Plan to arm non-Mus­lims recipe for dis­as­ter: Ju­rist

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Myan­mar’s plans to arm and train non-Mus­lim res­i­dents in the trou­bled north of Rakhine State is likely to “ag­gra­vate an al­ready dire hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion”, the In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion of Jurists, a hu­man rights watch­dog, has said. Sol­diers have flooded the Maung­daw area along Myan­mar’s fron­tier with Bangladesh in Rakhine in re­sponse to co­or­di­nated at­tacks on three bor­der posts on Oct 9 in which nine po­lice of­fi­cers were killed.

The gov­ern­ment said a group of some 400 Ro­hingya Mus­lim mil­i­tants at­tacked the posts. It has said five sol­diers and at least 33 sus­pected in­sur­gents have been killed in the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion since then. Se­cu­rity forces have blocked ac­cess to aid work­ers and most jour­nal­ists to the area. Ro­hingya Mus­lims have ac­cused the army of sum­mary ex­e­cu­tions, rapes and set­ting fire to homes of civil­ians. The gov­ern­ment and the mil­i­tary deny that.

Rakhine State po­lice chief Colonel Sein Lwin told Reuters this week his force had started re­cruit­ing new “re­gional po­lice” from among the eth­nic Rakhine and other non-Mus­lim eth­nic mi­nori­ties in the area. “Es­tab­lish­ing an armed, un­trained, un­ac­count­able force drawn from only one com­mu­nity in the midst of se­ri­ous eth­nic ten­sions and vi­o­lence is a recipe for dis­as­ter,” said Sam Zar­ifi, ICJ’s Asia Di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment on Fri­day.

Min Aung, a min­is­ter in the Rakhine State par­lia­ment and a mem­ber of Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s Na­tional League for Democ­racy, said this week the re­cruits would help pro­tect res­i­dents from the mil­i­tants be­hind the Oct 9 at­tacks. Deputy com­man­der of Rakhine po­lice, Col. Thit San, con­tacted by Reuters yes­ter­day, re­jected the crit­i­cism, say­ing there will be no prob­lems with the force as it would be un­der po­lice com­mand. “We al­ready did that train­ing pre­vi­ously, that is nor­mal po­lice re­cruit­ment as five or six times be­fore, there were no prob­lems then,” said Thit San.

Only cit­i­zens would be el­i­gi­ble to sign up for the po­lice train­ing, of­fi­cials said, rul­ing out the 1.1 mil­lion Ro­hingyas liv­ing in Rakhine State, who are de­nied cit­i­zen­ship in Myan­mar as they are re­garded as il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh. Ini­tially, 100 re­cruits aged be­tween 18 and 35 would un­dergo an ac­cel­er­ated 16-week train­ing pro­gram, be­gin­ning in the state cap­i­tal, Sit­twe, this month, po­lice said, adding they would be given weapons and other equip­ment “like po­lice”.

Eth­nic Rakhine po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have urged the gov­ern­ment to arm Bud­dhists against what they say is ris­ing mil­i­tancy among the Ro­hingya. The ICJ said such force would lack the train­ing and over­sight to per­form polic­ing func­tions in ac­cor­dance with hu­man rights and pro­fes­sional polic­ing stan­dards.

It said there seemed to be no “ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nism” in place to deal with in­stances of mis­con­duct and abuses, call­ing for es­tab­lish­ment of a pro­fes­sional po­lice force. — Reuters

US forces con­ceded yes­ter­day that its air strikes “very likely” re­sulted in civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in Afghanistan’s volatile Kun­duz province, pledg­ing a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent which trig­gered an­gry protests. The strikes early Thurs­day killed at least 30 peo­ple, many of them chil­dren, af­ter a Tal­iban as­sault left two Amer­i­can sol­diers and three Afghan spe­cial forces sol­diers dead in the Boz-eKan­da­hari area near the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal.

“The pres­i­dent of Afghanistan has sent a spe­cial del­e­ga­tion to Kun­duz to in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent. Any neg­li­gence by any­one will be pun­ished,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ha­roon Chakhansuri told re­porters. US mil­i­tary spokesman Charles Cleve­land said an ini­tial probe showed the at­tack “very likely re­sulted in civil­ian ca­su­al­ties”. The car­nage trig­gered im­pas­sioned protests in Kun­duz city, with the vic­tims’ rel­a­tives parad­ing mu­ti­lated bod­ies of dead chil­dren piled into open trucks through the streets.

“Look around me-ev­ery­one is in deep pain,” Sul­tan Mo­ham­mad said, car­ry­ing the body of a vic­tim for the mass funeral cer­e­mony on Fri­day. “What was their crime? Why were they killed like this?” He joined a grow­ing cho­rus of peo­ple call­ing to bring the per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice. The car­nage un­der­scores wors­en­ing in­se­cu­rity af­ter the Tal­iban last month over­ran the city for the sec­ond time in a year, as NATObacked Afghan forces strug­gle to rein in the in­sur­gents.

US-backed Afghan spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces were con­duct­ing an op­er­a­tion against the Tal­iban on the out­skirts of Kun­duz city when they came un­der in­sur­gent fire, prompt­ing calls for air sup­port. “I deeply re­gret the loss of in­no­cent lives, re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stances. — AFP

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