Rakhine security proposal blocked in Nay Pyi Taw

By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — An Arakan National Party lawmaker says he has been blocked from submitting an urgent proposal about the security of ethnic Rakhine residents of Maungdaw Township to the Amyotha Hluttaw.

U Kyaw Kyaw Win (Rakhine-8), whose constituency encompasses Maungdaw, said he had tried to submit the proposal to the chamber but was ordered by the speaker, Mahn Win Khaing Than, to change it to a question.

His proposal would have called on the Union government to implement a plan to ensure that all Maungdaw District residents from recognised ethnic groups can work and live in peace. The proposal also urged the government to prevent Islamist insurgents—who are thought to identify as Rohingya, and are not recognised as an official ethnic group—from staging further attacks in the region.

Kyaw Kyaw Win said that he would change his proposal to a question for the sake of “the security and wellbeing of all ethnic nationals and the families of civil servants working” in Maungdaw.

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Pyithu Hluttaw lawmaker U Pe Than (ANP, Myebon) said he was “disappointed” at the speaker’s decision, which seemed to be aimed at protecting the government from scrutiny.

“Because it is only a question, the ministry will come and answer in the Hluttaw but other MPs will no longer have the chance to discuss the issue,” he said.

“I don’t think the speaker of the Amyotha Hluttaw has made the right decision … The speaker must stand for the people. He should show respect for the opinion of MPs. He is not accountable for what the government does, that’s not his responsibility.”

The house speakers, who are both NLD lawmakers, have previously blocked a number of ANP proposals, including one in May that would have called for a ceasefire between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw.

The latest ANP proposal was drafted at a recent meeting of the party’s central executive committee. The ANP also plans to submit a similar proposal to the lower house, several of its lawmakers confirmed.

“We are preparing to submit a slightly different proposal in the Pyithu Hluttaw,” Pe Than said. “The government needs to make a plan for ethnic nationals to be able to live in that area … otherwise sovereignty could be lost forever.”

Maungdaw District, which includes Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, borders Bangladesh and has the highest concrentation of Muslims in the country. Recent government figures put the population at more than 800,000, of whom only about 100,000 are ethnic Rakhine.

While there are also some other recognised minorities, the majority of the population comprises Muslims who self-identify as Rohingya, an ethnic designation that the government and most people in Myanmar reject.

On October 9, Muslim militants launched coordinated attacks on Border Guard Police posts, killing nine officers. The military was soon sent in to restore order and conduct “clearance” operations. Hundreds have since been detained on suspicion of involvement in the attacks, while at least 69 militants and 17 soldiers and police have been killed.

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