Burma

Upper House Approves Debate on Rakhine Militants

By Htun Htun 9 August 2017

NAYPYITAW — Upper House lawmakers will consider a proposal urging the government to take action against suspected militants in northern Rakhine State under the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law and help locals who have fled their homes because of recent killings in the area.

The Upper House on Wednesday accepted the proposal from MP U Khin Maung Latt of the Arakan National Party (ANP) to target alleged insurgent groups in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships.

“It seems that every civilian has to take up arms. There is no room for negligence. I’m afraid the situation will only get worse. The region doesn’t have enough security measures, and even the border guard forces are under threat,” U Khin Maung Latt told the Parliament.

U Khin Maung Latt was seconded by Arakanese lawmaker Daw Htoot May. The militants had greatly disrupted the livelihoods of locals as well as threatened regional stability, she said.

Last week, seven ethnic Mro, a sub-ethnic group of Arakanese, of Kay Gyee village near the Mayu mountain range in southern Maungdaw Township were found dead with gun and machete wounds, and one is still missing. It remains unclear who was responsible for the killings.

Hundreds of people from Outt Nan Yar village in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township resisted security forces on August 4 when policemen attempted to arrest six men suspected of being militants, according to the State Counselor’s Office.

Four suspects were apprehended from Outt Nan Yar, read a statement from the office, while two managed to escape after hundreds of villagers surrounded a dozen policemen and fought back against the armed security forces with machetes and slingshots.

The Rakhine government described the incident as a “terrorist attack” and said the toll of civilian deaths has been rising since militants attacked border outposts and killed nine Myanmar border guards in Maungdaw last October.

In response to the attack, security forces launched a brutal counterinsurgency sweep on areas home to the self-identifying Muslim Rohingya, referred to as “Bengalis” by many in the state and the government, who claim they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Alleged human rights abuses by the army, including rape and killing of civilians and the burning of more than 1,000 homes, caused international criticism, and forced some 75,000 people to flee Rakhine to Bangladesh. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected a proposed UN inquiry into the allegations.

More than 600 Arakanese people from 134 households in the villages near Outt Nar Yar fled their homes and moved to other villages on August 5, according to the State Counselor Office.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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