Burma

AA Chief Does Not Want Myanmar’s Strikes and Protests in Rakhine State

By The Irrawaddy 12 April 2021

The Arakan Army (AA) chief, Major General Tun Myat Naing, says he does not want Myanmar’s civil disobedience movement (CDM) and street protests spreading to Rakhine, saying they will disrupt the armed group’s attempt to secure greater autonomy.

In his Rakhine-language address on the 12th anniversary of the AA’s founding, Maj Gen Tun Myat Naing wrote: “We don’t want the CDM and street protests in Rakhine State. We have the ‘Way of Rakhita’. We have our goals. While we are taking concrete strides towards those goals, it is important not to get confused over other issues.”

The AA chief, however, said the armed group would assist all ethnicities, including the Bamar majority, achieve their political targets.

Myanmar’s CDM against the military regime has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 by six academics at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Though the AA does not support the CDM in Rakhine, the message said the armed group grieves over the deaths and injuries, arbitrary detentions and violation of human rights during the junta crackdowns.

Rakhine State has seen few street protests since the February coup and there have been no major crackdowns by the regime.

Myanmar’s military and the AA have observed an unofficial ceasefire since November 2020 but the two sides are yet to reach any permanent agreement, the AA chief said.

“Though there is no fighting, this temporary truce is fragile without any concrete agreement and we can’t be militarily inattentive,” said Maj Gen Tun Myat Naing.

Clashes broke out in northern Rakhine in late 2018 and continued until November last year. The AA kept silent after the military seized power in the February 1 coup.

Following the military’s murderous crackdowns on peaceful protesters, the Brotherhood Alliance of the AA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army released a joint statement on March 30 asking the regime to stop the violence.

The tripartite group attacked a police station in Lashio in Shan State on Sunday as the AA celebrated its founding anniversary. At least 14 police were killed in the attack, causing concerns that fresh clashes may erupt in Rakhine.

A member of a civil society organization in Mrauk-U in northern Rakhine said: “There is no fighting in Rakhine but troops from the two sides have not withdrawn at all. The military has increased its deployments and reinforced its camps. As the Brotherhood Alliance attacked a police station in Shan State, fighting may break out again in Rakhine.”

The AA did not previously have popular support in southern Rakhine. However, due to the junta’s large-scale violence against civilians elsewhere in the country, the armed group is increasing its support in Taungup, Thandwe, Ramree, Manaung and Gwa. The armed group has been able to establish strongholds in all 17 townships across Rakhine, according to analysts.

The military has also put its troops and police on alert in Rakhine State since early April. Over 230,000 people were forced from their homes during the two-year conflict with the AA and over 180,000 remain in displacement camps.


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