Wife, Children of Leader of Myanmar’s Arakan Army Detained in Thailand

By The Irrawaddy 6 December 2019

The wife of Arakan Army (AA) leader Major General Tun Myat Naing and their two children were detained by Thai immigration officials in Chiang Mai on Wednesday and will be deported to Myanmar soon, according to sources close to the family.

Officials at the Thai Immigration Bureau’s Chiang Mai office arrested Ma Hnin Zar Phyu when she went there to extend her visa on Dec. 4, the sources said, adding that she and the two children were due to be sent to the border town of Mae Sai, in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, on Friday afternoon. From there the three are expected to be transferred across the border to Tachileik Township in Myanmar’s Shan State, where Special Branch Police are awaiting their arrival.

According to a source in Chiang Mai who cannot be named, the Myanmar government gave the Thai government a list of 10 people, including the family of Maj-Gen Tun Myat Naing, whom it sought to have arrested due to their affiliation with the AA.

Ma Hnin Zar Phyu’s visa expired on Dec. 3. When she went to extend it the following day, she was detained by Thai authorities, due the presence of her name on the list. The couple’s elder daughter, who is 11, was studying at an international school in Chiang Mai. The younger child is only 11 months old. Both children are currently being detained with the mother, the source said.

The Irrawaddy has not yet been able to independently confirm the arrests with Brig-Gen Tun Myat Naing’s family.

On Oct. 19, police arrested U Kyaw Naing, the AA chief’s brother-in-law, at Yangon International Airport on his return from Chiang Mai. U Kyaw Naing’s wife Ma Yamin Myat (aka Moe Hnin Phyu), who is Maj-Gen Tun Myat Naing’s sister, was also arrested as she came to meet her husband at the airport.

The police opened a case against the pair at Yangon’s Mayangone Township Court under Section 52 (a) (b) and (c) of the Counterterrorism Law.

The AA is currently embroiled in a serious conflict with the Myanmar military in northern Rakhine State. The fighting has displaced some 80,000-90,000 civilians and left hundreds dead, injured or detained.

Tensions have been high in the area since Jan. 4, when the AA launched coordinated attacks on four Myanmar Police outposts in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township. The attacks constituted the ethnic armed organization (EAO)’s biggest assault since March 2015, when it first began to establish a foothold in the area, moving beyond its headquarters in Laiza, Kachin State.

Bilateral ceasefire talks between the AA and the government have been on hold since mid-September, when an alliance of three EAOs including the AA attacked a military technological academy in Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region, and police checkpoints in Naung Cho, Shan State.