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Ethnic violence in Rakhine: Buddhist parliamentarian arrested for ‘high treason’

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» 01/19/2018, 09.27

MYANMAR

The nationalist politician attacked the government and incited the Rakhine ethnic minority to armed struggle against the government. The arrest occurred two days after the clashes in Mrauk U, where seven local people lost their lives. A Rakhine rebel group promises “serious” retaliation for the demise of the protesters.

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Naypyitaw (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Aye Maung, an important Buddhist deputy from Rakhine, has been arrested for causing ethnic violence, after a bloody revolt on 16 January highlighted the latent tensions in the tormented western state.

The authorities intend to try the local deputy and the organizers of a nationalist demonstration for the crimes of “high treason” and “illicit association”, which respectively provide for the death sentence and a prison term of up to three years.

The arrest took place yesterday, two days after the police opened fire on a mob of ethnic Rakhine Buddhistswho were trying to seize a government office, causing seven dead and 13 wounded.

The violence broke out in Mrauk U, a city a few tens of kilometers from the epicenter of the military counter-offensive against the Rohingya Muslim minority last August. Thousands of demonstrators attempted to celebrate a Buddhist anniversary, while the authorities prevented it from happening.

The Burmese state media reported that the accusations against the deputy of the Lower House were presented following a speech held the day before the clashes. The nationalist politician attacked the government for thinking that the Rakhines were “slaves” and said the “moment is right” for an armed revolt against the government, an expression of the Burmese ethnic majority.

The police blames the demonstrators for having started the violence by throwing stones, breaking into an administrative office and hoisting the flag of the State of Rakhine. Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, expressed her condolences and pledged to “investigate the incident”. It occurred on the same day as the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the Rohingya repatriation process and prompted a Rakhine ethnic rebel group to promise “serious” retaliation for the demise of the demonstrators.

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