9 June 2021, Yangon
Ten people including the younger brother and sister of Arakan Army (AA) chief Major-General Twan Mrat Naing, as well as the AA leader’s brother-in-law, were released on June 9, according to a lawyer.
U Aung Kyaw Sein, a defence lawyer, told DMG that the 10 people were released after a court in Yangon allowed the prosecution to drop its case against the defendants.
“The Myanmar Police Force and the Attorney-General’s Office agreed with the Central Committee for Counter-Terrorism to withdraw the case. They were released after the court allowed the case to be dropped,” the lawyer said.
The AA chief’s released family members are Ko Aung Mrat Kyaw, his younger brother, and sister Ma Moe Hnin Phyu, along with her husband Ko Kyaw Naing.
The other seven Arakan Association (Singapore) members to be released were Ko Mrat Lin Oo; Ko Ye Kyaw Htet; Ma Aye Mrat Mon; Ko Tin Hlaing Oo; Ko Hein Zaw; Maung Pan aka Tun Aye; and Shwe Hlaing Than.
All 10 were acquitted of the charges brought against them.
Dr. Aye Maung, leader of the Arakan Front Party (AFP), said the acquittals of those charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law marked a step toward national reconciliation and peacemaking.
“I would like to consider the approach of the military officials to the release of them [the 10 people] in a way that leads to national reconciliation and peacemaking processes,” he said, adding that he hoped all cases of those in Arakan State charged under Myanmar’s Counter-Terrorism Law would be dropped.
Ko Aung Mrat Kyaw and seven other leading members of the Arakan Association (Singapore) were arrested in July 2019 on charges of having illegal ties to the Arakan Army and providing financial support for the ethnic armed group.
The eight Arakanese youths were subsequently charged under Section 50(j) and 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law.
Meanwhile the AA leader’s sister Ma Moe Hnin Phyu was arrested along with her husband Ko Kyaw Naing at Yangon International Airport on October 18, 2019. Ko Kyaw Naing was returning to Myanmar on a flight from Thailand and Ma Moe Hnin Phyu had gone to the airport to meet him when the couple were taken into police custody.
The couple were charged under multiple sections of the Counter-Terrorism Law, according to a source from the Mayangon Township Court.
“I would like to express many thanks to the people who should be thanked for the release of the 10 people, including Major-General Twan Mrat Naing’s younger sister and her husband,” said Ma Mu Mu Khaing, the wife of Ko Tin Hlaing Oo.
According to the Arakan State-based Thazin Legal Institute, more than 200 people were arrested on suspicion of having illicit ties to the Arakan Army and charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law during the two years of fighting between the Myanmar military and the ethnic armed group in Arakan State.
Seventeen cases of minors arrested on suspicion of illicit AA affiliations were dropped last month, according to U Hla Thein, a spokesman and attorney-general for the Arakan State Administration Council.