Commander-in-Chief Praises Pro-Military Rallies Denouncing Int'l Pressure

By The Irrawaddy 2 November 2018

YANGON — Myanmar’s commander-in-chief this week praised pro-military rallies that have denounced international calls for him and other top generals to be held accountable for the alleged human rights violations against Rohingya and said the events should be repeated.

Myanmar’s military, or Tatmadaw, has come under mounting international pressure in the wake of operations in northern Rakhine State — triggered by militant attacks on security posts — that have driven some 700,000 mostly Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh. In September, the UN Human Rights Council voted to set up a body to prepare evidence for possible future prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

Since then, army sympathizers — including ultranationalists, war veterans and their families — have organized more rallies across the country to express support for the military’s actions in Rakhine State and for “protecting sovereignty, race and religion.”

At a rally last month led by ultranationalist monk U Wirathu, at least 1,000 people gathered in downtown Yangon to condemn what they called international interference in Myanmar and its military.

During a special conference of the Myanmar War Veterans Organization on Wednesday in Naypyitaw, military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing told the audience that “nationalistic and patriotic people in various townships have organized rallies to show their opposition to one-sided allegations and interference by some foreign countries and organizations in the internal affairs of our country, and to show support for the actions of the Tatmadaw.”

He added that those who joined the rallies understood the military’s goodwill toward the Union and its people, and that the military and the people were on the same side, according to military-run newspaper Myawaddy.

“Such good traditions should be maintained,” the commander-in-chief said.

It was the first time Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing has spoken publicly about the pro-military rallies.

According to Myawaddy, such rallies have been held across the country since 2016.

After October’s rally in Yangon, the paper said: “As of yesterday, 80 rallies have been carried out and joined by more than 600,000 people. There are more in the pipeline.”