Myan­mar re­jects cease­fire by Ro­hingya in­sur­gents

The Daily News Egypt - - International -

DW—Myan­mar gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Zaw Htay tweeted late on Sun­day that the gov­ern­ment has “no pol­icy to ne­go­ti­ate with ter­ror­ists,” re­ject­ing a 30-day uni­lat­eral cease­fire by the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army (ARSA) amid a mas­sive es­ca­la­tion in vi­o­lence that has forced hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya civil­ians to flee to the bor­der with neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh.

His com­ments reaf­firmed the coun­try’s po­si­tion that the mil­i­tant group, which says it is fight­ing for the rights of “per­se­cuted” Ro­hingya Mus­lims in south­ern Rakhine state (pre­vi­ously known as Arakan state), is a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion that wants to cre­ate an Is­lamic re­pub­lic in the re­gion.

Thou­sands killed

ARSA an­nounced on Satur­day a pro­vi­sional truce in the bloody con­flict,which over the past year has seen some 520 com­bat­ants and more than 2,000 civil­ians killed, ac­cord­ing to in­de­pen­dent es­ti­mates.

“The Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army (ARSA) hereby de­clares a tem­po­rary ces­sa­tion of of­fen­sive mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions,” the group said in a state­ment on it­sTwit­ter ac­count on Satur­day.

The one-month cease­fire will last un­til Oc­to­ber 9,ARSA said.The group called on the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment to “re­cip­ro­cate this hu­man­i­tar­ian pause” in fight­ing and re­quested that aid be de­liv­ered to those dis­placed in Bangladesh and within Rakhine state.

ARSA, which has been ac­tive since last year, ini­tially launched small as­saults against the mil­i­tary. In Au­gust, how­ever, it car­ried out co­or­di­nated at­tacks on po­lice posts and an army base, lead­ing to the swift and sub­stan­tial re­sponse from the mil­i­tary that caused the mass civil­ian ex­o­dus.

United Na­tions work­ers on the Bangladesh side of the bor­der say about 294,000 Ro­hingya civil­ians have ar­rived over the past two weeks, while tens of thou­sands more are on the move within Rakhine with­out ad­e­quate food or shel­ter.As well as Ro­hingya, some 27,000 eth­nic Rakhine Bud­dhists and Hin­dus have also fled vi­o­lence in the north of Rakhine state.

Bangladesh, mean­while, is strug­gling to cope with the new in­flux, as it al­ready hosts some 400,000 Ro­hingya from pre­vi­ous crises.

Land­mine lay­ing?

Also on Sun­day, the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment faced ac­cu­sa­tions of plant­ing land­mines close to the Bangladesh bor­der that have killed and in­jured sev­eral Ro­hingya civil­ians in re­cent days.

“All in­di­ca­tions point to the Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces de­lib­er­ately tar­get­ing lo­ca­tions that Ro­hingya refugees use as cross­ing points,” Ti­rana Has­san,Amnesty in­ter­na­tional’s cri­sis re­sponse di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment.

“This is a cruel and cal­lous way of adding to the mis­ery of peo­ple flee­ing a sys­tem­atic cam­paign of per­se­cu­tion,” she said.

The mil­i­tary has in­sisted that no mines were laid re­cently but ad­mit­ted that many still re­main from a 1990s cam­paign to pre­vent bor­der tres­pass­ing.

While the gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar—pre­vi­ously known as Burma— says its se­cu­rity forces are car­ry­ing out clearance op­er­a­tions against ARSA through­out Rakhine state, hu­man rights groups say the army and a group of Bud­dhist vig­i­lantes have mounted an ar­son cam­paign to drive out the Ro­hingya from the re­gion.Thou­sands of homes have been burned down and dozens of vil­lages de­stroyed in re­cent weeks.

No recog­ni­tion

One of the most eth­ni­cally di­verse coun­tries on the planet, Myan­mar has sought to in­te­grate most of its mi­nori­ties dur­ing its tran­si­tion from mil­i­tary rule to democ­racy over the past five years. But its lead­ers have faced re­peated crit­i­cism for fail­ing to recog­nise the state­less Mus­lim Ro­hingya com­mu­nity, la­belling them “Ben­galis” or il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh.

Myan­mar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who won a No­bel peace prize for cham­pi­oning democ­racy, has been ac­cused of fail­ing to speak out for the Ro­hingya—a mi­nor­ity that has long com­plained of per­se­cu­tion—in an at­tempt to ap­pease the Bud­dhist ma­jor­ity.

On Sun­day,the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion (OIC) de­manded that Myan­mar ac­cept in­ter­na­tional mon­i­tors to carry out a “thor­ough and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion” of the con­flict.

At a meet­ing in As­tana, Kaza­khstan, the 57-mem­ber bloc hit out at what it said were “sys­tem­atic bru­tal acts” against the Ro­hingya peo­ple.

Some ev­i­dence sur­faced that the gov­ern­ment has planted land­mines which have killed flee­ing civil­ians

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