The separatist Arakan Army fighting for self-determination in Myanmar’s Rakhine (Arakan) state have issued an ultimatum demanding “the total and immediate withdrawal of the administrative apparatus of the Burmese regime and all Burmese armed forces from Arakan” .
A statement received from the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army said : ” Our organisation was formed comprising of all peoples of Arakan and ethnic minorities with the aims for the liberation of the entire oppressed population of Arakan from the Burmese colonial occupation and misrule, the right of national equality and self-determination, the regaining of national losses and entitlements of the Arakanese, and the emergence of a new society of Arakan which is secure, peace, developed, free and dignified, has been implementing the Arakanese national goal in line with “the Way of Ralchite.”
The statement further said :” It is hereby notified that no armed forces of the Burmese regime in Arakan shall be accepted by the ULA/AA. Myanmar Police Force and Border Guard Forces, which are under the control and subdivisions of the Myanmar Military under the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services , have been collaborating to carry out operations support activities for the Myanmar Army’s offensive attacks against the Arakan Army, arbitrary detention and torture of civilians of Arakan in the four-cuts campaign of the Myanmar Army.
” This is an ultimatum that all Burmese armed forces must be undertaken the total and immediate withdrawal from Arakan because they are not providing the general public of Arakan any legal protections but oppressing peoples and abusing power to detain civilians.”
The statement warned that “the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army, hand in hand with the entire population of Arakan, will also abolish and drive the colonial administrative apparatus of the Burmese regime and the war criminals Burmese armed forces out of Arakan.”
It said that’ the Arakan Army has launched a warning attack against one of the Border Guard Forces of the Burmese regime, Thazin Myaing outpost, in Rathedaung township at 02:05 am on 29 May 2020.
“In fact, the Thazin Myaing outpost is a military stronghold under the banner of Border Guard Forces, from which the Burmese troops have been shelling villages and launching offensive assaults.”
Claiming that the ” decisive action we have taken against it is also a retaliation that last a few days ago the Myanmar Army conducted the raid with excessive forces on our small outpost and another small camp where our injured troops are receiving medical treatment.”
The Arakan Army claimed that six Burmese soldiers were captured as prisoners of war in this raid. ” Two women and a 2-year-old child were released in good shape in a secure place after each were given 40,000 Kyats.”
The statement claimed that the Arakan Army has “refrained from harming civilians, women and children, the elderly, and handicapped in this national liberation struggle.”
” Despite being a revolutionary organization, we strictly comply with laws of war. Therefore, in accordance with international humanitarian laws we are taking care of prisoners of war, who were captured in the battles, to our best.
“In the same way, we have released non-military persons several times irrespective of religion and race under safe circumstances. “
The statement said that “sometimes we summoned and interrogated some profligate informers trained by the Myanmar Army, obstructers against the Arakan Army, those who are threatening life of people of Arakan and Arakanese traitors. But we used to release unsuspicious persons from such investigations under mutually safe circumstances.”
The statement said that U Soe Thu Win, a rural health worker, from Zee-Tan-Kone village in Rathedaung township has been handed over to community elders and village administrators in school of Ngwe-Taung village in Buthidaung township in good shape on 29 May 2020 “after a few days of investigation.”
Rhe statement claimed that the ” entire population of Arakan are yearning for the total and immediate withdrawal of the colonial administrative apparatus of the Burmese regime and all Burmese armed forces from Arakan .”
It called for ” national reconciliation among all peoples in the region of Arakan, regional stability, development, freedom and peace will be genuinely possible only when there are no Burmese rule and its armed forces presence in Arakan.”
Analysts say this was a broad hint that the ULA/AA sought good relations and a shared future between Buddhist Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas, more than one million of whom have been forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh . That indicated that the Arakan Army is perhaps going back to the multi-ethnic vision of Arakans that existed between its predecessor Rakhine militant group , the National Unity Party of Arakan (NUPA) and the Arakan Rohingya Nationalist Organisation (ARNO), which was less radical Islamist than groups like RSO or ARIF.
Indian intelligence has reports of a late February meeting between Arakan Army and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) where the two managed to reach a tactical understanding to coordinate offensive operations against the Burmese army Tatmadaw. That could not be confirmed by either sources within Arakan Army or by Burmese or Bangladesh intelligence.
The Arakan Army statement appealed to the global community to back their movement for an independent Arakans, an ancient kingdom that was overrun by Burmese kings in 1784.
” The fact that people of Arakan are not willing to see any armed forces of the Burmese regime including the Myanmar Army which has been conducting a campaign of state genocide based on racial hatred against peoples of Arakan, other minorities and even the civil servants who are pillars of the Burmese colonial rule, the Burmese authorities must go back to their native land peacefully with their own conscience in consideration of long-term prospects for mutual interests.”
Analysts say the Arakan Army is launching the final phase of its armed guerrilla campaign by now seeking to make it difficult for the Myanmar government to sustain its administration and army.
This statement reflects the growing confidence of the Arakan Army and marks the start of an effort towards an effective parallel government like those run in many ethnic regions of Myanmar by groups like the Kachin Independence Army. The Arakan Army’s rejection of corona-time ceasefire offer made by the Tatmadaw also points to its launch of a fight-to-finish campaign.