Myanmar Military Arrests Three Rakhine Women for Alleged Ties to Arakan Army

By Lei Lei 30 July 2020

YANGON—Police in Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu Township have opened cases against three local women under the Counterterrorism Law for allegedly funding the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic rebel group actively fighting the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw.

“As the Myanmar military has filed lawsuits against them, we have opened cases. The plaintiff is the Myanmar military,” Police Captain Kyaw Zaw of the Kyaukphyu Township Police Station told The Irrawaddy.

According to a statement on Tuesday from the Myanmar military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team, Myanmar military troops arrested alleged AA supporter U Nyi Nyi Tun, a resident of Yenan Tun Village, on July 18. After the military troops interrogated him, they then arrested three women from the same village on July 22.

In its statement on Tuesday, the military claimed that troops seized a camouflaged uniform without a badge and two police uniforms with insignias and badges from the house of one of the women, Daw Khin Myo Swe. The military has accused her of soliciting support for the AA in the township. The military accused two other women, Daw Hla Than Khin and Daw Pyar Ma, of collecting “protection money” and food for the AA from local residents.

“We have said time and again that we will take actions under the Counterterrorism Law,” military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy.

In March, the Myanmar government and the military designated the AA as a terrorist organization under the Counterterrorism Law and an “unlawful association” under section 15 (2) of the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act.

The three women face charges under Section 50 (j) of the Counterterrorism Law, which prohibits “financing terrorism”, as well as Section 52 (a), which prohibits activities that “knowingly involve a terrorist group.” They face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

“Myanmar military troops summoned them and took them immediately without talking to anyone else or looking for any evidence,” said Rakhine State lawmaker U Kyaw Lwin of Kyaukphyu Township. “As far as I know, there is no evidence [that the three women supported the AA]. That they made arrests based on the account of one individual reflects that the rule of law is quite poor.”

The lawmaker described the three women as pillars of the community in their village and said he believes they are wrongly accused.

The Myanmar military has filed lawsuits against dozens of local residents in northern Rakhine on suspicions that they have ties to the AA.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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