Govt rejects ‘safety zone’ proposal in Rakhine
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.
A Tatmadaw soldier stands guard in Shwe Zar, a Muslim village near Maungdaw, on September 6.