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Man arrested after Myanmar unrest

August 14, 2013

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A man accused of posting online photos from violent clashes between displaced Muslims and security forces was arrested in Myanmar’s restive state of Rakhine, police and an activist said Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear what charges Than Shwe, a 29-year-old Rohingya Muslim, would face.

A police officer who refused to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the man was trying to cause trouble during the visit of U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana, who was touring the strife-torn region.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation that only recently emerged from decades of isolation and military rule, has been wracked by sectarian violence in the last year with more than 250 people killed and 140,000 others displaced.

Most of the victims have been Rohingya Muslims.

Tensions have been high in hardest-hit Rakhine, home to most of the internally displaced, who have little access to food, water, work or basic services. They have clashed several times with security forces in recent months.

The most recent unrest occurred after the body of a fisherman was found in a creek near Ohn Taw Gyi camp on Friday, said Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing, who called it a drowning.

But rumors quickly spread that the man had been beaten to death by police.

“He was bleeding from both ears. It looked like he had been smashed in the face by a rifle butt, all his teeth were gone,” said Aung Win, a well-known Rohingya activist who saw the body before burial. “This wasn’t a drowning. He was pretty clearly beaten and tortured.”

A dispute over the death and custody of the body sparked several riots, which were broken up by police who fired first into the air and then into the crowd, Win Myaing said.

One person was killed and 10 others injured, he said.

Than Shwe, who works for an organization that delivers food and supplies to camps for Rohingya Muslims, was accused of posting images of the dead and injured online, Aung Win said.

Twenty officers went to his home at 4 a.m. on Monday and brought him to the police station, he said.

Update hourly