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Burmese Police Stages Interview with Rohingya Cleric after Landmine Explosion

RB News
September 23, 2017

Buthidaung -- The Burmese (Myanmar) Border Guard Police (BGP) staged an interview with a Rohingya cleric in northern Buthidaung on Friday (Sept 22) afternoon after a landmine explosion occurred in the premise of the 'Fir Saab' Islamic Religious Institution in the morning.

The interview – with an influential cleric named 'Mv Qutub Uddin' conducted by the BGP themselves and posted on the Facebook page of the Office of the Burmese Army Commander In-Chief -- looks fake, forced and pre-decided in which the BGP had him blame ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) for the landmine plantation and attempting to destabilize the region. 

Regarding the staged video interview with the cleric, a villager commented "the religious leader was one of the villagers who fled from the village to escape from mass-killings by the Burmese military. He was forcibly brought back to the village by the BGP for the video interview because he's an influential religious person. Even you can feel when you watch the video carefully that he was feeling uncomfortable; and being forced and directed on what he had to say."

Locals believe that the Burmese army have planted the anti-personnel landmine which exploded accidentally.
"The Burmese soldiers have encamped at the religious institution site twice. One infantry unit numbering around 30 troops used the building for 1 week from August 29 and another did for 4 days from September 10", said a local villager to RB News.

Another villager said "the Burmese military summoned some villagers from neighbouring villages for a meeting at the religious site on September 19. That is a 2-storey building. Some military held the meeting with the villagers at the 1st floor and some other remained at the ground floor. I suspect they planted the landmine meanwhile. No armed groups have come or done any activities here."

Nobody was injured or killed in the landmine explosion yesterday morning. We reported briefly about the landmine explosion on twitter at around 12:30pm (Myanmar Time) on Friday and later it was reported by the (Myanmar State Counsellor) Information Committee and the Office of the Burmese Army Commander In-Chief by shifting the blame on ARSA. 
A human rights activist based in Maungdaw said "when you have explosive materials, it's not difficult to make landmines. So, that is even easier for the Burmese soldiers to make. So, shifting the blame on ARSA just on the basis that the landmines were hand-made is pretty amateurish. This could be another attempt by the Burmese military to target civilians and their properties in the name of operations against ARSA.

"Besides, I don't see any reason why ARSA, who are Muslims, would plant landmine inside the premise of an Islamic Religious Institution. The whole incident seems conspired."

Amnesty International and CNN News have reported about targeted plantation of anti-personnel landmines by the Burmese military amidst Rohingya areas in northern Arakan.

[Reported by RB Correspondent in Buthidaung; Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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