No action against forestry director after reports of sexual assaults on two female workers

Maungdaw: It has been nearly a month since two young Arakanese women working as day laborers in the forestry department in Maungdaw in Arakan State reported to higher authorities that they were sexually assaulted by the deputy director of the department, but no action has been taken against the assailant yet, said an official from the department.

A signboard of forest department in Maungdaw.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity told Narinjara that the deputy director has admitted to the assaults on the women while being investigated by the forestry regional higher authorities on 27th and 30th of March, but no action has been taken against him.

“After the young women reported the assaults the deputy director U Maung Maung Naing was investigated by our higher authorities’ team who included U Kyaw Soe Khine, the regional director, U Win Myint, the deputy director of Kyaukpru District, and the director of Buthidaung Township on 27th and 30th of March. He admitted to the assaults on the women during the investigations as well. But no legal or departmental action has been taken against him yet”, said the official.

The official added that the authorities’ team has also investigated the officials of the forestry department in Maungdaw as well as other people who included administrators and members of the village that is situated close to the office concerning  U Maung Maung Naing’s case.

One relative of the victims said wife of U Maung Maung Naing came to the victims and asked them to close their cases against him with compensation and threats after he was investigated by the higher authorities.

“The day after U Maung Mung Naing was investigated by the authorities, his wife along with a local NGO worker came to the victims and asked them to withdraw their complaints against her husband, telling them that she would give compensation to them and she also threatened that she would sue them on the charge of defamation if they did not withdraw their complaints”, said the relative.

She said that the victims would continue to lodge their complaints with the organizations of women affairs and would bring their cases to the court of law if the forestry authorities continue to delay to take action against him.

According to sources, the young women were raped by U Maung Maung Naing on separate occasions after they were appointed as day laborers in his department and were persuaded with new clothes and gifts.

A local timber trader also said U Maung Maung Naing has held a meeting with 14 local traders of timber, bamboo, charcoal, firewood and cobble on 7th of April and asked for 20 lakh kyat that was necessary to make an appeal to the director general of forestry U Aye Myint in Naypyitaw and an additional 7 lakh kyat that he has spent receiving the authority investigation team for his cases.

According to the local resident, U Maung Maung Naing’s case with the young women is now the talk of the town in Maungdaw and he has disappeared from public sight.

Narinjara contacted the director of the district forestry department in Maungdaw concerning U Maung Muang Naing’s case, but declined to give any comment.