“Rather than the denials, the political leaders should take responsibility and accountability for what happened. They must take responsibility for it. The result will come out if the AA views our constructive statement positively.” Daw Khin Ohmar, Founder of Progressive Voice

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Caption - Founder of Progressive Voice Daw Khin Ohmar

An interview with Daw Khin Ohmar, Founder of Progressive Voice and Spokesperson for the 195 CSOs about the ULA/AA’s response to the joint statement.

A total of 195 revolutionary forces and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) issued a joint statement on 22 May, calling on the AA not to use Rohingya as military target and investigate and take action against those who committed the crimes as the military council is attempting to create a racial conflict between Rohingya and the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA) after the coup.

The military council has been committing violence in Arakan State. In its statement, the AA said it did not commit arbitrary killings and arrests of Rohingya. There are accusations that the AA members are committing them on the ground, the statement says.

In response, The ULA/AA issued a statement on 24 May, strongly denying the joint statement of 195 CSOs on the situation in northern Arakan State as it is a false and one-sided accusation, inconsistent with the facts on the ground and contains groundless one-sided accusations and the terms misleading the international community.

In its statement on 24 May, the ULA/AA said some organizations were tricked into signing the joint statement in the name of human rights, while the names of some organizations were put on the joint statement without seeking their approval or informing them.

The KIC interviewed Daw Khin Ohmar, Founder of Progressive Voice and Spokesperson for the 195 CSOs about the AA’s response.

Q: What would you like to say about AA’s claim that some of these 195 groups were included in the statement without their consent?

A: The organizations signed the joint statement because they were in line with their organization’s principles and policies. However, one organization included in the statement left with its own consent. We think this organization has difficulty in participating in the statement due to the miscommunication in the organization. However, the organizations including our organization signed it as they agreed on the joint statement. After looking at the facts included in the statement, we signed it based on our stand on humanity according to human rights and justice, accountability and responsibility. Most organizations have justice, accountability and responsibility. The organizations signed the joint statement with their own consent. Like Sayar Khaing Thukha said, we did not put any organization on the list without the knowledge of these organizations.

Q: What kind of groups are included in the joint statement?

A: The organizations which signed the joint statement are: the organizations from abroad, the organizations working on the ground, anti-junta groups and the organizations which are fulfilling the needs of the public, including the IDPs. They signed the joint statement with their beliefs and stance.

Q: The AA said the statement included unfair accusations. May I know your view on the AA’s response?

A: The AA responded that we made unfair accusations against it. We released this statement based on the media reports and eyewitness accounts. In the case of houses burnt in Buthidaung, we can’t deny evidence and records released by the UN, international and UNHCR about when and where the incident happened. The media covered the news about the forced eviction of Rohingya from their homes along with the eyewitness accounts. The AA is a powerful armed group among the resistance forces. As Arakan State is a region that can decide its self-determination after its liberation from military rule, we would like to urge the AA to take care of and provide security for all the people living in the region and the minority without discrimination on the basis of religion and race.

However, those who lead the resistance force which have gained the upper hand in politics, military and territory, shall take responsibility for human rights violations which appeared in the media and then solve them. Instead of denying our accusations, they should form an independent investigation team to probe into whether the accusations actually occurred on the ground. In addition, the international media should be allowed to enter the region.

Q: What would you like to say to AA officials about these issues?

A: In the 1990s, the Myanmar army burned civilian houses in Karen State. We submitted our collected evidence and records along with the accounts of fleeing refugees. The junta constantly denied it. The junta adamantly denied the Rohingya genocide in 2017, despite evidence indicating the involvement of junta soldiers in the atrocities. In this situation, we should refrain from making mutual accusations. This is the affairs of human beings. The AA’s reputation will improve if the AA which is implementing military, politics and administration could make a thorough investigation into the cases. Rather than the denials, the political leaders should take responsibility and accountability for what happened. They must take responsibility for it. The result will come out if the AA views our constructive statement positively. We want the AA to show its accountable and responsible leadership including an independent and transparent investigation and international media access if our joint statement is false and includes one-sided accusations.

Sent by KIC.

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