Singapore detains Myanmar nationals accused of rebel links

Arakan Army officials gather with other leaders and representatives of various Myanmar ethnic rebel groups at a conference in rebel-controlled Mai Ja Yang in northern Kachin state on July 26, 2016. (AFP file photo)
Updated 11 July 2019
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Singapore detains Myanmar nationals accused of rebel links

  • Myanmar’s army has deployed thousands of troops to Rakhine in recent months to try to crush Arakan Army insurgents
  • The country’s western state was the scene of a 2017 military crackdown against its Rohingya Muslims

SINGAPORE: Singapore has detained several Myanmar nationals accused of organizing support for a rebel group locked in fierce fighting with the military in their country’s troubled Rakhine state, authorities said.
Myanmar’s army has deployed thousands of troops to Rakhine in recent months to try to crush Arakan Army (AA) insurgents, who say they are fighting for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.
The country’s western state was the scene of a 2017 military crackdown against its Rohingya Muslims, when hundreds of thousands forced to flee to Bangladesh.
The group targeted in Singapore raised funds and organized support for the AA among the community from their home country, the city-state’s interior ministry said in a statement late Wednesday.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs is taking action against several Myanmar nationals for using Singapore as a platform to organize and garner support for armed violence against the Myanmar government,” said the statement.
“This is inimical to Singapore’s security.”
The AA was responsible for “violent attacks” in Myanmar and had been designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government, it said.
Community events were used “to propagate the AA’s cause and to rally support for the Rakhine ‘fatherland’,” and one of the people being probed has a direct relationship with a key AA leader.
The ministry declined to say how many people were detained, or disclose their identities.
But it said those found to be “involved in activities of security concern” would be deported.
Violence between the military and the AA in Rakhine has forced more than 30,000 people from their homes in the area in recent months.
Myanmar authorities have vowed to crush the AA rebellion, which has simmered since the group’s formation in 2009.
The rebels enjoy widespread support from ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, who have felt marginalized for decades in one of the country’s poorest states.


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 37 min 24 sec ago
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.