ANP: Tatmadaw Threatening MPs for Exposing Rakhine State Military Violence

Monday, April 20, 2020

In a statement released on Friday, the Arakan National Party (ANP) condemned what they say are military threats against their own parliamentarians for speaking out about the civil war in Rakhine State.

ANP spokesperson Aye Nu Sein said that the statement was in reference to comments made by members of the Tatmadaw on Myawaddy TV and in a statement shared by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief on April 13.

The commander-in-chief’s office had reported that any gunfire by the Burma Army was in response to shots first fired by the Arakan Army (AA), with whom they have been engaged in intensifying clashes since 2018. The military also denied shooting at civilians, their homes, or villages, and accused Rakhine MPs of reporting AA propaganda.

“Even though they didn’t mention the name of the speaker of the Rakhine State parliament, they were directly referring to him,” Aye Nu Sein said, referring to the ANP’s San Kyaw Hla. She added that accusations had also been leveled against Kyauktaw Township MP Tun Tun Win. “We are reporting the truth and cases with witnesses. We do not report any false or incorrect information. That’s why we strongly condemn these incorrect accusations,” she told NMG.

The threat, she added, came when the military said they would report the allegations to the election commission.

The Office of the Commander-in-Chief also alleged that Rakhine State MPs had spoken to media outlets without carrying out proper fact-checking.

On April 7, Tun Tun Win told to news organizations that Burma Army soldiers were arresting civilians in Nyaung Chaung camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) as they carried rice into the camp. The military said that these arrests were of AA soldiers and their supporters, who had been delivering rice to the Rakhine troops.

They also criticized Tun Tun Win’s interview with The Irrawaddy, in which he told reporters that government troops had set fire to Ting Ma village in Kyauktaw Township on March 22.

Ting Ma village, the military argued, had not been burned down. Instead, the commander-in-chief’s office suggested that the parliamentarian was intentionally spreading misinformation about the Tatmadaw to locals and suggested that he was an AA ally.

“These incidents occur almost every day in Rakhine State,” ANP spokesperson Aye Nu Sein said of the military attacks. “People have died and been injured. Villages have been burned down. Many people have fled. Many people have been arrested by soldiers. Many people have been tortured. This is the truth about the situation we have seen on the ground in Rakhine State. Everybody knows which organization has committed these acts.”

The Burma Army has denied firing artillery shells at Kyauk Seik village in Ponnagyun Township, where NMG and other media reported that eight people were killed on April 13, and said that MPs reporting as such was fostering misunderstanding between the military and the public.
Khaing Myo Tun, a human rights activist from Sittwe, told NMG on April 13 that the Burma Army’s LIB 550 had fired artillery shells from a nearby mountain, even though no clashes were occurring with the AA in the area at the time.

He said that four villagers were killed on site, two died at Ponnagyun hospital, and two died on the way to the hospital in Sittwe. Eight more were injured.

The ANP’s Aye Nu Sein said that her party had reported the human rights abuses in Rakhine State to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and had urged them to take legal action against the perpetrators for firing shells at Kyauk Seik, burning Ting Ma, and arresting civilians who were carrying rice to the Nyaung Chaung IDP camp. The commission has yet to respond to their request, she added.