Taungup: The killing of ten Muslims in a mob attack on a bus in Taungup in southern Arakan State was the result of a lack of protection by law enforcement in accordance with the laws, said a local resident who witnessed the attack.
“If the army or police had controlled the mob, they would have been able to save the victims in time. They knew the situation well, but the did not do anything to control the mob or protect the victims. The attack did not happen instantly. They were just in the situation of pulling and pushing for a long time. As the authorities did not do anything to control the situation, such a sorrowful incident eventually happened,” said the resident.
He added that army and police personnel were just behind the mob while the attack was happening.
“I don’t know how the problem would be tackled by the authorities. The police and army forces were there when the mob was beating the victims, but they did not do anything to control the mob or protect the victims. The attack happened right in front of their eyes. So, it was just a matter that the law enforcers did not do what they should have during the attack,” he added.
A woman from Taungup also confirmed that the police and soldiers were at the scene when the attack happened.
“The policemen and soldiers were there on the spot when the attack was happening, but they did not prevent the attack and did not say anything to the youths to stop their attack on the victims. They were just watching the attack with their hands folded,” said the woman.
Residents said local authorities were aware of the situation and had the means to prevent the attack because the mob was very noisy along the road as it followed the Roma Thitsar Bus that departed from its station in downtown Taungup carrying the victims. The mob was able to stop the bus outside of town because some of them had followed the bus on motorcycles, they added.
According to an unconfirmed report, the bus was said to have driven into the compound of the immigration department on the road as the mob followed it, but responsible officials in the department forced the bus to back out, saying they could not take any responsibility because the bus was carrying Muslims.
U Khin Hla, Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Taungup, told the VOA Burmese program that the Muslims were killed due to the lack of law and order in his hometown.
“I think such an incident happened due to the lack of law and order because it happened in broad daylight just around 4:30 pm, and it was also not just an incident in which a man hacked and killed another and ran away. I think the officials who are working for the rule of law and order in the country are very responsible for such an incident,” said U Khin Hla.
When contacted by Narinjara, Daw Saw Mra Razar Lunn, Chairperson of the Rakhine Women’s Union, also said, “I think rule of law is very necessary for [such violence]. The authorities should carry out the rule of law in the country, so the people, regardless if they are Buddhist or Muslim, are able to live together peacefully. Anyone who commits a crime should have action taken against them in accordance with the existing laws.”
Taungup is situated as the main gateway for travel to central Burma from Arakan State. The authorities are said to have sowed anti-Muslim sentiment among the people of the town in order to help prevent Muslim migration and settlement into central Burma from the region.