On March 11, 39 days after the Myanmar army took power from the civilian governmentit removed a designated terrorist organization from the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic armed organization in the Rakhine State, the westernmost part of the country, which has been involved in violent conflicts in almost two last year. While many ethnic Rakhines welcomed the move, many from the majority of Bamar accused the AA of collaborating with the military and blamed the Rakhines. This response underscores the enduring discord between the realities of ethnic minorities living in armed conflict-affected areas along the country’s borders and the Bamar ethnic group, largely living in the central area.
AA is one of the many national armed organizations the fight for agency and with it equality, justice and freedom. Analyst describe the fighting between the AA and the military, known as the Tatmadaw, is the fiercest place Myanmar has ever witnessed in decades. In the past two years, more than 230,000 civilians have taken displaced, when nearly 1,000 seriously injured or killed by shelling, gunfire and mines, including more than 170 children.
The situation worsened throughout much of 2020. In March, the government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was led by Aung San Suu Kyi. point AA is a terrorist organization and in August, to exclude, to expel it’s from national peace negotiations. The NLD government also maintained the longest time off internet in the world, affecting more than 1 million people in Rakhine and Chin states as of June 2019. While Tatmadaw announced a unilateral ceasefire across the country starting May 2020 to combat pandemic, ceasefire to exclude, to expel AA. Tensions worsened when, weeks before an election, an electoral committee appointed by the government announced massively cancel – attributed to conflict – depriving about three-quarters of Rakhine State’s qualified voters.
Among the Rakhine, the abolition, which the decision-making process is not made public, and be censured by the rights group because of lack of transparency, added negative feelings on the NLD and government side contribute donate for AA. Many Rakhine feel that the newly elected government is not legal.
Analyst warning that the cancellation of the election in Rakhine State could exacerbate the fighting. Instead, fighting halted began on November 12, when AA issued the order declare Declaration of wanting to hold elections in the regions was canceled and Tatmadaw openly welcome offer. Some the meeting was then held. During a face-to-face meeting in early December, AA and Tatmadaw discuss “Securing a ceasefire from both sides,” said AA spokesman Khine Thu Kha.
Since the coup, fighting in Rakhine state has remained quiet. To replace, The military’s State Administrative Council (SAC) appears to be working to win the support of the AA and Rakhine people. On February 2, SAC lift up Internet stopped working and on February 13, it does release Rakhine nationalist and politician Dr. Aye Maung and writer Rakhine Wai Han Aung, two prominent political prisoners.
Of the military divide and conquer tactics It caused some tension in Rakhine society. Right after the coup, the troops invited The Arakan National Party, the largest Rakhine nationalist party, to win a seat in the SAC, a proposal that one party also extends to other national parties. While many parties refuse recommended, ANP Has been approved it. On February 7, 47 Rakhine civil society groups issued one General statement urge the ANP to reverse its decision.
The Rakhine public was a bit late to speak out against the army’s brutal violence against protesters compared to civil society in other parts of the country, but on March 21, 77 social groups Civilian based in Rakhine State release one declare urges military forces to stop suppressing protesters with deadly force and to free all detainees since the coup. Two days later, AA’s spokesman told Reuters, “It is a great sadness that innocent civilians are shot and killed all over Myanmar,” and the AA was “along … with the people”.
On March 30, AA’s Three Brotherhood Alliance, Myanmar National Democratic Union Army (MNDAA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) release one declare warns that if the Tatmadaw does not stop immediately suppressing peaceful protesters or resolving political solutions requested by the public, the coalition will “support and cooperate. to our oppressed brethren and multiracial people who are waging the Myanmar Spring Revolution to defend themselves against the Myanmar Army. ” League together being attacked a police station in the Shan State town of Lashio on April 10, killing several policemen. The attack came a day after military forces fired rifle grenades at protesters in downtown Bago, leaving at least 82 people dead.
