The military council arrested those helping Mocha Cyclone victims

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – May 23 Scenes

MoeMaKa, May 24 2023

The military council arrested those helping Mocha Cyclone victims

Over a week after Cyclone Mocha hit Rakhine State, the military councils arrested Ko Wai Hin Aung, a writer who is actively working to provide aid to the people of Rakhine State who are affected by the storm, while on a road trip to Rathedaung Township on May 23. It is said that along with Ko Wai Hin Aung, his daughter and 2 others from charity organization in Yangon were recently arrested. On his way from Sittwe to Rathedaung Township, after passing through a checkpoint, he was chased by junta forces and then arrested.

Arresting a person who is actively working in charity in the Rakhine State community shows the military council’s monopolization of disaster relief and political exploitation. It is currently unknown whether it is just for an investigation or whether he will be charged in court and punished.

Even if the case is not opened, this arrest will be an incident that further confirms the image of the military council that is already declining, and it also means that the military council is targeting and arresting the leaders who emerged from civil society.

This incident is the first arrest of the military council after the storm.

In January 2018, Ko Wai Hin Aung was arrested along with Dr. Aye Maung after a literary lecture held in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison under Sections 505 (b) and 505 (c) of the Penal Code, including defamation. Two weeks after the military coup in 2021, he was released on parole.

As for the military council, it is treating the people affected by the Cyclone Mocha as a place for political organization. In trying to portray itself as the only one who can save Rakhine State, this incident should be interpreted as a step that they will closely monitor and take action against people who have gained the trust of the public and community leaders.

To help the refugees affected by the storm in Rakhine state, UN organizations have been making preparations to provide emergency aid since before the storm hit, but it is estimated that they have not been allowed to provide supplies to the refugees until now. On the ground, there have been no reports of refugees receiving aid from international organizations in the villages and towns most affected by the storm.

As of the last few days, there have been some reports that the United Nations is still waiting for approval to provide aid. Aid sent by ASEAN and India is also reported to be arriving by waterways and air, but there is no clear statement on how it is distributed to the refugees.

Currently, in Rakhine State, there are tens of thousands of people who urgently need drinking water, temporary shelter to live in, and medicine for health problems. The United Nations has announced that 3.2 million people need humanitarian assistance.

At a time of urgent need for help, the military council is showing news photos every day that their forces are cutting down and clearing trees, the electricity department is preparing power poles, and the military is distributing drinking water with mobile water purifiers. They are also spreading propaganda with news such as the military leader delivering of aid from local donors, which the leader of the military council himself received, but no information has yet been found about how the international aid is distributed.

Myanmar is in a state of being kidnapped by military dictators, and even when suffering from disasters such as natural disasters and war disasters, the kidnappers do not allow those who want to help.

The Rakhine armed group, AA, is currently calling for help from international organizations to help the Rakhine people rather than political competition with the military council, and they are also receiving sympathetic aid from other ethnic armed organizations.

AA’s priority policies and attitudes towards the Rakhine people make the military council’s political exploitation of the natural disaster more obvious, and the military council, which is already a villain, will once again suffer a serious decline in aid and relief aftermaths of the storm.