Kyauktaw Village Heads Resign over Arrests

The wave of resignations comes as the Burma Army continues its push to cut the Arakan Army off from suspected supporters.

Thursday, June 21, 2019

Village administrators in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township are resigning from their positions en masse in protest over what they regard as arbitrary and unlawful arrests by the Burma Army.

Since the start of this month, a total of 57 village headmen in the township have quit because of concerns for their security, with the latest group sending in their resignation letters this past Monday.

The wave of resignations began on June 4, when 46 of the local administrators walked off the job in a single day.

“If we, village administrators, are guilty, they [the Burma Army] should report us to the township administrator, who can arrest us in accordance with the law and proper procedures,” said Tun Win, the former headman of Bo Min, one of 11 villages that lost their local administrators on Monday.

“But [the army] doesn’t do that. They are not the police, but they arrest us anyway. Then, after five or six days of interrogation by the soldiers, we are sent to jail. We’re all afraid of this, so we are all trying to resign from our positions. We are worried about our security,” he added.

“We, village administrators, are arrested at night without any evidence. Some just disappear. It often happens like this in our area. Therefore, we don’t want to be village administrators anymore because we’re afraid. There is no safe place for us,” Tun Win told NMG.

According to local people, village administrators are worried about their security because many have been accused of having links to the Arakan Army (AA).

Finding replacements for the exiting headmen has proven difficult.

“The township administrator is appointing whoever gets the second highest number of votes in village elections to be the new headman. But those people don’t want the job, either,” said Kyauktaw resident Kyaw Hla Myint.

These concerns are related to the arrests last month of village headmen Thein Soe Aung and Aung Kyaw Thein and villager Kyan Thein. Village administrators who have already resigned have said they would resume their duties if the army releases these men.

“They are not guilty of anything. Therefore, we demand that the Burma Army release them, and that the authorities follow the law. They should not arrest us at night. If we are guilty, they can arrest us in accordance with the law,” said Tun Win.

Kyauktaw Township and Burma Army officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The Office of the Commander-In-Chief reported that Burma Army and AA forces clashed near the village of Kyaukse-pyin in Kyauktaw Township on June 13. The army then detained 25 suspects around the village and transferred them to the Kyauktaw Myoma police station the following day.

The Burma Army arrested four village administrators in Rakhine State on February 28, prompting nearly 100 village administrators in Mrauk-U Township to resign on March 1.