The Arakan Army (AA) has released Upper House lawmaker U Hawi Tin two months after he was captured.
A human rights group told Reuters that the AA set the lawmaker free to ease tensions between the rebels and communities living in the conflict zone. Specifically, Hawi Tin’s release is meant to appease members of the lawmaker’s own ethnic group, the Khumi. Khumi organizations recently reported kidnappings, executions and sexual assaults in Khumi villages in Chin State.
While the AA denied these claims, the media narrative has turned against them. Last year, the Rakhine Buddhist armed organization seized busses, boats and other transports, taking hundreds of hostages. The AA has freed most of the prisoner it has taken, but several were killed in clashes with the Myanmar army, which has accused the AA of using human shields, while AA has accused the Myanmar army of recklessly ignoring civilian safety. But the recent incidents in Chin State did no favors for the AA’s public image.
At the national level, the conflict in Rakhine State continues to plague Myanmar’s global image. Wars with two different ethnic groups and a refugee crisis on the western border continue to ward away both investment and tourism.