Myan­mar army chief de­fends Rakhine crack­down

New Straits Times - - World -

YAN­GON: Myan­mar’s army chief de­fended a mil­i­tary crack­down in Rakhine State yes­ter­day af­ter the United Na­tions pledged to probe claims se­cu­rity forces car­ried out a cam­paign of killing and tor­ture against Ro­hingya Mus­lims there.

Al­most 75,000 peo­ple from the per­se­cuted mi­nor­ity have es­caped to Bangladesh af­ter the mil­i­tary launched op­er­a­tions in the north of the restive state to find Ro­hingya mil­i­tants who raided po­lice bor­der posts in Oc­to­ber.

UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve se­cu­rity forces may have com­mit­ted crimes against hu­man­ity. Last week, the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil agreed to dis­patch an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional factfind­ing mis­sion, with a view to “en­sur­ing full ac­count­abil­ity for per­pe­tra­tors and jus­tice for vic­tims”.

Myan­mar has long faced crit­i­cism for its treat­ment of the more than one mil­lion Ro­hingya who live in Rakhine State, who are re­jected as il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh or “Ben­galis” de­spite many liv­ing there for gen­er­a­tions.

Speak­ing to crowds as­sem­bled in the cap­i­tal for armed forces day, army chief Min Aung Hlaing yes­ter­day de­fended the mil­i­tary cam­paign.

“The Ben­galis in Rakhine State are not Myan­mar na­tion­al­i­ties but im­mi­grants,” he said, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial trans­la­tion.

“The ter­ror­ist at­tacks that took place in Oc­to­ber last year re­sulted in the po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ences.”

Myan­mar’s civil­ian govern­ment led by Aung San Suu Kyi has also re­buffed the probe, say­ing any in­ter­na­tional fact-find­ing mis­sion “would do more to in­flame, rather than re­solve, the is­sues at this time”.

The coun­try’s pow­er­ful mil­i­tary un­til re­cently ruled Myan­mar with an iron fist and built up a no­to­ri­ous rep­u­ta­tion for rights abuses, es­pe­cially when con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions against restive eth­nic in­sur­gents. AFP

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