Rakhine restaurants shut down, accused of funding 'terrorism'

Maha Nwe restaurant on Yadana Road, South Okkalapa township

Maha Nwe restaurant on Yadana Road, South Okkalapa township
The Central Body on Anti-Money Laundering ordered two Rakhine restaurants in Yangon to shut down last week, alleging the businesses were being used to launder funds to the Arakan Army (AA), an armed ethnic group warring with the Myanmar military in Rakhine state.
One of the restaurants is co-owned by Aung Myat Kyaw, the brother of AA chief Twan Mrat Naing. The other is owned by well-known Rakhine singer Win Ko Khaing. Both restaurants specialise in Rakhine cuisine, known for its seafood and spice.
Aung Myat Kyaw’s Tamwe township restaurant, Phoenix, opened in 2015. Win Ko Khaing opened Maha Nwe in South Okkalapa township in October.
Aung Myat Kyaw has been on trial since being deported from Singapore last July for allegedly funding the AA, which the Tatmadaw has accused of terrorism. He was deported with five other Rakhine natives then living in Singapore; they currently face prison sentences of 10 years to life.
Singapore’s home ministry accused the six of using the city-state “as a platform to organize support for armed violence” in Myanmar.
Aung Myat Kyaw and several of the deportees were members of the Arakan Association Singapore, an organisation that held social and cultural events for Rakhine migrants living in Singapore. Association chair Hein Zaw was among them.
The United League of Arakan, the AA’s political wing, said it has had no financial relationship with the deportees or the restaurants in question. The Arakan Association Singapore collected donations only to help Rakhine residents displaced by the ongoing fighting there, a league spokesperson said in a prepared statement.
Myanmar Now was unable to reach Aung Myat Kyaw, who is in Insein prison, but his lawyer denied all charges.


Phoenix restaurant in Tamwe township seen on January 10
Phoenix restaurant in Tamwe township seen on January 10
The lawyer would not disclose the identity of Phoenix’s other investors.
AA spokesperson Khine Thuka also denied receiving any funding from the restaurants or the deportees.
Myanmar police arrested the six days after they arrived in Yangon. They were charged in court under sections 50j and 52a of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Win Ko Khaing appears to still be free. He posted a photo on Facebook of himself at the Shwe Pu Zun bakery in Yangon’s Thaketa township on Monday.
Myanmar Now was unable to reach him for comment.
At a 10 January court hearing, police lieutenant Win Min Latt told the Western District Court that among the items seized from the defendants were audio recordings of Aung Myat Kyaw speaking with AA commander-in-chief Twan Mrat Naing, vice commander-in-chief Nyo Tun Aung and co-defendant Win Ko Khaing, though further details of those conversations have not been disclosed.
Yamin Myat, the sister of Aung Myat Kyaw and Twan Mrat Naing, was arrested with her husband, Kyaw Naing, in October and charged under the Anti-Terrorism Law for supporting the AA. They have been on trial since, facing up to seven years in prison.
Source: https://myanmar-now.org/en/news/rakhine-restaurants-shut-down-accused-of-funding-terrorism


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