government official from Buthidaung also said three employees of the UNHCR were released from the Buthidaung Prison.
“Three employees of the UNHCR identified as Saw Myint, Zaw Myint and Abdu Haque were released from the Buthidaung Prison. The local residents here are now dissatisfied with the government for releasing them because they were already found guilty in the recent violent attacks”, said the official.
U Oo Hla Saw, the General Secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, also said releasing those who were responsible for violent attacks shows the government has weakness in establishing rule of law in the nation.
“It is pleasurable if a man is freed from the prison. But those who were released from the prisons are believed to have been involved in the violent attacks by the law enforcers and Arakanese people. The government usually speaks out loud that no one is above laws, but it has already released them despite their involvements in the unrests. The Arakanese people are now quite unhappy with the freeing of those who are responsible for the unrests. Many innocent Arakanese were also arrested during the unrests. It is now quite unfair because the Muslims who triggered the unrests are freed while the innocent Arakanese peoples are still being held in the jails. The government has proved it has great weaknesses in its striving for rule of law in the country by this fact”, said U Hla Saw.
Ko Khine Kaung San, a former political prisoner, also said freeing those who involved in the violent unrests without taking any legal action is like encouraging or creating more violence in the region.
“ If they are not guilty, I welcome for the release. But I heard they were arrested on suspicion because of their involvement in the violence. If they have been freed due to international pressure without regarding the court of law, then they will be ready to plot more violence in the future in our region because they understand that the international communities are on their side and they can do whatever they like”, said Ko Khine Kaung San.
Those employees were arrested by the local authorities during the violent unrest that occurred in June in Sittwe and Maungdaw under the Burmese penal code Sections 153 (A), 436, 148, 505 (C) and Section 5 of the Emergency Provisions Act.
News is also spreading in Maungdaw that another INGO employee identified as Daw Cho Lay Mar who was arrested relating to the unrest in the town will be released soon from her detention in the station of the Burmese border security force Nasaka in Kyikanpyin in Maungdaw.
Those arrested employees have their freedoms following their meetings with Mr. Quintana, UN special human rights envoy to Burma, during his recent visit to the country.
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