YANGON – A Muslim man has been found dead in northern Rakhine State two days after meeting reporters on a government-sponsored trip to the conflict-hit area.
Colonel Thet Naing told Frontier that the body of U Shu Na Myar, 41, from Ngakhuya village in Maungdaw Township was found decapitated 200 metres from his home at 2pm on December 23. He had been reported missing on December 22. No suspects have yet been arrested.
On December 21, Shu Na Myar had spoken to journalists who were visiting the area on a government-arranged trip to assess the situation.
The area has been closed to independent media since shortly after Muslim militants launched coordinated attacks on Border Guard Police outposts on October 9. The military has since responded with “clearance operations” aimed at apprehending militants and recovering weapons taken in the October 9 attacks. Rights groups have alleged that soldiers have committed rights abuses during the operations, allegations that the government and military both deny.
The media trip was arranged in response to the allegations, with representatives of 13 private and state media organisations invited. Frontier was not one of the groups invited on the trip.
Ko Aye Myint, a Muslim resident of Ngakhuya, said he had translated for the journalists when they visited the village. He confirmed that Shu Na Myar met the journalists.
He said the family of the missing man reported that about midnight that day, a group surrounded their house. Frontier could not independently confirm this claim.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Aye Myint said. “I just know that when I asked his family in the morning he had disappeared.”
U Sithu Aung Myint, journalist and commentator who went on the trip, said that Shu Na Myar and other village elders told the journalists that they had not seen any evidence of Muslims being killed or beaten.
“When police seize some suspected [militants], they normally bring them to village elders to identify them,” he said. “They said they didn’t see any that had been beaten or hurt,” said Sithu Aung Myint
Villagers said police regularly visited Ngakhuya because two militants killed in the October 9 attacks had come from the village.
– Additional reporting by Kyaw Phone Kyaw