Govt urges Rakhine not to sup­port armed group

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - HTOO THANT [email protected]­

The gov­ern­ment urged the eth­nic Rakhine peo­ple not to pro­vide sup­port or refuge for Arakan Army fight­ers who launched deadly at­tacks last week.

THE gov­ern­ment is urg­ing eth­nic Rakhine peo­ple not to pro­vide sup­port to Arakan Army (AA) fight­ers who re­cently launched at­tacks on po­lice bor­der out­posts that killed 13 po­lice­men and wounded nine oth­ers.

“I would like to urge Rakhine peo­ple who sup­port AA to con­sider whether Rakhine State will be bet­ter off be­cause of AA,” U Zaw Htay, spokesper­son of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice and Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice, said in a press briefing at Nay Pyi Taw on Mon­day.

“I would like to urge Rakhine peo­ple to stop sup­port­ing AA,” he said ad­ding that he is urg­ing in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the area, es­pe­cially monks, to re­con­sider the con­se­quences of their sup­port of the eth­nic armed group.

U Zaw Htay said the at­tacks on the bor­der out­posts aimed at pro­tect­ing the peo­ple from the threat of the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army (ARSA) is like stab­bing the peo­ple in the back.

“We want AA to avoid the ac­tiv­i­ties that could sup­port ARSA po­lit­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily. I want to ad­vise them to come and join the po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions. I want to tell them not to co­op­er­ate and help the ter­ror­ist group,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice has in­structed the mil­i­tary, lo­cally known as the Tat­madaw, to con­duct op­er­a­tions to elim­i­nate the at­tack­ers, in­struct­ing them to use all re­sources nec­es­sary, in­clud­ing an in­crease of forces and the use of more he­li­copters.

But U Zaw Htay said the gov­ern­ment is open to wel­com­ing the AA to the na­tional peace process as long as they abide by the pre­con­di­tion of first sign­ing the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment (NCA).

“We al­ways open the door to peace,” he said.

U Ba Shein, a mem­ber of the par­lia­ment from the Arakan Na­tional Party (ANP), said the gov­ern­ment has alien­ated it­self from the Arakan peo­ple by not co­op­er­at­ing with the ANP and civil so­ci­ety groups in the state.

Daw Khin Saw Wai, an­other leg­is­la­tor from the ANP, said that even if of­fi­cials re­peat what gov­ern­ment’s mes­sage to the Rakhine peo­ple, it would be hard to con­vince the peo­ple as they feel that they have not re­ceived enough at­ten­tion and sup­port from the gov­ern­ment.

“As we are work­ing within the for­mal po­lit­i­cal frame­work, we will say what is re­quired. But we can’t do any­thing or take ac­tion if the peo­ple do not fol­low our words,” she said.

Zaw Myo Win, 22, a ho­tel em­ployee in Sit­twe, said the Rakhine peo­ple feel that they have not re­ceived their right­ful share of the prof­its from their re­gional re­sources.

“I don’t want war, but I think the Tat­madaw has to carry out its duty,” he told the Myan­mar Times.

Ma Oo Khin Thein, 30, one of the vil­lagers dis­place by the fight­ing, lamented the re­cent fight­ing has caused huge dis­rup­tion in their al­ready dif­fi­cult lives.

“I fled due to the at­tacks. I left be­hind all my prop­erty, cows, and goats in my vil­lage. We can­not farm. We can earn wage that is enough only for a day. If there is no work, it is dif­fi­cult to eat,” she said.

“We fled when the fight­ing erupted,” she said.

“First we just ran to the river bank when we heard the sound of gun­fire. If there is no fight­ing, we could go back to our vil­lage peace­fully.”

Photo: EPA

Myan­mar’s po­lice chief, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Aung Win Oo, cen­tre, talks with fam­ily mem­bers of slain po­lice of­fi­cers at a bor­der guard po­lice sta­tion in Buthi­daung Town­ship on Mon­day.

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