Genocide claim should not be ‘thrown around loosely’: Annan


YANGON — Accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing in northern Rakhine State are “very serious” and can only be verified through a legal review, Kofi Annan said today.

Rights groups have warned of widespread abuses by military forces conducting “clearance operations” in Maungdaw Township in the wake of coordinated attacks on Border Guard Police outposts in October.

Some have suggested genocide or ethnic cleansing could be taking place in the state, but the government has denied any wrongdoing and said the military is using the minimum possible force.

Annan, a former United Nations secretary general who now head the Rakhine State Advisory Commission, said the accusations were “a very serious charge”.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

“It is a charge that requires legal review and the judicial determination. It is not a charge that should be thrown around loosely,” he said.

Annan was speaking at the end of his second visit to Rakhine State since the commission was formed, and the first since the October 9 attacks in northern Rakhine State by Islamist militants.

Annan met State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing this morning in Nay Pyi Taw before returning to Yangon for the evening press conference.

“Our discussions focused on reconciliation among the communities of Rakhine, freedom of movement, citizenship verification, and economic and social development of Rakhine State,” he said.

During Annan’s visit to the state, Rakhine community leaders and political party officials refused to meet him, saying that his use of the word “Rohingya” showed that he was biased. Commission members were greeted by protesters in both the state capital Sittwe and nearby Mrauk-U.

At least 86 people, including 17 military and police officers, have died since the crackdown in Maungdaw began, while hundreds of suspected militants have been detained.

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar