Rakhine political party advisor still missing weeks after abduction

A local politician has been missing for nearly two weeks since being detained by unidentified individuals in Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu Township in early October.  

A family member of 54-year-old former parliamentarian Kyaw Lwin told Myanmar Now that they did not want to disclose which organisation they believed had made the arrest, which occurred at a farm south of his native Zin Chaung village on October 4.

“I want him to be released as soon as possible,” the family member said. “I also want the organisation responsible for the arrest to release a statement explaining why he was detained, even if their investigation is ongoing. It adds to the family’s worries when they don’t even bother to release a statement.”

Also detained alongside Kyaw Lwin was 60-year-old Maung Kaung, who was released two days later. Both men are affiliated with the Arakan Front Party (AFP): Maung Kaung as a central executive committee member and Kyaw Lwin as a member of the central advisory council and former vice chair of the party.

Kyaw Lwin was elected in 2015 to represent Kyaukphyu Township in the state parliament for the Arakan National Party. He later joined the AFP, and ran for election again as an independent candidate in 2020 for an Upper House seat, but lost. 

Citing sources close to Kyaw Lwin, several Rakhine State-based news outlets have reported that he is being held at a base belonging to the Arakan Army. 

AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha told Myanmar Now on October 14 that he did not know if his organisation was behind the arrest. 

“We ourselves still don’t know the details. We don’t know if he is in our custody, but we have heard that investigations were underway regarding claims that he had been arrested,” he said.

The family member described Kyaw Lwin as an AFP member who was largely focused on his farm and agriculture projects, noting that he “did not collaborate with the junta.”  

The AFP called for Kyaw Lwin’s release on October 14 in the “hop[e] that the people of Arakan [were] not divided” and would not be subject to “negative impacts of this incident.” 

“We cannot find any mistake in his speeches and/or writings that [could] rightfully result in this abduction,” the AFP’s statement said. 

Myanmar Now also tried to contact Maung Kaung for comment after his release, but the calls went unanswered. In an interview with local media outlet DMG, he claimed that he was blindfolded during his arrest, as well as unconscious at times, and did “not know who [his] captors were.” 

In the same report, AFP chair Dr Aye Maung said he had contacted a member of the Myanmar military council who allegedly said that the junta had not arrested the men. 

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