The Irrawaddy

Parliament Approves Govt Security Measures to Prevent Terrorism

NAYPYITAW — Parliament approved a proposal without holding a vote for the government to take necessary security measures to prevent terrorist attacks in Myanmar, especially northern Rakhine State.

Military representatives to the Lower House of the Union Parliament expressed concern that Rakhine State’s Maungdaw would become a disputed territory like Kosovo.

Military representative Col Tun Ohn Thein blamed the illegal immigration of Muslims as the root cause for Kosovo’s succession from Serbia as he discussed the proposal of former Lieutenant-General U Thaung Aye of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) at the Lower House on Friday.

In the case of Kosovo, Muslim Albanians illegally immigrated into Yugoslavia, which resulted in conflict between local Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians, said Col Tun Ohn Thein.

In the Kosovo War, some Islamic countries backed the Albanians against the Serbs in response to perceived religious repression, he said, adding that on the ground, many Serbs had to flee Kosovo.

“Similarly, whenever there is conflict in northern Rakhine State, Arakanese and ethnic people have to flee. The difference is that [Rakhine] is not a racial conflict; it was prompted by an attack by extremist Bengali terrorists,” he said, referring to an attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on border guard posts in August of last year and using ‘Bengali’ as a derogatory term used largely against Rohingya Muslims implying that they are interlopers from Bangladesh.

NATO intervened in Kosovo on the pretext of human rights without the permission of the UN, said Col Tun Ohn Thein, expressing his concern that foreign agencies might attempt a similar intervention in Rakhine.

The national security of Myanmar was broken by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attack in northern Rakhine State, said military representative Lt-Col Ye Min Oo, adding that some countries and agencies are supporting the ‘Bengalis’ due to misinformation.

“The sovereignty of the state is being threatened by pressures from various sides,” said Lt-Col Ye Min Oo.

The current government is not afraid of international pressures and has never been hesitant to respond as necessary to the international community, said Daw Pyone Cathy Naing, a lawmaker of the ruling National League for Democracy.

It is important to cooperate strategically with the international community and diplomatically control intervention from powerful countries, she said.

“The current government will be the first government [of Myanmar] to address the root causes of the issues in Rakhine. That’s why it has been taking steps to ensure rule of law and transparency,” said Daw Pyone Cathy Naing.

The closed-door policy and the policy of denying the existence of problems, which successive governments followed, no longer work now, said the lawmaker.

Most lawmakers from the USDP, Arakan National Party, and Tatmadaw discussed the issues in Rakhine from the perspective of national security.

The deputy minister for home affairs said that he would listen to the decision of Parliament. Parliamentary Speaker U T Khun Myat asked the opinion of the proposer and he urged its approval. The proposal was approved without a vote.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.