‘The issue has prompted serious challenges for us’: President’s Office Spokesman

By The Irrawaddy 21 September 2018

YANGON—Myanmar’s President’s Office spokesperson has said the recent UN report on the Rohingya issue may cause divisions between ethnic groups in the country and encourage the disintegration of the state.

Repeating the response made by the Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN on Sep. 18 during the UNHRC meeting in Geneva, the spokesperson U Zaw Htay told media on Friday that the report could derail the country’s democratic transition.

The spokesperson said the Rakhine issue has badly damaged the country’s image as well as the interests of the state and its people.

“The issue has prompted serious challenges for us,” he said.

Myanmar has been facing mounting international pressure over the issue in which nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh after security forces’ clearance operations in northern Rakhine were triggered by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s attacks on security outposts there. The government has denounced them as a terrorist organization.

The international community, including the UNHRC, has called for the persecution of Myanmar Army leaders at the International Criminal Court for the security forces’ human rights abuses against the Rohingya during the clearance operations.

The spokesperson said the issue has taken a front seat for the government pushing back other challenges like the democratic transition, development and the peace process.

“When we have an international delegation, they raise the Rakhine issue first. We have lost the trust of international investors,” he said.

Despite the call for prosecution, Myanmar’s government has rejected the UNHRC’s fact-finding mission and their report, questioning the report’s impartiality and claiming that the information presented in the report is groundless.