SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore authorities said on Wednesday they had arrested a group of Myanmar nationals accused of rallying support for armed violence against the Myanmar government.
The home ministry said in a statement the group had “organised and mobilised” some members of Singapore’s Myanmar community to support the Arakan Army (AA), an insurgent group fighting for greater autonomy in Rakhine and Chin states, and its political wing, the United League of Arakan.
It added that those found to be involved in “activities of security concern” would be deported.
Rakhine state, also known as Arakan, came to global attention after about 730,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a military crackdown in response to militant attacks in 2017.
More recently, civilians there have been caught up in clashes between the military and the AA, which recruits mostly from the Rakhine Buddhist majority, that have displaced more than 35,000 people this year according to the United Nations.
Myanmar has designated the AA a terrorist organization.
Singapore’s home ministry said the arrested Myanmar nationals had provided financial support to the rebels, with one co-ordinating fundraising efforts among the diaspora in Singapore.
“They should not import their domestic political issues from their countries into Singapore,” the statement said.
Khine Thu Kha, a spokesman for the AA, denied the detainees belonged to the armed group.
“They are just a community organisation,” he said.
Myo Thu Soe, a spokesman for the Myanmar police, said he “didn’t know” why the Singaporean police had arrested the men. “It didn’t happen because we asked them,” he said.
Reporting by John Geddie and Yangon bureau; Editing by Catherine Evans