ISSN 2330-717X

Myanmar: Military Chief Defends Rohingya Crackdown


Myanmar’s military chief has called Rohingya Muslims illegal immigrants and defended a recent crackdown on the minority group in the northern part of Rakhine State that led to the deaths of an estimated 1,000 people and the exodus of more than 77,000 Rohingya.

The four-month security clearance operation began last October following deadly attacks on border guard stations that were later blamed on Rohingya militants. Rohingya who escaped to neighboring Bangladesh have accused security forces of indiscriminate killings, arson, torture, and rape.

“We have already let the world know that we don’t have Rohingya in our country,” Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the country’s defense forces said, according to Reuters.

“The Bengalis in Rakhine State are not Myanmar citizens and they are just people who come and stay in the country,” he said, using a derogatory term for the Rohingya and repeating a view that, although not fact-based, is widely shared in his country.

“We have a duty to protect our sovereignty when it is harmed by political, religious and racial problems in the country,” he told a gathering in the capital Naypyidaw to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

Colonial records from Britain, which once ruled Myanmar, show Rohingya living in the region for hundreds of years.

Communal violence with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012 left more than 200 people dead and displaced about 140,000 Rohingya.

Min Aung Hlaing’s speech comes just three days after the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate human rights.

Myanmar has said it will not cooperate with the U.N. mission.

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4 thoughts on “Myanmar: Military Chief Defends Rohingya Crackdown

  • March 30, 2017 at 9:26 am

    In fact, British colonial records do not use the term “Rohingya” at all. The British classified Arakan Muslims into two groups: the “old settlers” (pre-Burman invasion of 1785) whom they categorised as “Indo-Burman”, thus stressing their Rakhine Burmese as well as Indian heritage – they included Kaman, Myedu, Zerbaidi and Buchanan’s Rooinga or Yakhain-kala – and the “new” settlers who arrived legally from Bengal during British rule, mostly agricultural workers from the Chittagong region, who were categorised as “Chittagonian” or “Bengali”.

    These distinct British designations were generally used in both the 1953 and 1973 post-Independence censuses. But there were increasing concerns about the number of illegal, post-1948 migrants from Bengal and in the 1983 Census the former designations were discarded. In Arakan anyone of part-Indian origin was unceremoniously designated “Bangladeshi” (not even “Bengali”) whether they liked it or not. “Bangladeshi” is of course not an ethnicity but a nationality. By then “Rohingya” was in limited use, though it never passed into Burmese law.

    There is no dispute among scholars of all faiths about the settlement in Arakan of people of Islamic faith, first as individuals and, from the 15th Century onwards in groups, from various parts of what we might call Greater Bengal. But only a small percentage of Rohingya today can reasonably claim descent from pre-1785 settlers.

    Even so, most Rohingya have a valid claim to Myanmar nationality, even under the 1982 Citizenship Law. I would put this as high as 80% of the entire Arakan Muslim community. Many held valid ID cards under the 1948 Acts, but were unable due to local official chicanery and obstructionism, condoned by central government, to exchange these for new IDs under the 1982 Law.

    The difficulty is not so much the Law as the stubborn refusal to apply it, and now it may be too late.

  • March 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Never too late to do justice to a situation.

    This is a legal matter.We had Citizenship law drafted when we gained independence from British in 1948.All the people of this new born country applied and all eligible citizens were issued National Registration Cards.

    Why changed Citizenship law and why we need one after another , the last one being in 1982? To Citizen some of it Citizens ?
    We had Arakanese ( Rakhine ) Muslim Association Established in 1913. We Arakanese regardless of race and religion enjoyed full fledged Citizens Rights. we all Arakanese used to live like family- like brothers and sisters.

    We Arakanese Muslims used to approach Home Ministry , Religious Ministry, Minority Ministry and Some times even Supreme Court for help and justice to sort out when problems created by ultra Nationalists.

    When the government Changed NRC in Myanmar, Pink colour full fledged Citizenship cards to some and white cards to most of the Muslims in Arakan State and treat them as foreigner or doubtful citizens.In other words stripped of their citizenship.
    This a legal matter. I think we should take this matter to the court to clear how this happened.or
    I would like to suggest Honourable Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to invite some elders including our Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and international lawyers to solve this problem once and for all.
    We all are suffering beyond our tolerence.
    Please pray for peace in our country.

  • April 23, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    well explained Mr. M. Tin. It explains the intricacies of the issue. Ms. Suu Kyi needs to show humanitarian approach rather politicizing dire state of thousands of defenseless poor population. She should act like a guardian. So, your suggestion to Ms. Suu Kyi is just appropriate.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:19 am

      Arakan was an independent Kingdom before invaded by Bama ethnic and Bama King Bo Daw Pha Yar. There was never been problem between Rakhine and Muslims of Arakan including Rohingya of Arakan.
      In 2012 Arakan problem was created by Bama ethnic to sell Muslim’s land to China for their benefits of interests. Chittagong was under Arakanese Kings not Bama king, so naturally both side will have settlement in both places. Such as Rakhine Buddhists settled in Chittagong areas since centuries are called Bangladeshi or Chittagonians by nationality. Politics is dirty game, please do not harm poor peoples and innocents. There are many Chinese living in Myanmar since the centuries, Bama ethnic dare not to talk and touch to Chinese, why? Because China is a big country and Bama has intermarried with Chinese. With my sincerity I would like to say that Bama should go back their own land inside central Myanmar and keep Arakan land for Arakanese peoples as before so that there will be no more violence within these two communities.


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