Written by Min Htee
Arakan Army (AA) chief Major-General Twan Mrat Naing gave an interview to Arakkha Media on August 16. The Arakan Army has divided the revolution into four stages — the beginning of the revolution, the revolutionary period, the period of rivalry, and the conquest of the Arakan State — Major-General Twan Mrat Naing said, adding that the state is currently in the third stage.
State-building is a long process and will take time. It truly takes time to build a nation. There is no end to the state building; the state is being constantly built. In politics, state-building is an eternal process, and liberation from oppression is unique.
The Arakanese Revolution has not stopped since the fall of Arakan State. The Arakanese independence movement since Myanmar gained independence is now at its strongest, and the AA is making inroads into the world media.
During the two years of fierce fighting against the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) from 2019 to 2020, the AA was able to build a strong offensive force and gain a foothold in the Myanmar people, led by well-known young military and political leaders. The Tatmadaw has launched more than 4,000 attacks on the AA using full-scale ground, naval and air forces over those two years to prevent the ethnic armed group from gaining a foothold in Arakan State.
The Union government has also cut off internet access in northern Arakan State, spreading false information and ordering the Tatmadaw to attack the AA. The government declared the AA a terrorist organisation and ordered it eradicated, but it was during this period that the ethnic armed group gained control of much of Arakan State.
The AA chief said in an interview with Arakkha Media on August 16 that the Arakan Army had been calling for a confederacy since 2019 and would attempt to regain Arakanese’s sovereignty. At the same time, the AA chief said that staff from the AA’s judicial sector in Arakan State will be paid salaries. On the one hand, I see this as a public declaration of financial security in addition to the strength of the AA.
When the AA first attempted to gain a foothold in Arakan State, most military and political analysts considered Arakan State not a good breeding ground for revolutionary forces. The Myanmar military appears to have taken a similar approach, blocking access to food and medicine in Chin and Arakan states.
In addition to essential weapons, food and medicine for an ethnic armed group, foreign relations have been viewed as unacceptable by India and Bangladesh. However, the AA also diverted the attention of military and political observers during the fighting in Arakan State. Dr. Aung Myo, a political analyst, noted that the Myanmar military has underestimated the strength and military strategy of the Arakan Army formed in 2009.
The AA currently controls 75% of the administrative sector in Arakan State. The United League of Arakan and Arakan Army (ULA/AA) imposed a stay-at-home order in Arakan State and Arakanese people showed their respect with regard to the AA’s order.
Some human rights activists have been spreading propaganda on social media in connection with a case in Letma village, Minbya Township, accusing members of the AA of committing violent arrests. Muslim religious leaders in Minbya Township and Buddhist monks from the township Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee issued a joint statement saying there was no violence in Letma village.
Arakan State is inhabited by different ethnic groups such as Arakanese, Chin, Thet, Khami, Mro, Muslim, Daingnet, Kaman, Mayamargyi, and Hindu. Of these, Arakanese are the most populous in Arakan State, followed by Muslims and Chin ethnic people. Needless to say, nation-building is very important in Arakan State. Nation-building is the lifeblood of a nation and state-building is the lifeblood of an administration.
Due to its geopolitical location, Arakan State has become a port of call for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Due to this huge project, the United States, Japan, India and other major powers are expanding their Indian Ocean domination strategies in competition with China. Arakan State has many valuable treasures and billions of US dollars in investment have many opportunities to bring stability in Arakan State.
Myanmar is the country with the longest-running civil war since independence from Britain, driven by racist Burmese political and military leaders. Arakan State, which has the largest access to natural resources such as forest, marine products and natural gas reserves — and is the poorest state in the country — is at a stage where the whole people of the country’s people are interested in whether it will lead to a liberation under the Arakan Army.
In his interview with Arakkha Media, the AA chief said the talks were a clear indication that the Arakanese people would not make a compromise and would regain the sovereignty that the Arakanese people had lost.
The liberation of Arakan State is the liberation of all the people of Arakan State, and it is necessary to build trust in society by dispelling suspicions that ravage political discrimination. It is important to allay the differences in Arakan State and to create a future of Nation Building.
The AA chief has called for the inclusion of the Muslim community in the current judicial and administrative functions of the Arakan Army. Looking at this invitation, it is clear that the AA leaders are moving toward building trust by integrating nation-building into the plan for nation-building among different communities. The AA is the right path in theory and the right will. Without trust-building, it is very difficult to go to Nation Building.
The whole people need to understand that the Arakan issue really needs good leadership and goodwill. Only by recognising the diversity of human beings, accepting reality and keeping the problems calm and finding the right solutions can we see a bright future for Arakan State.
There is no denying that there are still many conflicts to be resolved in Arakan State. However, the Arakanese people also need to understand the priorities in these conflicts. So far, we have not been able to find political leadership or cooperation between the various ethnic groups based on what Arakan State-based political parties can do. After the military coup in Myanmar, there has been little action by Arakanese political parties.
The AA is trying to create its own justice system in Arakan State; on the other hand, the military-led caretaker government has been on the move this month, including with military reinforcements and patrols. These movements could explode at any time, raising some public concerns. In his interview with Arakkha Media, the AA chief warned Arakanese people to beware of the revolution.
My view is that the Arakanese people can only build a new Arakanese society if they accept the Arakan Army’s leadership in liberating Arakan State. Only by working together and finding a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict in Arakan State can we find peace and eliminate the instigation of some outside stakeholders.
The future of Arakan State may face some challenges, but only independence, combined with the trust of the people, can be seen as the right way forward.