Authorities have launched an investigation concerning the news of the death of a 16-month old baby in the Naf River and the claims of its father, Zafor Alam, but found no evidence supporting the claims. The investigation is still ongoing, however, according to the Information Committee of the State Counsellor’s Office.
Some foreign news agencies, including US-based CNN and the Daily Mail in the UK, reported that Myanmar border guards opened fire on a boat carrying people trying to escape to Bangladesh in the Naf River, killing at least 15 people, including a sixteen-month old. The photograph of the body, said to be that of Mohammad Shurabart, was sent to its father, who lives in Lada refugee camp, in the neighbouring country, the story claimed.
In the government investigation, authorities found a Zafor Alam in Ushinkya Village, but discovered he has been in prison for two years and learnt that he was not the Zafor Alam in the story after comparing photos used with the story and mugshots of the prisoner. Further investigation revealed that the Zafor Alam referenced in the story lived in Yekhartchaung, Gwazon Village.
Mammaud Zalin, administrator of the village, told authorities that he knew Zafor Alam very well as he lived in the village and his father Dudu Mia and his mother Roset had been working in Malaysia for ten years.
Zafor Alam has two sons, one being three-year old Sofite and the other one-and-a-half-year old Mohammad Shurabart, the village administrator added. Zafor Alam fled to Lada refugee camp in Bangladesh after his house was burnt down, said the administrator. However, he said that he had never heard of a boat fleeing to Bangladesh that had sunk on 4 or 5 December nor of a shooting by border guards that was said to have led to the death of children and women.
Head of 10-household Mammaud Shoree, village clerk Sauli Mollar, village elder Mammad Tarlaung and casual labourer Mammad Rawfee also said that they knew Zafor Alam well and told authorities the same story as the administrator.
Satda Kharton, alias Sawraw Tarkhatu, younger sister of Zafor Alam, said that she recognised the photo of her brother. She said another name of her elder brother was Fafa Sinhu before saying that they had lived at family No. 112 in the village. She told the authorities that her sister-in-law and two of her sons fled to Bangladesh about two months ago and heard that they were dead. However, she said that she had neither heard of a boat wreck nor of women and children being killed by border guards.
Zafor Alam of Ushinkya Village, cited by foreign news agencies, had been serving his prison sentence for offences of the law long before the violent attacks in Maungtaw.
Authorities tried to find Zafor Alam by using the photos of news agencies and found out that he lived in the village, but there was no evidence of a boat sunk by security forces. Authorities are still continuing their investigation.
(Information Committee of the State Counsellor’s Office)