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Finally hearing the clamour

Oct 18,2017 - Last updated at Oct 18,2017

Faced with wide international condemnation over the exodus of half a million Rohingya people, mostly to neighbouring Bangladesh, Myanmar’s military finally succumbed to growing pressure and ordered an internal probe into the conduct of its military vis-à-vis this minority Muslim group.

Until now, Myanmar had refused to cooperate with any UN investigation teams and brushed aside charges of human rights violations as exaggerated claims.

Yet the sheer number of Rohingya refugees negates the disclaimer.

Amnesty International (AI) accused Myanmar’s security forces of committing crimes against humanity as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women and children fled the country.

In a report released yesterday, AI cited the testimony of over 120 Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, a small part of the mass of people fleeing the bloody army campaign.

“Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya women, men and children have been the victims of a widespread and systematic attack, amounting to crimes against humanity,” said the AI report, also mentioning the fact that crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Rohingya include murder, deportation and forcible displacement, torture, rape, persecution based on ethnic and religious grounds, including through burning of houses, and other inhumane acts, such as denying food and other life-saving provisions.

Myanmar’s de facto leader, Nobel peace winner Aung San Suu Kyi, finally pledged to have an investigation conducted into the charges against her country’s military, and offered repatriation to all those who fled.

This atrocity with regional and international ramification should not have occurred in the first place.

Even if the claim, by Myanmar, that Muslim insurgents had provoked the military operation through attacks on a number of police posts, there can be no excuse for the commission of the barbaric crimes against innocent civilians.

Now that the government promised to conduct a probe into the conduct of its military, it should take the extra step of allowing an international investigation into the allegations of widespread human rights violations.

Serious charges as those levelled against the Myanmar army should not be left to local authorities to investigate alone.

Exoneration of the army by its own military leadership would always be a suspect; there will always be doubts that the internal investigation was conducted in a fair and thorough way.


Myanmar should cooperate with any UN investigation panel so that the true picture can emerge and those responsible for abuses are held accountable.

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