Myanmar soldiers shot and killed an ethnic Rakhine civilian on the outskirts of Sittwe township Thursday night because he did not heed orders to stop his motorbike at a checkpoint during a curfew, a military spokesman said.
It was the second shooting incident of a civilian this week in western Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state.
Chit Su Aung, 26, from Amyintkyun village in Sittwe township, was on one of two motorbikes coming from Ponnagyun township and heading towards Sittwe at about 11 p.m., said Colonel Win Zaw Oo, spokesman for the military’s Western Command responsible for Rakhine state.
The other motorcyclist, Zaw Myint Lwin, arrived at the checkpoint ahead of his friend and stopped when ordered to do so, he said.
“As per our investigation last night, Zaw Myint Lwin, who came ahead of the deceased man stopped and let us check him,” Win Zaw Oo said.
“While we were searching him, the second motorbike drove by and didn’t stop as ordered,” he said. “We shouted at him to stop the motorbike but he didn’t, so we shot at him to stop. He was hit and died.”
Chit Su Aung’s family members told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the man traveled regularly to Ponnagyun township for work and took the road on which he was shot to return home.
The online journal The Irrawaddy reported that Chit Su Aung was employed at a mud-crab company located on the opposite side of a bridge connecting Ponnagyun and Sittwe townships.
Family members also said that they heard Friday morning that Chit Su Aung’s body was in the morgue at Sittwe General Hospital, but they had yet to be officially informed of his death, though The Irrawaddy report said that police had informed the man’s father about his death.
Friend to be charged
Ponnagyun township officials will charge Zaw Myint Lwin for violating a dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been in effect since April in Ponnagyun and four other northern Rakhine townships, Win Zaw Oo said.
Although the curfew is not in place in Sittwe township, Ponnagyun township police chief Major Nyein Chan told The Irrawaddy that the shooting took place in Sittwe’s jurisdiction.
The Rakhine state government put the curfew in place as a security measure in areas where Myanmar troops have engaged in fierce fighting with the rebel Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine group that seeks greater autonomy in the state. The curfew does not apply to those traveling for medical emergencies.
Win Zaw Oo said shooting incidents like the one involving Chit Su Aung will continue to occur if civilians fail to obey security forces at inspection checkpoints in townships where the curfew is in effect.
Commenting on the incident, Oo Hla Saw, who represents Mrauk-U township in the Rakhine state parliament, said residents in the townships under curfew are already afraid of the Myanmar military.
“Local villagers are so terrified of the military,” he said. “They have always run away when soldiers have come carrying arms.”
“They are consumed by thoughts that members of the military are frightening,” he said. “People are gripped by feelings of insecurity.”
Myanmar soldiers also shot Ye Lin Naing, a 25-year-old NGO worker from the global humanitarian and children’s rights organization Plan International, on July 28 as he rode his motorbike through Mrauk-U town’s Kyauk Yitkay ward.
He failed to immediately stop at a checkpoint when ordered to do so, because he was traveling at a high rate of speed, an eyewitness told RFA in an earlier report. But when he eventually slowed down and turned around, he was hit in the chest by gunfire.
Ye Lin Naing, who has been charged under Myanmar’s Counter-Terrorism Law for having a grenade in his motorbike toolbox, remains in critical condition at Sittwe General Hospital.
Reported by Zin Mar Win for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.