Rakhine min­is­ter presses armed group to with­draw con­tested claims of war crimes

The Myanmar Times - - News - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­times.com

THE Rakhine State Min­istry for Bor­der Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity is con­tin­u­ing to pres­sure an eth­nic armed group to re­tract a state­ment it made al­leg­ing forced por­ter­ing by the Tat­madaw. The min­istry, which is headed by a mil­i­tary ap­pointee, re­fuses to re­lease a de­tained com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer of the group un­til its de­mand is met, ac­cord­ing to mem­bers of the armed or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Arakan Lib­er­a­tion Party met with Bor­der Af­fairs Min­is­ter Colonel Htein Lin on July 29, but the two sides failed to reach any agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to Ma­jor Khine Nay Lin, a se­nior mem­ber of the ALP. At the meet­ing, the min­is­ter re­it­er­ated a re­quest that the of­fend­ing state­ment be with­drawn or amended.

In April, the ALP re­leased a re­port ac­cus­ing the Tat­madaw of com­mit­ting war crimes and vi­o­lat­ing the Geneva Con­ven­tion by forc­ing Rakhine civil­ians to act as porters and hu­man shields. The re­port in­cluded video and photo tes­ti­mony. The Tat­madaw has strongly de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

On July 25, ALP com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer U Khine Myo Tun was ar­rested and charged with in­cite­ment and defamation un­der sec­tions 505(b) and (c) of the pe­nal code. Maj Khine Nay Lin said the ALP’s cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee will hold an in­ter­nal dis­cus­sion about the min­is­ter’s re­quest.

“I can’t de­cide on my own to with­draw or amend the state­ment be­cause it was is­sued by con­sen­sus. Now we will have to have a dis­cus­sion about it within the party,” he said.

Rakhine State’s in­for­ma­tion depart­ment con­firmed the July 29 meet­ing as well as the stale­mate, but said it is un­clear when the two sides will meet again.

Ac­cord­ing to state gov­ern­ment-run so­cial me­dia the Rakhine Gazette, the min­is­ter said dur­ing the meet­ing that the case could be dropped if the pur­port­edly in­ac­cu­rate state­ment is cor­rected. How­ever, the ALP did not agree.

Ac­cord­ing to a Sit­twe state po­lice of­fi­cial who asked not to be named, U Khine Myo Tun re­mains in Sit­twe Prison.

“He will have a hear­ing in court this com­ing Thurs­day [Au­gust 5] in Sit­twe,” said the source.

Col Htein Lin was un­avail­able for com­ment yes­ter­day, ac­cord­ing to his per­sonal as­sis­tant.

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