Four police officers were detained after video footage of Rohingya Muslims being beaten in Rakhine state went viral. In a rare admission from a government that has denied any allegations of human rights abuses and violence against Rohingyas, the State Counsellor’s Office released a statement saying the officers would be punished.
The video was shot by a policeman in November during a search of Koe Tan Kauk village for people suspected of involvement in a deadly attack on guard posts the previous month in which nine police officers were killed, according to the Irrawaddy.
Aung San Suu Kyi faces international criticism for failure to either acknowledge or take action against the violence, and tensions remain high. Army officials told a meeting of Rakhine representatives that “grave security threats posed by Bengali Muslims” — they refuse to call them Rohingyas — would require local people to take up weapons against them, according to online media Coconuts Yangon.
The local representatives were mostly sympathizers with Ma Ba Tha, a Buddhist nationalist movement known for hate speeches against Muslims that have resulted in violence.
Third suspect arrested over reporter’s murder
A third suspect was arrested last week in connection with the beating to death of Eleven Media journalist Soe Moe Tun, whose body was found on December 13 in the city of Monywa, in northwestern Myanmar.
The victim’s family told the Myanmar Times that they believed Soe Moe Tun’s death was related to his latest work. He was investigating timber smuggling and KTVs that doubled as brothels. KTV staff were among the last people to have phone contact with the 35-year-old journalist before his death. The manager and the supervisor of a Karaoke club were arrested on December 19.
Armed clashes continue in Shan State
Daily clashes continue in Northern Shan State between the Myanmar army — known as the Tatmadaw — and the Northern Alliance, composed of four ethnic armed groups and led by the powerful Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
The ethnic rebels were recently joined by a splinter group from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army. The original DKBA was itself a 1994 breakaway from the armed branch of the Karen National Union. Then the group split again, and this faction clashed with the Tatmadaw and a military-backed militia composed of former DKBA members two months ago.
According to the Myamar Times, some soldiers led by Commander Win Zaw Oo have already surrendered because they disagreed with the decision to join the Northern alliance. On the other hand, another DKBA leader, Colonel San Aung, told the Irrawaddy that they “have moved to a new area to continue [their] revolution.”
Kachin pastor, church youth leader still missing
U Naung Lat, pastor at the Mong Koe Kachin Baptist Church, and U Gam Seng, a youth leader at the church, are still missing after having disappeared on December 24th. The two men haven’t been seen since they left the church compound to meet Tatmadaw officials.
The church was allegedly blown up by the army in December. The official Global New Light of Myanmar said the church was in fact damaged when ammunition stored there by the Northern Alliance exploded. According to local sources quoted by the Myanmar Times, the two Kachin men were helping reporters investigating a story on the destruction of the church before their disappearance.
Garment sector good bet for FDI
The garment industry could be the key to attracting foreign investment, Maung Maung Lay, vice chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers and Commerce Industry, told the Irrawaddy.
While heavy manufacturers are hesitant to invest in the country because of uncertain power supply and issue over land and transport, light industry needed mainly manpower and factories, both of which are available, he said.
“Power supply was a major issue for investors,” he was quoted saying. “They told us they couldn’t produce products by candlelight so they couldn’t promise investment.”
Myanmar is aiming to attract US$6 billion in foreign direct investment by the of the fiscal year in March 2017. As of mid-December, however, FDI had reached onlyUS$3.65 billion, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission.