Myanmar army clears itself of atrocity charges
> Military denies abusing Rohingya, replaces general
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
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