Burma Says Security Operation in Troubled Arakan Has Ended

By Reuters & The Irrawaddy 16 February 2017

RANGOON — The Burma Army has ceased conducting a clearance operation in northern Arakan State, the new National Security Advisor U Thaung Tun said.

The security operation had been underway since nine policemen were killed in attacks on security posts near the Bangladesh border on Oct. 9.

Almost 69,000 Muslim Rohingyas have since fled from Burma to Bangladesh amid a crackdown that sparked widespread accusations of grave human rights abuses by security forces.

“The situation in northern Arakan has now stabilized. The clearance operations undertaken by the military have ceased, the curfew has been eased and there remains only a police presence to maintain the peace,” newly-appointed national security advisor U Thaung Tun was quoted as saying in a statement released by State Counselor’s Office late on Wednesday.

“There can be no excuse for excessive force, for abuses of fundamental human rights and basic criminality. We have shown that we are ready to act where there is clear evidence of abuses,” he told a group of diplomats and UN representatives in a meeting, according to the statement.

Two senior officials from Burma’s President Office and the Ministry of Information confirmed that the security operation in northern Arakan had ended but said that a security presence remained in the region to maintain “peace and security.”

The Burma Army did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

The military and police have separately set up teams to investigate alleged crimes after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi promised to probe UN allegations of atrocities against the Muslim minority.

More than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims may have been killed in the crackdown, two senior UN officials dealing with refugees fleeing the violence told Reuters last week.

A Burma presidential spokesman has said the latest reports from military commanders were that fewer than 100 people had been killed in the counterinsurgency operation.