Myan­mar army clears it­self of Ro­hingya atroc­ity claims

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS ROUNDUPS -

Myan­mar’s army on 23 May cleared it­self of al­le­ga­tions that troops may have car­ried out eth­nic cleans­ing of Ro­hingya Mus­lims, but said a sol­dier had been jailed for tak­ing a mo­tor­bike.

More than 70,000 mem­bers of the per­se­cuted mi­nor­ity fled to neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh af­ter the mil­i­tary launched a wide­spread crack­down late last year in the north of Rakhine state to hunt down in­sur­gents who at­tacked po­lice bor­der posts.

UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors who in­ter­viewed hun­dreds of es­capees doc­u­mented re­ports of mass killings, wide­spread rapes and hor­ri­fy­ing ac­counts of ba­bies be­ing thrown into burn­ing houses. In a re­port re­leased in Fe­bru­ary they said se­cu­rity forces may have com­mit­ted atroc­i­ties so se­vere they amount to crimes against hu­man­ity and eth­nic cleans­ing.But on 23 May the mil­i­tary said the re­sults of its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion, led by army chief Aye Win, showed those charges were “false and fab­ri­cated”.

“Out of 18 ac­cu­sa­tions in­cluded in the OHCHR re­port, 12 were found to be in­cor­rect, with (the) re­main­ing six ac­cu­sa­tions found to be false and fab­ri­cated ac­cu­sa­tions based on lies and in­vented state­ments,” said a re­port by the army’s ‘True News’ team car­ried in state me­dia, us­ing the ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the UN’s rights body. One mem­ber of the se­cu­rity forces was, how­ever, sen­tenced to a year in jail and fined for tak­ing a mo­tor­bike with­out the knowl­edge of its owner, the state­ment said. A vil­lage head and sev­eral vil­lagers were also whipped and two peo­ple sent to pri­son for fail­ing to help put out a fire.

Both the mil­i­tary and the civil­ian gov­ern­ment led by No­bel peace prize win­ner Aung San Suu Kyi have de­nied al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread atroc­i­ties against the Ro­hingya and re­fused to al­low in a UN fact-find­ing mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate. In­stead the gov­ern­ment, po­lice and mil­i­tary have launched their own probes into the vi­o­lence. These have been roundly crit­i­cised by rights groups as bi­ased and lack­ing cred­i­bil­ity.

The army said its in­ves­ti­ga­tors had in­ter­viewed 2,875 peo­ple from 29 vil­lages, but did not say whether they were eth­nic Rakhines or the Ro­hingya Mus­lims who make up the ma­jor­ity in north­ern Rakhine. The Ro­hingya, stripped of cit­i­zen­ship by Myan­mar’s then-mil­i­tary lead­ers in 1982, are loathed by many in the Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity coun­try, who claim they are il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh and re­fer to them as “Ben­galis”.

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