Of­fi­cials deny Mus­lims forced out in Maung­daw

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

AMID a dearth of in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fi­able in­for­ma­tion com­ing out of heav­ily mil­i­tarised north­ern Rakhine State, a re­port that hun­dreds of Mus­lims were re­cently forced from their vil­lage was met with twin de­nials yes­ter­day.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Kyaw Naing Soe, a Tat­madaw of­fi­cer who has tem­po­rar­ily taken charge at the Kyikan Pyin Bor­der Guard Po­lice com­mand post check­point, re­futed an Oc­to­ber 24 Reuters re­port that some 2000 Mus­lim res­i­dents of Kyikan Pyin vil­lage were or­dered out. The re­port cited the ac­counts of four sources iden­ti­fy­ing as mem­bers of the Mus­lim Ro­hingya, a largely state­less group that has faced state-sanc­tioned dis­crim­i­na­tion for years.

Tat­madaw troops and po­lice in the area were con­duct­ing rou­tine op­er­a­tional clear­ance in the area, Maj Gen Kyaw Naing Soe told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day, adding that se­cu­rity forces were in fact en­cour­ag­ing Mus­lims found to have fled into the sur­round­ing hills and rice pad­dies to re­turn to their homes and co­op­er­ate with au­thor­i­ties.

“We did not force any Mus­lim res­i­dents from their homes. We ac­tu­ally urged them to re­turn home when we saw them. At the mo­ment, some in­no­cent Mus­lim res­i­dents have al­ready re­turned home and are stay­ing there nor­mally,” he said.

U Kyaw Kyaw Oo, deputy head of the Maung­daw district ad­min­is­tra­tive depart­ment, echoed that as­ser­tion.

“As far as I’m aware, all par­ties, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment and army au­thor­i­ties, are call­ing for [Mus­lims] to re­turn home as they did not com­mit nor were in­volved with the at­tack,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Oo, re­fer­ring to a co­or­di­nated Oc­to­ber 9 as­sault on three Bor­der Guard Po­lice posts in Maung­daw and neigh­bour­ing Rathedaung town­ships. “So the army would not be forc­ing them from home at all.”

He ac­knowl­edged that the dis­cov­ery of a firearm and at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces near Kyikan Pyin vil­lage in the days fol­low­ing the deadly Oc­to­ber 9 at­tack has led them to adopt an in­ten­sive anti-in­sur­gency pos­ture, but he in­sisted hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions were not oc­cur­ring.

U Kyaw Min, chair of the Democ­racy and Hu­man Rights Party, told The Myan­mar Times that mem­bers of his party – which has ties to north­ern Rakhine State’s Ro­hingya pop­u­la­tion – had heard ac­counts of the mil­i­tary in­struct­ing Mus­lim res­i­dents to re­turn to their homes when they en­coun­tered them in paddy fields. He said he had not heard of Mus­lims be­ing forced from their homes.

“The sit­u­a­tion may be that for var­i­ous [rea­sons] Mus­lim res­i­dents fled, be­cause the at­tacks are com­pli­cated and hard to ex­plain. How­ever, I be­lieve that the in­no­cent Mus­lim res­i­dents had no plan to flee and they may have fled due to anx­i­ety, but we are con­cerned that there will be hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions with or­di­nary Mus­lim res­i­dents,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to state me­dia, at least 30 sus­pected mil­i­tants have been killed by se­cu­rity forces in the ini­tial at­tacks and a sub­se­quent man­hunt that has seen the mil­i­tary lock down north­ern Rakhine State. Many ar­rests have also been made, most or all of them likely to have been Mus­lims, given that the gov­ern­ment has said the bor­der post as­sailants were in­spired by rad­i­cal Is­lam.

Maj Gen Kyaw Naing Soe said the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion had im­proved in north­west Maung­daw town­ship, where two of the at­tacks took place.

He said it had been days since any clashes had been re­ported.

“The con­di­tions are get­ting nor­mal of late. How­ever, the se­cu­rity forces con­tinue op­er­at­ing be­cause of the need to be sure to clear [the area of in­sur­gents] and en­sure safety for res­i­dents defini­tively,” he said.

He added that many res­i­dents from both Mus­lim and Bud­dhist com­mu­ni­ties had re­turned to their vil­lages af­ter flee­ing in the at­tacks’ im­me­di­ate af­ter­math.

‘We did not force any Mus­lims from their homes. We ac­tu­ally urged them to re­turn home.’

Ma­jor Gen­eral Kyaw Naing Soe Tat­madaw

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