YANGON—The leader of the Arakan Army (AA) has said the armed group detained the chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) for Buthidaung Township, Rakhine State for planning to organize a rally in support of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Supporting the people who committed war crimes against humanity, especially in the region where the locals are suffering, is negligent and very rude, such that we cannot accept it,” Major General Tun Myat Naing, the leader of the AA, told The Irrawaddy.
In addition, he said that the rally’s organizers needed to inform or seek permission from the AA in the Buthidaung area.
U Ye Thein, the chairman of the NLD office in Buthidaung Township, went missing on Wednesday night as the party was planning to hold a rally in support of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense in The Hague.
“It seems he cares nothing about the situation. We need to question him, so we brought him with us,” said Maj-Gen Tun Myat Naing.
However, he didn’t say when the local NLD chairman would be released.
State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been in The Hague, Netherlands, leading Myanmar’s legal defense against the case brought by The Gambia to the ICJ alleging that the military’s operations in 2017 that pushed over 700,000 Rohingya from their homes in Rakhine State constituted genocide.
Three members of the Northern Alliance group—AA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA)—issued a statement supporting the case at the ICJ for taking international legal action against Myanmar for genocide and war crimes, though the statement did not refer to the Rohingya by name.
An NLD spokesperson condemned the AA’s actions and said that U Ye Thein is working in the region peacefully.
“This is threatening the people. The problem should be solved between the two armed groups [the Myanmar military and the AA], not involving the party. [U Ye Htun] has nothing to do with the battles,” said Dr. Myo Nyunt.
Earlier in December, Maj-Gen Tun Myat Naing told The Irrawaddy that the AA is monitoring the activities of members of Parliament and government officials in the region in which the group operates, including Rakhine State and Chin State’s Paletwa Township.
He also said that if anyone on the AA’s watch list commits any action against it, the armed group will respond.
In early November, U Whei Tin, a Chin State Upper House lawmaker from Paletwa, was abducted and remains in AA custody. The AA said that the lawmaker had contacted the military and was disrupting the AA’s activities.
When asked by The Irrawaddy if arresting politicians violates democratic norms, the AA chief said he has no trust in Myanmar’s nascent democracy.
“Our Rakhine people are suffering from mountains of war crimes being committed by the government. In this area, where even Rakhine politicians are being oppressed, after all the things the government has done to us, it is not realistic to talk about democratic norms only when [the government] suffers,” said the AA chief.
Translated from Burmese by Zarni Mann
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