Election 2020

Calls For Myanmar Govt to Scrap Terrorist Label for Arakan Army

By Min Aung Khine 12 January 2021

Sittwe, Rakhine State — A lawmaker from the Arakan National Party (ANP) submitted a proposal to the Rakhine State parliament on Monday, urging for the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA), to no longer be regarded as terrorist groups.

“If permanent peace is to be built, the terrorist label must be removed as it poses obstacles to the peace process,” said U Tun Tha Sein, who put forward the proposal.

The government declared the groups to be unlawful associations and terrorist organizations in March last year.

The AA on Nov. 12 called on Myanmar’s military and government to hold elections in parts of Rakhine State where voting in the Nov. 8 general election was canceled for security reasons. Within hours, Myanmar’s military welcomed the AA’s request.

Guns have fallen silent since then and residents are having a peaceful life for the first time in more than two years, said U Tun Tha Sein.

“There were clashes for nearly two years, but after the two sides issued statements, there has been no gunfire. And people can live peacefully and farmers can harvest their paddy until late at night. These are the benefits of the ceasefire,” said the lawmaker.

U Tun Tha Sein of the Arakan National Party. / Rakhine State Parliament

U Kyaw Zaw Oo, the vice-chairman of Arakan Front Party and Rakhine State lawmaker for Sittwe Township, said the revocation of the AA status as a terrorist group is the precondition for the two sides to build peace.

“Removing the ULA and AA from the terrorist group list is the first step in the peace process. Only after that step is taken, will we be able to move forward to further steps in solving the issues of Rakhine State. This is the view of our party,” he told The Irrawaddy.

U Tun Aung Thein, a parliamentarian for Buthidaung Township, seconded the proposal and no one objected to the discussion.

The Tatmadaw (military) and AA are in discussion about how to hold elections in areas of Rakhine State where voting was canceled on Nov. 8.

Voting was not held in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Pauktaw, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Myebon townships and parts of the state capital, Sittwe, Kyaukpyu and Taungup townships.

Translated from Burmese Thet Ko Ko

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