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Chapter On Tipu Sultan Dropped From Class 7 Textbook In Karnataka: Report

Bengaluru: The chapter on controversial 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan and his father Haider Ali are among those that have been dropped from the class 7 social science textbook, following the Karnataka government’s decision to reduce the 2020-21 syllabi due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the chapters on Tipu Sultan have been retained in the class 6 and 10 books, official sources told news agency Press Trust of India.

According to news agency PTI, the revised syllabus uploaded on the Karnataka Text Book Society (KTBS) website shows that in class 7, social science text, chapter 5 that deals with Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, Historical places of Mysore, and Administration of Commissioners have been dropped.

The Department of Public Instructions decided to reduce the syllabus for the year 2020-21 in view of the pandemic and disruption in the academic calendar for the year, that has been brought down to 120 working days.

Responding to a question on dropping the chapter in class 7, officials said it should be noted that the students study about Tipu Sultan from classes 6 and 10.

A couple of months ago, amid the growing clamour from some BJP leaders to remove a chapter in the textbook glorifying Tipu Sultan, the government had constituted an expert committee to look into it.

The committee however had recommended that the ruler cannot be ignored from the school syllabus.

Commenting on the development, Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar said that the BJP government was taking such decisions with a political agenda in mind.

Pointing out that Tipu Sultan was a historical figure, Mr Shivakumar had said “History is history…you cannot change history. We will not accept it. Congress will take it seriously by setting up a committee to look into it.”

Soon after coming to power, the BJP government in Karnataka had scrapped the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan, an annual government event the party had been opposing since 2015 when it was launched during the Congress rule, led by Siddaramaiah.

The BJP and some other organisations have been strongly opposing Tipu Sultan, calling the erstwhile Mysore king a “religious bigot”.

Tipu Sultan was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatnam against the British forces.

Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe that thousands of their men and women were held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.

He was also accused of execution of Mandyam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Deepawali as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.

However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, as they see Tipu Sultan as a ruler who took on the might of the British.

While BJP and some other organisations see Tipu Sultan as a “religious bigot” and a “brutal killer”, a few Kannada outfits call him “anti-Kannada”, saying he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language

Environment

Scientists Develop Artificial Intelligence to Identify Individual Birds So Humans Don’t Have to

The researchers trained the AI models to recognise images of individual birds in wild populations of great tits and sociable weavers and a captive population of zebra finches, some of the most commonly studied birds in behavioural ecology. After training, the AI models were tested with images of the individuals they had not seen before and had an accuracy of over 90 per cent for the wild species and 87 per cent for the captive zebra finches.

According to the researchers, for AI models to be able to accurately identify individuals they need to be trained with thousands of labelled images. Companies like Facebook are able to do this for human recognition because they have access to millions of pictures of different people that are voluntarily tagged by users. But, acquiring such labelled photographs of animals is difficult and has created a bottleneck in research.

The researchers were able to overcome this challenge by building feeders with camera traps and sensors. Most birds in the study populations carried a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, similar to the microchips implanted in pet cats and dogs. Antennae on the bird feeders were able to read the identity of the bird from these tags and trigger the cameras.

AI methods like the one shown in this study use a type of deep learning known as convolutional neural networks, these are optimal for solving image classification problems.

In ecology, these methods have previously been used to identify animals at a species levels and individual primates, pigs and elephants. However, until now it hasn’t been explored in smaller animals like birds. This model is able to identify birds from new pictures as long as the birds in those pictures are previously known to the models,” said the study authors wroteScientists Develop Artificial Intelligence to Identify Individual Birds So Humans Don’t Have to
In the study, published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, the research team describes the process of using AI to individually identify birds. This involves collecting thousands of labelled images of birds and then using this data to train and test AI models.

Scientists Develop Artificial Intelligence to Identify Individual Birds So Humans Don’t Have to
Researchers have demonstrated that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to train computers to recognise individual birds, a task that humans are unable to do.

“We show that computers can consistently recognise dozens of individual birds, even though we cannot ourselves tell these individuals apart,” said study lead author Andre Ferreira from the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE) in France.

“Our study provides the means of overcoming one of the greatest limitations in the study of wild birds – reliably recognising individuals,” Ferreira added.

