Spate of muggings leaves Mawlamyine residents in fear

September 13, 2018

HURFOM: Frequent street robberies in Mon State’s capital, Mawlamyine, have locals feeling unsafe, particularly university students who have private classes at night, according to local residents.

I haven’t been robbed yet, but I’ve read news about robberies very often and I do not dare to go out [at night]. When I have to go out alone for something, I’m really afraid. I feel insecure. I don’t like this situation. We must improve the rule of law in this city,” said Ma May Q Thet Htar, a university student.

Taung Por Street, Taung Wyne (University) Street, the junction near the Mawlamyine airport, Kyaik Toat Pagoda Street, and Myine Thar Yar Ward are particular hot spots for muggings, according to residents.

These robberies tend to occur in deserted places or dark streets where there are no street lights, according to Maung Kyaw Zin Oo, a university student.

Most of the victims are boys because the student dormitory usually closes at 9 pm, and they spend their time in the street until that time. Some couples are on dates at night, and [in one case] the necklace of a girl was robbed when she  returned [home]. Some have been threatened with knives to give up their motorbike. Moreover, robbers come by bike from behind, rob purses, wallets, and/or mobile phones, and then drive away,” said Maung Kyaw Zin Oo.

Taung Wyne (University) Street is one of the riskier streets for muggings as there are no street lights, but now the Tar Tanar Nwe Foundation has installed lights along the street.

The robberies happen as security is weak. In addition, the reporting system [of the police force] is not effective. There are weaknesses in every aspect. Robberies frequently happen because robbers had never been jailed [caught]. People who have tough livelihoods try to solve their problems with robbery. It’s terrible,” said Daw Thi Thi Nwe, a Negotiation Officer with Mitta Zone Zee Foundation.

When the victim of a robbery files a report to the police, it takes a long time for the police to collect the witness’ statement of the robbery. As the legal process takes so long, most of the victims give up on justice.

Even though someone is charged, where there are strong witnesses, the case can easily be manipulated. No one can memorize [the faces of] the robbers who suddenly robbed them. It’s possible to remember them,” said Daw Thi Thi Nwe.

Currently as commodity prices in Burma continue to rise sharply, it has created huge impact for consumers. Daw Thi Thi Nwe believes tough livelihoods are a contributing factor to the rise in street robberies. However, Maung Kyaw Zin Oo sees the increase in muggings do to the use of drugs.

Street robberies are connected with drug addicts. A drug addict can’t live without drugs. So they always must have money to buy them. They need lots of money. I think some of robbers are drug addicts,” said Maung Kyaw Zin Oo.

According to the reports, most of the robbers who have been caught were teenagers and young people.

Even though we can’t install CCTV everywhere, we should strengthen security systems. There is a patrol at night in this city and surveillance police also know where the robbers are [without doing anything about it]. So in this situation, we must take care of ourselves,” said a 40-year-old female who works for women and child rights.

Despite locals increasingly expressing worry over the number of robberies, according to records at the Mawlamyine Police Station, there have been only two reported cases of robbery in 2018.

There were only two cases [of robbery] reported to us. The perpetrators were caught in both cases. If there were more reports about robbery reported to us, our police officers would go to the crime scene, set up checkpoints, and make a thorough investigation,” said Police Major Myint Htay, Mawlamyine Township Police Chief.

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