Myanmar Military Still Fighting With Opposition Militia Despite Ceasefire

“The Arakan Army (AA) is monitoring the Myanmar military’s activities amid concerns about the stability of the ceasefire in Rakhine State,” the group’s leader said.
Arakkha reporter Twan Mrat Naing says that the Arakanese armed group is acting in reaction to the United League of Arakan’s (ULA) efforts to head the judiciary and other administrative functions in the state.
“From our perspective, we are doing what should be done. In spite of this, the junta’s army is stepping up its activities and posing threats, so we are closely monitoring their activities,” he said.
Since entering into a ceasefire with the military late last year, the ULA/AA, which announced earlier this month that it would begin adjudicating legal cases submitted by the public, has increased its influence in Rakhine State substantially.
In response, the junta has moved to assert its control by imposing new restrictions under the pretext of containing the spread of Covid-19, after the ULA/AA issued its own stay-at-home orders in late July.
Since the second week of August, the regime has taken steps to strengthen its forces in the northern part of the state, which has prompted fears among local civilians that hostilities will return.
Rakhine State has seen little of the unrest that has gripped the rest of the country since the February coup. There has been speculation that the AA has been working with the regime to discourage anti-coup activities in the state.
Twan Mrat Naing emphasized, however, that the AA is not collaborating with the junta in any way: “To date, we and the military council have not made any political commitment other than a temporary ceasefire.”
Both sides thought it would be good for trust-building to release some of our people and some of theirs,” he said, noting some members of the group remain in the regime’s custody.
After fierce clashes between the AA and the Myanmar military began in late 2018, they lasted for nearly two years, until a ceasefire agreement was suddenly reached shortly before November’s election.
The regime removed the AA from its list of terrorist organizations operating in the country in March, further normalizing relations between the two sides.
Rakhine people have many of the same aspirations as others in the country, but they also have their own goals, according to Mrat Naing.
“Just because there is a common enemy does not mean one can be taken for granted as a friend. The many painful lessons and experiences we have shared prove that it is simply unattainable,” he said.
The AA is prepared to adjust its strategies as needed, he said, but it remains committed to policies that will benefit the Rakhine people.
He added that no compromise will be made on the primary goal, which is to regain Arakanese sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the AA has instructed its troops not to clash with the junta’s army to protect civilians, who are already suffering from the pandemic and dislocation during the rainy season.
Although the AA is not currently occupying any towns or cities in Rakhine State, it has been able to increase its influence in these areas, and “the revolutionary process is 75% complete,” said Twan Mrat Naing.
Moreover, he added that the ULA/AA has arranged for Muslims to join its administration and police force, which is the second largest in Rakhine State.
While the regime declared a unilateral cease-fire in August and September, it has continued to clash with ethnic armed groups and local anti-coup resistance fighters in Sagaing Region and Kachin, Shan, Kayah, Kayin, and Chin states.

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