Vox Pop: Muslim-AA relations, community dynamics amid complexities on the ground

DMG recently asked political analysts and residents in Arakan State for their views on Muslim-AA relations and the wider community dynamics amid complexities on the ground.

By Admin 29 May 2024

Vox Pop: Muslim-AA relations, community dynamics amid complexities on the ground

DMG Newsroom
29 May 2024, Sittwe

After the Arakkha Army (AA) took control of Buthidaung, allegations of human rights violations among different ethnic groups intensified. Muslim activists accused the AA of torching about 5,000 Muslim homes and killing around 100 Muslim people.

The NUG Human Rights Minister, other organisations and individuals including the United Nations are also pressuring the AA to release the truth on the ground and have expressed concern for Muslims in Arakan State.

The AA has categorically denied the accusations and released photos and videos intended to show that the ethnic armed group is helping Muslims on the ground with everything from healthcare to sustenance, despite all kinds of difficulties.

DMG recently asked political analysts and residents in Arakan State for their views on Muslim-AA relations and the wider community dynamics amid complexities on the ground.

U Than Soe Naing || Political Analyst

If you look at the AA’s statements, you can see that the ethnic armed group tried very hard to prevent the spread of racial hatred regarding the Muslim issue. What is really causing problems for Muslims is the military regime and Muslim extremist terrorist groups such as ARSA, ARA and RSO. 

Many Muslims who were arrested by the military regime were seen being evacuated to areas liberated by the AA. I believe that a large organisation like the AA has a purpose of harmony. Organisations putting pressure on the AA are just listening. Where there is conflict, the first thing that falls is the truth. After that, mistakes and mutual accusations are natural.

Wai Hun Aung || Writer

The fighting on the ground is not yet over and it is unfortunate to accuse AA without solid evidence. If those making the accusations identify themselves as leaders of the Muslims, so many Muslims should be sent to safe places. If possible, they should try to align themselves with the AA and evacuate the Muslims to the liberated areas as soon as they see the signs of war. They have to plan for the safety and sustenance of those people. Some Muslims have joined the regime and attacked the AA with guns and destroyed houses belonging to ethnic groups, including Arakanese and Hindu. The Muslim armed forces really fought against the AA, knowing that they could not win, then they took up human rights and stabbed the AA in the back.

An Arakanese political observer

The current situation in Buthidaung and Maungdaw is complicated. From the beginning, there were Muslim armed groups such as ARSA, ARA and RSO on those sides. These Muslim armed groups have recently come in large numbers from Bangladesh and are collaborating with the regime. 

At this time of confusion, the groups accusing the AA put the Rohingya issue at the forefront without knowing the true information. Spreading such unsubstantiated news only leads to more conflict. The AA is constantly working for the welfare of the different ethnic groups in Arakan State.

A young Arakanese woman

It is very difficult to say exactly what happened because I did not see the ground conditions in Buthidaung. It is very confusing between AA, the military regime and the terrorist Muslim armed groups. However, the military regime, which is suffering militarily, is trying to make the problem between Arakanese and Muslims worse and more complicated by cooperating with terrorist armed Muslims. 

Throughout history, the military regime has not done anything good to Muslims. It can be seen on social media that the AA is helping all people in Arakan State, regardless of race or religion, as much as they can despite the difficulties. I am confident that the AA will be able to resolve the allegations in a humane manner by supporting such assistance. 

Also, wearing the AA uniforms and speaking Arakan cannot be defined as the AA. If the AA fighters really burned the houses, we need strong evidence. We cannot accept accusations without any evidence. Some anti-regime groups have withdrawn from a joint statement issued recently by 195 revolutionary groups, civil society organisations and anonymous organisations about the situation in northern Arakan State.

A young Chin man in Arakan State

This case is quite complicated and it is not a situation where we can say that both sides are right. It is certain that they do not want to be affected by the oppression, and the ethnic armed groups are doing this kind of action while they are revolutionising against the military regime. 

Another thing is that the AA is not only military-oriented, but also works in more social harmony areas. I see that the AA is gradually moving toward building trust. You can simply think about the alleged burning of Muslim houses by the AA without worrying about it. If you ask what will happen next regarding the Muslim and Arakanese issue, there is only one answer. There is no reason for the ethnic problem to happen again. As usual, different ethnic groups will live together; one thing is careful discussions with religious leaders who have great influence on the Muslim community. I see that AA should continue the consultations.