Myanmar court jails anti-Rohingya Dr.Aye Maung
DOT Desk: Myanmar court on Tuesday sentenced a prominent ethnic Rakhine leader to 20 years in jail for treason, a verdict likely to intensify anger amid fighting between the ethnic group and the army.
Security forces tried to calm hundreds of supporters outside the court in Rakhine state capital Sittwe as Aye Maung was escorted to a waiting police van following the verdict, writes the Burma Times.
Aye Maung, the former chairman of the Arakan National Party – which is renowned for hardline views against the Rohingya Muslim minority – was sentenced for treason and defamation over an allegedly inflammatory speech in January 2018, a day before deadly riots.
Aye Maung, once the chairman of an ethnic Rakhine political party, was arrested after the unrest for allegedly making an inflammatory speech against the central government.
State-backed media said he railed against the government for treating Rakhine people as “slaves” and said it was the “right time” for the community to launch an armed struggle.
Aye Maung, who faces charges of high treason, incitement and unlawful association, has insisted on his innocence and accused local authorities of a politicized witch-hunt.
The deadly riots exposed the bitter and complex ethnic fault-lines in Rakhine, where nearly a million Rohingya Muslims based further north have fled over the border into Bangladesh since a brutal military campaign began in August.
Members of the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population are accused of assisting the military in a campaign of murder, rape and arson against the Rohingya – violence the UN brands “ethnic cleansing”.
Unlike the Rohingya Muslims, the Rakhine are recognized by the government as an ethnic minority but are often marginalized under a system that favors the nationally dominant Bamar (Burmese).
Edited by Saleem Samad