Three Killed in Feud Between Rakhine Rebel Groups

By Lei Lei 24 July 2020

YANGON—Ethnic armed group the Arakan Army (AA) has killed three members of the Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) who were detained in May, according to sources close to the ALA.

The AA is an ethnic Rakhine rebel force involved in fierce fighting with the Myanmar military.

The ALA and its political wing, the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), are an ethnic Rakhine revolutionary group formed in 1967 to fight for equality and are based along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh and India. The ALP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in 2015 and is participating in Myanmar’s peace process.

The source close to the ALA requested anonymity for security concerns, adding that ALP leaders are facing death threats.

On May 23, 15 AA fighters arrested ALA members Khaing Maung Khin Win and Khaing Maung Lone at their house in Yabakchaing Village in Pauktaw Township, according to an ALP statement issued on June 1.

AA fighters also arrested ALA member Khaing Win Hlaing at Sarpyin Village in Taungup on May 31 and killed him the next day, the statement said.

“I asked those who are close to them and learned they are dead,” the ALA source said of the two men abducted in May. “Days before Khaing Win Hlaing was killed, I received a phone message that told me he was getting a death threat. I also heard that the two others were killed after they were abducted.”

Some analysts suggest that the killings were in retaliation for the ALP’s alleged cooperation with an Indian security operation against the AA on the Myanmar-India border in late 2019. More than 50 AA fighters were arrested in the joint operation.

Since the detention of three of its members, the ALP has made several abortive attempts to negotiate with AA leaders for their release but received no clear answer, according to the ALP.

AA spokesman Khaing Thukha said the armed group has nothing to do with the death of ALP member Khaing Win Hlaing, but that they did detain two people for being drunk and disorderly.

“They are being detained by our administration not because they are ALP members, but perhaps because of their misbehavior,” Khaing Thukha said.

Lower House lawmaker U Pe Than of the Arakan National Party said, “I have no idea about how complicated their relations are or how hostile they are towards each other. But it is not a good idea for them solve the problem with weapons. They should settle it through negotiations.”

The ALP denounced the violence, saying that killing people of the same race is totally unacceptable. It also called on authorities to intervene to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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