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President orders local investigation into Maungdaw clash

Maungdaw officials show observers the site where, they say, the uniform, boots and overcoat of Pol. Sergeant Aung Kyaw Thein were discovered. (PHOTO: President's Office)

By Colin Hinshelwood / Democratic Voice of Burma

Burmese President Thein Sein has ordered an independent investigation into allegedly fatal incidents which occurred in the village of Duchira Dan [also written Du Char Yar Tan] in Maungdaw Township, northern Arakan State, on 13 January.

Speaking at a diplomatic briefing in Rangoon on Tuesday evening, Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said the presidential order for an independent investigation team into the alleged killings would include separate probes and field trips by: the Central Committee for Peace Stability and Development of Rakhine [Arakan] State; the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission; and the Rakhine Conflict Investigation Commission.

The appointment of Burma-based teams to the Maungdaw inquiry would appear to scupper calls by the UN and US Ambassador Derek Mitchell for an investigation including international members to be conducted into the disappearance of the Arakanese policeman and the alleged massacre of Rohingyas in a retaliatory attack by police and an Arakanese Buddhist mob in Maungdaw two weeks ago.

Wunna Maung Lwin confirmed, however, that the government would arrange a trip to the area for the diplomats and that a team led by the EU Ambassador would travel to Maungdaw in the near future, state-run The New light of Myanmar reported on Wednesday.

Speaking to DVB on Wednesday, US Embassy spokesperson Sarah Hutchison said that Ambassador Mitchell reiterated calls to the Burmese government to launch an “immediate, impartial and independent investigation into the violence, in conjunction with a representative from the international community.

“We [the US] continue to encourage the Government of Burma to work toward a durable solution in Rakhine State that addresses the underlying grievances that have afflicted that state for decades. The United States stands ready to assist in these efforts,” Hutchinson added.

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said on Tuesday that he has urged the Burmese government to conduct a “transparent investigation into recent reports of people being killed, mainly Rohingya women and children.

“Urgent action must be taken to enforce the rule of law and ensure justice,” he said. “The continuing violence is a tragedy which must be stopped and which otherwise risks jeopardising the wider reform process.”

Iyad Ameen Madani, the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has expressed concern over what he called “the looting, raping and killing of Rohingya Muslims.”

The Burmese government has vehemently denied that any massacre of Rohingyas took place and has slammed the UN and foreign media for “false