07/11/2019, 09.28
SINGAPORE-MYANMAR
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Singapore, six Burmese arrested for supporting Rakhine Buddhist rebels

Brother of the military leader of the Arakan Army (Aa) among detained.  The armed group is fighting for greater autonomy in the Rakhine and Chin states.  Also known as Arakan, the territory is at the center of world attention for the Rohingya crisis.  But the clashes between Aa and government troops this year have already caused 35,000 displaced people.

 

Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Singaporean authorities have arrested six citizens of Myanmar, accused of mobilizing support for armed violence against the Naypyidaw government. 

The Interior Ministry of the city state said yesterday evening that the group had "organized and mobilized" members of the Burmese community in Singapore to support the Arakan Army (Aa). 

The members of the armed group belong to the ethnic minority Rakhine (or arakanese) which, of Buddhist religion, constitutes about 4% of the Burmese population. 

The rebel army fights for greater autonomy in the Rakhine and Chin states.  Its political wing is the United League of Arakan (Ula).  Aung Myat Kyaw, brother of the military leader of the Aa, Brigadiar GeneralTun Myat Naing (photo) was among the people arrested in Singapore.

Most of the detainees belong to the Arakanese Association-Singapore (Aas), a social assistance organization that contributes humanitarian aid from Singapore to displaced Buddhists in the north of Rakhine State. 

Also known as Arakan, the territory has been at the center of world attention since about 730,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed the border with Bangladesh to escape military repression, with which Naypyidaw responded to attacks by Islamist militants in 2017.

More recently,  the civilians were involved in armed clashes between the Tatmadaw (the Burmese army) and the Aa, which according to the United Nations (UN) this year displaced more than 35 thousand people.  Myanmar has defined the Aa as a "terrorist organization".

The Singapore Interior Ministry says the arrested Burmese citizens have provided financial support to the rebels, with a coordinated fundraising effort between members of the Rakhine diaspora in Singapore. 

"Their internal political issues should not be imported from their countries to Singapore," the statement said.  The Singaporean government adds that "those involved in activities that threaten security" will be expelled. 

Khine Thu Kha, spokeswoman for the AA, denies that the detainees belong to the armed group.  "it is just a community organization," she says. 

But once again, the problems related to armed struggle in the State of Rakhine cross the Burmese national borders and involve another South East Asian country. 

Last May, Malaysian authorities arrested a jihadist cell that included two Rohingya militiamen: it planned large-scale attacks against Buddhist and Hindu temples,  and churches in the capital to kill "high-profile personalities".

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