RANGOON — Central executive committee members of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), the political wing of the Arakan Liberation Army, were threatened with arrest by Col. Htein Lin, the security and border affairs minister of Arakan State, ALP spokesman Khine Myo Tun said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Htein Lin summoned ALP representatives for questioning about a statement from the party on April 24. The statement lodged several allegations against the Burma Army, including accusations of the military having committing war crimes, breaking the Geneva Convention and other aspects of international law, removing locals from their land, forced labor and the capturing and sometimes killing of villagers in conflict zones.
It claims members of the ALP could act as witnesses to the alleged abuses.
Khine Myo Tun told The Irrawaddy that Htein Lin and Arakan State’s police chief, Sein Lwin, asked the ALP representatives to provide evidence for their statement because the Burma Army had received criticism from foreign NGOs and governments.
“They told us that if we can’t provide concrete evidence, they’ll arrest us. We replied that we can substantiate this; that’s why we released the statement in the first place. I asked them what they would do if I gave them video footage. Would they take action, without hesitation, to charge the soldiers who’ve committed these crimes? But they said this will take time,” Khine Myo Tun said.
The footage in question is supposedly two files showing murders and more than 20 villagers from various villages being exploited for labor. According to Khine Myo Tun, Htein Lin warned ALP representatives that Friday was their last chance to hand over the footage.
However, a representative of the group said, “We won’t deliver [the clips] silently. We will hold a press conference and distribute them to everyone. And we will invite Htein Lin, the chief minister and government officials to take the footage from the press conference,” though the date for such a conference has yet to be determined.
The Irrawaddy was unable to reach Htein Lin or Nyi Pu, the National League for Democracy (NLD) chief minister for Arakan State, on Thursday for comment, though Htein Lin’s assistant did confirm that the colonel had met with ALP members earlier.