Three members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and three Tatmadaw soldiers who were abducted and had been detained by the Arakan Army were released on January 1. The Tatmadaw True News Information Team on Friday said the NLD trio were freed following discussions between the military and the Arakan Army. 

The AA reiterated a call for the reciprocal release of detained Arakanese politicians, civilians and members of the ethnic armed group in a statement issued after freeing the three NLD members, who were campaigning as candidates in last year’s general election when they were abducted in October. 

Following the events of New Year’s Day, DMG reporter Min Tun interviewed Dr. Myo Nyunt, spokesperson for the NLD, to discuss the ruling party’s views on its three members’ recent release and the possibility of rescinding its designation of the Arakan Army as a terrorist group. 

Question: What is the NLD opinion on the Arakan Army’s release of the three NLD candidates? 

Answer: It is a good act that the AA has freed the three detained members. I hope it is a positive activity. And I believe that [the AA] will be closer to the peacemaking process by continuing to do further activities that are in line with the law. 

Q: What is the opinion of the NLD regarding the AA’s demand to release Arakanese politicians and civilians, which it made after releasing the three NLD members? 

A: The peace process will be able to start in Arakan State later. If the armed conflict stops, the detained people can be released by a presidential amnesty order. I hope to reach that situation as soon as possible. 

Q: How do you view prospects for peace negotiations among the government, Tatmadaw and Arakan Army?  

A: At the moment, both sides have ceased fighting after discussions. The problem in Arakan State is a political issue. Only if some political agreements can be made will there be a long-lasting peace. So, I hope to immediately start political dialogues. 

Q: Is there any plan to rescind the declaration of the AA as a terrorist group? 

A: The AA released the then-candidates of the National League for Democracy politically. I’d like to say that that expectation [of having the declaration rescinded] will come to fruition if the AA gives up terrorist activities, if threatening in the region decreases, and if the peace process is successful. 

Q: Can you say the AA’s release of your members and the Tatmadaw soldiers bodes well for its chances of being removed from the terrorist list? 

A: What I understand is that the organisation discussing with the AA currently is the Tatmadaw. As far as I know, no other government organisations have discussed with the AA. The Tatmadaw once said it is working under the government. So, the government can do some activities such as cancelling the AA from being a terrorist group if the Tatmadaw submits to the government what good prospects can be realised for the peace process or what agreement can be made from discussions with the AA. So, I think the Tatmadaw, which has discussed extensively with the AA, needs to submit that information to the government. 

Q: What else would you like to say? 

A: I believe the main problems of Myanmar are based on politics. I’ve concluded that the political [disagreements] broke out due to a lack of trust among ethnic nationals for many years. So I am wishing for all ethnic nationals to understand each other and to build together a new union in which we all can be united. By doing so, we will reach a situation where we all can deal with all political, economic and social problems, including the affairs of Arakan State.  

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