Family of murdered Rohingya teacher calls for investigation

Relatives of a Rohingya man who was murdered in northern Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township last week say they expect to see a full and transparent investigation into his death.

The victim, 48-year-old volunteer teacher Shekul Islam, was shot dead by unknown assailants near his home village of Gutapyin on Sunday, according to his niece, US-based activist Wai Wai Nu.

“They shot at him from some bushes along the side of the road. After the first two shots, he got off of his motorcycle and dropped to the ground. He stayed there for some time, until he thought the shooters were gone. But when he got up, they shot him dead,” she said.

She said the incident occurred while Shekul Islam was leaving his home after returning to feed his animals. Gutapyin has been largely deserted since late last month following clashes in the area between the military and the Arakan Army (AA).

Rohingya teacher Shekul Islam was murdered by unknown assailants on October 8 (Supplied)

According to Wai Wai Nu, locals say they believe the AA was responsible for the killing. The group has had troops stationed near Gutapyin since last month’s fighting, while junta forces have occupied the village itself.

The military reportedly took the victim’s wife in for questioning on the evening after the murder, while the AA did the same with his nephew and mother-in-law.

“Personally, I believe what the villagers say. I think it was the AA that did it. I just want their organisation to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and for the truth to prevail,” said Wai Wai Nu.

Myanmar Now attempted to reach AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha for comment on the accusations that the group was involved in the murder, but all calls went unanswered.

According to Arakan Princess Media, a news outlet close to the AA, Shekul Islam was killed by junta soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 210 based at Gutapyin’s school and mosque.

The AA has also released statements in recent months warning that the military might attempt to incite religious and racial conflict in northern Rakhine State amid growing tensions between junta and AA forces. 

Shekul Islam, who had a masters degree in physics, had previously been targeted by Myanmar’s military in 2016, when he was arrested, tortured, and sent to Buthidaung Prison, from which he was released 15 months later.

In 2018, the Associated Press reported that it had confirmed the existence of five mass graves in Gutarpyin following an investigation into alleged atrocities against Rohingya civilians committed as part of the military’s “clearance operations” in northern Rakhine the year before. Many of the bodies found in the graves were disfigured with acid to prevent identification.

According to Nay Myo Thet, an army captain who defected from the military in January of this year, a court martial held to try those responsible for the massacre was merely a “performance” to hide the military’s crimes.

“The Judge Advocate General … fabricated incidents as the military wanted… and got rid of the evidence of the acts of terrorism the military committed,” he said, speaking to Myanmar Now in April about his own involvement in the operations.

Related Articles

Back to top button