Myan­mar’s army chief says Ro­hingyas are not na­tive, ex­o­dus num­bers ‘ex­ag­ger­ated’

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World -

YANGON:The

me­dia has “ex­ag­ger­ated” the num­ber of Ro­hingya refugees flee­ing an army crack­down, Myan­mar’s com­man­derin-chief said on Thurs­day, in a brash re­but­tal of ac­cu­sa­tions of eth­nic cleans­ing by his forces.

Nearly 520,000 Ro­hingya have fled Myan­mar’s western Rakhine state since Au­gust 25, when the mil­i­tary launched a sweep­ing cam­paign against mil­i­tants from the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity.

The crack­down has been so in­tense that the UN on Wed­nes­day ac­cused Myan­mar of try­ing to purge its en­tire Ro­hingya pop­u­la­tion.

A new UN re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day de­scribed the armyled crack­down as “well-or­gan­ised, co­or­di­nated and sys­tem­atic, with the in­tent of not only driv­ing the pop­u­la­tion out of Myan­mar but pre­vent­ing them from re­turn­ing to their homes”.

Half of Myan­mar’s Ro­hingya have bolted over the last seven weeks, flee­ing in­cin­er­ated vil­lages to join what has be­come the world’s largest refugee camp in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Thou­sands more are still try­ing to es­cape, mass­ing on beaches and hop­ing to cross the Naf River be­fore their food runs out.

But in a Face­book post on his of­fi­cial page on Thurs­day, army chief Min Aung Hlaing was un­re­pen­tant, de­scrib­ing the mil­i­tary re­sponse as pro­por­tion­ate and play­ing down the scale of the ex­o­dus.

It is an “ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that the num­ber of Ben­galis flee­ing to Bangladesh is very large,” the post quoted him as say­ing, us­ing a pe­jo­ra­tive term for the Ro­hingya that clas­si­fies them as il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

In­stead, he blamed “in­sti­ga­tion and pro­pa­ganda” by the me­dia, who have be­come a punch­ing bag for anger in­side Myan­mar, a Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity coun­try where there is lit­tle sym­pa­thy for Ro­hingyas. AFP

NYT

Ro­hingya refugee chil­dren line up for food at the Balukhali refugee camp out­side Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh.

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