In the study, published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, the research team describes the process of using AI to individually identify birds. This involves collecting thousands of labelled images of birds and then using this data to train and test AI models.
The researchers trained the AI models to recognise images of individual birds in wild populations of great tits and sociable weavers and a captive population of zebra finches, some of the most commonly studied birds in behavioural ecology. After training, the AI models were tested with images of the individuals they had not seen before and had an accuracy of over 90 per cent for the wild species and 87 per cent for the captive zebra finches.

According to the researchers, for AI models to be able to accurately identify individuals they need to be trained with thousands of labelled images. Companies like Facebook are able to do this for human recognition because they have access to millions of pictures of different people that are voluntarily tagged by users. But, acquiring such labelled photographs of animals is difficult and has created a bottleneck in research.

The researchers were able to overcome this challenge by building feeders with camera traps and sensors. Most birds in the study populations carried a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, similar to the microchips implanted in pet cats and dogs. Antennae on the bird feeders were able to read the identity of the bird from these tags and trigger the cameras.

AI methods like the one shown in this study use a type of deep learning known as convolutional neural networks, these are optimal for solving image classification problems.

In ecology, these methods have previously been used to identify animals at a species levels and individual primates, pigs and elephants. However, until now it hasn’t been explored in smaller animals like birds. This model is able to identify birds from new pictures as long as the birds in those pictures are previously known to the models,” said the study authors wrote.

Society

5-Year-Old Telugu Boy from UK Raises Rs 3.7 Lakh for Covid-19 Relief by Cycling for 3,200 Km

London:
Manchester resident Aneeshwar Kunchala started a cycling campaign in May called ‘Little Pedallers Aneesh and friends’ in May. Under the campaign Aneesh, along with 60 other children, embarked on a 3,200 km journey on bicycles.

Not just India, the five-year-old also started a cricket championship to support UK’s National Health Survey (NHS) in fighting the pandemic in Britain, The Times of India reported.

In previous reports, it was revealed that Aneeshwar had been inspired by the 100-year-old British veteran Sir Thomas Moore who helped raise over Rs 3,17,34,32,199 (nearly 40 million) to help the medical fraternity in UK by walking 100 laps of his garden with the help of his walking aid.

READ: 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore Raises $8 Million for NHS with Walk in His Garden

Photos and videos of Aneeshwar have flooded social media since then. Andrew Fleming, the British High Commissioner to AP and Telangana, shared the boy’s amazing feat on Twitter.

The little boy has since become a star in the UK with several British politicians paying Aneeshwar a visit.

Warrington South MP Andy Carter paid the boy, whose parents are from Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor, a visit. MP Charlotte Manager is also set to mee Aneeshwar on august 6.

In a May a six-year-old boy named Tony Hudgell went viral in the UK for similar reasons. The little boy from Kent had had his legs amputated as a baby following horrific abuse by his birth parents. Now six, the boy led a walking campaign to raise Ra 1,39,47,000 for the hospital that saved his life as a baby.

Defence

India’s Rafale Vs China’s J-20: Which is the Better Fighter Plane?

The first batch of five Rafale jets took off from France on Monday and will be arriving in India on Wednesday, when the much-awaited fighter jets will officially be inducted and join the Indian Air Force fleet at the Ambala air base in Haryana.

The Rafale aircraft will cover a distance of nearly 7000 kms from France to India with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop en route in UAE. The Indian Air Force pilots and supporting personnel have been provided full training on aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault.

The Indian embassy in France said the event marked a “new milestone” in strong and growing India-France defence cooperation. The embassy also released a short video titled “Beauty and the Beast”, showcasing Rafale jets ready for take off.

Indian ambassador Jawed Ashraf was there to see off the Rafale aircraft. He also met the Indian pilots and congratulated them on becoming the first ones to fly the world’s most advanced and potent fighter aircraft and wished them success.

“These five Rafale jets are extremely swift, versatile and very deadly aircraft, they’re both beauty and beast. I would like to thank Dassault for delivering aircraft on time and French Government and French Air Force for all the support,” said ambassador Ashraf.

India ordered 36 Rafale jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016 as an emergency purchase to arrest the worrying slide in the IAF’s combat capabilities.

Acting on a special request by the IAF, France has accelerated the deliveries of Rafale fighters to India — five jets are coming instead of four that were originally planned to be delivered in the first batch.

