Myanmar nationalists say UN Rakhine probe unwelcome
By Kyaw Ye Lynn
November 6, 2016
Accuse int'l community of interfering in internal affairs by calling for probe into alleged killings, rapes of Rohingya
YANGON, Myanmar -- Buddhist nationalists have gathered in Myanmar to condemn the United Nations and the international community at large for calling for a probe into allegations that soldiers killed and raped Rohingya women in western Rakhine State.
The instances are alleged to have occurred during army clearance operations following the Oct. 9. deaths of nine border police officials and the subsequent seizure of dozens of weapons in townships predominantly occupied by the Muslim ethnic group.
In the past week, top diplomats and a UN official who visited the area have called on the government for a credible and independent probe into the original attacks, along with allegations that Myanmar soldiers subsequently killed and raped.
On Sunday, around 50 people -- including monks from Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha -- gathered in Myanmar’s former capital Yangon to show support for the government's handling of the situation.
The president's office has repeatedly denied all allegations of abuses or wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations against the army as false propaganda.
One of those marching called the attacks on the police officials "an act of invasion by Bengalis," using a term to describe Rohingya that suggests they are not Myanmar nationals but illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
Former lawmaker Khin Wine Kyi claimed that she was responsible for submitting a proposal to the previous parliament to enact a set of four Race and Religious laws which rights groups say discriminate against the country’s minority Muslim population.
“They are invaders in our territory,” she told Anadolu Agency, and accused the UN and international community of interfering in Myanmar's internal affairs.
Since the Oct. 9. attacks on border police stations, Bangkok-based Human Rights Group Fortify Rights has said it has received eyewitness reports of extrajudicial killings of unarmed Rohingya men in Maungdaw Township by the army.
"Numerous reports subsequently alleged that Myanmar army soldiers and security forces raped women and girls, killed unarmed civilians, and carried out arbitrary arrests and detentions," it said in a statement Saturday, adding that several Rohingya villages were razed.
The Burma Human Rights Network has also said that reports had emerged of soldiers raping Rohingya women, while on Thursday a reporter at Myanmar Times was sacked for an article on the alleged rapes, citing Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project -- an NGO that monitors the plight of the Rohingya.
The deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch has suggested government involvement in the dismissal, calling it "a new low" in an email to Anadolu Agency.
"What are they trying to hide?" Phil Robertson asked.
Renata Lok-Dessallien, the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, has said that a probe independent of political pressure is needed.
"The visit is just the first step towards broader access. For a clear picture of the situation in the area, we urge the government to launch credible and independent investigations into the attacks and consequences."
Many of the Rohingya living in Maungdaw and Yathay Taung Townships were relocated there following 2012 violence between the local Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine -- one of the poorest regions in Myanmar.
The violence left around 57 Muslims and 31 Buddhists dead, some 100,000 people displaced in camps and more than 2,500 houses razed -- most of which belonged to Rohingya.