The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is taking action against several Myanmar nationals for using Singapore as a base of operations to organise and garner support for armed violence aimed at the Myanmar government.
In a statement released on Wednesday (July 10), the ministry said investigations revealed that a group of Myanmar nationals had rallied some members of the local Myanmar community to support the Arakan Army (AA) – a Rakhine insurgent group – and its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA).
The AA has been branded a terrorist group by the Myanmar authorities and is known for its acts of violence in Myanmar, including two attacks on police posts in January and March this year.
The group looted large weapon caches and ammunition kept at the stations and killed more than 20 police officers in total. The officers’ family members, including women and children, were reportedly abducted by the insurgents as well.
According to the MHA, the Myanmar nationals investigated were found to be AA supporters and one of them was said to have a direct relationship with a key leader of the group.
The ministry noted that the individual acted under the command of AA leadership, “actively” mobilising support among the local Arakan community and coordinating fund-raising efforts for the group.
“He urged the community to contribute to a ‘National Fund’, as they needed a credible army to fight for them. Socio-cultural events of the local community were used to propagate the AA’s cause and to rally support for the Rakhine ‘fatherland’,” the MHA said.
The suspects investigated were also found to have provided financial support to the insurgent group.
All of them had previously participated in a recent celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the AA and ULA in Singapore. At the event, attendees wore clothing bearing the official AA logo.
Depictions of the group’s armed offensive against the Myanmar Armed Forces’ action in the Rakhine State were also performed by actors dressed in military attire and included replica firearms.
A video showing the leader of the AA urging the Rakhine people to “unite and fight” for Rakhine independence through armed conflict against the authorities was live-streamed during the event.
The MHA said it will cancel the immigration facilities of those found to be involved in “activities of security concern”, adding that they will be deported from Singapore.
“MHA takes a very serious view of anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where violence takes place. They should not import their domestic political issues from their countries into Singapore,” it added.
The ministry also said any person, local or foreign, who engages in activity which obstructs or harms Singapore’s national security “will be dealt with firmly”, and that foreigners visiting, working or living here have to abide by the country’s laws.