Reports from Arakan State say three U.N. employess appeared before a court for a hearing on their case on Tuesday in the Maungdaw District Court, after being detained by the Nasaka, a border guard force, during the sectarian violence in June.
The Narinjara news website identified the U.N. workers as Cholaymar Khatoon, a female, and two males. Cholaymar was arrested along with a man identified as Ali by the police on June 14, and they were transferred to the Nasaka headquarters in Kyikanpyin, said the website.
Cholaymar was said to be a resident of Thandwe, and she had been working as a U.N. humanitarian refugee agency employee in Maungdaw.
The website, quoting a source close to the court, said, “It was said that she was charged with treason on the allegation that she reported the activities of authorities here abroad.”
“After their hearings, they were brought back to the Nasaka headquarters because they are being held there and not in the police station,” said the source.
The website also reported that rumors have circulated that a person with Doctors without Borders identified as Kyaw Hla Aung from Ma Gyi Myine Ward was also arrested on similar charges and appeared in court on Tuesday, but Narinjara was unable to confirm that report.
The website said the Seven-Day Journal reported that the deputy representative of Doctors Without Borders, Vickie Hawkins, held a press briefing on Kyaw Hla Aung on June 17 after he was arrested and the organization’s warehouse in Sittwe was raided by authorities.
The secretary of the information department of the Arakan State government, Win Myine, however, said no NGO employees were arrest in connection with the recent violence in the region, the website said.
On June 29, Mizzima reported that 12 aid workers representing the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders had been detained in Arakan State during the past few weeks. U.N. officials met with Burma’s foreign minister in Naypyitaw, the capital, to discuss the detentions, but the outcome of that meeting is not known.
On June 16, Reuters news agency reported that police in Buthidaung Township for unknown reasons detained three U.N. staff members, two from the U.N. refugee agency and one from the World Food Programme. All were Burmese nationals.
On June 12, Doctors Without Borders announced it had suspended its operations in parts of Arakan State, saying that its staff members where unsafe in the area.
Official Burmese government figures say up to 79 people were killed in the sectarian violence that racked the region starting in June, driving tens of thousands of refugees to seek safe shelter. International and domestic aid agencies rushed into the area to offer food, shelter and medicine as the violence continued.