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    With Nasaka Border Force Abolished, National Police Move In to Arakan

    The Nasaka headquarters is seen in Maungdaw Township, Arakan State.
    (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)
    Irrawaddy News:
    July 16, 2013 
    RANGOON — A national police battalion has
    been deployed to Arakan State after the government’s notorious Nasaka border
    guard force was abolished four days ago, a state government spokesman says.
    “Police have been stationed in areas where
    security is a concern to replace the Nasaka,” Myo Than, a secretary for the
    Arakan State government’s information team, told The Irrawaddy on Monday. He
    said the border guard force had been stationed in Maungdaw and Buthidaung
    townships, which are largely populated by the Rohingya Muslim minority.
    “The police there have nothing to do with the
    Arakan State Police but are under a Union-level directorate,” he added.
    The Nasaka, known officially as the Border
    Area Immigration Control Headquarters, comprises army and police officers as
    well as customs and immigration officials. In addition to monitoring Burma’s
    western border with Bangladesh, it administered certain areas of north Arakan
    State and has been accused of rights violations against the Rohingya population
    there for decades. It also oversaw a controversial practice of registering
    Rohingya households.
    Burma’s President Thein Sein abolished the
    border guard force on Friday, according to a statement by the President’s
    Office, but he did not publicly provide a reason for doing so.
    The decision came ahead of a trip this week
    to Europe, where the Burmese president is expected to discuss rights abuses in
    his country during meetings with leaders in Britain and France.
    Win Myaning, a spokesperson for the Arakan
    State government, declined to comment on the dissolution of the Nasaka and said
    he only learned about the president’s decision from the President’s Office
    Zaw Aye Maung, the minister for Arakanese
    ethnic affairs, said the Nasaka was abolished because the Rakhine Investigation
    Commission, a team tasked with investigating communal violence in the west
    Burma state last year, alleged in its report that the border guard force had
    been ineffective in performing its duties.
    “The report said the Nasaka didn’t have
    teamwork,” said the minister. “I learned that the president abolished the
    border guard force to assign a superintendent with a separate mission.”
    The demise of the Nasaka will likely not
    affect the local Arakanese people, said a resident in Sittwe, the state capital.
    “The government will surely replace it with
    another security force,” Than Tun told The Irrawaddy, adding that security
    concerns for the Arakanese would arise if a replacement was not established.
    Shwe Maung, a member of the ruling Union
    Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), said he welcomed the dissolution of
    the Nasaka, which he accused of widespread rights abuses in Maungdaw and
    Buthidaung townships.
    “It is my understanding that the Nasaka was
    abolished because its existence, activities and formation were illegal
    according to the Constitution,” said the lawmaker, who represents Maungdaw.
    He said the Constitution only allowed
    administrative department officials to administer a constituency.
    “We MPs from Maungdaw and Buthidaung have
    been complaining about the Nasaka’s behavior for a long time,” he said. “We are
    very happy, and I would like to thank President U Thein Sein for this great
    Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze.