"AA Frees Five Members of Rival Arakan Liberation Party in Myanmar's West"

By Lei Lei 19 August 2020

YANGON—Rakhine ethnic armed group Arakan Army (AA) has released two senior members of a group Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and three civilian medics it abducted in Rakhine State’s Ponnagyun Township last week.

Among those abducted were ALP First Joint Secretary Khaing Aung Soe Than, liaison office staff member Khaing Htay and three other members who are medics, working for the Rakhine Community Health Workers Association (RCHWA).

According to the ALP, they were detained by the AA while returning from a colleague’s funeral on August 10.

“They were detained by the AA. They said they are fine and not injured. They told me when I got contact with them at 4 pm [on Tuesday],” ALP Lieutenant Colonel Khaing Kyaw Hlaing told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

The ALP’s leaders are currently attending the Union Peace Conference in Naypyitaw and was unable to provide details, he said.

Khaing Kyaw Hsan, a medic with the RCHWA, said: “All the five abducted were released. They were taken for interrogation and released afterwards. I found no injuries on them.”

The ALP said the AA has so far detained party members on four occasions, twice in 2017 and twice this year.

A total of 12 ALP members were detained in those incidents and two managed to escape. There are unconfirmed reports that the AA has killed other detainees.

Lt-Col Khaing Kyaw Hlaing said he did not expect the ALP members detained in 2017 to be released, but asked for the release of those seized in May. The ALP has also accused the AA of killing its members, which the armed group denies.

Based along the borders with Bangladesh and India, the ALP and its armed wing, the Arakan Liberation Army, are an ethnic Rakhine revolutionary group formed in 1967 to fight for equality. The ALP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015 and is participating in the peace process.

The AA is an ethnic Rakhine rebel force involved in fierce fighting with Myanmar’s military.

As the government has declared the AA a terrorist organization, The Irrawaddy was not able to contact the armed group for a comment.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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