By Nyan Lynn Aung | The Myanmar Times
The evening curfew in two northern Rakhine State townships was extended on August 8, according to local officials.
The late-night clampdown has been in place since 2012 in Buthidaung and Maungdaw, where there appears to be little impetus to remove it, as local residents – both Buddhist and Muslim – say they fear a resurgence of unrest.
Police Lieutenant San Min from Maungdaw township said the latest curfew extension will hold for two months until October 8. The curfew has been moved from its previous 11pm start time to now take effect at midnight.
“The order said civilians must not go outside between 12am and 4am, and cannot form congregations over five persons large in public areas or mosques,” he said.
After the 2012 conflict, most of Rakhine State, including the capital Sittwe,instituted a dusk-to-dawn curfew that was lifted two years ago. But the curfew has remained in force in Buthidaung and Maungdaw.
Rakhine State Hlutttaw member U Tun Hla Sein (USDP; Maungdaw 1) said there is still a need to renew the curfew order in these two townships as they are near border areas.
He added that there is no plan to address the curfew in the state parliament, which he said has other, more pressing matters to discuss.
“This is just an order of deterrence. People can move more freely around the town and can go to mosque without restraint except that they can’t go outside late at night. And this order is in effect for both communities. Not only one,” he said.
At the end of his term as president, U Thein Sein lifted the state of emergencyput in place in Rakhine after deadly sectarian riots erupted between Buddhist and Muslim communities in 2012. However, the curfew order was allowed to linger in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships as the 2008 constitution grants local authorities the right to impose such restrictions.
U Kyaw Min, head of the Democracy and Human Rights Party, whose members identify as Rohingya Muslims, said the new government should lift all remnants of the curfew in the name of democracy.
“We want better conditions without such control. There is no threat to people’s lives,” he said.
The Myanmar Times called the Rakhine State government requesting comment about the curfew order extension, but was told no spokesperson was available.