State Counselor Calls Asean Ministerial Meeting

By Nyein Nyein 13 December 2016

State Counselor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will host an Asean Foreign Ministerial Retreat on Dec. 19 in Rangoon to share details with Asean counterparts regarding the country’s development and the ongoing conflict in Arakan State.

U Kyaw Zay Ya, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said the ongoing tension in Arakan State was one of the many issues that would be addressed in the meeting, in which full participation from Asean members is anticipated.

The foreign ministry invited Asean members to the informal event following protests led by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over the Burma Army’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority. The prime minister urged Muslim nations to stand up for what he called “genocide” in Arakan state.

Following an Oct. 9 attack on a border security post which left nine police officers dead and subsequent attacks on Nov. 12-13, the government has said it is observing the actions of the Burma Army closely as it engages in security clearance operations.

The foreign ministry held separate meetings with the Malaysian, Indonesian and Brunei ambassadors in Naypyidaw last week to update them on Arakan affairs.

The government and the Burma Army have persistently denied allegations of human rights abuses. The Arakan State Investigation Committee led by Vice President U Myint Swe is currently in Maungdaw assessing allegations of rape and extrajudicial killings.

State media on Tuesday reported that villagers denied the abuses during an investigation committee meeting with locals on Monday.

Former UN Secretary-General and chairman of the government’s Arakan State Advisory Commission Kofi Annan rejected the use of the word “genocide” in regards to the Arakan conflict and suggested that such a serious charge would require legal review and judicial determination after his delegation visited the conflict area last Tuesday.