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Rohingya MP U Shwe Maung undergoes questioning

By Kayleigh Long
 
Akayab, Arakan State : (Myanmar Times Union Solidarity and Development Party MP U Shwe Maung has been questioned by police in Nay Pyi Taw over comments he made to Democratic Voice of Burma about possible police involvement in a fire that broke out in a Muslim village in Rakhine State late last month.

More than a dozen homes were destroyed in the blaze at Du Chee Yar Tan West village near Maungdaw in northern Rakhine State on January 28.

U Shwe Maung said the February 4 interrogation came at the behest of President U Thein Sein, who sent a letter to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann requesting permission for police question the MP.

The interview lasted about 90 minutes and was conducted at his USDP living quarters in Nay Pyi Taw. It focused on allegations that U Shwe Maung, a Rohingya, had defamed the state and police by saying that residents believed security forces were involved in starting the fire.

U Shwe Maung said he was asked to reveal the names and phone numbers of those he received the information from. He agreed to give the information but only with the approval of Thura U Shwe Mann.

The full video of his interview with DVB may also be produced as evidence in order to establish the broader context for his comments.

U Shwe Maung told The Myanmar Times on February 2, U Shwe Maung said he is normally cautious with his choice of words.

“I always censor myself so that I don’t violate any law and avoid words which may confuse or mislead people. I always maintain and balance my words to avoid any religious and ethnic misunderstanding.”

A January 29 statement issued by the Ministry of Information confirmed the police and fire officials had responded to a fire in Du Chee Yar Tan village at about 8:45pm the previous evening. Five “Bengalis” were seen running away from the fire, the statement said.

“There is no Rakhine village near that village, and the neighbouring villages are just Bengali villages. They ran away after setting fire to their houses,” it said.

The same day, U Shwe Maung told The Myanmar Times an impartial investigation was needed. “If civilians are responsible, they should face the consequences. Nobody is above the law,” he said. “If security forces were responsible, then the same [should apply].”