Some analysts have question AA’s initial silence after the coup, and whether it may intend to negotiate with the SAC to seek more territory or other concessions in the Rakhine State. However, these questions ignore and simplify the actual situation. Although AA has been publicly silent for almost two months after the coup, Sources of Rakhine in Kachin State told me that even before the AA spoke up, their army attacked the Tatmadaw with the coordination of allies in the north, including the Kachin Independence Army.
Ambition to achieve one “Dream Parade 2020” should be included in the analysis of the current AA approach. The AA is presently working towards this goal on its own, based on its efforts over the past two years. A concept appeared in early 2017, the Arakan Dream consists of setting one Rakhine People Rakhine State Authority. In a speech in April 2020, AA Commander-in-Chief Twan Mrat Naing also talked about the concept The path of Rakhita, which he describes as “Arakan’s struggle to liberate the people and restore sovereignty to the Arakan people.”
In the conflict for the past two years, dozens of village administrators in northern Rakhine resigned, allegedly out of fear of being captured by the Tatmadaw. A local administrator who resigned in March 2019 told me in a phone call on March 27 this year that “due to preferring to manage AA, we have decided to resign and support the manager. by AA at the same time ”.
In December 2019, Twan Mrat Naing reaffirmed his plans establish a People’s Office, and also said AA would begin tax collection from the operator of large-scale projects in 2020, in areas of Rakhine and the Chin States under its control. Local residents told me that AA also began collecting taxes from local businesses in early 2020, and by the end of the year, they were systematically collecting taxes. Local residents and administrators also told me that as early as November 2020, AA enacted temporary regional administrative laws in some regions of the Rakhine State, which appoint civil village administrators. be your manager.. A village manager in Mrauk-U Town told me on March 16 that AA currently oversees most of the Rakhine State and exercises its own rule of law.
On April 11, the 12th anniversary of AA’s founding, Twan Mrat Naing Written in a statement that AA was operating “as fast as possible. We will help people because of their desired political demands, but we do not want the CDM [civil disobedience movement] and street protests in Rakhine State. We have a ‘way of Rakhita.’ We have a clear political goal ”.
He also said that although in AA’s “early revolutionary” it “was primarily active on our campaigning and war activities for our political ends,” it is currently “real. present a governance mechanism with strong institutions for public administrative matters including administration, justice and public security. “
Another possible reason that contributed to AA’s initial silence following the coup was that it may have expected the birth of the coup. more than 600 political prisoners, including sister-in-law and younger brother Chief AA, Twan Mrat Naing, charge under the Anti-Terrorism Act during the NLD’s term.
While some people in Rakhine State have join Nationwide protest movement since the coup, there have been relatively few demonstrations. In my opinion, Having been the victim of many years of human rights abuses committed by the military and receiving relatively few benefits under the NLD government, conflict-affected minorities, including the Rakhine, have many reasons. to be more hesitant when joining the national resistance movement against the Tatmadaw.
First, tens of thousands of people displaced by the civil war in the past two years remain in camps where humanitarian assistance is dwindling and their future is uncertain. The military’s state administrative council announced on February 10 that it planned to facilitate the return of internal migrants (IDP) in Rakhine State. AA spokesperson told local media on March 31, however, “IDPs are not ready to return to their villages yet.” One major concern is the ongoing mine risk: Since the coup, at least 10 people have been injured or killed by blasting, including eight children.
Among the IDPs that are encouraged to come back are there more than 3,300 from the town of Mrauk-U Camp Tain Nyo, which burned down on March 17, demolished more than 600 shelters. Although the government army has not rebuilt the camp, the IDPs have yet to return to their villages due to fear of mines or new conflicts and the fact that many of their original homes have been destroyed. Instead, charitable groups are building them New shelter in the camp.
In recent weeks, Tatmadaw has moved troops to the Rakhine State, according to the report report by Khit Thit media is based in Yangon. Many residents of Rakhine State and especially its northern towns are increasingly concerned about the possibility of fierce skirmishes in the area. Although many Rakhine people support the nationwide protest movement calling for the creation of the National Unification Government and the Federal Army to defeat the government, in the current situation, the people of Rakhine are considering first and foremost. best way to ensure their own survival.
This article was written with the assistance of a freelance journalist Emily Fishbein.