US to look into re­sults of Tat­madaw in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rakhine vi­o­lence

The Myanmar Times - - News - - Staff

THE United States said it will look into the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­ducted by the Tat­madaw of the re­cent vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine State that killed hun­dreds of peo­ple and dis­placed over 600,000 Mus­lims, a se­nior State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said Tues­day.

The of­fi­cial, who will ac­com­pany State Sec­re­tary Rex Tiller­son on his visit to Myan­mar to­day, said the state de­part­ment has yet to re­ceive a re­port about the Tat­madaw in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“That’s one of the things we’ll be look­ing into when we go,” the of­fi­cial told a se­lect group of re­porters in Manila on the eve of Tiller­son’s trip to Myan­mar.

“As far as whether or not Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wants to solve the cri­sis, I can as­sure you that she does,” the of­fi­cial said. “Here in Manila, she’s had con­ver­sa­tions with al­most all her coun­ter­parts and has been very forth­com­ing about want­ing to solve the prob­lem.”

Late Mon­day, the Tat­madaw’s True News In­for­ma­tion Team re­leased the find­ings of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the ac­tions of se­cu­rity forces in Rakhine dur­ing the Au­gust 25 ter­ror­ist at­tacks and its af­ter­math.

The re­port de­nied wide­spread al­le­ga­tions by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of mas­sive abuses and ex­ces­sive force used by troops in sup­press­ing Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army (ARSA) ter­ror­ists.

It said Tat­madaw forces “strictly abided by the or­ders and di­rec­tives of the su­pe­ri­ors, es­pe­cially the rules of en­gage­ment.”

Civil­ians in the area, in­clud­ing Mus­lims who were in­ter­viewed by the in­ves­ti­gat­ing team tes­ti­fied that “se­cu­rity forces did not shoot in­no­cent vil­lagers, com­mit sex­ual vi­o­lence or rape women.”

“They [the troops] did not ar­rest, beat or kill vil­lagers. They did not de­stroy, rob or take prop­erty, gold and sil­ver, ve­hi­cles or an­i­mals from vil­lagers or dis­placed vil­lagers,” the re­port said.

“They did not set fire to mosques in ‘Ben­gali’ vil­lages. They al­lowed ‘Ben­gali’ vil­lagers to wor­ship in free­dom with­out ban­ning them from mosques or prayers. They did not threaten, bully or drive out peo­ple from their vil­lages or set fire to their houses,” it said.

The re­port said some 6000 to 10,000 ARSA ter­ror­ists and their sup­port­ers set fire to the houses in the vil­lages and forced res­i­dents to flee to Bangladesh or “they would be con­sid­ered traitors to Is­lam” and they would slit their throats.

Wit­nesses said the ARSA fight­ers and their sup­port­ers told the vil­lagers to run away or be at­tacked by govern­ment troops fir­ing grenade launch­ers, set­ting fire to their vil­lages, shoot­ing them with ma­chine guns and bomb­ing them with he­li­copters.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN, over 600,000 Mus­lims from north­ern Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh to es­cape the vi­o­lence, and the ex­o­dus con­tin­ues.

The re­port claimed that the fight­ing in north­ern Rakhine lasted only 12 days, start­ing on Au­gust 25 when ARSA fight­ers launched at­tacks on govern­ment out­posts, and end­ing on Septem­ber 5.

It said there were 94 clashes, re­sult­ing in the deaths of 376 ARSA fight­ers and 13 Tat­madaw sol­diers.

An in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion dis­missed the Tat­madaw in­ves­ti­ga­tion as an ef­fort to white­wash “eth­nic cleans­ing.”

“The Burmese mil­i­tary’s lat­est claim that its forces did not com­mit abuses dur­ing re­cent op­er­a­tions against eth­nic Ro­hingya in Rakhine State is con­trary to a large and grow­ing body of ev­i­dence,” the New York­based Hu­man Rights Watch said Tues­day.

“The Burmese au­thor­i­ties’ fail­ure to cred­i­bly and im­par­tially in­ves­ti­gate grave vi­o­la­tions amount­ing to crimes against hu­man­ity demon­strates the need for the govern­ment to al­low the United Na­tions ap­pointed fact-find­ing mis­sion into the coun­try to con­duct in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” it added.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, who met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Manila on Tues­day on the side­lines of the ASEAN Sum­mit, ex­pressed his “deep con­cern” over the hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees that fled from Myan­mar.

“It is a wor­ry­ing es­ca­la­tion in a pro­tracted tragedy and a po­ten­tial source of in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion,” he said in a state­ment ahead of the meet­ing with the State Coun­sel­lor.

“Since the be­gin­ning of the cri­sis, I have called for un­hin­dered hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess to af­fected com­mu­ni­ties and the right to safe, vol­un­tary and dig­ni­fied re­turn of those who fled, to their places of ori­gin,” he said.

Photo: Reuters

Myan­mar’s State Coun­sel­lor and For­eign Min­is­ter Daw Aung San Suu Kyi looks on at the ASEAN-Euro­pean Union sum­mit in Manila on Tues­day.

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