YANGON – A brother of Arakan Army (AA) chief Brigadier-General Tun Myat Naing and five of his colleagues were arrested by Singapore police in separate locations within the city-state this morning, longtime friends of the accused confirm.
Most of the detainees belong to the Arakanese Association-Singapore (AAS), a social welfare organization that contributes relief aid from Singapore to the Arakanese displaced in the north of Rakhine State. The AAS Facebook page, which regularly publishes the organization’s activities, went offline at some point on Wednesday.
AAS Chairperson Ko Hein Zaw and Vice Chair Daw Aye Myat Mon, Communication Official Ko Ye Kyaw Htet and Ko Tin Hlaing Oo were arrested by Singapore police Tuesday. Shortly after, Ko Aung Myat Kyaw, a brother of the AA chief, and Ko Tun Aye were also arrested.
A longtime friend of Ko Aung Myat Kyaw, Ko Aye Tun, who now lives abroad, said that the detainees have nothing to do with the AA. He said the arrests followed a request made in recent months by the Myanmar government to authorities in Singapore.
Another Arakanese living in Singapore told The Irrawaddy under condition of anonymity that all surveillance cameras at the AAS office and some computers and mobile phones were seized by police.
A Singapore authority confirmed the arrests to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday afternoon. They said Singapore police are preparing an official press release about the detentions.
The AA’s deputy chief Brig-Gen Nyo Tun Aung told The Irrawaddy that his organization has received confirmation of the arrests as well.
Last week, the Myanmar military detained two relatives of AA spokesman U Khine Thukha in Ann Township. It was later found out that they are being charged under the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law.
Brig-Gen Nyo Tun Aung said the National League for Democracy (NLD) government and military leaders should stop targeting the relatives of AA members, peace activists and civilians.
“The Myanmar government and military leaders should restrain from arbitrary detentions. They need to patiently and munificently find solutions to the issues. If they are continuously doing this, the situation will only get worse,” he said.
He said he hopes racial hatreds between the Arakanese and Burmese communities do not worsen, and that, to prevent this, the military needs to stop targeting the relatives of AA officials—or else the AA is also capable of targeting the relatives of Myanmar government and military officials too.
However, he said, the AA knows not to follow in the way of its enemies, because that would only make matters worse.
“The Myanmar government and the Tatmadaw need to bravely find solutions, and we are always ready to do so,” he said.
Myanmar President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay was in a meeting and unable to comment when contacted by The Irrawaddy Wednesday afternoon.