By David Stout
Burmese authorities have arrested 30 people for their suspected role in the murder of ten Muslim pilgrims in Arakan state’s Taungup township on 3 June.
According to an article published in the New Light of Myanmar on 1 July, “further action will be taken against the arrested suspects in accordance with the laws to ensure community peace and prevalence of law and order.”
Police also arrested 19 people who are suspected of attacking a police station in Arakan’s capital Sittwe on 3 June.
The investigation team, led by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, was formed five days after the attacks.
The union-level team was given a 1 July deadline by the Burmese government to investigate both incidents that helped spark the sectarian rioting that consumed Arakan state for most of June and highlighted the tensions between the area’s Buddhist Arakanese and Muslim Rohingya residents.
Government officials report that at least 80 people died in the rioting that also led to the displacement of tens of thousands and destruction of more than 2,000 homes.
Earlier this month, a district court in Kyaukphyu sentenced three Muslim men to death for raping and killing Thida Htwe – the Arakanese woman whose death incited the retaliatory attack on the pilgrims who had no connection with the incident.
One of the convicted men had already committed suicide while incarcerated but was still posthumously sentenced.
The sectarian riots have proven to be one of the most disconcerting events to occur since Thein Sein’s government took power more than one year ago and even prompted the president to appear on state TV where he warned that the violence threatened the country’s nascent reform process.
A state of emergency is still in place in Arakan state.