Burma probe finds no crimes against hu­man­ity

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

RANGOON, Burma — The Burmese gov­ern­ment’s in­quiry into vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine state last year that forced tens of thou­sands of Mus­lim Ro­hingya to flee to Bangladesh and led to U.N. ac­cu­sa­tions of crimes against hu­man­ity by the army has con­cluded that no such crimes hap­pened.

Speak­ing at the re­lease of the Rakhine In­ves­tiga­tive Com­mis­sion’s fi­nal re­port, Vice Pres­i­dent Myint Swe — a for­mer gen­eral — told re­porters Sun­day that “there is no ev­i­dence of crimes against hu­man­ity and eth­nic cleans­ing as the Of­fice of the High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights claimed.”

He also de­nied charges that there had been gang rapes by the mil­i­tary as it swept through Ro­hingya vil­lages in a se­cu­rity clear­ance op­er­a­tion. The army was re­act­ing to deadly at­tacks against bor­der po­lice posts by a pre­vi­ously un­known in­sur­gent group in Oc­to­ber 2016 in the Maung­daw area of Rakhine.

The com­mis­sion’s re­port did ac­cept that some things might have hap­pened that broke the law, at­tribut­ing it to ex­ces­sive ac­tion on the part of in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces.

Rights groups have pre­vi­ously ex­pressed their doubts over the com­mis­sion’s work, say­ing it lacked out­side ex­perts, had poor re­search method­olo­gies and lacked cred­i­bil­ity be­cause it was not in­de­pen­dent.

The U.N. has man­dated its own fact-find­ing mis­sion to travel to the Maung­daw area to con­duct its own in­quiry, but the gov­ern­ment has said its mem­bers will not be al­lowed to go.

Zaw Myint Pe, a se­nior mem­ber of the gov­ern­ment com­mis­sion, said the re­port re­leased by the Of­fice of the High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights in early Fe­bru­ary, which in­cluded ac­cu­sa­tions of rights abuses by se­cu­rity forces, had failed to take into con­sid­er­a­tion vi­o­lent acts com­mit­ted by Mus­lim groups.

“The re­port does not con­tain for­ward-look­ing con­struc­tive rec­om­men­da­tions but in­stead ac­cuses Myan­mar of com­mit­ting geno­cide and eth­nic cleans­ing by killing Mus­lims and it is ter­ri­bly af­fect­ing our coun­try’s im­age,” said Zaw Myint Pe.

Burma is of­ten called Myan­mar, a name adopted after the mil­i­tary took power in 1989. Op­po­nents have re­fused to adopt the name change, as have the U.S. and the United King­dom.

The gov­ern­ment has shut down north­ern Rakhine, where the al­le­ga­tions of right abuses are on­go­ing, to in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ists, rights ex­perts and hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers for al­most nine months. The se­cu­rity forces launched an ag­gres­sive clear­ance op­er­a­tion in Rakhine in Oc­to­ber 2016 after shad­owy in­sur­gents killed nine bor­der guard po­lice of­fi­cers.

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