Myanmar’s Arakan Army, Allies Set to Resume Fight Against Tatmadaw Over Civilian Killings
By The Irrawaddy 30 March 2021
The Arakan Army (AA) and its two partner ethnic armed groups in the Brotherhood Alliance said they are ready to join forces with all ethnic people in fighting against the Myanmar military regime if its brutal killing of anti-coup protesters continues.
The tripartite Brotherhood Alliance, which groups the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA); Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA); and the AA, condemned the military junta on Monday after the civilian death toll from its lethal crackdown on anti-regime protesters rose to at least 510 nationwide.
Fighting for greater autonomy in Rakhine State in the country’s west, the AA has become one of the most formidable forces taking on the Myanmar military over the past two years. Fighting between the AA and the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) intensified steadily from November 2018 to early November 2020. The conflict caused hundreds of civilian fatalities and left more than 200,000 residents displaced. The regime recently removed the AA from its list of “terrorist” groups after fighting between the two sides paused in November.
AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha told The Irrawaddy it is time for ethnic organizations to join hands to protect oppressed civilians from the military regime. “We must do our best to protect the lives and property of the oppressed people,” he said.
They urged the coup leaders to enter a dialogue to solve the crisis by political means, as people across the country have been calling for an end to military rule, the release of all civilian leaders and other detainees, and for the regime to accept the results of the 2020 general election.
The AA, TNLA and MNDAA warned the military that they would collaborate with other ethnic armed organizations and pro-democracy supporters to defend themselves from the regime’s brutal crackdown if the violence continued.
Despite the military’s ongoing lethal crackdowns against anti-regime demonstrators, people across the country continue to take to the streets to oppose military rule. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has detained a total of 2,574 people, including Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, other politicians, activists and pro-democracy supporters.
Khaing Thukha said, “They are treating civilians very cruelly. Innocent civilians are being brutally shot and killed by the military every day. Arbitrary arrests and looting of people’s property are on the rise. We strongly condemn the inhumane acts of the Burmese army and police.”
Prior to the coup, the Brotherhood Alliance had been negotiating individual bilateral agreements between each member and the military to cease fighting, and declared a unilateral ceasefire in support of the negotiations. After the military coup, they extended their unilateral ceasefire until March 31.
TNLA spokesperson Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw said, “We condemn the crackdown. We also mourn together with the families of the fallen protesters.”
He said the Brotherhood Alliance is considering ending its unilateral ceasefire.
The TNLA said the military is responsible for the violence, including the shooting and killing of civilians, adding that the group would continue to work with other alliance members to protect civilians.
The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has launched offensives against military and police positions in Kachin State and northern Shan State since March 11, saying it stands with the people. The move came after two civilians were shot dead in a crackdown by security forces on anti-regime protesters in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina, on March 8.
Recently, the Karen National Union (KNU)’s Brigade 5 overran military bases in Papun district, Karen State. The KNU and some other ethnic armed organizations also rejected the regime’s invitation to attend Armed Forces Day last Saturday.
KNU leader Padoh Saw Mutu Say Poe said the group would meet with coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing only when Tatmadaw troops stop killing civilians and grant freedom to all detainees arrested following the coup.
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