The leaders of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) have vowed to take revenge for the detention of one of their senior members by the Arakan Army (AA).
The powerful Rakhine ethnic armed organization seized Lieutenant Colonel Khaing Paw Lin, a key figure in the ALP, on August 2 from his house in Narzi Ward in Sittwe, the Rakhine State capital, said the ALP.
The ALP and its armed wing the Arakan Liberation Army are an ethnic Rakhine revolutionary group formed in 1967 to fight for equality. They are based along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh and India. The ALP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in 2015.
On Sunday, the ALP detained a resident of Narzi Ward, Ko Aye Ko, in connection with the AA’s abduction of Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin. Another man, Ko Kanache, escaped arrest, ALP spokesperson Khaing Kyaw Soe told The Irrawaddy.
“A group of people from Narzi Ward are responsible for the arrest of Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin. We learned that they were assigned by the United League of Arakan [the political wing of the AA]. They arrested Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin and handed him over to the AA. We have detained the people who are involved in the arrest. We have strong evidence. We can’t tolerate anymore. We will also arrest other accomplices,” said the ALP spokesperson.
The ALP had opened an office in Narzi Ward and Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin was helping rehabilitate former drug users, said ALP leaders.
Junta soldiers were involved in the arrest of Ko Aye Ko, who the ALP accuse of being involved in the Lt-Col’s detention. Ko Kanache was injured in his leg after regime troops opened fire as they attempted to arrest him, but still managed to escape, said locals.
“Around 20 people were involved in the arrest. Some of them were speaking Burmese. It appears that Ko Kanache resisted arrest. I heard gunshots. Maybe they fired shots at him as he ran away,” said a Narzi resident.
ALP spokesman Khaing Kyaw Soe denied that shots were fired or that regime soldiers were involved in the arrest.
U Myat Tun from the Arakan Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association said: “It panicked residents when the ALP made an arrest in the ward. As the ALP is a NCA signatory, it should not engage in acts that frighten the people.”
Along with ALP leader Daw Saw Mra Razar Lin, Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin attended the peace talks staged by the military regime in June in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw.
The AA has previously detained at least ten ALP members, all of whom it is still holding, said ALP central executive committee member Khaing Aung Soe Than.
On August 3, the ALP released a statement calling for the release of Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin, saying his arrest could harm the unity of the Rakhine people and Rakhine groups marching toward the same goal of equality for Rakhine people.
However, the AA has remained silent about Lt-Col Khaing Paw Lin’s detention.