Rakhine Lawmakers Meet With Myanmar’s Military Chief to Discuss Security Crisis

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Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (C) and lawmakers from the Arakan National Party (L) discuss the situation in Maungdaw township in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, Aug. 9, 2016.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (C) and lawmakers from the Arakan National Party (L) discuss the situation in Maungdaw township in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, Aug. 9, 2016.
Courtesy of Myanmar's Office of the Commander-in-Chief

Myanmar’s military commander-in-chief met with seven Rakhine lawmakers from the state’s dominant Arakan National Party in Naypyidaw on Wednesday to discuss the security crisis in the volatile region.

Aye Maung, chairman of the Arakan National Party (ANP), which represents the interests of the state’s ethnic Rakhine people, said the lawmakers and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.discussed security issues in the northern part of the state and what to do about internally displaced persons (IDP) who live in camps in Rakhine.

“We planned to submit a proposal to the lower house and upper house [of parliament] regarding the security situation in Rakhine state, but it was rejected,” he told the online news service the Democratic Voice of Burma.

“So, we decided to approach the Tatmadaw,” Aye Maung said, using the formal name of Myanmar’s armed forces.

He also said that it was possible for parliamentarians to discuss taking action against “terrorist” groups in northern Rakhine's Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships under the country’s antiterrorism law and resettling Rohingya Muslims who live in the state’s IDP camps.

The tri-township area has been in a state of upheaval since security forces unleashed a crackdown following deadly attacks on three border guard stations on Oct. 9, which were blamed on a group of Rohingya militants.

Though the crackdown ended in February, security forces continue to patrol the tri-township area where disappearances, murders, attacks on security forces, and periodic killings by troops continue to occur.

In recent weeks, they have discovered camps along the Mayu mountain range thought to be used by Muslim “terrorists.”

In late July, eight farmers from the Myo minority, a sub-ethnic group of the state’s ethnic Rakhine people, were reportedly killed by Muslim militants in Maungdaw’s Kinegyi village.

“It is a pity to have a case where eight people from an ethnic group have been killed at the same time,” Aye Maung said. “If we can’t discuss this case in parliament and can only try to comfort ourselves by saying that the government is working on it, more people will be killed.”

“We can’t approach the state counselor or the president to talk about it, so we have to look for another party that can protect people from being killed,” he said in a reference to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, both from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Aung San Suu Kyi held a high-level meeting with government ministers in Naypyidaw on Wednesday to discuss Rakhine’s security situation, Myanmar News Agency reported.

They talked about plans to control violent attacks in the state, challenges to scrutinizing the citizenship verification process for Rohingya and prospects for resolving the issue, provision of humanitarian aid to the people, challenges to the state’s socioeconomic efforts in the state, and cooperation with Bangladesh, United Nations agencies and the international community, the report said.

More troops in Maungdaw

Meanwhile, the government has sent more troops to Maungdaw and has extended a curfew there by two months in an effort to curb ongoing violence, residents told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

Locals say the move was done in preparation for an operation to clear out “terrorists,” though the government military has not released any information about it.

More police from other states and regions have been deployed in the tri-township area, residents said.

Roughly 1.1 million Rohingya live in Rakhine, with about 120,000 of them confined to IDP camps that were set up after deadly communal violence between Muslims and Buddhists in 2012.

Myanmar considers the Rohingya illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and denies them citizenship and access to basic services such as health care and education.

By Win Ko Ko Latt and Min Thein Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.





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