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Myanmar govt ‘following the law’ in Rakhine

Myanmar govt ‘following the law’ in Rakhine

YANGON: A commission set up by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to investigate attacks on border posts and the army’s brutal response on Wednesday said security forces had abided by the law in a Muslim-majority area of north-western Rakhine State.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate established the body amid growing international pressure to investigate allegations that Myanmar soldiers had killed and raped civilians and burned down their homes, as well as to allow aid agencies to reach the area.

In a statement, the 13-member panel said, “Government authorities have followed the law and acted legally in their response to the attackers.”

The preliminary conclusion raises questions over whether the commission — headed by Vice-President Myint Swe, a general and an acolyte of former junta leader Than Shwe — will deliver an independent verdict in its full report, expected by Jan 31.

On Tuesday, the body wrapped up a three-day visit to Maungdaw, where at least 86 people have been killed since the Oct 9 attacks and where the military sweep has prompted about 27,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee across the border to Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi has called a special meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the issue in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyitaw on Monday.

The panel visited the sites of numerous attacks believed to have been launched by a previously unknown Rohingya armed group. Upto 17 police and security forces were killed in the initial attacks and subsequent clashes.

The panel also visited Muslim villages, but its members did not hear allegations of rape by soldiers, the statement said. Such claims cannot be verified as authorities have blocked travel to the area by independent journalists and observers.

“The military replied they didn’t rape the women as described in the fabricated news stories, that they followed the rules,” the statement added.

Published in Dawn December 15th, 2016

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