An official from Aung San Suu Kyi‘s political party has been killed in Rakhine state after planning a show of support for the leader’s recent defence of Myanmar against genocide allegations at The Hague, according to a party spokesman.
The National League for Democracy’s (NLD) Ye Thein, party chairman in Buthidaung township, had been held for weeks by the Arakan Army, an armed group fighting for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, the spokesman said on Thursday
Rebels in Myanmar’s Rakhine region said Thein died on Monday, two weeks after being taken for organising protests against the accusations of committing genocide faced by Myanmar at the International Court of Justice.
“Due to big explosions, some detainees died and some were wounded. The NLD chairman from Buthidaung, Ye Thein, died on scene,” the Arakan Army said in the statement.
“We, all members of NLD, are very sorry for the loss,” Myo Nyunt told AFP. “His gathering to support her was righteous and it was not a crime.”
The Arakan Army has carried out a series of daring kidnappings, bombings and raids against the army and local officials in Rakhine state.
In response, Myanmar’s military has deployed thousands of additional soldiers to the western state and carried out what Amnesty International called enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions.
Clashes are taking place in the same area where the military drove approximately 740,000 Rohingya over the border to Bangladesh in a bloody 2017 campaign.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Rakhine since clashes between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar army began about a year ago.
The Arakan Army’s forces come from the largely Buddhist Rakhine people.
They say they have no links to Rohingya rebels whose attacks, according to Myanmar’s government, sparked the 2017 army crackdown that led to the accusations of genocide, brought against the country at the ICJ by The Gambia.
The Arakan Army is among several ethnic armed factions that have said they support the case against Myanmar.
Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto ruler, shocked critics when she personally led Myanmar’s defence against the accusations at hearings in The Hague earlier this month.