By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER
MAUNGDAW, Rakhine State — A Rohingya village official in Buthidaung Township was murdered late on Friday night after speaking to a media delegation visiting strife-torn Rakhine State about militants operating in the area.
Hamid Ullah, the assistant administrator of Tin May village, met with media on Wednesday and told them he was concerned for his safety after providing Maungdaw District administrators with information about militant training camps in the area.
“I have not been provided any security while I have been receiving threats,” he told reporters last week, during a press tour organised by the Information Ministry and attended by Frontier. “I had to hire a security guard for myself.”
Two days later, a group of masked men entered Hamid Ullah’s house and slit his throat while he was sleeping, according to a statement by district security officers.
The incident marks at least the second time a civilian member of the population has been killed after speaking to the media since the beginning of a security crackdown in Rakhine last October.
A Muslim man from Ngakhura village was found dead after disappearing on December 21, one day after speaking to a similar ministry press tour.
Reporters who participated in last month’s delegation have called on local police commands and the Ministry of Information to take more responsibility for the safety of villagers speaking to the media in the region.
“Nothing matters more than a man’s life,” said U Sithu Aung Myint, a columnist for several local news outlets, including Frontier, who was present on both media trips. “I wouldn’t report the news if it meant risking a man’s life. The people who are responsible for these arrangements need to make sure such incidents don’t happen again.”
According to a government statement last month, a total of 31 local residents had been killed or disappeared in Maungdaw District since the insurgent attack on police and border guard posts in October.
The United Nations has estimated that around 75,000 people fled across the border in the wake of the subsequent crackdown by security forces, while a February report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that hundreds had likely been killed in the ensuing violence.