WASHINGTON - A group of Myanmar nationals staged a demonstration in front of the Singapore embassy in Washington on Monday (July 15) in protest of the Singapore government's arrest and deportation of leaders of the Arakanese Association (Singapore).
Six Myanmar nationals were arrested in Singapore last week and deported for illegally garnering support for armed violence against the Myanmar government, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement last Wednesday.
The arrested Myanmar nationals were allegedly supporters of the Arakan Army (AA), a Rakhine insurgent group which the Myanmar government has designated a terrorist organisation. The AA is the armed wing of the United League of Arakan, which seeks greater autonomy for the Rakhine state and whose members are mostly Buddhist ethnic Rakhines.
According to a statement from the Arakan Youths Union (Japan), a group of Myanmar nationals have planned a protest outside the Singapore embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon.
The Japan chapter of the Arakans Youth Union said that the arrested individuals were not connected with the Arakan Army, but instead were aiding Arakanese refugees in Myanmar. It added that the Arakan Army was not a terrorist organisation but a legitimate rebel army.
The Straits Times has contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.
Monday's protest at the Singapore embassy in Washington was attended by at least two dozen protesters, according to photos posted on the Voice of Arakan Twitter account.
They held handwritten placards which urged Singapore to "stop selling Arakanese to the Myanmar army", and signs with the names of the six Myanmar nationals who had been arrested.
A Burma News International article on the protest cited organisers as "denouncing the Singaporean government for transferring the leaders of the Arakan Association (Singapore) to the Myanmar police force despite knowing the Myanmar Army is committing war crimes in ethnic regions".
Meanwhile, the United States announced on Tuesday that Myanmar's army chief and four other generals would be banned from entering America due to their role in human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings in the Rakhine state, during the military-led ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in August 2017.
"With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement which used Myanmar's former name of Burma.
"We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no action to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country," he added.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.