The Irrawaddy

Myanmar Government ‘Wronged’ by UN Statement

Myanmar army troops patroin Maungdaw town located in Rakhine Oct 17, 2016.

NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar government feels “wronged” over a UN Security Council statement on the Rohingya refugee crisis that reflected international media’s perceived bias of the issue, said presidential spokesperson U Zaw Htay.

“We feel wronged that UN Security Council members have echoed those allegations. What I would like to tell the international community on behalf of the Myanmar government is that we are trying to find a long-term solution for the Rakhine issue,” said U Zaw Htay.

The Myanmar government will continue doing what it takes to solve the problem, he said, but would not try to counter the (UN) Presidential Statement because it has already asked the international community to present evidence of the alleged human rights violations and abuses.

The UN statement released on Nov. 6 expressed concern over reports of human rights violations and abuses by Myanmar security forces in Rakhine State against Rohingya, saying that abuses involved systematic use of force and intimidation, killing of men, women, and children, sexual violence as well as destruction and burning of homes and property.

International groups such as Human Rights Watch have also documented killings and rape of Rohingya and satellite imagery showing razed villages, while access to northern Rakhine is heavily restricted.

The statement also called on the Myanmar government to end the excessive military force and intercommunal violence that had displaced more than 600,000 people, the vast majority Rohingya in Rakhine State.

“We don’t necessarily have to do as the statement asks. But we have to pay heed to it as it the Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council. We can’t ignore it,” said U Zaw Htay.

The statement also urged the Myanmar government to work with the Bangladeshi government and the UN in order to allow the voluntary return of all refugees to their homes in Myanmar with safety and dignity.

In response, the State Counselor Office issued a statement on Nov. 7, saying that it regretted a Presidential Statement was issued with regard to a situation that is in the process of being resolved amicably between two neighboring countries.

The United Nations is turning a blind eye to measures being taken by the Myanmar government, said MP U Yi Mon of Pobbathiri Township in Naypyitaw, adding that the public should stand by the government on the Rakhine issue.

“What Myanmar should do is to steadily do what it takes. The truth will be uncovered one day,” said U Yi Mon.

“When we approach a problem, we need to approach it from various perspectives,” said U Zaw Htay. He added that voices represented by international media are louder than other less represented voices on the Rakhine crisis.

While it is solving the crisis, the government also has to handle racial and religious instigation intended to trouble the government, he said. Public trust is a necessary condition for the government to make the country’s democratization a success and solve its pressing economic and social problems, he added.

The Myanmar government has invited Bangladeshi foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali to Myanmar from to Nov. 16-18 to discuss the repatriation of refugees, said U Zaw Htay.

“We expect to sign a bilateral agreement when he comes and Myanmar and Bangladesh will continue to cooperate on that,” said U Zaw Htay, adding that the Bangladeshi government has not confirmed the date of the visit.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.