Myan­mar army clears it­self of atroc­ity charges

> Mil­i­tary de­nies abus­ing Ro­hingya, re­places gen­eral

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

YANGON: Myan­mar’s army re­leased a re­port on Mon­day deny­ing all al­le­ga­tions of rape and killings by se­cu­rity forces, hav­ing days ear­lier re­placed the gen­eral in charge of the op­er­a­tion that drove over 600,000 Ro­hingya to flee to Bangladesh.

No rea­son was given for Ma­jor-Gen­eral Maung Maung Soe be­ing trans­ferred from his post as the head of Western Com­mand in Rakhine state, where Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary, known as the Tat­madaw, launched a sweep­ing counter-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tion in Au­gust.

“I don’t know the rea­son why he was trans­ferred,” Ma­jor-Gen­eral Aye Lwin, deputy di­rec­tor of the psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare and pub­lic re­la­tion depart­ment at the min­istry of de­fence, said.

“He wasn’t moved into any po­si­tion at present. He has been put in re­serve.”

A se­nior UN of­fi­cial, who had toured the refugee camps in Bangladesh, on Sun­day ac­cused Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary of con­duct­ing or­gan­ised mass rape and other crimes against hu­man­ity.

The mil­i­tary said its own in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion had ex­on­er­ated se­cu­rity forces of all ac­cu­sa­tions of atroc­i­ties.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ find­ings were posted on the Face­book page of the mil­i­tary’s com­man­der-in-chief, Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing.

The de­vel­op­ments came ahead of a visit to­day by US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son. He is ex­pected to de­liver a stern mes­sage to Myan­mar’s gen­er­als, over whom national leader Aung San Suu Kyi has lit­tle con­trol.

US State Depart­ment spokesman Katina Adams said the US was aware of re­ports of the gen­eral’s re­place­ment and added: “We re­main gravely con­cerned by con­tin­u­ing re­ports of vi­o­lence and hu­man rights abuses com­mit­ted by Burmese se­cu­rity forces and vig­i­lantes.

“Those re­spon­si­ble for abuses must be held ac­count­able.”

Law­mak­ers in Washington are press­ing to pass leg­is­la­tion im­pos­ing eco­nomic and travel sanc­tions tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary and its business in­ter­ests.

In an op-ed in the Bri­tish Guardian news­pa­per on Mon­day, Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Chabot and Demo­cratic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joseph Crow­ley said it was time to “ex­pe­di­tiously” im­pose sanc­tions.

“The US needs to send a clear mes­sage that there is no ex­cuse for a cruel, ex­ten­sive and grossly dis­pro­por­tion­ate crack­down on civil­ians,” they said. – Reuters


... A woman takes a photo of a dead sperm whale on a beach in Aceh Be­sar yes­ter­day. Vol­un­teers man­aged to free six of the 10 beached whales us­ing ropes and pa­trol boats and turn them back into the wa­ters off north­ern Su­ma­tra. The other four have died. Aceh con­ser­va­tion agency head Sapto Aji Prabowo said it was not known why the sperm whales, among the big­gest mam­mals on Earth, had washed up in shal­low wa­ter.

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