Myan­mar govt probe finds no abuse against Ro­hingya

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed com­mis­sion yes­ter­day cleared Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces of sys­tem­atic rape, mur­der and ar­son against Ro­hingya Mus­lims, dis­miss­ing UN al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread abuses dur­ing a re­cent crack­down. The com­mis­sion ex­am­ined the deadly vi­o­lence which be­gan in north­west­ern Rakhine State in Oc­to­ber last year after at­tacks by Ro­hingya mil­i­tants on po­lice posts near the Bangladesh bor­der.

The gov­ern­ment is re­fus­ing to al­low a UN fact-find­ing team to con­duct its own probe into whether the se­cu­rity re­sponse amounted to “eth­nic cleans­ing” of the state­less Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity. Giv­ing their con­clu­sions yes­ter­day, a state-backed com­mis­sion said it found no ev­i­dence that Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces car­ried out a sys­tem­atic cam­paign of rape, mur­der or ar­son. In­stead any “ex­ces­sive ac­tions” were likely com­mit­ted by low-rank “in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces”. “Some in­ci­dents (of abuse) ap­peared to be fab­ri­cated... oth­ers had lit­tle ev­i­dence,” ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease by the com­mis­sion. It also took aim at a de­tailed re­port by the UN’s Hu­man Rights Of­fice re­leased in Fe­bru­ary this year. That re­port said it was “very likely” that crimes against hu­man­ity had been com­mit­ted dur­ing the crack­down.

Based on in­ter­views with 204 wit­nesses who fled to Bangladesh, the UN al­leged Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces gan­graped Ro­hingya women, butchered chil­dren and tor­tured men. But “no such cases were un­cov­ered” by the gov­ern­ment com­mis­sion, which said the UN find­ings lacked bal­ance and failed to rec­og­nize the grav­ity of the at­tacks by Ro­hingya mil­i­tants. Myan­mar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is a No­bel peace prize win­ner, is block­ing a visit by a UN team. She says the gov­ern­ment com­mis­sion is an ad­e­quate re­sponse to the vi­o­lence, which left scores dead and dis­placed tens of thou­sands of Ro­hingya to Bangladesh.

The Ro­hingya are re­viled in Myan­mar and widely seen as il­le­gal im­mi­grants. State­less, poor and sub­ject to tight con­trols on move­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and work, roughly one mil­lion of the Mus­lim group are hemmed into the im­pov­er­ished bor­der zone-which re­mains locked down and un­der cur­few. The com­mis­sion con­ceded that for­eign me­dia and NGOs should have been granted ac­cess to the zone dur­ing the con­flict to dis­pel “mis­con­cep­tions.” It also called for rights train­ing for low-level se­cu­rity of­fi­cers, urged lo­cal of­fi­cials to tackle cor­rup­tion and called for swift and fair tri­als of sus­pected mil­i­tants.

Rakhine State re­mains vi­o­lent and on edge. The gov­ern­ment says for­eign­backed Ro­hingya mil­i­tants are still ac­tive in the con­flict area, ac­cus­ing them of killing per­ceived state col­lab­o­ra­tors and run­ning “ter­ror” train­ing camps. Last week seven Bud­dhists were found dead in the con­flict area. Ro­hingya vil­lages also con­tinue to be raided. On Fri­day up to 50 “warn­ing shots” were fired at a Ro­hingya vil­lage dur­ing a raid. Un­ver­i­fi­able images on so­cial me­dia showed sev­eral peo­ple wounded by bul­lets al­legedly fired in the episode.

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