NAYPYITAW—The President’s Office has declined to comment on military leaders’ claim that State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi instructed the Myanmar Army to crush the Arakan Army (AA).
At a press conference in Naypyitaw on Friday, Major-General Tun Tun Nyi of the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) said, “State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the AA is an insurgent group at a meeting on Jan. 7 at the Presidential House. She instructed us to effectively crush the AA and if not, there will be finger-pointing over why [the Tatmadaw] has not crushed the AA, [whose members are from a recognized] ethnic group, but crushed the ARSA, [whose members] practice a different religion.” ARSA refers to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
The President’s Office declined to comment, saying discussions of top-level meetings are confidential.
At an informal reception with journalists in Naypyitaw on Saturday, President’s Office Director-General U Zaw Htay referred to a document he said was prepared with the approval of the upper echelons of the administration.
Reading from the document, he said: “This is privileged information. No comment.”
“Privileged information is highly confidential information. In other words, it is only meant for those with privileged access. It is special-level information,” lawyer U Khin Maung Zaw told The Irrawaddy.
The Irrawaddy was not able to contact a Tatmadaw spokesperson for comment about the remarks from the President’s Office.
According to Yangon-based journalist U Thiha Thwe, the Tatmadaw wants to demonstrate that it is working in collaboration with the civilian government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and that the state counselor is taking the lead role.
“This could widen the gap between Arakanese forces and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Though [the Myanmar Army] wants to talk about the cooperation between the government and the Tatmadaw—the impact is that huge,” he said.
The National League for Democracy-led government, which came to power in the 2015 general election, takes considerable caution in its relations with the Myanmar Army, which has a great degree of power under the 2008 Constitution.
U Zaw Htay said Saturday the government had instructed the Tatmadaw to conduct effective counter-insurgency operations against the AA, which he said threatened the lives and property of the people, and the peace and tranquility of the community.