Arakan State Government Condemns AI’s Statement on Unrest in the Region

Sittwe: The Arakan State government has condemned Amnesty International’s statement published on 20 July, that was titled Myanmar: Abuses against Rohingyas erode human rights progress, on the violent unrest in Arakan State.

When asked why the Arakan State government rejected Amnesty International’s claims, the press secretary, U Win Myaing, told Narinjara that the report is just “baseless allegations” against his government and people in Arakan State.

Arakanese victims in a monastery of Sittwe.

“As a person taking responsibility for press in the Arakan State government, I, on behalf of my government, have objected and condemned Amnesty International’s report because we have found it is based on biased information and is just baseless allegations against our government and people in our region,” said U Win Myaing.

The statement said that the declaration of the state of emergency in Arakan State is ”not a license to commit human rights violations.”

It also said the security forces are responsible to protect the rights of everyone from abuse by others without exception and discrimination, but claimed they have failed to do so and have targeted Rohingyas in most of the communal violence between Arakanese and Rohingyas.

It also alleged that Arakanese Buddhists and security forces have both committed human rights violations, such as physical abuse, rape, destruction of property, and unlawful killings of Rohingya and other Arakanese Muslims.

Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty’s researcher on Burma, also made strong criticisms against the government and Buddhist Arakanese for the unrest in Arakan State as well.

Concerning claims made in the statement, U Win Myaing said as follows:

“The offenders are arrested and tried according to the laws, but there is no one who is being tortured or killed while they are being detained. What was mentioned in Amnesty International’s report is just biased information and baseless allegations,” said U Win Myaing.

He also claimed that since the “Bengalis Rohingya” are a majority and the ethnic Rakhine a minority in the areas of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, it should be considered how it could be possible for the minority Arakanese to attack those Rohingya and rape their women.

When asked for his opinion on the statement, U Oo Hla Saw, General Secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party said, “In fact, the Arakanese people know their situation best. The land of Arakan is now being encroached and the Arakanese people are being assaulted and still under threat of insecurity in their homeland. The international communities should study to know the problems the Arakanese are facing now in their home. And the organization that publicizes such report should also know that what they are writing is very far from reality. We at the RNDP know very well about the violent attacks that are currently occurring in our state. We are very sorry to know that the international organizations are voicing whatever they like without knowing the reality of what is now happening in our region,” said U Hla Saw.

He also added that those who publish such statements should try to find out the reality about the unrest occurring in the state.

“Over 30 Arakanese were killed and many Arakanese villages were burned down during the violent attacks and they are still suffering from so many losses. Amnesty International should ascertain who triggered those attacks. It should not publicize such statements without knowing the reality of those violent attacks. As a democratically supported political party, we the RNDP also want to make known to the world communities that we condemn Amnesty International for its biased and untrue report,” he said.

The Burma Democratic Concern based in Britain has also objected to the statement, calling it misleading and a fabrication in its open letter to Amnesty International.

The Burma Democratic Concern also suggested that the author, Benjamin Zawacki, should not believe in stories being “fabricated by the Bengali Rohingyas”, and should seek “genuine facts” about what is happening in Arakan State before writing such a report.