Govt re­jects ‘safety zone’ pro­posal in Rakhine

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page -

The gov­ern­ment has re­jected a pro­posal by Bangladesh to cre­ate a “safety zone” in Rakhine State in the wake of the con­flict that has seen many peo­ple dis­placed.

THE Myan­mar gov­ern­ment has re­jected a pro­posal by Bangladeshi gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a “safety zone” in the ter­ri­tory of Myan­mar bor­der­ing the neigh­bour­ing coun­try, said a spokesper­son from the Of­fice of State Coun­sel­lor. “The gov­ern­ment re­jects the plan to cre­ate a safety zone. The in­ter­na­tional ac­tors con­trol if one is ever es­tab­lished,” U Zaw Htay, di­rec­tor gen­eral at the min­istry of the State Coun­sel­lor Of­fice, told The Myan­mar Times.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pub­lished by Reuters last week, the Bangladeshi gov­ern­ment sent the pro­posal about cre­at­ing a “safety zone” to the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment through the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross.

U Zaw Htay also ex­plained in a press brief­ing on Wed­nes­day in Nay Pyi Taw, why Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her ca­pac­ity as for­eign min­is­ter and State Coun­sel­lor, de­cided not to at­tend the upcoming United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly in New York.

The for­eign min­is­ter can­celled her plan to at­tend the UN con­fer­ence so she could fo­cus on the re­set­tle­ment and de­liv­er­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance to the two com­mu­ni­ties in Rakhine State, the of­fi­cial said.

U Zaw Htay said she is can­celling the trip to take care of the in­ter­nal sta­bil­ity, to pur­sue and pri­ori­tise se­cu­rity, as in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing ter­ror­ist at­tacks has been re­ceived and also due to the health con­di­tions of Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw.

On Septem­ber 19, State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was sched­uled to de­liver a state of the union ad­dress about the Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Process and would also dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine State.

Vice pres­i­dent, U Henry Van Thio will at­tend the UN con­fer­ence .

Since the Au­gust 25 at­tacks on bor­der-guard and po­lice out­posts by Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army (ARSA), whom the gov­ern­ment de­clared as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion, a UN agency for refugees in Bangladesh an­nounced this week that more than 350,000 peo­ple have fled to Bangladesh from Myan­mar af­ter gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity forces al­legedly com­mit­ted hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.

But the gov­ern­ment has so far de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions.

U Zaw Htay said that of the 417 Mus­lim vil­lages in Rakhine State, res­i­dents from 34 vil­lages have ei­ther fled or re­mained, while res­i­dents from 176 vil­lages aban­doned their homes.

How­ever, 260 vil­lages are still in­hab­ited by the Mus­lims who re­ject the ide­ol­ogy or per­sua­sion of ter­ror­ists.

As the se­cu­rity has to a cer­tain ex­tent been con­trolled, about 4200 peo­ple re­turned to their orig­i­nal res­i­dences in 25 vil­lages, U Zaw Htay said.

The gov­ern­ment said about 370 ARSA ter­ror­ists were killed in the clear­ance op­er­a­tions con­ducted by Tat­madaw in north­ern Rakhine while about 40 were cap­tured alive since the af­ter­math of Au­gust 25 at­tacks.

Af­ter declar­ing the ARSA as ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion, gov­ern­ment has warned lo­cal Mus­lim com­mu­nity not to as­sist the group or could be pros­e­cuted un­der the coun­try’s Coun­terT­er­ror­ism Law.

Last week, po­lice from Buthi­daung opened a case against U Shwe Maung, a for­mer USDP law­maker un­der the sec­tion 50 of the law for he al­legedly sup­ported the ARSA ter­ror­ists in a video posted on so­cial me­dia.

The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment does not recog­nise the Mus­lims in Rakhine who call them­selves as Ro­hingyas, but of­ten re­fer them as “Ben­galis” to in­di­cate they il­le­gal mi­grants from Bangladesh.

Photo: Lun Min Maung

A Tat­madaw sol­dier stands guard in Shwe Zar, a Mus­lim vil­lage near Maung­daw, on Septem­ber 6.

LUN MIN MAUNG

HTOO THANT

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