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Myanmar Official Tells Diplomats That UN Probe Will 'Aggravate' Situation in Rakhine

Myanmar National Security Adviser Thaung Tun addresses UN officials and diplomats in Naypyidaw, July 18, 2017. (Photo: RFA)

July 19, 2017

A United Nations probe into alleged atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state will “aggravate” tension in the restive and divided region, the government’s national security adviser said on Tuesday.

The U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution in March to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate atrocities that Myanmar security forces allegedly committed against Rohingya Muslims during the four-month security sweep in Rakhine’s northern townships.

The central government, however, disassociated itself from the resolution mandating the mission.

“We dissociated ourselves from the decision because we found that it was less than constructive,” said National Security Adviser Thaung Tun, speaking to U.N. officials and diplomats in the capital Naypyidaw.

“We feel that that mission can only aggravate the situation on the ground,” he said.

Myanmar soldiers carried out a four-month crackdown in parts of Rakhine state following a deadly raid on border guard posts in October 2016, which officials blamed on Rohingya militants in the country’s impoverished and religiously and ethnically divided westernmost area.

The government has denied most of the accusations that security forces, who swept into Maungdaw, Buithidaung, and Rathedaung townships after deadly attacks on border guard stations in October 2016, indiscriminately tortured and killed Rohingya, raped women and girls, and burned their villages.

In late June, Myanmar’s civilian government under de facto leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi informed the council that it was conducting its own investigation into the situation in Rakhine 
and refused to issue visas to three investigators the council asked to send to the region.

A commission led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan that is examining the situation in Rakhine and proposing ways to solve sectarian tensions between Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, although it is not evaluating possible human rights violations.

The government has implemented some of courses of action that the commission recommended in an interim report in March

Another domestic investigation, led by Vice President Myint Swe, is looking specifically into reports of atrocities in the state’s northern townships.

Though the crackdown in northern Rakhine ended in February, government soldiers continue to patrol the townships in the wake of a series of disappearances, murders, and other attacks on security forces that have struck fear in ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, who constitute a minority in the area.

Thaung Tun told diplomats that Myanmar had a “clear right to defend the country by lawful means” as it combats “increasing terrorist activities.”

Reported and translated by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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