France handed over to India its first Rafale fighter during a ceremony attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, in Merignac on October 8 last year.

The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed by the end of 2021, said the Indian mission in France.

India’s Rafale Vs China’s J-20: Which is the Better Fighter Plane?

The French Dassault Rafale is about to be inducted into the Indian Air Force. It will be the IAF’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Across the LAC, it has to take on China’s Chengdu J-20. Here is a head-to-head comparision.The French Dassault Rafale is about to be inducted into the Indian Air Force. It will be the IAF’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Across the LAC, it has to take on China’s Chengdu J-20. Here is a head-to-head comparision.

The Indian Air Force will induct its first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter planes on 29 July, at the Ambala air force station. Following their induction into the 17th squadron, the Rafale will be one of the IAF’s most advanced aircraft in its fighter fleet.

In the context of the recent troop and fighter plane deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), here is a comparison of the Rafale with its equivalent in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

PLAAF operates a range of fighter planes, including Sukhoi SU-27, SU-30MKK and SU-35S, Chengdu J-7 and Chengdu J-10. But since Rafale is one of the most technologically advanced aircraft of the IAF, it is only fair to compare it with the Chengdu J-20, China’s most advanced fighter aircraft.

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multi-role fighter aircraft and considered to be in the 4.5 generation category. The J-20 is a single-seat, twin-jet, all-weather, stealth, 5th generation fighter aircraft developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation.

Here is a look at the specifications of the two fighter planes.

Radar systems are used to detect enemy aircraft or any other targets. China has not provided any official information on the radar used in the J-20. However, according to reports, this fighter plane uses an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). The same radar system is used by the Rafale as well. AESA is considered one of the most advanced radar technologies in the world.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh put some flowers as a ritual gesture on a Rafale jet fighter during an handover cermony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, on 8 October.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh put some flowers as a ritual gesture on a Rafale jet fighter during an handover cermony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, on 8 October.(Photo: PTI)
Does that mean that they have equal capabilities? Not really. How the radar system is optimised using different avionics and technologies makes all the difference.

One of the key technological features on the Rafale is its electronic warfare suite – SPECTRA.
SPECTRA protects the aircraft against airborne and ground threats. Various methods of detection, jamming, decoying and a highly re-programmable system capable of analysing threats better, makes it extremely difficult to detect and shoot down a Rafale.

Reportedly, the Rafale’s radar and SPECTRA system make up around 30 percent of the plane’s cost.
On the other hand, the J-20’s AESA radar comes with a chin-mounted infrared/electro-optic search and track sensor. The Chinese also claim that a passive electro-optical detection system in the J-20 gives its pilot 360-degree coverage of the battlefield. We’re told that the plane is also capable of accessing real-time data from Chinese military satellites.

The Rafale’s stores management system is Mil-Std-1760 compliant, which provides for easy integration of customer-selected weapons.

With its 10-tonne empty weight, the RAFALE is fitted with 14 hard points (13 on the RAFALE M). Five of them are capable of drop tanks and heavy ordnance. Total external load capacity is more than nine tonnes (20,000 lbs.). Hence, RAFALE can lift the equivalent of its own empty weight in payloads.

“Buddy-buddy” refuelling missions can be carried out in portions of the airspace out of reach of dedicated and vulnerable tanker aircraft.

With its outstanding load-carrying capability and its advanced mission system, the RAFALE can carry out both air-to-ground strikes, as well as air-to-air attacks and interceptions during the same sortie.

It is capable of performing several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles during a very low altitude penetration phase: a clear demonstration of the true “OMNIROLE” capability and outstanding survivability of the RAFALE.

International

Government Bans 47 More Chinese Apps in India After TikTok, 58 Others Banned in June: Report

The government has banned 47 Chinese apps in India. Near the end of June, 59 Chinese apps had been banned by the government to “protect national interest and security” — including the hugely popular TikTok app. Now, almost 50 more apps have been banned, for operating as clones of the previously banned apps — the list of particular apps banned in the fresh decision is yet to be announced. However, it has been reported that the announcement would take place officially shortly. The government earlier banned apps including CamScanner, SHAREit, and UC Browser, among others. That ban was announced under the provisions of Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

The 47 apps that have been banned by the latest decision of the government were operating as the clones of the 59 apps that were banned last month, according to a tweet posted by DD News. A report by India Today TV, citing government sources, said that the government had also prepared a list of over 250 apps that would be examined for any user privacy or national security violations.

It is believed that some top gaming Chinese apps including PUBG Mobile would be a part of the new list of banned apps. However, the government is yet to release the details pertaining to the development.

Disaster

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas donate to Assam flood relief; say ‘They need our attention and support’

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas, who are one of the most loved couples in town, are currently in Los Angeles amid lockdown. Earlier, the couple made donations to PM CARES fund and UNICEF to help the daily wage workers and their families amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, they have come forward and made a contribution towards Assam flood relief.
Priyanka and Nick have also asked their fans to help during the time of crisis. They took to social media and shared a few organisations to make the donations. Taking to her Instagram story, Priyanka wrote, “While we are all still dealing with the effects of the global pandemic, the Indian state of Assam has been grappling with another major crisis. It has been devastated by floods triggered by heavy monsoon showers affecting the lives of millions. The impact to life and land/property is unimaginable. The rapidly rising water level has also flooded the Kaziranga National Park, one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in the world.”

She further wrote, “They need our attention and support. I’m sharing details of a few credible organizations that are doing some good work on the ground in Assam, and Nick and I have made a donation to each. Let us support them so they can continue to help those in need.

Even Nick shared the same on his Instagram story and urged his fans to come forward and help the people.
Meanwhile, Priyanka recently celebrated her birthday with Nick and her family in the US. She even took to Instagram and shared a cozy picture with Nick and wrote a sweet note for him. She wrote, “To the greatest joy of my life. 2 years ago on this day you asked me to marry you! I may have been speechless then but I say yes every moment of everyday since. In the most unprecedented time you made this weekend so incredibly memorable. Thank you for thinking of me all the time. I am the luckiest girl in the world! I love you @nickjonas

Human Rights

Gross violation of Human Rights in Rakhain state of Myanmar

by Param-Preet Singh:

In August 2017, the desperate plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims grabbed headlines when the military’s brutal campaign of murder, rape and other abuses forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. In 2019, the United Nations-backed Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar warned that the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar’s Rakhine state faced a greater than ever threat of genocide because of the government’s attempts to “erase their identity and remove them from the country.”

Despite repeated resolutions from the U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly condemning these atrocities, Myanmar faced few consequences. That bleak reality changed in November 2019 when Gambia filed an application before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state violated various provisions of the Genocide Convention. Myanmar must now answer for its brutal treatment of the Rohingya before a credible international tribunal.

The court has already signaled how serious it is about its scrutiny. In its January 2020 unanimous order on provisional measures, the ICJ found that Myanmar had not presented “concrete measures aimed specifically at recognizing and ensuring the right of the Rohingya to exist as a protected group under the Genocide Convention.” The court directed Myanmar not to commit and to prevent genocide, and to preserve any evidence of allegedly genocidal acts committed against the Rohingya.

Myanmar, as a party to the Genocide Convention, is legally bound to comply with the court’s order, and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has acknowledged the court’s role as a “vital refuge of international justice” in settling this dispute.

But what does compliance with the court’s order look like?

What Myanmar is Doing

Prior to its first report to the ICJ on the implementation of the order, submitted in late May of this year, the Myanmar government issued presidential directives to ensure that officials do not commit genocide, to prohibit the destruction or removal of evidence of abuses, and to denounce and to prevent the proliferation of hate speech.

The impact of these directives on the ground, however, has been nonexistent. The government has a long history of failing to conduct credible investigations into alleged war crimes and rights abuses by its security forces. For example, rather than serving as a stepping stone toward meaningful accountability, Myanmar’s recent court-martial conviction of three military personnel for crimes against ethnic Rohingya victims in actuality, is merely one aspect of ongoing government efforts to evade meaningful accountability, by scapegoating a few soldiers rather than seriously investigating the military leadership who oversaw the atrocity crimes.

In reality, the situation for civilians in Rakhine state has actually worsened over the past year, as the armed conflict between the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group, and Myanmar’s military has increased insecurity across the state and displaced as many as 160,000 civilians. Hundreds of ethnic Rakhine and dozens of Rohingya civilians have been killed in the fighting. Myanmar’s announcement of new military clearance operations raises concerns of further risks to civilians.

Preventing genocide is also not just about preventing further violence. The Rohingya in Rakhine state are subject to “oppressive and systemic restrictions” on freedom of movement and access to food, health care, and humanitarian assistance, all of which may be indicative of the Myanmar government’s intent to destroy the group in whole or in part. And these conditions are only getting worse.

The Rohingya trapped in refugee and displaced persons camps and villages face growing threats from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research at Human Rights Watch has found that Myanmar authorities are using Covid-19 response measures as yet another pretext to harass and extort Rohingya in central Rakhine detention camps, doubling down on a system in which they are already effectively incarcerating the population.

What Myanmar Should be Doing

There are plenty of concrete measures Myanmar’s government could take to protect the vulnerable Rohingya remaining in Rakhine state and, in doing so, demonstrate actual compliance with the ICJ’s order.

For instance, the Myanmar government continues to severely restrict Rohingyas’ access to health facilities, with life-threatening consequences. Last month the government reported that from September to December 2019, at Sittwe General Hospital – the main health facility in Rakhine state and the only hospital most Rohingya can access – fewer than a thousand patients treated were Rohingya, suggesting that many Rohingya are unable to secure needed hospital care. The government could and should urgently lift the restrictions that prevent Rohingya from accessing equitable health care – such as eliminating a medical referral system, removing financial barriers, and increasing ambulance services.

Further, a slew of discriminatory laws isolate the Rohingya in their own country and legitimize discrimination, including the 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively prevents Rohingya from obtaining Myanmar citizenship, and leaves many Rohingya, including children, stateless. The government should repeal the discriminatory legal framework that targets the Rohingya, including the 1982 Citizenship Law, and establish a procedure that ensures that Rohingya are able to obtain full citizenship without discrimination.

Government restrictions on humanitarian access in Rakhine state remain pervasive and insidious.
Myanmar authorities have responded to the Arakan Army conflict by imposing new restrictions on aid, movement, media, and the internet since January 2019. Humanitarian access has been restricted in eight of Rakhine state’s 17 townships, leading to shortages of food, medicine, and shelter for the Rohingya, ethnic Rakhine and others living in affected areas, and making it difficult or impossible to deliver lifesaving supplies. The government should lift these blanket restrictions on aid delivery and grant humanitarian groups and U.N. agencies immediate, unrestricted, and sustained access to all conflict-affected civilians, including Rohingya.

These are only a few of the steps Myanmar could take to protect the Rohingya if it was serious about implementing the ICJ’s provisional measures order. But Myanmar’s non-compliance is not necessarily set in stone, especially in the face of persistent diplomatic pressure to change course.

While a final determination by the ICJ is most likely years away, the court’s provisional measures order has already unlocked a vital framework to meaningfully assess what Myanmar is – and isn’t – doing to protect the Rohingya in Rakhine state from genocide.

Ultimately, it’s up to individual governments, both in their bilateral dealings with Myanmar and collectively through the U.N., to raise the political cost of Myanmar’s continuing non-compliance.

While diplomacy – often driven by consensus about what the political market will bear despite the ugliest of facts – is needed to push for enforcement, the ICJ’s judges are not subject to these forces. Instead, they are bound by the law’s application to the facts presented.

Regardless of what enforcement measures are ultimately taken, Gambia’s genocide case against Myanmar means that the rights of the Rohingya and the atrocities they have suffered cannot be easily forgotten in the face of the latest crisis or political discomfort. As the Rohingya poet Ali Mayuu eloquently puts it, “the gate of justice is just opened.” (Editors Note: This article is part of a special Just Security forum on the ongoing Gambia v. Myanmar litigation at the International Court of Justice and ways forward.)

Human Rights

Citizenship Act, NRC: San Francisco becomes sixth US city to censure both moves

San Francisco has become the sixth city in the United States to censure the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, media reported on Wednesday.

In its city council meet on Tuesday, the Alliance for Justice and Accountability along with other local San Francisco organisations worked on a resolution to declare CAA and NRC as an act “to render millions of people among minorities and caste oppressed stateless”. American Institute of Islamic History and Culture, San Francisco Interfaith Council, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and the San Francisco Muslim Community Center were part of this.

