Govt urges Rakhine not to support armed group
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.”
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.