SINGAPORE, July 11 — The police have arrested several Myanmar nationals living in Singapore for using the city-state as a platform to organise and gather support for “armed violence” against the Myanmar government, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday.
In a press statement, MHA said their actions were “inimical to Singapore’s security” and they will be deported.
The ministry said investigations revealed that these Myanmar nationals have organised and mobilised some members of the local Myanmar community to support the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA).
These individuals are supporters of the AA, which has been designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government, MHA said.
The army has conducted violent attacks in Myanmar, which included two attacks on police posts in January and March this year.
“According to reports, the AA killed over 20 police officers in the two attacks. Family members of police officers, including women and children, were reportedly abducted by the AA in these attacks,” MHA said.
The army, which was formed in 2009 by Rakhine nationalists who oppose the country’s majority rule by the ethnic Burmese, has claimed that its attacks were in retaliation for violence carried out against the Rakhine people by Myanmar’s military.
While MHA’s statement did not reveal any identities, Myanmar news outlets said that one of those arrested is Ko Aung Myat Kyaw, the brother of the chief Brigadier-General of the AA.
Five other Myanmar nationals were also arrested, most of them members of the Arakan Association Singapore, a social welfare organisation that contributes relief aid from Singapore to the Arakanese displaced in the north of Rakhine State, according to Myanmar news reports.
MHA declined to confirm the exact number of individuals arrested.
Among those investigated, MHA said that one individual has a direct relationship with a key AA leader and had “actively” mobilised support among the local Arakan community and coordinated fund-raising efforts for the AA while in Singapore.
“He urged the 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’,” said MHA.
Others were found to have provided financial support to the AA, with one making monthly contributions.
They also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the AA and ULA recently in Singapore.
During the event, those who attended wore clothing bearing the official AA logo. Participants depicted the AA’s armed offensive against the Myanmar military in Rakhine state.
“Actors were dressed in military uniforms with replica firearms. There was also a live streaming video in which the leader of the AA urged the Rakhine people to unite, and fight for Rakhine independence through the AA’s armed conflict against the authorities,” said MHA in its statement.
MHA said it takes a very serious view of anyone who plans to undertake armed violence.
“They should not import their domestic political issues from their countries into Singapore,” it added.
“Any person, local or foreign, who engages in such activity, which is inimical to Singapore’s national security, will be dealt with firmly. Foreigners visiting, working or living in Singapore have to abide by our laws.”
MHA also noted that the large majority of Myanmar nationals in Singapore are law-abiding and have made contributions to Singapore.
“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 added. ― TODAY