Fire at Sittwe court delays appeal of prominent Rakhine MP

By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER

YANGON — A fire has badly damaged the court in the Rakhine State capital Sittwe hours before it was due to hear an appeal from Pyithu Hluttaw MP and former chairman of the Arakan National Party, Dr Aye Maung, who is facing charges of high treason and incitement.

The fire began about midnight on January 9 and was extinguished about an hour later, Myanmar Fire Service Department said in a social media post.

A video circulated on social media showed the courthouse engulfed by flames. The fire badly damaged not only the main building but dozens of confiscated motorcycles that had been stored in the compound.

Aye Maung’s scheduled hearing, which was an appeal to a higher court to have his charges dismissed, has been delayed, sources confirmed to Frontier.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

Aye Maung was arrested in Sittwe in January last year and in September was charged with high treason and incitement, over a speech in which he reportedly accused the Bamar-dominated National League for Democracy government of treating the Rakhine people like “slaves”.

The speech came the same day that nine people died in a violent clashes between police and Rakhine protesters in Mrauk U, the former capital of the Rakhine kingdom, on January 16 last year. The violence erupted after the authorities banned a gathering to mark the fall of the Rakhine kingdom to the Konbaung dynasty in 1784.

Aye Maung was elected to the Amyotha Hluttaw in 2010 but was defeated in a bid to move to the Rakhine State Hluttaw in 2015. He returned to the national legislature in 2017 after winning a by-election for the Pyithu Hluttaw seat of Ann, which he holds as an independent after resigning from the ANP in late 2017.

Since his arrest he has applied to form a new political entity, the Arakan Front Party, which received Union Election Commission approval in October.

The following month, Aye Maung’s son, U Tin Maung Win, won a by-election for the Rakhine State Hluttaw seat of Rathedaung-2, easily defeating the candidate from the ANP.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar