Myanmar: Rohingya Muslim man’s headless body found in river after speaking to journalists

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The Independent Online

The body of a decapitated Rohingya Muslim man has been found in a river in in Myanmar just days after he spoke to journalists.

The man had spoken to Burmese reporters on a rare Government-sanctioned media tour of an area within the Rakhine state, which has been on lockdown for more than two months since its border posts were attacked by militants.

The 41-year-old man had told media about army repression and that local villagers were involved in attacks, the BBC reports.

His family raised concerns with authorities following the media tour. The man’s headless body was found in a river on Friday.

Police Colonel Thet Naing in Maungdaw town told AFP: “On Thursday his family said he had disappeared after giving interviews to journalists.

“This afternoon I got the report his headless body was found. We have confirmed from villagers that it is him,” he said on Friday.

A picture of the headless body was also posted to Facebook with the text: “Truth teller beheaded.”

Coordinated attacks on 9 October killed nine police officers and sparked a military operation in northern Rakhine. The government of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, also known as Burma, blamed Muslim Rohingyas supported by foreign militants.

State media has reported at least 86 deaths and the United Nations says 34,000 people have fled to Bangladesh.

The violence poses a challenge to Aung San Suu Kyi's government and has renewed international criticism that the Nobel laureate has done too little to help the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar.

The UN’s Human Rights Office said it has received daily reports of human rights abuses including rape and murder carried out by the army against the Rohingyas. Hundreds of buildings in Rohingya villages have reportedly been burned.

The military has denied these reports, claiming it is carrying out counter-terrorism operations and has suggested the Rohingya set fire to their own homes.

The police and the state counsellor’s office have not said who is responsible for the Muslim man's death, but authorities have linked the killing to his co-operation with the government, appearing to point the finger at Rohingya insurgents. The state counsellor's office said the man had been decapitated after he had denied stories of Myanmar military abuse when he was speaking to reporters.

On Monday, a man was found dead with stab wounds, which the government claimed is the second murder in under a week of a Rohingya who co-operated with authorities. 

A Rohingya community leader, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, told Reuters many Muslims were sceptical about the government's account of the beheading.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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