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Myanmar official says UN probe of Rakhine crisis unwanted

Myanmar official says UN probe of Rakhine crisis unwanted

YANGON, Myanmar — A top Myanmar official said Tuesday that a U.N. agency’s resolution to have an international mission probe alleged human rights abuses by government security forces in troubled Rakhine state is unwanted and unconstructive.

National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said in a briefing to foreign diplomats and representatives of U.N. agencies that the U.N. Human Rights Council’s recent decision failed to recognize Myanmar’s efforts to deal with the situation and address its root causes.

Soldiers and police launched aggressive counterinsurgency operations in Rakhine in October after shadowy insurgents killed nine border guards. Government forces were accused of perpetrating rape, torture and other abuses against residents of the Muslim Rohingya minority during their sweeps.

The Rohingya have faced widespread discrimination in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, which led to deadly intercommunal violence in 2012 that forced more than 100,000 Rohingya from their homes into squalid displacement camps, where many still remain.

Rights group said the recent army crackdown included the burning down of more than 1,000 homes, according to high-resolution satellite images, and the killing of an unknown number of civilians, perhaps in the hundreds. More than 70,000 Rohingya villagers fled across the border to Bangladesh and another 20,000 were internally displaced.

The situation has led advocates for the Rohingya to accuse the government of ethnic cleansing.

Thaung Tun said the government has disassociated from the U.N. agency’s decision because it did not take into consideration Myanmar’s efforts “to stabilize the situation and address root causes,” adding that the country “needs help, not obstacles.”

“We look forward to the understanding and constructive support of the international community in our endeavour to build peace, justice and development for all in Rakhine,” he said.

Myanmar’s government has appointed several teams to look into Rakhine’s problems, but rights groups say they are not credible because their members are not independent.

Thaung Tun, however, said the government’s efforts were adequate. “Where there is clear evidence of wrongdoing, we will take firm action in accordance with the law,” he said.

Myanmar’s de facto prime minister, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, defended her government’s policy toward the Rohingya during an interview with foreign media last week. Her seeming inaction on the issue has come under particular criticism because her long fight for democracy and against military repression won her a Nobel Peace Prize and made her a heroine in human rights circles.

Esther Htusan, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

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