Eight men were arrested this morning in Sittwe Hospital while receiving treatment for injuries sustained during a violent police crackdown on unarmed protesters in Mrauk-U last Tuesday.
“At around 8am, about 10 police officers came in and handcuffed seven of those eight patients,” said Oo Khaing Than, the mother-in-law of one. “They did not restraint one of the patients in handcuffs for some reason. Then, they locked them in two detention cells within the hospital – four in either cell.”
DVB was unable to confirm the allegation with police at either Sittwe No.1 police station or Mrauk-U station.
The Burmese government has confirmed that seven protesters were killed, while 12 protesters and 20 police officers were injured during what was described by officials as a “riot” on 16 January when several thousand people marched to the township administrator’s office in Mrauk-U to protest a decision to prohibit a commemoration ceremony for the 233rd anniversary of the fall of the Arakan kingdom.
Mrauk-U police station said local authorities ordered the protesters to disperse, but they did not comply and threw stones instead. Police fired warning shots to clear the protesters before, apparently, training their guns on the crowd.
Tin Maung Swe, the secretary of the Rakhine state government, declined to comment on the whereabouts of the 20 injured police officers nor on the severity of their wounds when questioned by reporters yesterday.
Several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have demanded an independent investigation into the violent reaction by police to the protesters.
During a meeting yesterday with local CSOs, the Rakhine state government confirmed that it would take legal action against protesters and organisers of the Mrauk-U rally.