Seattle, Albany, Saint Paul, Hamtramck and Cambridge have also passed similar resolutions, calling CAA and NRC “exclusionary and bigoted”.

San Francisco is standing on the right side of the history, said Hala Hijazi, commissioner of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Hijazi, also a board member of the San Francisco Muslim Community Center as well as the San Francisco Interfaith Council, said the city was leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the legislation. “When genocidal campaigns begin, one important intervention is the international condemnation, and the Bay Area community feels a deep sense of solidarity with their elected, as the time to stand against the Indian government’s Islamophobic policies is now,” she added.

The Alliance for Justice and Accountability said that the use of religion as a criterion for granting citizenship is a “flagrant violation of all norms of secular democracies”, adding that it was inconsistent with India’s Constitution that guarantees equality before the law for people of all faiths.

“These genocidal projects happen in the shadows and this resolution highlights the significance of standing up for South Asian minorities, Muslims, and caste oppressed communities,” said Sharmin Hossain of the Equality Labs, a human rights start-up.

She added that thousands of organisers across the country have called for the resolution to be amplified to ensure it is an example for cities across the US to not stand on the “side of genocide”.

CAA and NRC
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.

Around 70 people were killed in protests that erupted across the country after the Act was passed. These stopped in March after the nationwide lockdown was in place to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The National Register of Citizens is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, resulted in the exclusion of 19 lakh people. Critics fear that the CAA when used in conjunction with a proposed National Register of Indian Citizens will allow the government to force many Muslims to prove their citizenship.

Human Rights, Indigenous People

Civilian Who Died in Custody in Myanmar’s Rakhine State Killed Himself, Military Says

SITTWE, Rakhine State—One of six residents of Alel Chaung Village in Rakhine State’s Yanbye Township detained by Myanmar army troops on Saturday killed himself while being held for interrogation, according to the military.

Alel Chaung Village administrator U Myint Lwin told The Irrawaddy that Yanbye (formerly Ramree) Township Police Station told him to pick up the body of U Soe Myint Tun on Tuesday.

“Yanbye Township Police Station phoned me and told me that he killed himself by hanging. So, together with his family members, we brought the body from Ma-Ei Hospital,” he said.

Many Rakhine people have expressed doubts about the claim that the 37-year-old man took his own life. His relatives asked in vain for a postmortem examination report from the hospital. His funeral was held on Wednesday.

According to local residents, Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) troops, including some from Kyaukphyu-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 34, arrived in Alel Chaung Village on Saturday and detained six men, arresting them at their homes or at the farms where they worked, U Myint Lwin said.

“[The troops] didn’t tell me why they arrested them that day. They only said they had things to ask them, and would release them after interrogation, and that we would be informed,” he said.

The soldiers reportedly arrested U Soe Myint Tun while he was working on his farm. Still in detention are U Maung Tun Win, 44; U Zaw Lwin, 35; U Maung Myint Tun, 37; Ko Myet Wun, 25; and Maung Nyein Chan, 20.

All the detainees are farmers, and they are not involved in unlawful activities, local villagers said. Family members of the five other detainees have not been allowed to visit them.

The head of the Yanbye Township Police Force, Police Major Zaw Win, said he did not know about the case, other than being asked by Taungup Police Station to inform U Soe Myint Tun’s relatives of his death.

“We were not involved in the arrests. And we were not told about it, and we therefore do not know about the case. We just informed [the relatives] because Taungup Police Station asked me to do so,” Police Maj. Zaw Win told The Irrawaddy.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Myanmar military-run Tatmadaw True News Information Team said the military kept each of the six detainees in isolation at Ma-Ei Police Station. It said U Soe Myint Tun was found dead at around 6.30 p.m. on Monday, having untied his restraining rope and used it to hang himself.

The military said that according to security personnel, two suspicious men had arrived in Alel Chaung Village on a motorbike via the Minchaung Bridge at around 8 p.m. on June 23. It was confirmed that the two men are members of the Arakan Army (AA), according to the statement. Based on the accounts of the two, the Myanmar military arrested the six from Alel Chaung Village for interrogation, it added.

During the Tatmadaw’s conflict with the AA in Rakhine State, 18 civilians have died during interrogation by the Myanmar military in Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Rathedaung townships.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko