Most Mrauk-U Village Headmen Resume Duties After Threatening Resignation

Due to ongoing conflict, around 30 out of 100 say it is still not secure for them to return to their work as village administrators.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

The majority of village administrators in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U Township will resume their duties after demanding the release of fellow headmen from detainment by the Burma Army.

After four headmen were arrested in Rakhine State on February 28, some 100 other headmen in Mrauk-U sent their resignation letters to the respective government officials in protest the following day.

The detained village administrators were released on March 8. By the middle of the month, township administration officials asked those who threatened resignation across the township to resume their work. Now, some 70 headmen say they will again take up their positions as heads of villages.

“We have already discussed it with the respective government departments. They released the detained village administrators. The village administration should not be damaged,” U Sein Aung, the administrator for Kyauk Kyat village in Mrauk-U, told NMG.

According to U Sein Aung Kyaw, the Rakhine State government directed the village administrators who had sent their resignation letters to restart their duties. NMG tried to call Mrauk-U Township’s general administrator for comment but did not receive a response.

“For me, I won’t work in this position again,” U Khin Maung San, who is the Than Shut Pyin village administrator, told NMG. He’s among the approximately 30 people who will not return to head their communities.

Locals say there is no regional stability and that clashes between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw are still occurring in northern Rakhine State.

U Khin Maung San said he feels that government authorities failed to protect village administrators from the violence, and this is causing them to hesitate over whether to continue to serve in these positions.

“Our region is not secure. Nobody comes to protect village administrators. Village headmen are becoming the target of armed groups. That’s why I resigned. The situation in Rakhine State is getting worse than ever before. It’s impossible to serve in this position again,” U Khin Maung San explained.

Clashes occurred in Mrauk-U and Rathedaung townships as recently as Wednesday morning. Locals said they could hear guns shooting and shells being fired, and reported that civilians had been detained and others killed in the fighting. NMG could not confirm any casualties at the time of reporting.