Arakan Conference Calls for Creation of ‘Arakan Army’

Rakhine, Buddhist, Muslim, religious conflict, Rohingya, nationalism, Myanmar, Yangon, inter-communal violence, minority right, human rights

The Arakan National Conference was held in Kyaukphyu Township. (Photo: Facebook / Arakan National Conference)

RANGOON — At a conference in Arakan State’s Kyaukphyu Township in recent days, Arakanese Buddhist politicians, monks and community leaders have called for the creation of an “Arakan National Defense Army” that would protect Buddhist residents from Muslim communities in the state, a conference organizer said.

The five-day Arakan National Conference, which wrapped up on Thursday, was the biggest gathering of ethnic Arakanese representatives in decades and was held amid an ongoing, deadly conflict, which since 2012 has pitted the state’s Arakanese Buddhists majority of about 2.3 million people against the approximately one-million strong Rohingya Muslim community in northern Arakan.

Nyi Nyi Maung, a spokesperson from Arakan National Conference, said the majority of the participants supported a proposal by Buthidaung Township representative Tun Aung Thein to ask the central government for permission to create the Arakan National Defense Army.

“This decision came out from our analysis of the current situation in our region,” he said. “This decision represents all people in Arakan and the government has to seriously consider it.”

Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann and the President Office’s Minister Aung Min, who is usually tasked with holding peace talks with ethnic armed groups, attended the conference in recent days.

Nyi Nyi Maung said Arakanese participants were unsatisfied with current security measures, in particular in the northern Arakan townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, where the majority of the population is Muslim.

The regions, as well as other conflict-affected townships around the state capital Sittwe, already have a heavy security presence, with armed police and military units controlling every aspect of the lives of the Rohingya, while also enforcing rules that segregate Buddhist and Muslim communities.

Arakanese nationalist groups and state authorities have been accused by international human rights groups of carrying out a campaign of organized violence against the Rohingya in order to ethnically cleanse Muslim communities from the state. Security forces stand accused of committing a range of rights abuses against the Muslim community with impunity.

Tun Aung Thein, the Buthidaung representative, said the Arakanese would now like to have their own armed units in order to protect Buddhist communities.

“In Buthidaung and Maungdaw, we have very few of our Arakanese people. Therefore, we have no security. Our people face threats almost every day even though there are police and army,” he said. “All representatives supported my proposal for our Arakan Army.”

The Arakanese in western Burma, like many other ethnic groups, faced repression by the Burman-dominated military during junta rule and formed their own armed rebel groups. The organizations are small and only have a few hundreds fighters based in Kachin rebel-controlled Laiza and Karen rebel areas near Mae Sot, Thailand.

Tun Aung Thein said these units could form the basis of a new Arakan National Defense Army, adding, “Our Arakan [rebel] army said they are ready to serve their people.”

Nyi Nyi Maung said all ethnic armed groups were in talks with the central government about political autonomy through the creation of a federal union and a local security role for their fighters. “This is why our Arakan people need to have our own army… this will help our future planning and will also help during the current conflict,” he said.

The Arakan National Conference also discussed how the impoverished state could gain greater benefits from the abundant oil and gas reserves located off its coast in the Bay of Bengal, which are currently being exported and used to fund central government coffers. “We held discussions about our natural resources and we want a 50 percent share for our people,” said Nyi Nyi Maung.

He said conference participants also planned for their leaders to exert influence in the Emergency Cooperation Committee (ECC), which will coordinate aid operations in the region and comprises state and central government officials, UN agencies and international NGOs, as well as Arakanese community leaders.

“We will work with the central government, which will let us monitor all work from humanitarian aid groups… Aid groups that have some problem with the locals have to come under control of the ECC,” Nyi Nyi Maung said.

Many Arakanese oppose international aid for the Rohingya and view the UN and NGOs as biased towards the Muslim community because of aid operations for the Rohingya, who suffer from a lack of access to food, health care and education.

In late March, Arakanese mobs attacked UN and NGO offices in Sittwe and ransacked about two dozen buildings, bringing aid operations to a temporary halt.

President Thein Sein in his monthly radio address on Thursday warned that the Sittwe riots were “universally unacceptable, and should never have happened. We will not accept this kind of behavior, and action against the offenders is being taken.”

He said the ECC had been set up to improve cooperation between “government, international organizations, and representatives of civil groups. The public will be consulted and closer attention given when carrying out peace, stability and development work in Rakhine State.”

Additional reporting by Khin Oo Thar.

8 Responses to Arakan Conference Calls for Creation of ‘Arakan Army’

  1. Now demanding Arakan Army, what other things to demand is left, that is Arakan Independent State.
    it is shameful that stating the land belong to Rakhine Buddhists alone. This Awakyunt peoples never learn history of Arakan. The name Arakan is not Rakhine language. Rakhine has no written Alphabet character. They use Myanmar charafcter (for example Kagyi, Hka kawe & etc )
    Can any one show to international community that they have own Alphabets? Because so call Arakanese Buddhists are belong to Tibeto-Burman ( Tibet-Myanmar tribe ). This peoples have their ultimate goal is that to create New Rakhine Kingdom which was the dream of U sein Dar ( Late Monk ) from Kan-htaunggyi village of Myebon Township, Kyaukpyu district. RNDP party leadership is dangerous for the Myanmar and also for the Muslims of Burma. If these peoples do not change their behavior and attitude toward the Muslims of Arakan and Muslims of Myanmar, some thing has to be prepared for their safety by the Myanmar government in coordination with UN and OIC.

