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Questions over 'assasination attempt' of Myanmar politicians in M'sia
Publication Date : 21-02-2014
Dr Aye Maung and U Aye Thar Aung went back to Myanmar on February 7 to be greeted by a “hero’s welcome” following an attempt on their lives in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
Hundreds were on hand to greet the Arakanese political leaders with banners including one that read, “Islamic terrorists tried to kill our leaders but they escaped.”
This so-called “assassination attempt” has got a lot of traction in the Myanmar media with the politicians milking it for all its worth.
Just like the banner, Thar Aung who is the chairperson of the Arakan League of Democracy blamed “Islamic terrorists” for the attack.
“All Rakhine people in Malaysia and Myanmar understand that these gunmen are Islamic terrorists,” he was quoted as saying by the Myanmar Times
On February 5, the two politicians and their entourage were in their BMW 7 series, supposedly with a Singapore number plate, when a motorcycle pillion rider allegedly shot at them at about 11pm along Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
The gunman escaped from the scene in the motorcycle ridden by an accomplice.
A day before, 88 Generation activist Ko Aung Gyi, who is also from Rakhine, was found dead in nearby Ampang from stab wounds. Police say there might be links between the death and the suspected assassination attempt.
“These Arakanese leaders come to Malaysia frequently but this is the first time that such a thing has happened,” Myanmar Muslim activist in Malaysia who wants to be known as Ahmad told The Star Online.
Dr Aye is the chairman of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and chairman of a commission set up by the Myanmar government to investigate reports of ethnic riots in Rakhine.
The Rakhine leaders were in Malaysia for an event “Political Reforms in Myanmar and the Politics of the Rakhine State” which was held on February 4 at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
While not completely ruling out the assassination attempt, Ahmad believed that it could have been staged to fabricate lies about the Rohingya and to gain the sympathy of people back home.
Many Myanmar media outlets and blogs have said that the Bengali (Rohingya as they are known in Myanmar) were responsible for the attempt on the lives of the group from Rakhine.
The Rohingya who are predominantly Muslim, are said to be one of the most persecuted communities in the world. They face discrimination in Myanmar, particularly in their homeland of Arakan, which borders Bangladesh.
They are not recognised as citizens and are considered to be stateless. They often face violence from the Rakhine people who are predominantly Buddhist.
Mohammad Sadek, programme coordinator of the Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee (RARC) in Malaysia claimed that no Rohingya was involved in the attempted assassination.
“I have checked and no Rohingya person was involved in the attack. Any blame put on the Rohingya is false and is only to defame us.
“If we attack anyone from Myanmar in other parts of the world, our family and friends back home will be attacked. It doesn’t make sense for us to do such a thing,” said Sadek.
He however, acknowledged that there is tension between the Rohingya and the Rakhine people and claimed that Dr Aye was one of the main persons involved in initiating attacks against the Rohingya.
“He led the violence and should be considered a war criminal. How can he head the commission to investigate the violence? They are only going after the Rohingya,” he said.
For the past few years, many Rohingya have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes because of sectarian violence.
Malaysia is home to about 34,000 Rohingya who are refugees and about 85,000 Rakhine people, made up of both refugees and workers.
Last June, clashes allegedly involving Myanmar Buddhists and Rohingya spilled over to the Klang Valley, killing a few and injuring scores of others.
Ahmad said there are a lot of holes in the story of the attempted assassination. He pointed out that those shot at had told the media in Myanmar they had heard the hitman saying “shoot shoot” and that the shooter had a long beard.
“If they are in a car and are being shot at, how can they hear or see anything?,” he asked.
He also said that it would not make sense for the “hitman” to shoot at a moving object and that a proper hitman would have probably waited.
“I’m not sure if it happened in the first place or even if it did, it could be at their own hands,” he said.
He said the whole incident could have been set up to divert attention from the recent slaughter of 40 Rohingya men, women and children in Du Chee Yar Tan village.
The women were reportedly raped in front of their family members as well.
“There has been a lot of backlash from this event. Now that this so called assassination attempt occurred, the news has been diverted,” said Ahmad.
He said that the government could not say anything about the Rakhine people because they would then be accused of not protecting the Buddhists but rather siding with the Muslims.
“The agenda of RNDP is to get 100% control of the Arakan state. They want to wipe out all the Rohingya people living in Arakan,” he said.
Sadek said the Rohingya had been living peacefully side by side with the Rakhine people for centuries.
“We just want to go back to our homeland and live in peace,” he said.