SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has arrested several Myanmar nationals living in Singapore who have been using the Republic as a platform to organise and garner support for armed violence against the Myanmar government.
In a media statement released on Wednesday (10 July), MHA said that the group has mobilised members of the local Myanmar community to support the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA).
The AA was founded in April 2009 to fight the Myanmar military for greater autonomy in the Rakhine and Chin states.
“This is inimical to Singapore’s security,” MHA said of the Myanmar nationals’ actions. It added that those found involved in activities of security concern will be deported.
While the ministry did not mention how many Myanmar nationals were arrested, Myanmar news site Irrawaddy reported that six individuals were arrested.
Designated terrorist group by Myanmar government
MHA said that the AA has been designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government, after reportedly killing more than 20 police officers in two attacks on police posts in January and March this year.
The armed group also abducted family members of police officers, and seized large caches of weapons and ammunition from the police stations.
MHA said that, through its investigations, the Myanmar nationals were found to be supporters of the AA.
One of the individuals investigated has a direct relationship with a key AA leader, and allegedly mobilised support among the local Arakan community at the behest of AA leaders.
He also coordinated AA’s fund-raising efforts in Singapore, urging the local Myanmar community to contribute to a “National Fund”, as they needed a credible army to fight for them. Socio-cultural events of the local community were used to propagate the AA’s cause and to rally support for the Rakhine ‘fatherland’.
Supported the Arakan Army financially
The other arrested Myanmar nationals allegedly provided financial support to the AA. One of them gave regular monthly contributions to the AA.
All of them were reportedly involved in a recent celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the AA and ULA, in which the attendees wore clothing bearing the official AA logo.
The event included participants depicting the AA’s armed offensive against the Myanmar Armed Forces’ actions in Rakhine State. Actors were dressed in military uniforms with replica firearms.
There was also a live-streamed video in which the AA leader urged the Rakhine people to unite, and fight for Rakhine independence through the AA’s armed conflict against the authorities.
MHA taking a very serious view
MHA said in its media statement that it takes a very serious view of anyone who “supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence”, regardless how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where the violence takes place.
“They should not import their domestic political issues from their countries into Singapore,” it added.
While MHA stated that foreigners visiting, working or living in Singapore have to abide by Singapore’s laws, it said that it also recognises that the very large majority of the Myanmar nationals in Singapore are law-abiding and have made contributions to the Republic.
“We must be careful not to let the actions of a few individuals taint the positive contributions of the rest of the community, who live harmoniously amongst us,” it said in the media statement.
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