Neighbouring Islamic countries support Rakhine response: acting FM


NAY PYI TAW — Ambassadors of majority-Muslim countries in the region have expressed support for the government’s response to recent violence in northern Rakhine State, acting foreigner minister U Kyaw Tint Swe said yesterday.

At least 44 people have died since armed militants launched attacks on police posts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships on October 9.

Kyaw Tint Swe made the comments after a meeting with ambassadors from Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

“We have explained to them that we didn’t use excessive or unnecessary force when ensuring the rule of law,” said Kyaw Tint Swe, who is acting foreign minister while Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visits India.

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Indonesia’s ambassador said during the meeting that his country “respects Myanmar’s independence and sovereignty and we don’t want to interfere in its domestic affairs”, according to Kyaw Tint Swe. The ambassador added that the Myanmar government’s response to date had been “consistent with the law” and took into account human rights standards, the acting foreign minister said.

The Malaysian and Brunei ambassadors had given similar assurances, Kyaw Tint Swe said.

Foreign ministry permanent secretary U Kyaw Zeya said Bangladesh had also pledged to full cooperate with Myanmar as the government continues its investigation into the attacks.

Bangladesh has already detained two suspected militants and returned them to Myanmar for interrogation.

“Bangladesh said that they would fully collaborate with us if we demanded facts and information about the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) from them,” Kyaw Zeya said.

The meeting with the ambassadors came as the military and police continued clearance operations to ensure security in Maungdaw Township, which borders Bangladesh and is estimated to be 90 percent Muslim.

Nine police and five members of the Tatmadaw, which was sent in to ensure security in the township, have been killed, along with 29 suspected militants.

The government said in an October 14 statement that the militants were members of a Maungdaw-based organisation, Aqa Mul Mujahidin, that had links to the RSO in Bangladesh and Taliban in Pakistan.

Military officials said the situation was now stable, although there was still sporadic violence.

“Although there are sometimes small engagements, there are no more attacks at the main military camps, towns and villages, so we can say that the situation is under control in relation to ensuring security of our territory,” said Major Gen Aung Soe, the deputy minister for home affairs.

He said that a major focus of the response to the attacks was to ensure there were no outbreaks of racial or religious-based violence.

Twenty-seven suspected militants have been detained and are being investigated “according to the law”, he added. Two are being held in Sittwe, while the rest are in Maungdaw, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Maungdaw District, which includes Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, has a population of about 800,000, of whom barely 100,000 are ethnic Rakhine.

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