We, the undersigned international organizations express our grave concerns over the welfare of U Hawi Tin, a Member of Parliament from Myanmar who has spent over two weeks being held in incommunicado detention by the Arakan Army (AA).

On the morning of November 3, 2019, members of the AA stopped two passenger ferries traveling on the Kaladan River in western Myanmar and took all 10 occupants into custody. One Indian national died in the incident and eight other passengers were released while U Hawi Tin was held for further interrogation.

We have been informed that since his arrest, the upper house lawmaker, representing Chin State constituency No.11 from the ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD) has been cut off from contact with both his family members and the public.

We are extremely concerned that to date the AA has not disclosed neither his whereabouts nor his physical status with any verifiable evidence of his well-being to reassure family members and the people he represents. U Hawi Tin’s detention is the latest in a string of abductions by the AA fighters of civilians in which 13 other persons are still reported missing.

The Arakan Army has justified his continued detention on allegations that the Chin politician is colluding with the Myanmar military by feeding military information about the activities of the AA, and that he is actively trying to promote disharmony among the ethnically and religiously diverse people living in his constituency. The AA also alleged that he has been passing out information to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) implicating the AA of rights abuses in the area.

According to our information, U Hawi Tin has previously been a leader within the Khummi Youth Organisation before being elected as an MP and that he has never worked or had any contact with CHRO in his capacity as an MP in the Myanmar Upper House.

May we point out to the AA that such serious allegations labelled against a sitting Member of Parliament not only look far-fetched and falsely motivated but acts to seriously undermine the democratic process in Myanmar.

We would also like to remind the AA that prolonging the illegal detention of U Hawi Tin and other civilians not only does a disservice to the AA’s revolutionary purpose and aims but may also undercut its international credibility and image.

We expect the AA to strictly adhere to minimum international human rights and humanitarian legal standards while holding him in custody. At the same time, we urge the AA to cease making threats against innocent civilians and to refrain from actions that may harm the physical and psychological well-being of frontline human rights defenders.

We urge the AA to immediately and unconditionally release U Hawi Tin and any other civilians who may still be held under detention at various points over the course of the last year.

PDF International Organizations call for release of detainees.