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Rohingya activist held after Facebook post

UN Special Rapporteur calls for release of activist who posted photo from clashes between Rohingya and security forces.

Last Modified: 15 Aug 2013 12:12
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The arrest of the activist coincides with UN human right envoy's visit in Rakhine state [Reuters]

An activist has been arrested in Myanmar after posting photos on Facebook from violent clashes between displaced Muslims and security forces in country’s restive state of Rakhine, police and an activist have said.

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 authorised to speak to the media said on Wednesday that the man was trying to cause trouble during a visit by UN special rapporteur on human rights.

Tomas Ojea Quintana was touring the region after the deadly clashes.

Quintana has urged the state government to release the activist, Thailand based The Irrawaddy newsmagazine reported.

Aung Win, a well-known Rohingya activist said said that Than Shwe’s wife called Quintana on Tuesday and told him that her husband had been detained.

"He [Quintana] told our community leaders that he has already told the government to release all people who have been detained, included Than Shwe," said Aung Win, according to the Thailand based newsmagazine.

At least one person was killed and around 10 injured after the clash in a camp for dispossessed Rohingya Muslims last Friday, in the latest violence in Rakhine state, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said.

Police torture

The most recent unrest occurred after the body of a fisherman was found in a creek near Ohn Taw Gyi camp, 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, 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.

Than Shwe, who works for an organisation 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 Monday and brought him to the police station, he said.

The United Nations has called for dialogue following the latest unrest.

"UNHCR is reiterating its call for peaceful dialogue and confidence-building between the [internally displaced persons] and government," spokesman Adrian Edwards said in Geneva.

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.

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