    Therefore what Myanmar president said all Muslims has to support.

  2. This is a road map to destruction Other states will demand their rights to form their own army by giving all sorts of lame excuses to make their own gain Here IS to exterminate the Rohingyas
    their sole inAStention is to exterminate all the Rohingyas and form a seperate Arakan nation As the rebels are now free to fight on two fronts ie, politically and insurgency Bravo What a Master Plan Killing two birds with one stone Carry on your diabolic Plans Before you use to kill animals for your surgery, now you can living human beings. And Arakan will be a bloodbath and a violent torn land with Anarchy torn land with Anarchy. Then where is the sovereinity of Myanmar which you always take pride and say Sovereignity this sovereignity that U Ye Htut.And all the other states will fallow this Theory. But I promise you, your dreams will never come true Mr VET Aye Maung because if and only IF you have succeeded in forming an Arakan state who the hell will support your new nation in the UN. THINK TWICE. The international and the superpowers will not sit idle if you Genocide the Rohingyas. Because Justice still prevails. Think ABOUT former Yugoslavia. Do you know where are Malosovic, Karadic and Maladic. They massacred Bosnian Muslims and they are now IN THE International Criminal Court or ICC. Malosovic died in his ordeal at ICC, He has gone to hell. And the the other two are fighting for their life in the ICC. May be your turn is coming soon.

  3. Myanma Star Forever

    Oo Maung Gyi, aren’t you ashamed of your history knowledge? Who are the Moghuls? The all-powerful emperors of Indian subcontinent? They were Mongols (the name Mughal is the corrupt form of Mongol). Then look at the Indonesians and Malaysians – the Bhumiputras, they don’t look like a Bengali like you. In your penmanship I again and again read racist remarks, why? Arakan Army will be consisted of not only Rakhine, but also Muslim Kamans and other indigenous people of Arakan. Because there wasn’t an Arakan Army, the Maungdaw could not be controlled immediately when fanatic prayer goers from mosques came out with heavy knives and cans of petroleum to kill Rakhine and burn whatever non-Muslim thing was there. As a responsible citizen you cannot support those marauding fanatics. Have you forgotten the killing of a police officer by Muslim fanatics at Ducheeratan, and then crying for help because the villagers ‘have been attacked’? Then can you remember the abduction of military engineer corps members from the border? If the Arakan ARmy was there such attacks into the sovereignty of Myanmar would not have happened. You may have your views, but for the sake of the sovereignty of Burma, creation of Arakan Army, or any other armed forces is an unavoidable choice.

  4. New comer Bengali Rakhines want to show old inhabitant of Arkan state that they are patriotic and have very good feeling for Rakhine state. One of the tactics for show is kicking out Rohingya from Arakan state by blaming them as recent migrant from Bangladesh. The new Rakhine migrant from Bangladesh are cunning and they know how to play dirty game. They have triumph card to negotiate with Mainland Burmese Government and that is the Revenue from sale of gas. Burmese Government will not allow any substantial portion of GAS revenue for Rakhine state. Hence allowed to Rakhine extremist to do as they wish with shut the mouth of Rakhine extremists.

    • Myanma Star Forever

      If ‘New comer Bengali Rakhines’ are so cunning, how more cunning are the Bengalis who crossed the border illegally and settled like thieves, and demand to be the real indigenous people of Rakhine? Because the Rakhines have been kicked out of Bangaldesh, but these Bengalis have been planted into Rakhine, invented a name for them, doctored the real history of the land … and have been creating problem after problem, including fanatic attacks and riots, and then crying victim, to prove that they had no hand at killing police officers, murdering law enforcers and military personnel, mass killing peaceful people including doctors and teachers, and committing arson on the property of the citizens of Burma.

  5. The fools are holding Ministerial posts in Burma. Ye Htut and Khin Ye shamelessly discussed Rakhine History. and lectured Burmese people about the origin of Rakhine state as if they had graduated from Oxford with thesis on Rohingya. Read and listen to the real learned man who got PHD on this specific Rohingya subject , Dr. Abed and Noble prize winner Dr. San, what they are saying. When Dr. Aye Chan was asked about Rohingya with a solid proof from a reference book, he accepted the word Rohingya. In Burma it can happen, no wonder. In Than Shwe era , Than Shwe advised to extract oil from Castro seeds and waste huge amount on that. Current President Thein Sein advised to drink milk. His colleagues are suffering various disease due Alcohol addiction.

  6. Myanmar and Rakhine had lived like a family, not always smooth, but in national emergency they help each other out. We are brothers.

    Two exodus from northern India, one 900 BC [Pyinsarlayit/Kaulia conflict with the loser Kaulia conflict settling in Tagaung, Second 600 BC [at the time of Buddha]- Tharwuhtti/Kapilawut conflict with the loser Kapilawut settling in Kyaukpadaung and Arakan,the latter group got mixed up with Malar-YU and from the known FOUR dynasties.
    Thank You my Arakan brothers for saving Thai siege [Byarnar-rit]on Toungoo, after the pasing of Bayin-Naung at Hantharwaddy, Saturday ,April 26, 1600 AD. We respect your resolve to survive this 1.3 billion strong army which has vowed to take over the world. WE may not survive, but Myanmar and Rakhine shall live and die in comaradary , with our last thought of Buddha teachings- Dokkha-Aniisa- Anatta- and emrging out to eternal bliss. .

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