Police’s handling over Mrauk-U riot criticized

A man injured in the riot is seen at Mrauk-U Township Hospital.


Seven people were killed and 12 others injured in a riot in Mrauk-U Township, Rakhine State, said Rakhine State Police Chief Police Colonel Aung Myat Moe.  

The people took to the street on January 16 after the authority banned the talk to commemorate the 233rd anniversary of the Fall of Arakan Kingdom.

Rakhine State MP Tun Tha Sein said: “The authority banned the event citing the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law. I explained it to monks and people. People understood what I said. After 8 pm, the people gathered and marched on Nanyargone. About 1,000 people had the desire to protest against it as they think the event was barred by either the township or district general administration department.”

“People did not arm themselves with sticks and knifes. They were angry at the cancellation of event and then threw stones at the district office and vehicles. Security forces fired warning shots into the air. The police should use rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds. But they used live bullets. I think it should not be. The police have crowd-control methods. The families of victims killed and injured in the riot will feel something. There is no any report of arrest,” MP Tun Tha Sein added.

A retired police major said: “In the time of the previous government, the EU trained Myanmar police members. As a first step, the authority will have to make negotiation. If it doesn’t work well, the authority is to control it as a second step. Officials will have to deal with the cases step by step.”

Police Colonel Aung Myat Moe said: “The police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowds as they destroyed District Police Office and District Commissioner Office on the evening of January 16. Yesterday, around 1,500-2,000 people gathered in Nanyargone in MraukU. The authority did not give the green-light as the talk may oppose and defame the government.”

According to the information ministry’s statement, the police used crowd-control techniques step by step. The police fired warning shots to disperse the crowds as the situations became worse. Around 20 police members were injured as the crowds threw stones at the police. They also destroyed vehicles and offices in the compound of the District Commissioner Office. The authorities are trying to restore peace and stability to the region.