Naypyitaw — Fifty-one Myanmar military officers have been transferred to the Rakhine State border police to deal with “terrorist organizations”, according to government spokesman U Zaw Htay.
The move is part of government plans to establish two new police battalions on the Bangladeshi border to strengthen Rakhine State border police to deal with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Arakan Army (AA), the spokesman told the media on Saturday.
The government has labeled both groups as terrorist organizations and The Irrawaddy is not able to contact the armed groups for a comment.
Bangladesh recently objected to Myanmar’s military deployments along the border.
“Out of necessity, 51 officers from the ranks of captain to lieutenant colonel were transferred to the border force. The cabinet has also approved the transfers,” he said.
“Border police in Rakhine State have to deal with terrorists like the ARSA and AA, which prefer fighting [to advance their causes],” he added.
Those transferred will retain the same rank in the border police, said U Zaw Htay.
“The military appointment general’s office has also issued transfer orders. They were transferred out of necessity,” he said.
The 2008 Constitution gives the military full control over Myanmar’s police.
Myanmar’s military has regularly assigned personnel experienced in security operations to the police, said spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun.
“Senior Tatmadaw [military] leaders give serious attention to this and made the selection by themselves. Mostly they select those who have experience in security and military operations, have good morals and discipline. Those who have experience of the border were also chosen for the job,” said the general.
“Both the AA and ARSA are active in the area. So the transfer of military personnel enables better security insights and more effective operations,” he added.
The border police have often been targeted in the fighting with the AA over the past two years in conflict-torn Rakhine State.
At least 20 police were killed in Rakhine State last year. Over 20 billion kyats (US$5.7 million) from the presidential emergency fund was allocated last year to improve border security, including the procurement of security equipment, border fencing, fencing at police stations and police outposts in Rakhine State.
“We must be better equipped. I currently only have a revolver,” said a police officer in northern Rakhine State.
The border force chief, Police Brigadier General Htet Lwin, is a former military officer, and his predecessors, Brig-Gen Maung Maung Khaing and Brig-Gen Thura San Lwin, are also ex-military.
Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun said: “Not just officers but also many corporal and sergeants have been transferred from the military to the police.”
The border police is a subsidiary of the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs.
Myanmar’s police chief, Major General Aung Win Oo, graduated from the Defense Services Academy. He joined as a police colonel at the Criminal Investigation Department.
His deputy, Police Brig-Gen Aung Aung, was also a military officer. The Irrawaddy can reveal most police captains and above are former military officers.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
You may also like these stories: