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12/5/2018 Arakanese Activist Arrested by Police in Sittwe

Burma

Arakanese Activist Arrested by Police in Sittwe

Aung Zaw Lin participates in a freedom of expression campaign earlier this year after his senior, Wai Han Aung (shown in the picture he is carrying), was charged under the High Treason

 Act for reportedly supporting the outlawed Arakan Army during a lecture in northern Rakhine State’s Rathaedaung Township. Aung Zaw Lin was himself arrested on Tuesday. / Aung Zaw
Lin / Facebook

By MOE MYINT 9 October 2018

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12/5/2018 Arakanese Activist Arrested by Police in Sittwe

YANGON—Arakanese social activist and university student Aung Zaw Lin, also known
as Aung Chay, was arrested by Sittwe police at around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday as he and
two colleagues were returning home from Sittwe University on a motorcycle.

A friend of the suspect who witnessed the arrest told The Irrawaddy on condition of
anonymity that a fully armed group of police led by a police second lieutenant were
waiting for Aung Zaw Lin on a roadside. He said the students had just completed their
final day of university exams on Tuesday. As they were riding home they saw a police
truck and initially thought it was a traffic police checkpoint. However, the second
lieutenant walked straight up to them and handcuffed Aung Zaw Lin, the friend said.

Police took the suspect directly into custody. Aung Zaw Lin’s two friends asked police
why he was being detained but did not receive a clear answer. Asked why only one of
the three was being detained, one of the police officers told them they should “think
about it”.

The friend said, “A police officer just briefly told me we could discuss it at the police
station.”

Aung Zaw Lin was taken to Sittwe’s No. 1 Police Station. The Irrawaddy phoned officer
Moe Zaw Thu, the chief of the station, but he declined to answer and referred
questions to an inspector at Sittwe’s No. 2 police station.

“I have no idea about that. I am not the inspector in that case. The investigator is from
No. 2 police station,” Moe Zaw Thu said.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach the head of Sittwe’s No. 2 police station by phone
on Tuesday, as his phone was switched off.

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12/5/2018 Arakanese Activist Arrested by Police in Sittwe

Authorities had not made any announcement about the arrest as of Tuesday evening,
but some Sittwe residents speculated it was linked to the death of Military Intelligence
Corporal Win Htike, also known as Phoe Lone, on Sept. 25. The corporal was shot in
the back and killed while attending a festival in Sittwe with his wife and child.

The day after the killing, police summoned Aung Zaw Lin and another student, Khine
Thaw, from Pauk Taw Township for questioning. They were released after a few hours.
Aung Zaw Lin later told The Irrawaddy the police asked him whether he had close ties
with Cpl. Win Htike.

A friend of Aung Zaw Lin said they were at home all day on Sept. 25, the day the
intelligence officer was shot dead.

“I’m ready to testify on behalf of my friend in court. I’m absolutely sure he is innocent
and has done nothing wrong,” he said.

The death of the Military Intelligence officer occurred on the same day the Sittwe Court
re-arrested eight Arakanese just as they were completing their eight-month sentences
for attending an illegal protest.

Alongside his senior, Wai Han Aung, Aung Zaw Lin has been actively engaged in relief
efforts to support members of Arakanese sub-ethnicities affected by conflict in northern
Rakhine State for several years. Among those he has helped were victims of conflict in
Maungdaw District last year. Wai Han Aung was arrested without warning early this year
and charged under the High Treason Act after authorities reportedly discovered he had
unwittingly offered assistance to members of the Arakan Army (AA), an outlawed rebel
group. He and prominent Arakanese politician U Aye Maung are now facing serious

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12/5/2018 Arakanese Activist Arrested by Police in Sittwe

charges at Sittwe Court. Local media previously quoted Aung Zaw Lin as saying that
police had questioned him about his ties to Wai Han Aung.

Cpl. Win Htike had been transferred to Yangon a few months prior to his death, but was
temporarily returned to his family in Sittwe last month after he leaked via his Facebook
account in April a false report that seven soldiers involved in the Inn Din massacre of 10
Rohingya villagers had been freed in a New Year’s presidential amnesty.

The false information was reported by Myanmar National Television (MNTV) and quickly
went viral on Facebook. Even the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in
Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, recklessly re-tweeted a false news report repeating the claim
via her Twitter account. She later issued a letter of apology. Before Cpl. Win Htike was
killed, he was publicly threatened on Facebook and some Arakanese even vowed to
kill him as soon as possible.

As of Tuesday, the Home Affairs Ministry’s official Facebook page carried no


information on Aung Zaw Lin’s arrest.

Topics: Arakan Army, Ethnic Conflict, Military Intelligence, Protest, Rakhine

Moe Myint
The Irrawaddy

Moe Myint is  Senior Reporter at the English edition of The Irrawaddy.

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