YANGON — Police have opened a case against former Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmaker U Shwe Maung (aka Abdul Razak) under the Counter-Terrorism Law for allegedly supporting the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which has been declared a terrorist organization by the government.
Police Cpt Thaung Kywe of Buthidaung Myoma Police Station told The Irrawaddy on Friday that he filed a case against U Shwe Maung under Article 50 of the Counter-Terrorism Law. He said U Shwe Maung posted a video on his Facebook page, in which he supported the acts of ARSA and defended them.
He said the case has now been transferred to the criminal investigations department in Rakhine State capital Sittwe and the investigation is ongoing.
U Shwe Maung, a self-identified Rohingya former lawmaker reportedly now living in Texas in the United States, was elected to the Lower House seat of Buthidaung in northern Rakhine State in 2010 representing the once-ruling USDP. After he resigned from the USDP in August 2015, his candidacy to run in the general election that year was turned down.
On Aug. 28, he posted a Facebook Live video on the account named MP Ro Shwe Maung in which he called for the Myanmar government and military commander-in-chief to stop all violence against self-identifying Rohingya in Rakhine State immediately, if they genuinely wanted peace and security in the region.
“We won’t just stand and watch the persecution. If the government and the army don’t protect them, we will communicate and seek international assistance,” he said in the 20-minutes of footage, in which he also said that he could not accept accusations of violence against the Muslim community.
He said that any unwanted problems were the fault of the government and army chief and accused security forces of burning villages and arresting civilians in his former constituency (Buthidaung). U Shwe Maung alleged that troops had collaborated with members of the Arakan National Party (ANP), who he said had detained and even killed women and children.
The government declared the ARSA – which launched a series of attacks on 30 police outposts on Aug. 25, killing 13 security force members – a terrorist organization, and said its supporters would be charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law.
Subsequent violence has left 28 civilians dead, internally displaced around 30,000 Buddhist Arakanese, Arakanese sub-ethnicities, and Hindus, and sent some 270,000 Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, according to the most recent UN figures available at the time of reporting.