Burma

For Peace, Arakanese Lawmakers Must Temper Rhetoric: Tatmadaw

By Moe Moe 25 July 2019

NAYPYITAW—To restore normalcy in troubled Rakhine State, said military spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, Arakanese lawmakers should avoid making extreme remarks.

Speaking at a Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) press conference in Naypyitaw on Monday, the spokesperson urged Arakanese lawmakers to join hands with the military to restore peace if they are really concerned about their state.

He urged them to review their comments and consider if they contribute to peace.

“They criticized us in the media, some said out of their genuine concerns for their interest [in Rakhine State], but some remarks were extreme. In any case, extreme remarks will not contribute to peace and stability,” Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said.

Nearly 50,000 people have been displaced in Rakhine State by armed clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) over the past seven months.

Lower House lawmaker Daw Khin Saw Wai of Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township rebutted the Tatmadaw’s claim, saying that Arakanese lawmakers are only acting in the interests of the Arakanese people.

“They have never come to the ground [to see how people are suffering]. We are not extreme. We are just speaking for the people who are suffering on the ground,” the Arakanese lawmaker told The Irrawaddy.

The Tatmadaw will understand that Arakanese lawmakers are not exaggerating the issue should Tatmadaw leaders go to meet local people on the ground in Rakhine, she said, claiming that more and more local people hold negative views of the government.

In the last week of June, the Ministry of Transport and Communications ordered telecom companies to shut down internet service in eight townships in Rakhine State and in neighboring Chin State’s Paletwa Township.

The move was met with angry backlash from Arakanese lawmakers concerned the shutdown would effectively cut off information sources vital for distributing updates on armed violence and rights abuses perpetrated against civilians in Rakhine State as social media platforms like Facebook had been the main medium for locals to share news about armed conflicts in the region.

“As we all work for the interests of the country, I wish we could work with love, goodwill and mutual understanding among each other, and not with criticisms,” said Lower House lawmaker U Nay Myo Tun of the National League for Democracy.

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