APHR: Urgently investigate violence against Rakhine protesters in Myanmar

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JAKARTA — The killing of at least seven protesters by police in Myanmar’s Rakhine State last week was a tragic event, which must be urgently investigated, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said today.

“From reports, police action appears to have been wholly disproportionate in this case,” said APHR Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament. “The incident should be thoroughly and impartially investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable.”

On the night of 16 January, police opened fire on a crowd of Rakhine Buddhist protesters in Mrauk-U Township, Rakhine State, killing at least seven people and injuring at least 12 others. The demonstrators had gathered to protest the authorities’ cancellation of an event commemorating the 233rd anniversary of the end of the Arakan kingdom.

“The events in Mrauk-U further emphasize serious concerns about the conduct of Myanmar’s security forces and the lack of accountability for their actions. The impacts of these actions on ethnic minorities are particularly acute, as this and numerous other recent events demonstrate,” Santiago said.

On 18 January, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi called for an investigation into the incident and assured that action will be taken against those found to have broken the law.

“The relevant authorities must act quickly on the State Counsellor’s call and take all steps necessary for an effective investigation. It is the responsibility of the Myanmar government and military to ensure that all people, regardless of their ethnic or religious background are able to enjoy their rights to free expression and peaceful assembly,” added Santiago.