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Emerging News of Surprise Inspections by Military Council at Rakhine Civil Society Organization Raises Concern Among Social Activists

  • By: Web Master
  • | Date: 07 November 2023
  • | Viewer: 6.5k

According to a political analyst who spoke with the Narinjara news agency, the Military Council is gearing up for another wave of crackdowns, this time focusing on Rakhine- based CSOs, following a recent severe crackdown on Rakhine media that disseminate daily news to the public.

"They perceive the media as adversaries. If you refrain from reporting negative aspects, you won't encounter any problems. However they are now shifting their focus toward CSOs. Caution is advised," he remarked.

He added that due to the present political and military situation in Rakhine State, it's akin to having two separate governing entities, and social activists are dealing not just with the Military Council, but also with the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA). This means they are working in a very risky and challenging environment.

An official from the CSO community in Sittwe Township expressed concern that the Military Council had previously sent warning letters to certain CSOs about

officially registering their organization, and now they fear a surprise inspection during this a period of military tension.

"If they conduct an unannounced inspection, I don't think they will send letters. Currently there are organizations that have already registered. Some organizations have seen their registrations expire, while others have received extensions. Similar news has surfaced in the past, but no inspections were carried out. If an inspection occurs, it

would be acceptable, as long as it focuses on verifying whether the organization is officially registered or not," commented an anonymous official from an organization based in Sittwe.

A female official from a Sittwe-based youth organization, who chose to remain anonymous, mentioned that unregistered CSOs in Sittwe are making preparations in light of the news about a possible surprise inspection.

"We have heard the news, but we haven't received any official letters. Nevertheless, many organizations are taking preparatory measures upon hearing about the possibility of inspections. Some organizations that are currently active have indeed received warning letters. The organization that received the letter is among the registered ones. These letters are typically sent to the registered organizations since they have the addresses on record," she explained.

In light of the reports regarding a possible surprise inspection of CSOs, an official from a CSO organization in Sittwe commented, "It appears that they are acting according to their own discretion. They haven't granted approvals to CSOs, and even registered organizations are still being instructed to seek permission for their activities. Unregistered organizations are also providing support to the best of their abilities. There might be an intention to impose restrictions. On one hand, there is stability in this region, but on the other hand, there is ongoing conflict, which could be a factor behind this approach."

Previously the Military Council has conveyed to Rakhine CSOs that they should refrain from offering humanitarian assistance, without obtaining prior permission. Additionally  organizations that are already registered have been instructed to submit updated regulations and information.

In March the State Military Council held a meeting with officials from CSOs in Rakhine, during which State Chief Minister U Htein Lin and the Minister of Security and Border Affairs issued directives to CSOs, instructing them not to engage with illegal armed organizations.

Moreover, the State Military Council has issued a notice to hotels, guesthouses, and motels in Sittwe, stipulating that if they intend to host training sessions conducted by UN, INGO, or NGO organizations commencing on October 25th, they are required to inform the State Military Council one week prior to the event.

Due to the restrictions imposed by the Military Council, the implementation of organizational activities has experienced delays and encountered numerous challenges.

On October 29, the Military Council carried out a raid on the office of the Development Media Group (DMG) news agency in Sittwe Township. During the raid, they confiscated office equipment and documents and subsequently sealed the office.

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