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Arakan Army Detains NLD MP Accused of Tatmadaw Collaboration

An Indian national has died and a Chin MP remains in custody after the Arakan Army detained 10 people near the border between Chin and Rakhine states over the weekend.

The AA stopped two speedboats Sunday morning travelling on the Kaladan River and arrested all ten passengers, including NLD MP Hawi Ting and five Indian nationals.

Vinoo Gopal died of a heart attack during an AA interrogation, the AA said in a statement released Monday.

The rebel group said it will continue to interrogate Hawi Ting, an ethnically Khumi Chin MP from Paletwa they’ve accused of working with the Tatmadaw.

“He secretly recruits and works with ethnic Khumi youth to gather information about the AA to share with the Tatmadaw,” AA spokesperson Khine Thuka told Myanmar Now in a telephone call Monday.

He also accused the MP of instigating ethnic and religious hostility among the Khumi and Rakhine.

The eight other detainees were released in a “safe zone,” according to the AA statement.

The statement said the Indian nationals were employed by Paletwa C&C JV, an Indian company contracted to build a 109-kilometre road from Paletwa to Zorinpui, in the Indian state of Mizoram.

An Indian national working on the transport project at Sittwe Port, who would only give his name as “Digu”, told Myanmar Now that all the Indian nationals detained are former high-level officers in the Indian government.

“This case is going to be a very serious problem,” he said. “We understand (Gopal’s) back was propped up by a gun when he died.” He said Gopal was 61 years old.

Myanmar Now’s reporters confirmed Monday that Gopal’s body was taken from the Sittwe hospital morgue to an airport to be transported to Yangon.

Hospital staff and Indian nationals working on the Kaladan transit project in Sittwe carry the body of an Indian man who died while being interrogated by the Arakan Army. (Photo: Mratt Kyaw Thu/Myanmar Now)

Hawi Ting was on his way to Naypyidaw, where parliament resumed Monday morning.

His ongoing detention was not discussed in parliament on Monday, and no motion was made against the arrest of a lawmaker.

“I’m very sad. An MP is a representative of the people, and a representative of the people should not be detained because of a military conflict,” Cing Ngaih Mang, an upper house MP from Chin State, told Myanmar Now.

Hawi Ting’s is the latest in a series of arrests by the AA, who have been stopping vehicles and arresting passengers in both military and civilian clothes.

The AA statement said the group will stop and search any vehicle on land or water they suspect of carrying weapons, and warned all passenger transport operators to report to them when passing through areas the AA is active in.

On October 26, AA soldiers detained 14 Tatmadaw soldiers, 29 policemen, two civil servants and 13 civilians travelling on a passenger boat in the Kaladan River near Rathedaung township.

The Tatmadaw would conduct “clearance operations” to rescue those detained by the AA, a military spokesperson for Western Command told Myanmar Now Monday.

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