Maungdaw Police Demand Money to Release Villagers

Twelve villagers from Maungdaw North in Arakan State have been held at Maungdaw Police Station on suspicion of murder since 22 August when they were arrested by the Burma Border Guard Police (BGP), according to Hakim, a villager.
He said: “On 29 July a villager called Salmat age 55, son of Siddique Ahmed of Pawet Chaung Village in Police Area 5 went to a neighbour’s house during the night to meet a woman, Zarina Khatoon, age 35, [not her real name] as storm Komen was starting in Maungdaw, they then had illicit relations. Zarina Khatoon’s husband was not at the house, he went abroad 10 years ago.”

Hakim said whilst the couple were together in the house other people came to the house and hacked them to death.

The next day, 30 July, a group of policemen went to the village. they inspected the scene of the crime and asked some villagers questions before returning to the police station. They did not arrest anyone at that time, according to a village elder who did not want to be identified.

But more than three weeks later, on 22 August, the police came and arrested 12 villagers. Those arrested included Kamal Hussain, age 45, son of Sher Muluk, according to one of his relatives.

According to family members of the arrested people the police then asked the arrested people to pay 500,000 kyats each to secure their release.

According to a local youth the villagers are now afraid that the police will arrest more villagers in relation to the murder case and they are living in fear of being arrested.

A businessman from Maungdaw Town said that police wait for such opportunities to extort money from local villagers or fabricate cases that enable them to extort money. He said when such cases arise some people will be arrested and will pay money to be released, some will be sent to jail and some of those who are unable to pay any money will flee from their homes and never return.

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